Focus pulling on a smartphone

Smartphones have taken over a great deal of on the fly video production. You can fit all you need in your pocket. Just bring a selfiestick or mini-tripod, a remote and a clip on mic and you are ready to go. In my classes I do have students working with SLR-like Lumix cameras to get across concepts like depth-of-field. And overall you have a better quality because of the larger image sensor.

During an exercise recently I spotted a group filming in the cantine with their iPhone. I asked: “Don’t you rather want to use the Lumix?”  They aknowledged it might be better using the semi-pro camera, but they wanted to save some time. And then they showed me some of their clips. Nice and sharp, rule of thirds applied, depth of field. In one shot I noticed the focus shifting from the foreground to the background. It appears you can simply shift the camera focus just by touching the screen during filming.

“Do you know what you did here?” I asked. They shrugged. “This is a classical focus pulling. I would not know how to pull this off on the Lumix.” Big smiles. Basically you just have to know the (im)possibilities of your gear to get the most out of it.

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