A lot of people out there make some of the commonly known focus pulling mistakes. Do you know what these mistakes are?
Let's find out.
1. Pulling at the Inaccurate Speed
A rack focus, when it's done right will be smooth and concealed by the audience. When done as not expected, it can draw a lot of unwanted attention which is not at all feasible. When you're mastering a part of the rack, it's important for you to understand some of the vital things, including the mood, the pace, and last but certainly not the least, the tone of the scene. And it'll immensely be determined the way camera moves itself as well.
Some videographers are inclined to pulling too slowly on innumerable camera moves. In fact, they use rehearsals so it becomes easy for them to figure out the perfect speed before the camera starts to roll. You should be careful of how fast you're when it comes to pulling focus and in case shooting digital and there is playback, you must keep an eye on the monitor to get a sense of your own speed as well as habits.
Does it become a problem for you?
Consider spending lots of time practicing between takes or while building the camera in the daylight. Don't you forget that lens focus distances are on an exponential scale so that if the focus is close distance-wise, you'll have to pull faster.
2. Making Plenty of Marks
We're pretty sure all of us have had a remorseful feeling at one point where a scene has numerous actors, and a few diverse dolly tracking moments and various plans as well. These types of shots are the ones that are few and far between, but a more complex shot means a more intricate marking system.
Keep in mind that marking on a lens or on a follow focus disk should be restricted as much as possible. Only the crucial marks are required to be kept there. You perhaps have a few backups at the back of your mind, if an actor exceeds their landing spot or something else takes place which isn't expected at all.
Note - If you have a lot of lines on the lens or follow focus will turn it into confusion that has to be found in the middle of a take. Don't you think you already have a lot to be bothered about in a scene? So, you don't want to make it seem more complex, do you? If you find adding lots of marks, what you can at most do is numbering them in the order you need for hitting them so it does not become hard for you to decide which is which.
3. Acting Casually About Rehearsals
Would you agree if we told you that rehearsals were rare nowadays? They surely are, especially in the digital domain. You do not want to see them go futile, do you? Even if the rehearsal seems only the blocking rehearsal without a camera, you ought to watch the same with concentration.
It's important for you to learn how actors are going to move about the scene and what line they utter correctly before getting up. You may not be aware of the position of your camera, but you will at least know how the scene will play out.
While rehearsing with a camera, you should pay heed to the timing of your rack focuses. Also, the timing of the dolly moves are important and know what the talent is doing in the scene.
4. Focusing on the Unwanted Part
This seems to be an actual statement. You must know which part of the scene you're focusing on. This will be the main actor or the strongest character within the scene. It's an easily accomplished task if you are shooting a close-up.
However, shooting a big master or medium close-up can present a lot of possibilities for focus. Do you need to focus on one actor, instead of rack to the other? Will you pull the focus apart? Does the actor walk into focus, or do you follow him?
Having understanding with a cinematographer will answer a lot of these questions before you go on asking, but if you're not sure ever, speaking up is a practical decision you'll make.
5. Focusing Too Close
Make sure the operator tells you that focus is soft during a take and it can be distressful. It's good to try and nail sharp follow focus instead of remaining soft for the whole take.
Keep Your Cool and Proceed
Don't forget that nobody is born a perfect camera assistant (even though some people come close) and that pulling is a tough job to deal with. As you go about gaining more experience, it becomes easy for you to tackle these mistakes and learn from them what you have to.