Guerrilla Filmmaking 101: Rack focus

Oboyee-RackFocus-cRack focus,

also known as pull focus, is a camera technique manually adjusting and manipulating your audience’s attention.  There are usually two objects of attention, near and far.  By using drawing a sharply focused point from one target or distance to another, the film provides a not so subtle direction where the audience should pay attention to.

The rack focus is very artistic and simulates a depth of field of the human eye.   It brings a very touching element into your film that due to optics and lighting otherwise would have had a large depth of focus.   A film with most all the image in focus, free of any blur near or far, may come across as flat, 2-D and ironically, “staged”.  This is very common with digital media.

It is a technique that should be used sparingly.  Doing it once sends a message.   Repeating it, and everyone knows what you’re doing.  Having your audience aware of your camera is a consequence you should be aware of.   Rack focus is something I would think hard to implement.  Though you don’t necessary need two interesting objects, you should have a purpose for manipulating your audience’s vision.

Oboyee-RackFocusAs seen in Oboyee (2013)
A hand reaches to pull back a curtain.  There is nothing other to look at until the hand reveals daylight behind.  The rack focus pulls from her diamond ring to the outdoors.

Manipulating your audience vision comes with the benefit drawing empathy out of them.   It literally draws them into your world as a participant.  Especially through a first point of view.

Guerrilla filmmaking 101 is a series a posts covering the basics in a quick-footed production.  Every director carries his or her own filmmaking philosophy.

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