February 8, 2014

Meet the 'Silencer', a Near-Silent, Trigger-Operated Follow Focus System

SilencerYou could have a great story, riveting actors, and a capable camera, but if your shots aren't in focus, you've really got a serious problem on your hands. Having an experienced focus puller ensuring that your shots are in focus may be a great advantage during production, but if you're a barebones crew, that responsibility often falls on whomever's behind the camera (probably you). The big obstacle to pulling focus yourself is having to giving up a hand that could be stabilizing your camera, but 24Shots has developed a trigger-controlled follow focus system, the Silencer, that will help you keep your images sharp while keeping both hands on the wheel.

According to its Kickstarter campaign page, the virtually silent Silencer is the first trigger-operated follow focus system. This allows run-and-gun camera operators to pull focus, while supporting their rigs with both hands. The Silencer was built with several pretty cool features: it can be mounted on any handle style or any round object, pressure sensitivity of the trigger allows camera operators to control the speed of focus, and the system's setup flexibility (more on that later).

Check out their Kickstarter campaign video to learn more about the Silencer:

The varying setups, center, side, and floating mount setups, allow the Silencer to be mounted on any rig that you want to use, because each setup utilizes different rails and rail positions. 24Shots offers three Silencer systems: Silencer Lite, Silencer Pro, and Silencer Pro Zoom -- each comes with a rail system and different setups for rig compatibility (the Pro Zoom comes with an extra trigger to control zoom). Each system was designed with different filmmakers and projects in mind -- for instance, the price of the Silencer Lite may appeal to new filmmakers, but its lower level of pressure sensitivity may not offer veterans the control that the Silencer Pro would give them.

Bob of 24Shots discusses the differences between the Lite and Pro systems in the video below:

Silencer systems

Now, these follow focus systems are not dirt cheap, but depending on when you buy and which reward package you choose, you might be able to save a little bit of money.

Silencer Lite system:$350 to $550

Silencer Pro system: $850 to $950

Silencer Pro Zoom system: $1,800 to $2,100

The cost of the Lite system seems pretty doable for most no-budget filmmakers -- especially if that cost includes not only a follow focus system, but the added stability its design will afford you. However, the cost of the Pro Zoom, and even the Pro system, may deter some. I suppose it all depends on just how well the Silencer does its job, seeing as we see follow focus systems that get similarly expensive as well.

To help answer that question (without actually testing it), the Silencer Pro was tested and then used to make a short film entitled The Money, which, to better demonstrate the Pro system's capabilities, was shot in a single continues shot. Check it out below:

There are plenty of great follow focus systems that do their job well while still being relatively inexpensive. But, if you're wanting something that will allow you to focus without sacrificing camera stabilization, then the Silencer is now an option for you.

Check out the Silencer's Kickstarter campaign or visit 24Shot's website for more information about the follow focus system.

What do you think about the Silencer? Do you think its features are worth the investment? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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32 Comments

It actually looks like their are some cuts in the scene when there are black parts in the video (when he moves behind the back) as in Hitchcock's Rope because the film was finished. But still a great video and piece of equipment something to watch out for in the near future of DSLR cinematography.

Sorry for my bad english ;)

February 8, 2014 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Patrick Nishimwe

Cool idea, hope they reach their goal. But man I can't stand those micro vibrations in the handheld shooting of the video

February 8, 2014 at 9:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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carlos

I'd like to add that in the video one of the guys states that having an AC means the operator loses control of what he's doing.... Seriously? Couldn't be farther from the truth! Having an AC means the operator can focus(no pun intended) all his attention on camera movement, composition and framing. There's nothing like shooting with an experienced AC, they keep everything running smoothly for camera department. This is coming from someone who has done a ton of operation involving pulling my own focus, which is a good skill to have,. Regardless, I'll push for an AC every time, even if it means taking a slight pay cut.

And I don't mean to take anything a way from this product, I think a lot of solo shooters can benefit from this sort of thing.

February 8, 2014 at 9:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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carlos

+1

February 9, 2014 at 12:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kuk

Zacuto Recoil/Tornado is better choice IMO.

February 8, 2014 at 9:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ray Chen

At certain points in the copy, you refer to the unit as the Stabilizer, not the Silencer.

February 8, 2014 at 10:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

Good catch, Brian. Thanks!

February 8, 2014 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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V Renée
Nights & Weekends Editor
Writer/Director

Innovative, silence is golden. I was hoping that Jag electric FF worked out but couldn't imagine using it with the noise. They should try to turn that little box (which I don't mind) into hand grips to use on an 3 axis stabilizer sure they could just mount it but then it's not an acce$$ory.

February 8, 2014 at 10:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anthony Marino

How much does the CineTape run?

February 9, 2014 at 4:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

To answer my own question - rented at ~ $75/day.

February 9, 2014 at 9:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

This doesn't seem ready for real production. I don't think you can have the same accuracy on a small trigger compared to using a follow focus with markings and a larger rotation. Also, what if you want to use actual cinema lenses?

February 9, 2014 at 4:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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luke

Ditto. A trigger sounds like a terrible idea. Too hard to repeat moves (I'm actually great at this from freestyle bicycling, motorcycling, mountain biking)...but you could not accurately repeat moves. Also, with a wheel, you don't even have to look most of the time so you can keep your eyes on the actors (or monitor). Motor memory isn't going to be as accurate without a wheel.

February 19, 2014 at 7:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Daniel Mimura

To expensive. If you can spend 2.000$ for the Silencer, probably you are in the range of professional shooter who prefer work with an AC on set.

February 9, 2014 at 5:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Roland De la Bonné

I really dont understand the negativity towards this product, it looks potentially brilliant to me. A lot of focus pullers here maybe;)...

February 9, 2014 at 7:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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andy

Great idea, looks like a very nice bit of kit that is useful and practical but for the asking price it's pretty expensive.

February 9, 2014 at 7:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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ADC

wow, they reinveted this:
http://www.digistore.fr/vzfcf22-deport-commande-petit-fujinon-pi-727.html

This isnt exactly the same since it is not for that type of lens at all but. reminds me that anyway.

February 9, 2014 at 8:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pierre

They are not the first trigger style focus pull. The snap focus was funded and is already in production. Professionals such as JJ Abrams have even commented on it's potential.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/midasmount/snapfocus-follow-focus-s...

February 9, 2014 at 8:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jay

This one came to mind at the moment I saw the article. It may not look as elegant, but I remember reading/hearing that this one was more physical, you could train your muscle memory and be very precise with it. And it looks to be cheaper too. I'll look into it.

February 10, 2014 at 3:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I too saw this and remembered that I had seen a cable-operated bicycle-brake-style one that should be silent, muscle-memory-friendly and no batteries needed for basic operation. This Silencer seems to just ignore two out of those three and their benefits for no reason... ok, maybe remote-operating where wire-cables are impractical... but for that you probably should do it with a traditional focus-wheel anyway... it's a shame that the Snap-Focus seem stuck at the moment. It just seems like a simpler and better idea than the Silencer in my opinion...

Also I agree fully on that note that if you can have a talented and experienced focus-puller. Then there is no reason not to get one. At least until I can get my single-line LADAR-assisted focusmotor into market. :P

February 21, 2014 at 4:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Looks like the Snap Focus Kickstarter project launched almost 2 years ago and still hasn't filled orders...

February 9, 2014 at 9:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob

Just noting that they stole some footage from a fellow filmmaker which they used in their promo video...

February 9, 2014 at 10:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tobias

Really?? Can you post a link to the original work?

February 11, 2014 at 1:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Seems like a not-ready product at too high a price point in search of a clear market niche. Other than that, a real winner.

February 9, 2014 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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ronn

focus marks on the lens barrell? how do you see them when operating?! this is a bit ridiculous...

February 9, 2014 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anyone tried this one?
http://www.edelkrone.com/p/104/follow-focus
Looks like it might be a good solution.

February 9, 2014 at 8:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Stu Mannion

I prefer the design Lenzhounds came up with at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1608311032/lenzhound-wireless-lens-...

Since they're both vaporware until the full production devices come onto the market, they're both kind of moot.

I'd really like a silent, compact, accurate, flexible (as in not needing a lot of time to switch between lenses) and lightweight wireless (or even wired) follow focus system that cost less than the stinking camera body.

February 9, 2014 at 11:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan

Call me crazy, but I have a Canon T5i and the autofocus + touch screen is what you're asking for, and it's built into the camera body with no added software or hardware. I'm mostly shooting documentary, and it's obviously not optimized for narrative productions with rehearsal time, but once you get used to it, it is amazingly convenient to tap the item of focus onscreen, tap the shutter button, and it's focused. It's not perfect, but I am 99% satisfied, it's built in, completely silent, and it will actually follow focus for you. It works best with faces, but give it a tangible shape and it will continuously keep track of where it is in the frame. For documentary work where each finger has its own job, I really couldn't imagine a better follow focus solution.

February 10, 2014 at 1:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ben Gates

Just a note I thought was worth mentioning:
Since I had already funded Lenzhound, and Silencer as a focus system was redundant, I contacted them and asked if I could fund the Lite package model and get a zoom motor/package instead.
They said it was perfectly fine and would simply note it somewhere on their records when they processed the rewards.
I have no idea if anyone else has had this deal done for them, but just thought it was worth pointing it out such an arrangement could be made. (Contact them after making the pledge just to be sure).

February 13, 2014 at 6:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Chris Horii

Silencer rebooted with lower prices!!! Check it out: http://kck.st/1bQOJWs

February 16, 2014 at 10:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob

amazing insight. Really enjoyed reading this blog. Keep up the good work and to everyone keep on tweeting!

February 28, 2014 at 7:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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well done at inventing something that doesn't need inventing.

April 16, 2014 at 8:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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oliver driscoll

Seems to be interesting...but it is bit of high pricing.

According to me it is not yet fully ready for real production. required to get finished with a proper frame set.I am doubtful about the accuracy which a little small trigger can give on the place of follow focus.
http://www.dvcity.com/dvshop/Follow-Focus/

http://www.dvcity.com/dvshop/CAMTREE-Prime-Follow-Focus-with-15mm-Rod-Su...

April 18, 2014 at 5:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Cedric Delsaux