How to best learn to focus at

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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CMOS HDV camcorder.

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Old January 9th, 2008, 09:29 AM   #1
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How to best learn to focus

I'm new to videowork, and something I can't do well is simply shooting various objects (read distances) in a single shoot and keeping focus.

How do pros handle this? Autofocus obviously isn't good enough, often drifting between pans. I also find push-focus too slow. I want to be filming rather fast action scenes, panning and zooming from near to far objects/people in one take.

Any advice. Is it just a skilll to master with manual focus? I love the way broadcast material refocuses in a nano-second. Is this just a limitation of prosumer equipment ( I have a Sony V1E)

Thank you all
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Old January 9th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #2
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Shot transition feature on V1 might help?

Hi Deniz,

Lots of panning and zooming....this is what most people who are new to video do/did when they started (and I include myself!) but you will find;

1. It will often push the HDV format to it's limits/breaking point (long Group of Pictures in HDV don't handle fast motion well = artifacts) and
2. It actually does n't look that good (except in certain situations where it's exactly what you want.)

Don't forget the superb Shot Transition feature on the V1, assuming you have time in advance to program in both extremes of the shot and pre-focus for each of them etc. Look in the handbook for details about this feature (or search Youtube/Google for a great demo video which clearly shows you how it's done - on a Z1, but that's near enough.) You can do the transition from "one end of the shot to the other" as slow or as fast as you want (and/or in reverse if you wish once it's set up.) You see this technique used a lot in TV work as you've already noted. Now you know how it's done!

Edit: Adding in link

Good luck and have fun!
Andy K Wilkinson -
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production

Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; January 9th, 2008 at 10:15 AM. Reason: adding example link
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Old January 9th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #3
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Broadcast sports are usually done with studio cameras on massive tripods on excellently balanced heads. When you're not fighting camera support you have more attention to devote to zoom and focus.

With these cameras a very nice zoom control will be under your right thumb, and perhaps a shot box as well (buttons for zoom presets). A very nice *mechanical* focus control is acheived with a twist-grip attached to the left pan bar.

For the V1... you need to practice enough so that you no longer have to think "subject is closer, twist the ring right" but that your hands just do it.

Focus is so critical with HD and the view screens so small I feel I need better than good vision to focus reliably. A pair of 2x reading glasses travels in my camera case. Inconvenient, geeky, and I use them all the time!

Broadcast camera operators at sporting events have one other advantage. Each cam has a small handful of shots that they can practice during team warmups. When the director needs a different shot, they go to a different camera... and other cameras can check their shot/focus.

As a single camera, you with a V1 have a greater challenge - try to keep all the action in focus all the time! If you work with other cams, you have the opportunity to discuss what shots each camera should be looking for.
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Old January 9th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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Just came across this (related):
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