Filmmaking is full of unheralded jobs. The set breaks down without a production manager. A film or show looks bland and terrible without a post-colorist. And nothing would be in focus without a focus puller.
Well, except now.
A new smart phone is being debuted with a camera that uses Lytro technology (first announced in 2011) that allows you to focus on any part of your image — after taking the photo.
For those of you who don’t quite understand what the big deal is, let us show you this insane video of a focus puller desperately trying to keep up with a guy on a steadi-cam riding a Segway — all the while keeping the footage in focus.
Pay attention to the image on the left (the man in question is the one who you feel really, really bad for).
With Lytro technology, focus would be done much later, in post-production, and that poor guy would be at home, sobbing into his pillow while wondering why Court TV is still a thing.
While we have yet to see this technology used in video, it’s only a matter of time.
On one hand, the news is exciting. You know that great shot you spent all day trying to get only to have it be out of focus? Well, with this new technology, you can easily fix it in post.
On the other hand, the focus pulling community is a big one (and they’re all very sharp – zing!). The job is an important one and this technology would put a whole lot of people out of work. While it makes life easier for filmmakers, there is something to be said of having a living, breathing person in control of your focus right there on set with you. A person who feels the scene alongside you, a person who will run down a Segway and keep the image in focus with pure skill and determination.
It’s not a rewarding position, but it’s a key one. Can we be so nonchalant in getting rid of it?
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Is this news exciting for the film community, or are we going to start building a shanty town to house focus pullers in a couple of years?