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Major Project: New Camera Shot

I have learned many new things throughout my 3 years on this course, one major one being the different type of shots directors can use. One I have always been intrigued with, but never had the confidence to do, is selective focus (also known as rack focus)

Rack focus is defined as:

"A rack focus in filmmaking and television production is the practice of changing the focus of the lens during a shot. The term can refer to small or large changes of focus. If the focus is shallow, then the technique becomes more noticeable."

Here is an example of rack focus:

After seeing this shot in many good films, whether it was in a famous one, or even a fellow classmates, I planned to use this style in my latest project. After reading the script, I knew exactly where and when I would use this particular technique. There is a scene near the end of the film where Don turns up to the boys playing football, which came to a great surprise to everyone. This scene involves a lot of build up, as well as a dramatic entrance, therefore I couldn't think of a better time to use rack focus. This advanced type of camera shot is used for these moods/reveals in famous films, including "Young Victoria" (2009) where it is used brilliantly:

I used these films in my research so I could execute my shot with the right timing and elegance. I also warned Chris in advance with my shot list so he could do the relevant research to nail the shot too. I found this which became very helpful to both of us:

"By using a large aperture value (f/1.4, f/2.0) you will be able to create a shallow depth of field.  This effectively leaves one part of the frame in focus while blurring others, such as the foreground or background.  When you change the focus in the shot from the foreground to the background you’re doing another advanced camera shot called a rack focus."

This information was very useful as it meant Chris could set up the camera properly and I gained more knowledge on what rack focus was exactly. I then found these 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Setting up the Camcorder

Now you need to set up your video camera on a tripod to keep it steady. This will ensure that the video is of a high quality and isn't jerky. Position the camera so that it is fairly close to the subject in the foreground. Check that the camera is positioned so that you can still see the person or subject in the background.

Step 2: Focusing

Set the camcorder in manual focus mode. Now focus the video camera so that the first object is in focus. The second object should be blurred and out of focus.

Step 3: The Effect

Now press the record button and start to slowly adjust the focus so that the second object comes into focus. The effect should then be repeated at least another two times so that you can choose which effect works the best when editing.

Step 4: Other Options

If your camera doesn't support manual focus then all is not lost. It is still possible to create similar looking effects. To do this you will need to use auto focus and trick the camera into focusing on something in the distance. To make this possible lock onto something and then move the camera. Then move the camera to your subject and the camera will lock onto them and auto focus.

After extensive research, planning and practice, we were ready to execute this shot on film week, and it went very smoothly. After framing my shot, I told my actors what to do, and then we filmed it. I told Jamie (playing Ollie) to bend down as if he was tired, which would then reveal Don walking over - this is when the rack focus came in to play:

As you can see, the focus was on Jamie, but then when he bent over, the focus then shifted onto Paul (playing Don). This is a very important part in the film as this is when Don supports the team to victory, having a massive impact on the players. This reveal, along with the advanced camera work, will have a great impact on the viewers, as they will appreciate the shot and the story. Dramatic motivating non-diegetic soundtrack will be used for this part to really build up the scene and captivate the viewers attention

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