April 2, 2016

These DIY Follow Focus Hacks Will Make Pulling Focus Easier (& Cost Less Than $10)

Pulling focus is a difficult task with a follow focus, so what are filmmakers supposed to do when they can't afford these expensive pieces of film equipment?

Well, you gotta get creative, Jack! Here are a couple of videos from Filmora that show you two ways to make DIY follow focuses out of household objects, including a magnifying glass and an $8 silicone jar opener.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iax-B4Y4Gxk

Film Riot actually shared the jar opener idea back in 2012 — and surely it was floating around before that as well. But check out their video below; not only does host Ryan Connolly talk about this DIY hack, but he also gives you tips on becoming a better focus puller.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pUZf-JY6JM

Now, I'm not completely sold on the jar opener being a good DIY solution, but only because the end from which you pull seems a little too flimsy to provide the precision you need to pull focus. I've never tried it before, so I may be completely wrong. However, repurposing the magnifying glass is a little slice of genius. Even if these hacks aren't perfect, they're super simple and cheap and can give you at least a little bit more control while you pull focus.

Share your DIY follow focus ideas in the comments below!     

Your Comment

5 Comments

Regarding the magnifying glass follow focus, I imagine with a metal handle like that you'd probably wouldn't be able to "let go" of the focus. Otherwise its weight would pull it down and screw up your focus.

April 2, 2016 at 9:38PM

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There is a not so good advise on Film Riot video.
On a DSLR with a zoom, it is not an option to zoom in on your subject, set the focus and zoom out to shoot wide.
Most of photographic zoom (adapted on various camera body) are NOT parafocal, which means you are losing your focus point by zooming in or out.
Each zoom position will deliver a different focus point and after zooming in or out, you have to set your focus point again.
This is different on an ENG video camera as parafocal zoom is a key feature on a "real" video camera.

April 2, 2016 at 10:07PM, Edited April 2, 10:07PM

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Franc Sanka
Director of Photography / Film and Photography Teacher
216

Thanks. Good Stuff

April 3, 2016 at 2:53AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
1073

Over a decade ago I developed a focus handle by tieing an ring tie around a slr lens. Useful for pulling focus to position without looking until the lens fell appart. :)

We don't need these things, we need to kickstart an indian lens company to make a parafocal multi focal very fast (1.2 or less) compact multi format (through simple cheap adaptors and speed boosters) electronic manual low cost liquid lens system with simple wired and no wired controls like follow focus. A kit system where you add what you want to your $200 lens that is configurable from at least full frame downwards, with basic cinema level performsnce. and we need to find the original company behind the canon hd1 which I suspect might be indian from something years ago.

The premise is essy, the liquid components allow a much simpler and compact high performance lens array (they replace some lens sections). You pick the adaptor, even one for a existing fixed lens camera or mobile phone. The lens adaptor positions the lens for the spec of the device and either windows the image or speed boost it. You set the lens control settings by config file of needed to configure it to that device. You use device control, wifi, Bluetooth or added control through beard wild or interface, and slim battery if needed. Except for adaptors the lens and all other bits are shared for every camera it can work on, increasing volumes and reducing costs.

Now, if you look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 I think it was, with liquid lens and first with 4k. The lens performed admirably compared to other high end phone lens. This extends the technology to the next level. For a $1000 you could outfit all your devices with these lens (assuming you have three devices). Outside of the lens most of these parts are simple knock out parts on batch consumer production lines (don't expect some exotic expensive non cast material).

Now that is a project.

April 4, 2016 at 10:17AM, Edited April 4, 10:17AM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
242

BTW, said company can make me money selling lens systems to manufacturers as well. Say for a fixed raven or BM.

April 4, 2016 at 10:20AM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
242