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Deep DOF
  • Some people call slow lenses give videoish clips. I think deep DOF makes good framing harder as more things are in focus. Nicely framed deep DOF can look quite cinematic. I've seen good looking footages from slow m43 zooms.
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  • Depends. Nothing is inherently better or worse. It's all dependent of the situation and context of the scene.

    Dialog scenes between people look bad with deep DOF and landscapes/establishing shots look bad with shallow DOF... use accordingly. ;)

    It also depends on your personal style. If you like shooting at f11 all the time, that's cool. Same goes for if you like shooting on FF35 at 1.2. I just hate when people start noticing something (shallow DOF) and start to bash it just because it's available.

    When internet cinematography first took off (around 2005) and people starting noticing their DVX100 footage didn't look as cinematic because they DIDN'T have shallow DOF... then it was the "it" thing to have. Now that basically everyone has access to it, it's all the sudden amateur and crappy.
  • Shallow DOF is a great "cheat" if you don't have that good a location or set/production design. It's the equivalent of vaseline on the lens...covers up a lot of flaws.

    A lot of low/no budget productions don't have the cash or resources to get good locations or build great sets to show off some nice deep focus. You can't show it off if you don't got it.
  • @bwhitz I'm not bashing shallow dof :)

    @CRFilms Shallow dof could cover up some flaws.

  • I don't agree that it's a cheat. It's a depth cue and a tool. Not even 4 years ago low/no budget productions COULDN'T even get shallow DOF if they wanted... but now all the sudden it's a "cheat"? I don't buy it. I think it's mostly just become an elitist thing to say sadly.


    Oh I know... I was just say'n in general and such. :)

  • @stonebat .... then there's the learning curve. A lot of people don't have the skills to get proper deep focus, shallow is easier since all you need is a cheap 50mm f1.8.

    Also I feel HD video looks best right now in close ups with shallow focus. My old Canon HV20 shot awesome close ups of my face. Awesome in terms of details...every pore, every hair, every mole was full screen....did not help my self esteem. >_< Very cinematic, but then when I shot wider shots of scenery or buildings it looked like cheap video. Partly because I didn't have the skills to shoot bigger stuff properly(still don't), but also because you're trying to get more image detail using the same bitrate.

    @bwhitz I'm not saying it's "always" a cheat, just that it can be an easy cheat vs spending cash on sets or locations.
  • GH2VK bodes well with deep DOF. The highest bitrate is produced in deep DOF.

    Before vdslr revolution, I guess it must have been expensive to get shallow DOF. Good point.
  • It seems to me that shallow DOF is very similar to how we usually see the world with our naked eyes: only one little part is in focus in our view. So I don't think shallow DOF is a fashion. It is a very good tool which only these day can be used by everyone on a budget. That being said, there are many and many occasions when a deep DOF is very beautiful and very filmic. Long shots are the most obvious ones but not the only ones.
  • shallow dof has been so overused, it doesn't look expensive anymore.

  • Ultimately, the biggest reason we're critiquing these techniques is most videos out there are just about the techniques used to shoot them. The videos aren't about anything, they're montage videos where nothing happens. So because there's no story, no dialogue, just a bunch of edited clips set to music nobody's heard of...all we can do is pick apart the shots and video quality.

    Any vid that actually has a good story, good dialogue, good acting, you focus on the story first then you go back and pick apart how it was made or how it looks. But those are few and far between.
  • Shallow DOF is a great tool for selectively drawing the viewer's attention to something. A filmmaker can also do this with light (our eyes are phototropic and focus our attention on brighter objects), color, pattern, and other ways or combinations of these. But DOF is a great one.

    One of the things I actually like very much about the m43 image size over FF is that it's a pretty good balance between shallow DOF and usable, focusable footage. I think that as filmmakers we had waited so long for shallow DOF that when the 5D finally made it easy, we overused it a little. Now I think some of the newness has worn off and people are moving more toward using appropriate DOF for the scene.
  • I like this video. Nice deep DOF. Also not so distracting use of shallow DOF.

    I think he used 14mm 2.5 at :30. There's just little bit of shallow DOF.

    7-14mm 4.0 is really sharp, but is it slow? Hmmmm.... not with the unlocked ISO? :)
  • Im nearly finishing my short narrative film and try to avoid too much shallow DOF as its distracting and I agree that its being used to death on DSLR footage...sometimes its nice and arty but I dont see shallow dof in films all the time... only for focus trird to approach it the same way. I concentrated more on framing.
    Overall ive never gone faster than f2.5.

  • One problem with really opening up to 1.4 and such is that you often can't get the human face fully focused. I've made the mistake of focusing on a strang of hair and then reviewed the footage to discover the eyes and face soft! Or focused on the eyes and if the subject is look just off cam, the tip of the nose is blurry.
  • @Nino_Ilacqua Shallow DOF is maybe how the eye works, but our eyes are constantly changing focus faster than any camera and we see with our brains, which assembles all those images in realtime super quick.

    We have super deep depth of field.

    Shallow DOF makes it easier to design a set and compose shots. Ever since I've started learning more about cinematography, I've analyzed real films more, and find most shots actually have quite a deep DOF
  • @stonebat that is some nice dof he has. I was tricked into thinking he shot anamorphic. But he didn't!
  • As we all know shallow DOF doesn't only depend on the aperture, but also distance and focal length. That being said, opening up to 1.4 doesn't tell that much, it obviously isn't the same f1.4 at 0.5m @ 85mm focal length than f1.4, infinite, just one thing close to the optics.

    For example, in Won Kar Wei's 2046 or In the Mood for Love, he uses deep DOF the other way round we are used to in DSLR cinematography, that is, instead of focused subjects in first term then blurred background, blurred first term objects with infinite focus afterwards. The first term objects are really meaningless, but help focus attention quite a lot.

    I'd say it really depends, on night shots using shallow DOF is not only a must because you must use an open aperture but because lights get that magical blur we all love. It also depends on wether we are talking about a love movie or an action movie, you cannot use shallow DOF in Batman's night shots with all that action happening everywhere.

    Also shallow DOF can have narrative importance, not only deep DOF.

    So it's all really up to the director's intentions. I love for example how Won Kar Wei uses the deep DOF but with unfocused objects in first term. In night shots, or close-up conversations, I'm a lover of shallow DOF.

    The way I see it is really this: it's up to you on how you use it, but remember what it's intended for. Every time you think about a scene, the position of your camera and the DOF must express the same thing you intend to narratively. And almost always, when you are thinking of impressive image instead of giving impressive emotions, you're screwing up things. That, at least, is my own experience.

    That is, for cinema, not talking about Lady Gaga kind of music clip :P .

    Cheers and nice talk, hope we keep it on, it's nice to see everybody's opinions in this stuff.
  • @johnnym I guess it's not easy to fake the anamorphic look. His video didn't show elliptical light reflection.
  • @Mimirsan I believe you. A film can be done at f/2.5 or slower. But it might not be easy to take all scenes at f/1.4 or faster. Also... not everyone looks great at shallow DOF... haha.
  • DOF not only depends on aperture, distance and focal length, but on sensor size. A video camera with a 1/3" sensor is going to have deep DOF unless you attach a ground glass lens adapter to it.

    One of the reasons that shallow DOF is becoming cliche is that some DSLR shooters don't realize that a FF sensor is bigger than the Cine35 film frame in a Panavision camera. Which means the DOF is shallower than a real movie camera. So they push the bokeh to the limit, and create exaggerated DOF that you would never see in a "real" film.

    That's one of the things I like about M43; it's close enough to Cine35 that it looks like a movie, not like a bokeh test.

  • +1 many FF shooters just go too far. But with m4/3, unless you have the 0.95 Nokton, I don't think you're in too much danger. I have a 40mm 1.8, and at wide open on the GH2, it feels very similar to what you see in many films. I think a good rule of thumb is to try and get the depth of field close to that of the human eye for almost all shots (in terms of the actual size of the in-focus range, not the degree of background blur). Of course there will always be exceptions and special shots/effects to do, but as far as narrative filmmaking is concerned, following this rule has generally set me squarely in a nice, middle ground.
  • @AdR I generally agree, except that there's no 'right' or 'wrong' just the result we're looking to create. If the desired result if to mimic a feature shot on 35mm, then a lot of people are overshooting that mark. But we should realize that a new aesthetic is dawning based on these big sensors and fast lenses, and that's fantastic. Technology has always driven new aesthetics in cinematography.
  • It's not like they haven't filmed on larger formats than 35mm before. Have you looked at the depth of field in those films?
  • Sure. FF is essentially Vista Vision size. And then there's 65mm and larger. But I don't recall bokake-style cinematography in those the way that DSLR filmmakers swung the DOF pendulum so far.
  • @stonebat Thanks for sharing the Jean-Baptiste Lefournier link. I enjoyed the transition at about 0:53 a lot and the section that followed even more than the preceding one.

    Music was also good and the film was good enough to get me to stop feeling annoyed at the voice by the end. :)