cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM CINEMATOGRAPHY deep focus and deep space










Jim Emerson’s post, Avatar, the French New Wave and the morality of deep-focus (in 3-D), has a nice little nest of quotes on deep focus, and mention of ‘the morality of the tracking shot’ – with reference to Montecorvo’s Kapò – it seemed obligatory to link to it, as it is the sort of thing one needs to get back to quickly, if you’re thinking about film a lot. I’ve put up a separate post for the Serge Daney essay Jim mentioned. Hopefully there will be some other links to add to it.

In the process of trying to think up a title for my own post, the wiki on deep focus eventually provided it from a sub-title: deep focus and deep space. The more technical, but simpler explanations are much more satisfying than the theoristspeak, I find. Not you Jim. Those you quote!

So (simply) you can use deep space with deep focus or deep space with shallower depth-of-field. Some films mix the two. The two examples come from wiki: Citizen Kane and Les Regle de Jeu.

A companion piece to these: You Can Make ’Em Like They Used To: Stephen Soderberg discussing how he made The Good German, “to explore the strengths and limitations of a classical style that has now largely been lost” as the writer of the article, Dave Kehr, explains. Plus another one Jim links to: Gradation of emphasis, starring Glenn Ford, by David Borwell, which goes into how with CinemaScope, there was less need to insert explanatory short shots, because everything you want to show is in the frame.


There is also a 5 March 2010 video essay

Deep Focus from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.


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February 24, 2010 - Posted by | deep focus, deep space, depth-of-field, film techniques | , ,

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