Watch: Cinematography Video Essay About 'The Art of the Focus Pull'

May 1, 2017
Source: YouTube

The Art of the Focus Pull

"One of the great artists of the film is the focus puller." Time for a lesson in filmmaking. As the introduction for this video explains, "moviegoers see focus racks all the time" but "they probably don’t even notice most of them." This video essay, created by Philip Brubaker for Fandor, titled simply The Art of the Focus Pull examines the cinematography technique of "focus pulling" - or changing the focus in the middle of a shot. There's different ways to achieve this, and the video covers a few of them, and shows plenty of examples. It also counts down three of the best focus pull shots in films, and each one of them is most certainly striking.

Original video description on YouTube: "Moviegoers see focus racks all the time. They probably don’t even notice most of them. That’s the idea. If you’re not looking for them, they can be hard to spot. But some rack focusing is so well done, so artful and occasionally dazzling, that it deserves to be singled out. This video essay collects these fantastic focal feats and educates on how they are done." This video essay was created and edited by Philip Brubaker (follow him @lens_itself) for Fandor. The full list of films, clips, and music used in the video can be found in the end credits. Great work, Philip. Now who wants to go make a movie?

Find more posts: To Watch, Video Essays



Nice. I'll sleep less dumb today. Thanks for sharing.

tarek on May 1, 2017


you have that backwards and it has more to do with f-stops

LeoForPrez on May 1, 2017


You do have it backwards...the focal length on a zoom lens is more conducive to this effect than a wide angle lens.

LeoForPrez on May 1, 2017


I also dig using telephotos in photography and just destroying the background in creamy blandness.

DAVIDPD on May 2, 2017


Hey Bo. I am an eternal learner. The day I say that I know, I know that I know nothing. ;D

tarek on May 2, 2017


Very interesting, never knew the term for it. Someone help me with this one: What is the term for the shot that slowly zooms in on a character, usually when shocked or terrified, but the background seems to push farther away from the foreground, quickly? I love those shots, very effective.

grimjob on May 1, 2017


Vertigo zoom.

Robert Harmon on May 2, 2017


Thank you.

grimjob on May 2, 2017


AKA Dolly Zoom.

tarek on May 2, 2017


This technique was really taken to the extreme when DSLR format became a real medium for novice film makers. I still love a good amateur focus pull, but yeah when you see a real pro do it, it is sexy as can be.

DAVIDPD on May 2, 2017

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