Focus Technology in 2016 and Beyond


Lisa J Whelan TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Lisa J. Whelan
Issue 110 - February 2016

With the advance of larger camera sensors, faster lenses and complex lighting systems, the role of the 1st AC (Assistant Camera) is more demanding than ever. Fortunately, the world of focus technology is developing new and innovative ways to step up and meet these demands head-on.

Out of Focus

Historically, when shooting a complex scene with multiple moving objects, the onus was on the actors and 1st AC to work in unison; relying on the 1st AC's experience of judging distance alongside the established Cinematography Electronics Cinetape measure system or floor markers. This was particularly difficult (or even impossible) in improvised or unpredictable scenes, such as car chases.

This is where the new stars of focus technology come in. The Preston Light Ranger 2 and the Ward Sniper Mk 3 both made waves in 2015 as revolutionary equipment to aid accurate focusing.

Ward Sniper Mk III

On the set of Spectre - the latest addition to the James Bond franchise - 1st AC Jonathan Webb specifically sought out the Ward Sniper Mk 3 for the now-infamous fast-speed car chase scene. As the shoot would be undertaken outdoors and at such high speeds, Jon needed equipment that would perform under heavy wind and alongside the rain deflector.

The Ward Sniper uses lasers to measure distance and report that information back to the 1st AC with zero latency, perfect for high-speed (and high-cost) shoots. For Spectre, Jon was atop a moving vehicle himself, yet was still able to accurately focus on the moving supercars at play in the scene thanks to the innovation of the Ward Sniper.

Spectre was one of the first major feature films in the UK to use the Ward Sniper, and has set a new precedent for the filming of fast-moving and unpredictable scenes.

Light Ranger II

The Light Ranger 2 uses infrared LED technology which is invisible to both the naked eye and the camera, rather than lasers, to measure depth of field and distance during a shoot. The brilliance of the Light Ranger comes from the unique pairing of the sensor and video display. The sensor measures the DOF, and again with zero latency, the video display reports that information back to the 1st AC via a grid made up of 16 different sections.

The grid is highlighted to accurately guide the 1st AC by displaying which items in the shot are behind, or in front of, an established distance. Continuing with the advanced trend we've come to expect of Preston; the Light Ranger also allows for smooth transition between auto and manual focus. It's easy to imagine how vital this equipment would become to a 1st AC dealing with multiple objects, especially during particularly long takes. The Birdman aesthetic may well soon become commonplace with the Light Ranger 2 eliminating the need for the desired effect to be created post-production.

Optical Support

At time of writing, Optical Support are the only UK agents and service centre for Preston Cinema Systems, with the first Light Ranger 2 units in the country. Optical Support are also the exclusive UK distributor of the Ward Sniper Mk 3. Optical Support are able to offer both these products and more for hire and sale, and provide specialist services to train, support and equip camera operators to the highest degree.


Tags: iss110 | focus | spectre | light ranger 2 | optical support | Lisa J Whelan
Contributing Author Lisa J Whelan

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • SmallHD at IBC 2018 show the Focus Bolt 500RX and 500TX

    SmallHD at IBC 2018 show the Focus Bolt 500RX and 500TX

  • Prime Focus Technologies showcases latest product innovations at NAB 2018

    Prime Focus Technologies showcases latest product innovations at NAB 2018

  • Prime Focus Technologies Showcase Work Order Management at IBC 2017

    Prime Focus Technologies Showcase Work Order Management at IBC 2017

  • Be More with Clear from Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2017

    Be More with Clear from Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2017

  • Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

    Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

  • Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2016

    Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2016

  • Prime Focus at IBC 2012

    Prime Focus at IBC 2012

  • Prime Focus at IBC2011

    Prime Focus at IBC2011

  • Zylight F8 LED Fresnel at NAB 2013

    Zylight F8 LED Fresnel at NAB 2013

  • Cambo at BVE 2013

    Cambo at BVE 2013

  • IOV at ProVideo2011

    IOV at ProVideo2011


Articles
Trade shows and their role in the wired world
Richard Baker Historically trade shows afforded an opportunity to collect the latest brochures relevant to the visitor's chosen industry or career path. Today there seems little reason to store data of any kind, let alone paper brochures, when information is so easily accessible online. Brochure back-packing at exhibitions has become a rare sight, rarer still since the security clampdown on visitor luggage at exhibitions. Today's efficient show delegate need only carry a mobile phone and, in deference to tradition, a bundle of business cards. The phone doubles as a snapshot camera, video camera, dictaphone, email reader, internet browser, Skype communicator, and so on.
Tags: iss133 | finepoint | ibc | nab | kitplus show | bve | Richard Baker
Contributing Author Richard Baker Click to read or download PDF
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
What is next in OTT
Mary Kay Evans In the past year alone, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the amount of OTT content that’s being streamed. In the first quarter of 2018, there’s been a 114 percent year-over-year growth in streaming video hours, and those numbers are only expected to rise. With OTT revenue predicted to reach $16.6B in 2018, a 40% gain over last year, there’s no question that OTT is booming, and that there’s never been a more critical time to pay attention to the space.
Tags: iss133 | ott | verizon | cisco | Mary Kay Evans
Contributing Author Mary Kay Evans Click to read or download PDF
Ride along on the Tour de Tech at IBC
Lorna Garrett Finding your way through the halls and aisles of the massive IBC can feel a bit like attempting to complete all 21 stages of the Tour de France — but in far fewer days. But have no fear; your team at Garland is all geared up and ready to show you the best on show at this year's exhibition.
Tags: iss133 | garland | liveu | lu600 | media excel | teracue | wisi | broadcast wireless systems | bws | artel | ibc | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
The Pace of Change
Dick Hobbs - new

The youngest human to stand on the moon (so far) was Charles Moss, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 16. Charlie had a wonderful claim: his father witnessed the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, and lived to see his son on the moon.

Does anything capture the speed of technological advance better than that? The whole of the history of powered flight in one lifetime.

Tags: iss133 | state of the nation | st2110 | st2110-10 | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF