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Old 6th July 2018, 17:29   #1  |  Link
Katie Boundary
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Rack focus and aspect ratios, again

I recently had the misfortune of watching The Last Jedi. I won't bore you with the list of problems it has with story structure, acting, dialog, characterization, military tactics, and everything else, because that's not what this forum is for. Instead, I'm focusing (no pun intended) on one very specific thing that annoyed me: a phenomenon that I've discussed earlier on these forums, wherein the use of rack focus will cause an image to shrink vertically but expand horizontally, or vice-versa. TLJ has an absurdly high number of shots in which this happens, and it's very distracting.

I really never got an answer to my question about this phenomenon, which is: just what the hell causes it?
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Old 6th July 2018, 18:02   #2  |  Link
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I've really no idea what you are talking about, but am way glad that you are back.
I think that I can speak for almost everybody on-site, when I say that we all missed you, please dont be such a stranger.
Cheery-o-but-come-back-soon, etc.

Hope you get a satifactory answer, love + kisses, steve xxx
EDIT: We may not have many children, but they will all be beautiful.
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"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities", but how many of them are infinitely bigger ???
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Old 6th July 2018, 18:33   #3  |  Link
StainlessS
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Wilbert, dont really know why I got a bollicking for above post.
You really should know that for about (~) 4 or 5 year, your 'reason for bollocking' button, dont work.
you press the 'click here to see why you got the bollocking ' button, and it says,
'You are not authorized to see the bollocking you have been blessed with'
or words to that effect.
Dont care either way if you fix it of not, kinda usual to me.

Katie, if I pissed you off, I'm sorry, really, was not intended.
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"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities", but how many of them are infinitely bigger ???
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Old 6th July 2018, 21:36   #4  |  Link
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I have suspicions "rack focus" is Katie-speak for a change in aspect ratio. The IMDB says it was shot in 35mm and 70mm and IMax and other variations but only quotes a single aspect ratio.

To make up for the movies, if you haven't seen the Mr Plinkett reviews of Star Wars episodes 1-3, I highly recommend them. Way more entertaining than the movies, which admittedly wouldn't be hard, and nearly as long.

And it seems Mr Plinkett has made a comeback to review The Force Awakens.
http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/page/3/
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Old 8th July 2018, 00:06   #5  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Boundary View Post
the use of rack focus will cause an image to shrink vertically but expand horizontally, or vice-versa.
It depends on the lens used by the camera. When you are shooting a professional film, the director sometimes wishes to emphasize the difference in size or distance between objects in the foreground and the background; he may wants to make nearby objects appear very large and make objects at a moderate distance appear small and far away. To shoot these scenes, specific lens that cover the angle of view between 64 and 84 are used, and they translate to 35mm lens in 35mm film format. Unfortunately, one of the "side effect" of these special lens is the apparent perspective distortion when the camera is not aligned perpendicularly to the subject, which is the "issue" you noticed. In other words, with normal lens, parallel lines converge at the same rate, but with these particular lens, they converge slightly more due to the wider total field.
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Old 8th July 2018, 03:45   #6  |  Link
Katie Boundary
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For clarification, I busted out my fanciest crayons and hired the most expensive Microsoft Paint artist to make these. Here's an example of a particular shot, focusing on the mountain in the background:



Notice that the mountain and the person are deformed; they are stretched horizontally. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1

Then the camera changes focus to the person in the foreground, and this happens:



The aspect ratio is still 2.35:1, but now everything is stretched vertically, so you can see more crap at the sides and less crap at the top and bottom (like the peak of the mountain).

These examples are, of course, exaggerated to illustrate the point.

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Katie, if I pissed you off, I'm sorry, really, was not intended.
Nope. Your bollocking happened before I read your comments. I have no idea what's going on.

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the director sometimes wishes to emphasize the difference in size or distance between objects in the foreground and the background; he may wants to make nearby objects appear very large and make objects at a moderate distance appear small and far away. To shoot these scenes, specific lens that cover the angle of view between 64 and 84 are used, and they translate to 35mm lens in 35mm film format. Unfortunately, one of the "side effect" of these special lens is the apparent perspective distortion when the camera is not aligned perpendicularly to the subject, which is the "issue" you noticed. In other words, with normal lens, parallel lines converge at the same rate, but with these particular lens, they converge slightly more due to the wider total field.
That doesn't sound at all like what I was describing :\
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Last edited by Katie Boundary; 8th July 2018 at 04:04.
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Old 8th July 2018, 07:56   #7  |  Link
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Originally Posted by Katie Boundary View Post
.... the use of rack focus will cause an image to shrink vertically but expand horizontally, or vice-versa. TLJ has an absurdly high number of shots in which this happens ....
Blu-ray or DVD source? Can you point us to a scene where this happens along the timeline, or by uploading a sample?
Could it be that the black borders were incorrectly cropped and added at some point for (anamorphic DVD) resizing?
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Old 8th July 2018, 14:41   #8  |  Link
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I randomly stepped through the movie and managed to stumble on an example which seems to be exactly the sort of thing FranceBB described. Maybe the intention was to illustrate how a master Jedi commands midi-chlorians to do his bidding, allowing him to warp spacetime and make space-calls where there's no carrier service.

I guess Luke's showing off and not even using a device to make the call because he wants to get laid, but he is on the phone in the sample video.
sample.mkv 17MB

Last edited by hello_hello; 9th July 2018 at 20:17.
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Old 8th July 2018, 16:13   #9  |  Link
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It is also possible that the people involved in editing are not sensitive to these distortions. I am constantly amazed at the technical mistakes I see every day in both TV shows and movies. So, for this movie, I doubt it was done as a way to enhance the story telling.

The unfortunate truth is that people in a lot of industries, especially those in computer programming and video editing (my two fields), no longer get the kind of apprentice --> journeyman --> master training that was de rigueur for centuries, and which was still commonplace during the first half of the 20th century.

These days pretty much anyone can hang out a shingle and claim they know what they're doing. Unfortunately, they often get promoted up the ladder because their managers also never went through any sort of formal training. Each generation that gets promoted is even less sensitive to errors of this type, and the problems created by untrained people just gets worse.

My son works for one of the most notable Internet companies and is aghast and the terrible quality of most of the programmers.

I still see field reversal almost every day when watching TV news, and see all sorts of anamorphic distortions in movies, especially old 4:3 TV shows that have been remastered from the original film negatives for 16:9 broadcast.

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Old 8th July 2018, 18:19   #10  |  Link
Katie Boundary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharc View Post
Blu-ray or DVD source? Can you point us to a scene where this happens along the timeline, or by uploading a sample?
I did the first time we had this discussion. The images that I used were from... X-Men First Class, I think?

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Could it be that the black borders were incorrectly cropped and added at some point for (anamorphic DVD) resizing?
It's possible but that wouldn't explain why this phenomenon only occurs during rack shots.

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It is also possible that the people involved in editing are not sensitive to these distortions.
Obviously. This would be an extremely easy thing to fix in post. However, that doesn't explain where the distortion comes from in the first place.
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Old 8th July 2018, 19:04   #11  |  Link
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I guess Luke's showing off and not even using a device to make the call because he wants to get laid, but he is on the phone in the sample video.
sample.mkv 17MB
I remember exactly now how this movie likes to do that.

I tried to skip through some parts on Netflix but did not want to sit through the movie again long enough to remember anything.


I think they intentionally blurred the out of focus stuff (that rock huts in the backgtround) to give that effect.

I notice all these newer movies really have to showcase the special effects and filming techniques to keep the screens always in motion in one form or another.
There's only a few key scenes that are mostly static, but everything else needs something to draw your attention.
Like radio stations avoiding dead air.

Shots like those were offputting. I can see why they do it though.
The tension build up between Rey and Kylo Ren is meant to be very isolated. Like they are actually the only two people there.
The breaking of tension with Luke is exaggerated because it's like coming out of a trance/phase/hypnosis (or if you have meditated and a phone alarm goes off and shocks you).

Also, Luke was pivotal as a character between the two already in focus. So make it extra warpy for the focus change to illustrate how different things are going to be now as each person talks to reveal more on their stance of what's happening.


As much as I like camera creativity, so far I've seen no one do it better than Guy Ritchie's work.
I really love seeing when the camera tracks someone's head as a focus point when they are running.
Really makes you feel like you're going to run out of breath as much as the person on screen.
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Old 8th July 2018, 22:56   #12  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmeyer
It is also possible that the people involved in editing are not sensitive to these distortions. I am constantly amazed at the technical mistakes I see every day in both TV shows and movies. So, for this movie, I doubt it was done as a way to enhance the story telling.
Editing has nothing to do with it; it's an in-camera effect caused by the particular lenses used.

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Obviously. This would be an extremely easy thing to fix in post. However, that doesn't explain where the distortion comes from in the first place.
It wouldn't be that easy. Correct for the background distortion and you introduce more distortion to the foreground.

When the lens elements move, the entrance pupil moves, so you're effectively moving the camera forward or backward very slightly. This unavoidably changes the apparent relative size between foreground and background objects. The fact that the lens is anamorphic on top of this means you don't get the same amount of distortion vertically and horizontally.
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Old 9th July 2018, 21:24   #13  |  Link
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I was somewhat joking about it being a camera effect used for Jedi space-calls, but it makes sense if that's all it was used for and it wasn't over-done because it'd get old quickly.

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As much as I like camera creativity, so far I've seen no one do it better than Guy Ritchie's work.
I really love seeing when the camera tracks someone's head as a focus point when they are running.
Really makes you feel like you're going to run out of breath as much as the person on screen.
Camera technique isn't something I think about often when watching a movie, probably because I know little about it, so I had no idea who directed "King Arthur, Legend of the Sword" till I checked just now, but the shoulder-cam shots during the chase through the streets didn't work for me. It felt like "found footage" in a pre found footage period. Each to their own, I guess.

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Old 9th July 2018, 22:20   #14  |  Link
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Editing has nothing to do with it; it's an in-camera effect caused by the particular lenses used.
Hmm ... interesting. I know that when film was used, the cameras for widescreen movies used anamorphic lenses that stretched the image more at the sides than in the center in order to get widescreen onto a 4:3 35mm or 70mm negative while still providing a sharp crisp picture in the center.

I never thought about what might happen with such a lens and its stretching if it were a zoom lens. Perhaps when zoomed, the nature of the anamorphic stretch changes. I know that Hitchcock used to simultaneously move the camera away from the subject while zooming in order to disorient the viewer. He used this both in "Vertigo," and in the staircase scene in "Psycho."
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Old 9th July 2018, 22:32   #15  |  Link
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Camera technique isn't something I think about often when watching a movie, probably because I know little about it, so I had no idea who directed "King Arthur, Legend of the Sword" till I checked just now, but the shoulder-cam shots during the chase through the streets didn't work for me. It felt like "found footage" in a pre found footage period. Each to their own, I guess.
Yeah, some movies are too extreme with it.

The Bourne trilogy is the worst offender.
There's no focus and a lot of swinging the camera around.
If the actors move left in the fight, the camera has to swing hard left so the actors end up on the right-side of the screen. As if the actors actions create a gravity shift with the camera.

And the action goes so quickly, you can't see anything except a blur.
After awhile, you get used to it so your eyes can track the action, but it's not just great.
I don't get a sense of threat to the hero and it doesn't feel like action. It feels like a high school project.


What Guy Ritchie does is a little different.

The background moves, but the actor is in the main focus so you have a clear shot of him throughout the action sequence.

"Locked shots":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6nm3Xni3sg

That's really about the only video I can find that greatly demonstrates his camera style for his movies.

I found one video where he supposedly talks about his style, but most people just veer off into the speed ramping (high frame rate filming then playback in variable speeds for effect; fast then slow) and then the cutting/transitions and opening titles.

But, all that's not rack focus that TLJ uses.

It is really neat to think about it being filmed in anamorphic to get that effect for the focus shifting, however.
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Old 10th July 2018, 01:56   #16  |  Link
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What Guy Ritchie does is a little different.

The background moves, but the actor is in the main focus so you have a clear shot of him throughout the action sequence.

"Locked shots":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6nm3Xni3sg

That's really about the only video I can find that greatly demonstrates his camera style for his movies.
I don't know why those locked shots don't do it for me.
Something gives me an uncanny valley type feeling. It might be because when you look at a moving object your eyes track it and the background moves through your field of vision, but for locked shots the moving object becomes stationary.

To me, fast camera movement and the blur that might go with it can add to the feeling of tension in a scene. As long as it's not overdone and becomes tiring to watch, but maybe that's what bothers me.... a clear shot of a moving object that's stationary relative to you as the background goes by in a blur... it's more like looking at the person sitting next to you in a moving car.
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