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

Sony HDC-4800 Review
Andy McKenzie First announced at NAB 2016, the Sony HDC-4800 is a studio camera system capable of shooting 4K/UHD at up to 8x or full HD at up to 16x. With a price point upwards of £250,000 it is a very high-end product with a wide feature set. In Sony's own words, "This is the future of live production, designed to satisfy the storytelling aspect of modern sports production.” Deliveries began in mid 2017 and, after careful preliminary evaluation, we invested in several systems for our hire fleet ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Tags: iss134 | review | hdc-4800 | sony | finepoint | Andy McKenzie
Contributing Author Andy McKenzie Click to read or download PDF
What content providers need to know about OTT
Hiren Hindocha As OTT (Over-The-Top) technology has gotten more mature and established robust standards over the years, the concept of OTT monitoring is gaining popularity. With customer expectations soaring, it’s vital for OTT providers to deliver superior quality content. To deliver Quality of Experience (QoE) on par with linear TV broadcast, the entire system, starting from ingest to multi-bitrate encoding to delivery to CDN must be monitored continuously.
Tags: iss134 | ott monitoring | qos | logging | compliance | dash | atsc | cloud | Hiren Hindocha
Contributing Author Hiren Hindocha Click to read or download PDF
Protecting the continuity of transmission
Lorna Garrett Your viewers love you. You consistently bring them their preferred channels 24/7. They’ve come to rely on you for their viewing pleasure. They never miss cheering on their beloved sports teams. They’re the envy of their friends as they watch live concerts of their favourite bands. They gather the family around and catch up on their must-see shows. They don’t have a bad word to say about you.
Tags: iss134 | garland | gpl | streaming | artel | disaster recovery | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
The brave new world of software based production
Boromy Ung In today’s rapidly evolving broadcast industry, the only constant media organizations can truly count on is change — and the need to adapt as rapidly and cost-effectively as possible. One of the biggest agents of change is the IP revolution, driving broadcasters to migrate their operations to all-software solutions running on commodity, IT-based technologies.
Tags: iss134 | chyronhego | graphics | sports | ott | Boromy Ung
Contributing Author Boromy Ung Click to read or download PDF