Focus pullers have the fun yet critical job of getting images perfectly in focus every time, but that comes with a big set of challenges depending on the production.
One thing that Teradek RT aims to do is make pulling critical focus even easier, and one of the biggest features is the Teradek RT follow focus overlays on SmallHD monitors. By connecting a CTRL.3 or CTRL.1 to any SmallHD monitor running OS3, lens maps are imported to the monitor and appear as overlays, allowing focus pullers to see the distance and image at the same time.
1st AC Tyler Hollman has been taking his new toys on productions. He shares his first impressions of the overlays feature.
Fast-Paced vs Slow-Paced Shoots
“A lot of the work here in Grand Rapids is corporate commercial work, and compared to big film places like Los Angeles and New York, the companies we work with aren’t really accustomed to the film industry. Lots of shoots happen in places like corporate offices and hospitals where our crews have to take over the entire place for a whole day, which means we have to get in and get out as fast as possible. Once we land, we should be shooting.” - 1st AC Tyler Hollman.
“When I’m on a fast-paced shoot, I need to pull sharp every time. We’re racing against the clock with every shot we take because for these clients, time is money. As a trusted AC, I can’t be forcing the entire crew to take more shots and wait for me to set up marks. I’m hired to adapt quickly, and I need the right tools to make that happen.”
“On slower-paced shoots like studio stuff, it’s completely flipped around. There’s so much time and money invested into the project that everything MUST look perfect in the final image. If you’re botching moments of gold (perfect lighting, perfect talent, etc.), you’re holding up the entire crew and it’s all falling on you. So much is invested in these that I need to bring my A-game every day.”
Impressions on the Follow Focus Overlays
“We just finished a commercial shoot with a local sports bra company called Shefit. How shoots like these work is the talent and production teams are very separate. The company grabs a bunch of models, puts them in front of a camera and gives them free reign over what they want to do. Some models are doing backflips and some just sit in a spot, and things are constantly changing between takes.”
- ARRI ALEXA Mini
- Leica Sumicron
- Teradek Bolt 500 XT
- Teradek RT CTRL.1
- SmallHD FOCUS 7 Bolt 500 RX
- FOCUS Bolt 500 RX
- FOCUS Bolt Sidekick RX
“The overlays set the Teradek RT system apart from any other wireless follow focus system in our field. After every take, I need to remember where the models start and end in the shot, and normally I’d have to look down at the controller to see the focus marks or make mental marks on the distances. Now I have my marks right on the screen I’m looking at.”
“I’m using the SmallHD FOCUS 7 as my handheld AC monitor directly attached to the top of my CTRL.1. Video from our camera comes straight to my handheld monitor since it has the Bolt 500 built in, and I also gave two FOCUS monitors to the Director and art department. I also use an aviator hood to black out the lights on set, and I can’t really bring my head out to look at the marks on the controller. With the maps all on the side of the monitor, I can keep my head in and keep my eyes on the image the entire time.”
Focus and Efficiency
“With commercial jobs, the talent are focused on doing their jobs and any kind of shift in our momentum can throw off their groove. The same goes for the entire production crew. If I mess up any part of my job, we’re back to square one, so I need to make my adjustments and make sure we capture the shot with every single take. The better I can do my job, the more my colleagues will recommend me for the next job. And you never know which job can be the big one!”
“I really love what Teradek and SmallHD are doing by combining the wireless video and monitors together. It’s such a time saver in prep when I don’t have to worry about rigging a director’s monitor using a cage, monitor and receiver along with cables and batteries. When I pack these monitors, I slap on a battery and 3 antennas and I’m good to go. That alone saves so much time and makes the monitor side of prep and teardown just an afterthought.”
Check out more of 1st AC Tyler Hollman’s work: