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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old October 24th, 2001, 11:33 PM   #16
nbpjaroch7
 
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arri4moi: Is that company Cinetech? Any information on contacting the company that sent you the catalog would be most helpful.Thanks!

zchildress: I wish I knew! That's what I'm trying to figure out. I want to start a DV feature this summer, and with the XL1 I'm pulling off images that are incredible..but...I need follow focus/mattebox/more lenses and goodies ^_^.

I'm gonna try contacting Canon and find someone who can breakdown the "kit" from the "making-of" commercial. I'll post what I find out.

Thanks guys! -
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Old October 25th, 2001, 03:17 PM   #17
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Cinetech follow focus

I have a Cinetech follow focus. If you are having problems reaching Karl Horn at Cinetech you can get what you need from Birns & Sawyer. I just did a shoot where we rented three XL1S's including follow focus mechanisms and matte boxes from them. They have everything you need. Try http://www.birnsandsawyer.com/index.asp
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Old October 25th, 2001, 08:52 PM   #18
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Thank you so much John!
-Justin aka nbpjaroch7
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Old October 26th, 2001, 01:09 PM   #19
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Looks like this is my day for stupid questions. I just asked one in another topic...so might as well go for the DV dunce award.

What exactly does "follow focus" do and how is it different from autofocus?
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Old October 26th, 2001, 06:40 PM   #20
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Professionals: (I'm new to this, so correct me if I'm wrong...^_^)

Ever tried to keep focus on a subject walking 20 feet toward you with the 16x auto lens? Sucks huh! ^_^

As with all autofocus, the lens "searches" for the appropriate target, and you don't have that smooth, beautiful focus you see in the movies.

Follow focus is a geared mechanism that attatches to a manual lens and allows finer focus control of your lens by rotating the follow focus ring.
Most follow focuses include a marking ring that allow you to make "marks" for beginning and ending focus positions. This way your assistant (focus puller) can handle the focus as you concetrate on camera movement/operation.
An added bonus you don't bump/move the lens while wrestling the manual lens with no stabilization.

Anyway, that's my take on it...anyone with better description...please add! ^_^
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Old October 26th, 2001, 09:18 PM   #21
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Sounds like something I DEFINITELY need to look into, nbpjaroch7! Thanks for the reply.

Information on this kind of stuff in English is practically non-existent where I live. So, the information I get here is invaluable in teaching a thirsty beginner the ropes.
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:00 AM   #22
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Follow focus

I'm just curious, what exactly is follow focus?
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:23 AM   #23
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Well you really know how to ask the bb questions. So I looked in all My books and found nada. I would take a stab and say you need to hire a focus puller!
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Old May 31st, 2002, 04:30 AM   #24
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Disclaimer: I'm not an industry professional, so I hope I got
this one right...

Follow focus is a mechanism used in the big productions to
adjust focus with knobs. These are pretty big and can be
operated by someone other then the cameraman, hence why
they are called focus pullers. The device probably gets its name
from the way you use it: to follow focus.

You can see it on the P+S Technik 35mm rig for the XL1
here: http://www.zgc.com/assets/images/version_2002_smallest_jpeg.jpg
(see the white/black knob on the side)

Any professionals wanna tune in?
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Old May 31st, 2002, 11:43 AM   #25
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So someone else is focusing besides the actual camera operator? Hmm. . . sounds lazy to me. Please don't hurt me.
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:15 PM   #26
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C'mere, Josh me boy, I'm a' fixin' to put a hurt on you...!

No, I can understand the confusion; if you are sequestered in Master Control as your signature indicates, you are used to seeing TV cameramen work zoom, focus, pedestal, etc. It would probably horrify you to visit one of my film sets and observe the occasions in which one of my assistants is pulling focus, another is operating the zoom, and the dolly grip is working the booming function and moving the camera--that seems like a lot of guys to do the same job as a studio camera guy!

Remember that in film there is substantially less depth of field to work with and focus is much more critical. Film assistants use tape measures to mark critical focus and pull with a true sens of zen to nail their marks on the fly, and it is up to the camera operator to indicate to them if they missed at any point. The operator's job is primarily to frame the image, and not having to deal with the mechanics and extra mental work of focusing allows him/her to concentrate on all the elements of the framing, such as errant shadows as from the boom mike, possible film gear visible in the shot like flags or dolly track etc. (there are many other aspects of the job but I won't go into it here). Also, if one is using a geared head (aka the "wheels") it ties up both of your hands. And this is assuming you are just operating the camera--in those instances where you are also DP'ing the shoot, your mind is occupied with zillions of other tasks like how to light the next set, when will the sun go down, what's the coverage on this scene, how can I get that cute PA's phone number etc.

The reason a follow focus mechanism is used is that it allows the assistant to make markings on a plastic disc to allow for custom settings for a given shot, as well as have a more efficient mechnical interface with the lens (it's a pain to have to stretch your hand around the barrel of a lens). Some film lenses have a massive diameter so it would cumbersome at best to attempt to rotate without the aid of a follow focus. It also allows for various attachments including a whip, which is a flexible shaft of various lengths that allows the assistant to remain a distance from the camera and still work the lens (great for handheld, for instance).

OK, so that's the film world. The question of whether or not a follow focus is valid in the extended depth-of-field world of video is a valid one. I have rarely needed one when shooting even 2/3" cameras like Digi-Beta, preferring to pull my own focus in those situations (an old Betacam slinger before moving to the film world, my early habits die hard). In DV, where there is seven times the depth of field of 35mm, it's not easy to achieve shallow focus--yet it does happen, and I've seen many instances of just-soft shots in people's DV work. The temptation is that everything looks pretty sharp, especially if you are working with a not-so-demanding viewfinder like the color XL1, so why bother to track the focus at all? Now THAT'S lazy, IMHO!

Some may use a knob because it is more comfortable even when pulling their own focus. And there is no question that on the long end of the lens, shooting a slow tracking shot over objects at different planes that requires multiple and precise rack focus moves, having an assistant do it will probably increase the chances of success in the fewest takes. But really, it's a matter of taste.

*sigh*...me so long-winded...sorry guys, hope this was useful.
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:21 PM   #27
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Rob, you're right on with that description.

A follow focus system is great because the focus puller can mark the dial with the appropriate focus points they might need. If an actor has a planned move towards the camera, than they can measure and mark the points that will keep them in focus. This makes for very accurate focus - no guess work.

The camera op is usually looking through the VF and busy keeping subjects in frame. He's not lazy - most 35mm films used geared heads, and it takes two hands to operate them.

Generally, with video cameras you can be a little sloppy with focus because they have a wider focus range. In the 35mm and 16mm world focus it is more critical. In 35mm you are usually talking around 1 foot of focus and sometimes even less.

Focus pulling is an art. Great pullers can mark their basic points and then eyeball and correct when actors move in and out of those points.
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:24 PM   #28
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Charles, you beat me to the punch. Too slow!
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:27 PM   #29
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See, there you go. Justin hit virtually all the same points I did with 1/3 of the verbiage, the rat bastid! Actually it's sort of shocking that we were writing such similar replies at the exact sime time--Justin, can you tell me what I am thinking at this exact second? Or more urgently, do you happen to know where I left my sunglasses?
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Old May 31st, 2002, 01:39 PM   #30
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This actually has nothing to do with this post, and being a
wrangler I actually should be punished for this, but I just need
to say this.... sometimes I chuckle a bit when reading the posts
on this great forum, reading the post above was another one.
I find it just amazing how many people have gathered here to
share idea, knowledge and learn from each-other. Isn't that just
great? I'm amazed at the knowledge of some people and can
only say that I'm glad to be part of this great community.

Learning something new every day!

(now you can quote that last line if I ever get famous with my
movies, heh... now I need to smile about myself)....

Just something I had to say. Best to all of you, and see you
around!
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