Jump to content
HelsinkiZim

The one where we talk about auto-focus...

Recommended Posts

I'm personally a big believer that autofocus will eventually reach the level of sophistication that we can use it with as much artistry as something like color grading.  It's pretty obvious that as the improvements that have only existed in the stills world make their way to video, and as we get more and more powerful CPUs we'll be able to do a whole lot with AF that we can't now.

Here is where I see it headed over the next 5 years.  Add your own ideas!

  • Touch focus as a standard feature, with accuracy up to dual-pixel AF standards
  • More control over touch-screen focus, e.g. touch to set new focus point, then drag to set the transition speed, then release to start focus transition
  • Way better tracking of selected subjects (people and otherwise)
  • Full Eye-AF with tracking (shoot full frame at f/1.2 with tracking!)   [existing stills feature]
  • Automatic tracking priority of a memorized subject  [existing stills feature]
  • More artistic AF options.  e.g. Different curves for focus transition speeds; so you could have a quick pull to get close and then a slower adjustment as the fine tune focus is nailed, or the ability to set a buffer range for allowing an auto-tracked subject to go out of focus before the system tries to get it back

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs
On 9.5.2017 at 3:04 AM, Trek of Joy said:

AF is a tool, choose to use it or not, but reading the condescending "pros never use AF" stuff gets old. I never understand the elitist attitude some have when people do things in a different way than what's been traditionally done.

I agree. You know, I am an amateur. It's my privilege to use anything I want the way I want o use it. I can try to re-invent everything, like he poineers of film. And I can also use anything that makes certain things easier. The word privilege reminded me of this unboxing video and how happy I can be not having to be pro:

On the other hand, I am guilty of being skeptic of new technology too (but AF is hardly a new technology. If I remember correctly, I hardly used MF on my old VX2000, an SD-camcorder, and for weddings also). I could dig out old threads in which I express my contempt of the 4k hype. Like, Avatar had been shot at 1920p, why does everybody now consider simple HD to be inferior?

But that's a good point. UHD makes only sense with perfectly accurate focus. Putting a wide lens on a gimbal with hyperfocal distance just doesn't cut it. Even more so since I personally don't like wide angle shots (exceptions prove the rule).

And: it's not true that AF takes away your creative choices. To make it work the way you intended, you have to program it first. It can be used as an electric focus puller

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you think you can track focus in a moving shot better than decent AF you are overestimating your focus pulling skills. In a few years even pro pullers won't come close to AF success rates. Focus is simply one of these things an algorithm can do vastly better than humans. Yes, there are some specific shots where doing it through AF would require more work, but how often do you actually rack or do fancy creative focus work? 90% of pulling is tracking objects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/9/2017 at 9:26 AM, jonpais said:

An example of AF-C in video mode, ASPC at 3m 20s. This would be difficult to achieve using MF with a single operator I would think.

 

It would have been entirely possible for Zak to have forgone the model completely, to have stepped into the frame and have the camera track him at a fairly wide aperture, which I think is amazing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, jonpais said:

It would have been entirely possible for Zak to have forgone the model completely, to have stepped into the frame and have the camera track him at a fairly wide aperture, which I think is amazing.

On thing I've found with the X-T2 Jon is setting the custom AFC mode to Suddenly Appearing Subject is very, very good at acquiring and releasing focus when you step in and out of the frame.

And as if to be contrary to my own mantra of automatically just using AF when I'm doing my real job, because of the absence of any wide aperture long primes from Fuji I shot yesterday's one all manual focus with a Nikon 300 f2.8 on the XT-2. The quality of the EVF on the XT-2 and their focus peaking made it a breeze to be honest and thats a hybrid solution I'm probably going to try out on tonight's job which will be far more challenging light and subject tracking wise.

It's a pity they don't offer that EVF as a standalone product to be honest 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

On thing I've found with the X-T2 Jon is setting the custom AFC mode to Suddenly Appearing Subject is very, very good at acquiring and releasing focus when you step in and out of the frame.

And as if to be contrary to my own mantra of automatically just using AF when I'm doing my real job, because of the absence of any wide aperture long primes from Fuji I shot yesterday's one all manual focus with a Nikon 300 f2.8 on the XT-2. The quality of the EVF on the XT-2 and their focus peaking made it a breeze to be honest and thats a hybrid solution I'm probably going to try out on tonight's job which will be far more challenging light and subject tracking wise.

It's a pity they don't offer that EVF as a standalone product to be honest 

The peaking is great, it's always been reliable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/8/2017 at 6:04 PM, Trek of Joy said:

... reading the condescending "pros never use AF" stuff gets old. I never understand the elitist attitude some have when people do things in a different way than what's been traditionally done.

That "high-end" pros almost never use autofocus is not condescending -- it's a simple fact.  Focus is often an important dimension of photographic artistry, and relinquishing decisions about such artistic expression to a machine is not something that a professional nor a craftsman would generally do.

 

How would one use autofocus to execute the racks shown in this shot.

 

Furthermore, there are aesthetic and practical reasons for using only manual cinema lenses.  One might choose Master Prime or Crystal Express lenses for their performance or look, and if one is shooting on a cinema camera with a PL mount, lack of autofocus is moot.

 

Using an autofocus lens both manually and automatically can be problematic, as manually racking focus requires solid marks that don't move (as is sometimes not the case with "focus-by-wire" AF lenses), so it is usually best to just stick with manual lenses.  Even if one is using a camera that can take both autofocus lenses and manual cinema lenses, switching between AF lenses and cinema lenses can cause visual continuity problems.

 

 

10 hours ago, cpc said:

Focus is simply one of these things an algorithm can do vastly better than humans. .

It's doubtful that an algorithm could have conceived of nor executed my above linked example.

 

 

10 hours ago, cpc said:

.. how often do you actually rack or do fancy creative focus work? 90% of pulling is tracking objects.

Here is a scene from a more recent production that is chock full of  "fancy creative" and expressive focus racks, with virtually no focus tracking:

 

Also, note the shot of the musicians that is purposefully thrown out of focus to convey the POV of the delirious character.  By default, shooting with autofocus negates artistically deft, expressive racks such as these.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, tupp said:

That "high-end" pros almost never use autofocus is not condescending -- it's a simple fact.  Focus is often an important dimension of photographic artistry, and relinquishing decisions about such artistic expression to a machine is not something that a professional nor a craftsman would generally do.

 

How would one use autofocus to execute the racks shown in this shot.

 

Furthermore, there are aesthetic and practical reasons for using only manual cinema lenses.  One might choose Master Prime or Crystal Express lenses for their performance or look, and if one is shooting on a cinema camera with a PL mount, lack of autofocus is moot.

 

Using an autofocus lens both manually and automatically can be problematic, as manually racking focus requires solid marks that don't move (as is sometimes not the case with "focus-by-wire" AF lenses), so it is usually best to just stick with manual lenses.  Even if one is using a camera that can take both autofocus lenses and manual cinema lenses, switching between AF lenses and cinema lenses can cause visual continuity problems.

 

 

It's doubtful that an algorithm could have conceived of nor executed my above linked example.

 

 

Here is a scene from a more recent production that is chock full of  "fancy creative" and expressive focus racks, with virtually no focus tracking:

 

Also, note the shot of the musicians that is purposefully thrown out of focus to convey the POV of the delirious character.  By default, shooting with autofocus negates artistically deft, expressive racks such as these.

Your first example with the through the glass rack focus is a wickedly cool shot and completely impossible with any AF... I don't even think Canon's DPAF could do it, but that's the only AF that would even come close to what you're describing... but we already know that nobody on this site would dare shoot with a Canon DSLR even if it's their best bet for the AF they apparently need and require.

If their work requires AF, then get an 80D because the GH5 will not help them. I work in the trade show industry and the overwhelming majority of videographers I see shoot with a Canon DSLR... the reasons are obvious.

Hell, to be honest, if AF is important to a narrative filmmaker, most likely their work will be shown entirely online, a place where 1080p is more than enough, so get an 80D and be happy with great AF and place your efforts on story. Or if they still desire better IQ and great AF, then get a 70D with ML Raw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, tupp said:

...

I am sure you can link to a hundred examples like these. Also sure that you don't need me to produce links to 900 focus tracking shots for you. :)

These are cool and all, but they are certainly not the norm. It is likely that you remember them because they stand out. Do we really need to establish that a huge part of focusing is entirely technical, with no creative intent whatsoever? You wouldn't use AF so that it gets creative on you; software has no intent of its own, it can't conceive anything (well, unless we dive into some metaphysical depths, which we shouldn't). You'd use it to do the chores, not the thinking.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously, I can not understand what are the points of these examples.

We discuss auto focus as a new reality to video workflows, seriously considered since the Canon Dual Pixel AF implementation on the Canon C100 and C300markII, to go the distance and say that  "That "high-end" pros almost never use autofocus is not condescending.." is just plain silly. Those cameras aren't even close to "high-end pros" (whatever that means, it sounds expensive, much more expensive than a C300).

Maybe "high-end pros" (whatever that means) will shoot like that https://www.lytro.com/cinema in the near future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, tupp said:

That "high-end" pros almost never use autofocus is not condescending -- it's a simple fact.  Focus is often an important dimension of photographic artistry, and relinquishing decisions about such artistic expression to a machine is not something that a professional nor a craftsman would generally do.

Furthermore, there are aesthetic and practical reasons for using only manual cinema lenses.  One might choose Master Prime or Crystal Express lenses for their performance or look, and if one is shooting on a cinema camera with a PL mount, lack of autofocus is moot.

I never said "high end" and that's a subjective term. Compared to an iPad, the RX100 is high end. Compared to a RX100, a C300 is high end and so on. And people earn income using both, so the definition of a pro is wide ranging. Nat Geo and Sports Illustrated shooters aren't using Arri's and Leica Cine primes - neither are most wedding and event shooters, they're shooting video with something that likely has AF. You're presenting a very narrow slice of the professional shooting industry, and that's part of my point, when people are dismissive of AF, they're ignoring the bigger picture.

And I'm not talking about asthetics, a look, or artistic expression or anything else beyond the fact people getting paid are actually using AF. Geez, I saw an episode of Diners, Drive In's and Dives being shot at a local restaurant a few years ago and the b-roll shooters were using 70d's and tapping the screens. Watch any reality show and you'll see AF in action. Canon C100/300's (and 5d's, 80'd's, A7s and so on) are being used to shoot commercials, TV shows, documentaries, web series, vloggers and so on, and yes people are actually using the AF when they shoot, despite the stream of "this could never be done with AF" samples. Just search eBay for C1/300 with the DPAF upgrade, if its never used, why did so many shell out the cash to get it? I'm not saying everyone is suddenly using AF exclusively because I try to not talk in absolutes, but to say "pros never use it" is condescending toward anyone that gets paid and does use AF. 

Today more content is being pushed onto Youtube than any other medium of delivery. Regardless of what anyone may think of that, its a fact. There are no concrete numbers, but its pretty easy to surmise there are far more people earning money shooting with AF cameras. AF tech and algorithms are moving at a pretty fast pace, it won't be long before they can pull off almost any shot. AF can easily track moving subjects while the camera is moving independently - like walk-and-talk gimbal shots, and the rest can still be done manually. When digital first hit the line was pros would never shoot digital. A decade later when the 5d2 blew up there was tons of dismissive talk about how pros use real video cameras. This stuff will never end...

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's funny how 'now' all companies care about AF all of a sudden because of the vlogging hype. First AC's have been around forever and their main job is to pull focus. Sure AF won't be replacing them but it took a whole person to do something that can be automated.

One of the reasons I bought my NX1 years ago was because of the AF capabilities. Not having to worry about focussing is such a relief, you can actually observe and direct your composition and talent..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not an either or situation...if you're shooting a commercial or a film, you would have a focus puller....you would, whether shooting on a GH5 or C100 or RED or Alexa have at least 3 in the camera dept not including the DP....when the crew cost is 100,000+ per day, telling me that AF missed my best take, is not an option...not snobbery or being pedantic....simply what is economically involved on some shoots compared to others...shooting corporate videos or documentaries or weddings are no less professional as people still get paid....perhaps the biggest difference is that now you're working with a crew of possibly 2 or 3 people (in the case of a documentary I may be short)...you control the edit and if AF misses in a few shots, you're not going to use everything you shot anyway...so a few misses can be worked with...to shoot a 30 second commercial with say half the day on a sound stage and 2 other locations, takes between 3 to 4 prep days...a shoot day between 12 to 16 hours (not flat!) and a wrap day....so...the AC needs a focus puller....the director wants his stuff in focus and the producer does not try to save $350 on the shoot day because it's ridiculous...the one scenario is no more or less professional than the other...what is different are the scales of economy...and of course there is one important factor not being mentioned so far (maybe I missed it)...as with all artistic positions nothing is cooky cutter...and pulling focus and developing a rhythm that works for the scene and making decisions as to when to blur the image, when to rack and when to stay sharp throughout the shot happens in real time...decisions being made between the DP, director and camera department...something AF simply can't do...and make no mistake...pulling good focus is a difficult job at the level of narrative...it requires an instinct for the speed the actors move through their marks and how you follow them on the follow focus and excellent eyesight...it is a precise and demanding job....especially shooting in unforgiving resolution...and lastly....if we're shooting in 24p, because that is the frame rate we are accustomed to in movie theatres...the motion blur we want to see, and yet we use AF which is always obvious to the eye...why not just shoot in 60p as it handles movement better and gives you more than twice the frames per second...so much better image...EXCEPT we want our stuff to look like what we saw in movie theatres when we were kids!...well, to some, the same applies with AF/MF...it's a question of creative choices, economic choices and finally practical choices (the delivery of the final product to client)...neither is superior to the other and nor are they replaceable....the one works where the other would not and vice versa.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, baksteen said:

One of the reasons I bought my NX1 years ago was because of the AF capabilities. Not having to worry about focussing is such a relief, you can actually observe and direct your composition and talent..

Thats why I use MF, so I don't have to worry :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Canon's Duel Pixel auto focus reliability FTW.  Anything else is a risk.  Also most "high end pros" do multiple takes on controlled shoots with multiply angle shots so I doubt they would care about auto focus too much unless it's follow focusing on a subject moving toward or away from the camera....even then I'd only rely on Canon's auto focus.  But the high enders are shooting on film, red, or arri.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This system uses tags on the subject to track them with some pretty amazing accuracy - and it works with any geared cine lens that has hard stops. And you can use either an iPad or their device for manual stuff. Pretty cool.

http://andra.com

On 5/11/2017 at 9:09 PM, Fritz Pierre said:

well, to some, the same applies with AF/MF...it's a question of creative choices, economic choices and finally practical choices (the delivery of the final product to client)...neither is superior to the other and nor are they replaceable....the one works where the other would not and vice versa.

well said

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Trek of Joy said:

This system uses tags on the subject to track them with some pretty amazing accuracy - and it works with any geared cine lens that has hard stops. And you can use either an iPad or their device for manual stuff. Pretty cool.

http://andra.com

well said

And yours for only $14,000 - $33,000. ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...