Two filmmakers chasing the dream of producing their first feature film...
...and financing it solely through winning video contests.

Have you ever seen a shot like the one below and wondered why the hell you couldn't achieve the same effect with your camera:

Maybe you haven't, but it was always a mystery to me that even as we used better and better cameras, we could never figure out how to selectively blur the images we were capturing.

The answer is simple and complicated at the same time-- but let's just stick to the simple part of it: there are lenses that are specifically designed to allow one part of an image to be in focus and the rest to be blurred.

These lenses have a "shallow depth of field," meaning that there is a thin plane of the image that is in focus, while both the background and the foreground are slightly blurred.

This effect looks AWESOME and is used in EVERY movie. But not only does it look good, it allows the filmmaker to direct your eye to ONE part of the image... which limits the distractions that a background can bring. Here's an example from one of our contest videos, the Louisiana Hot Sauce Solution:

When I found out these lenses existed, I thought: "Awesome. I'll just go buy some lenses."

But unfortunately... it doesn't really work like that.

For whatever reason, most consumer and prosumer cameras DO NOT have the ability to exchange lenses... so you're stuck with the lens on the camera unless you invest thousands of dollars in a lens adapter (I will explain what that is next time). For now, though, I'd like to show you how to achieve this effect on your camera WITHOUT spending thousands of dollars:

1. Open up the iris (or exposure) on your camera as much as possible. If you want a scientific explanation as to why this works, google it.

2. Zoom. Zoom in on your subject and keep them at a distance from you and from the background. Make sure you can manually adjust the focus.

It's pretty much as simple as that... and the more expensive the camera, the easier it is to pull this off. For the shot above, I specifically asked Blake (the cinematographer) to step back and zoom in, giving enough distance between subject, background and camera to achieve the blur.

I'd like to leave you with a filmmaker who uses depth of field to powerful effect in his movies. I met him briefly when I went to Santa Cruz:

More next time... I didn't realize what a huge topic this would be.


Prince Gomolvilas said...

Great post once again. For your next one, I do want to know more about that 35 mm lens adapter and how much it costs.

Prince Gomolvilas said...

By the way, this blog could use more nudity.

Will said...


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