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

  • 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

  • SmallHD shows the Cine 7 monitor with camera control and integrated Teradek Bolt at NAB 2019

    SmallHD shows the Cine 7 monitor with camera control and integrated Teradek Bolt at NAB 2019

  • 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


Related Shows
  • Panasonic BGH1 Camera overview

    Panasonic BGH1 Camera overview


Articles
The Future of Broadcast Technology
Manfred Reitmeier

Now that OTT and VOD have become more mainstream, many commentators talk about traditional broadcast methods, like terrestrial transmission, being a thing of the past. With so many new platforms and non-traditional content services carving out a growing slice of the market, you can be forgiven for thinking that linear over-the-air television is on its way out. The reality is that the industry must strike a balance between meeting consumers’ shifting habits and the business and operational needs of content providers.

Tags: Rohde Schwarz | 5g broadcast | Manfred Reitmeier
Contributing Author Manfred Reitmeier Click to read
A switch in time: how KVM can unlock the future of broadcasting
Chris Smeeton

One of the major changes for broadcasters during the pandemic has been the shift towards remote production; by no means a new phenomenon in an IP environment, yet accelerated under lockdown to accommodate travel and gathering restrictions. A 2021 report found that almost 40% of broadcast professionals now employ remote production, up 9% on the previous year.

Tags: KVM | ARGOSY | GDSYS | KVM Tech | Chris Smeeton
Contributing Author Chris Smeeton Click to read
Rohde & Schwarz integration with Adobe Premiere Pro
Ciaran Doran

Rohde & Schwarz SpycerNode storage & VENICE ingest are perfect partners for Adobe workflows

Tags: Rohde Schwarz | media | VENICE | SpycerNode | adobe | premier pro | Ciaran Doran
Contributing Author Ciaran Doran Click to read
Cloud integration: The only way is up
Francois Vaillant

In 2017 we saw the introduction of SMPTE 2110 and since then, the transition to IP has emerged as a priority for broadcasters looking to streamline their operations, decrease their footprint and effectively integrate with an industry in a rapid state of flux. A 2020 survey by Devoncroft found that almost 20% of broadcasters had already deployed SMPTE 2110, and over 25% were planning to do so. Then came the pandemic, precipitating the need for on-the-fly collaboration and accelerating the transition to remote, virtual and cloud production.

Tags: dejero | smpte 2110 | dazzl | streaming | Francois Vaillant
Contributing Author Francois Vaillant Click to read
The Cloud - a measured approach
Ciaran Doran

With the buzz of ‘cloud’ everywhere in our industry it would be natural to think that cloud is the only game in town. Isn’t it time to step back and consider very carefully how, or whether, you make that journey to the cloud?

Tags: cloud | rohde and schwarz | rohde | schwarz | Ciaran Doran
Contributing Author Ciaran Doran Click to read

Registration for the KitPlus Show at MediaCity is now OPEN with headline sponsor Blackmagic Design. The doors open from 10am to 4:30pm on 23rd June 2022. This is a FREE to attend event so please visit the Manchester venue page to see exhibitors, sessions and workshops, plus check out our Virtual Production Learning Zone from the Mo-Sys Academy at the show.