What is DEEP FOCUS? What does DEEP FOCUS mean? DEEP FOCUS meaning, definition & explanation

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What is DEEP FOCUS? What does DEEP FOCUS mean? DEEP FOCUS meaning - DEEP FOCUS definition - DEEP FOCUS explanation.

Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.

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Deep focus is a photographic and cinematographic technique using a large depth of field. Depth of field is the front-to-back range of focus in an image — that is, how much of it appears sharp and clear. In deep focus the foreground, middle-ground and background are all in focus.

Deep focus is normally achieved by choosing a small aperture. The aperture of a camera determines how much light enters through the lens, so achieving deep focus requires a bright scene or long exposure. Wide angle lenses also make a larger portion of the image appear sharp.

It is also possible to achieve the illusion of deep focus with optical tricks (split focus diopter) or by compositing two pictures together. It is the aperture of a camera lens that determines the depth of field.

The opposite of deep focus is shallow focus, in which only one plane of the image is in focus.

When deep focus is used, filmmakers often combine it with deep space (also called deep staging). Deep space is a part of mise-en-scene, placing significant actors and props in different planes of the picture. Directors and cinematographers often use deep space without using deep focus, being either an artistic choice or because they do not have resources to create a deep focus look, or both.

Directors may use deep focus in only some scenes or even just some shots. Other auteurs choose to use it consistently throughout the movie, either as a stylistic choice or because they believe it represents reality better. Filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Kenji Mizoguchi, Orson Welles, Masahiro Shinoda, Akio Jissoji, Jean Renoir, and Jacques Tati all used deep focus as part of their signature style.

The choice of shooting format affects how easy it would be to achieve a deep focus look. This is because the size of the sensor or film gauge dictates what particular lens focal length would be used in order to achieve a desired viewing angle. Smaller sensors or film gauges will require an overall range of shorter focal lengths to achieve any desired viewing angle than larger sensors or film gauges. Because depth of field is a characteristic of lens focal length (in addition to aperture and focus distance setting), it is easier to achieve a deep-focus look with a smaller imaging sensor or film gauge. For example: a 40mm lens will give a 30-degree horizontal angle of view in the Super35 format. To achieve the same viewing angle with a 1/2" 16:9 sensor, you would need a 13mm lens. A 13mm lens inherently has much more depth-of-field than a 40mm lens. To achieve the same depth of field with a 40mm lens would require a very small aperture, which in turn would require far more light, and therefore time and expense.

Some filmmakers make deliberate use of the deep focus capabilities of digital formats. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006) is among the many big budget movies that have been shot digitally in recent years. Cinematographer Dion Beebe had this to say:

We also decided that there were attributes of HD technology we liked and wanted to exploit, like the increased depth of field. Because of the cameras' chip size (2/3"), they have excessive depth of field that we decided not to fight, but rather utilize.

In the 70s, directors made frequent use of the split-focus diopter. With this invention it was possible to have one plane in focus in one part of the picture and a different plane in focus in the other half of the picture. This was and still is very useful for the anamorphic widescreen format, which has less depth of field.

A split diopter is half convex glass that attaches in front of the camera's main lens to make half the lens nearsighted. The lens can focus on a plane in the background and the diopter on a foreground. A split diopter does not create real deep focus, only the illusion of this. What distinguishes it from traditional deep focus is that there is not continuous depth of field from foreground to background; the space between the two sharp objects is out of focus. Because split focus diopters only cover half the lens, shots in which they are used are characterized by a blurred line between the two planes in focus.

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