If you shoot any dSLR video, you probably already know that some scenes reacquire shifting focus between several planes. This is a great way to tell a story.
For example, think about a shot where you see a person eating at the front of the frame, then, the focus changes and you see a sign that says "Dont feed the monkeys" or "No people allowed behind this line" or any other thing that adds to the story.
Here is the thing, though, it is not trivial to shift the focus between those two planes without a focus rack or a follow focus. Those usually come with a marking wheel where you can mark each plane of focus and easily return to it while shooting. That's the up side, there are about 600 downsides if you are not shooting video regularly.
A while back we posted a tutorial on how to make a PVC video dolly. This dolly works great for in house on floors or tables or any other smooth surface.
The guys at Fugal Film Maker (kinda like DIYP, only for video) made a video version of constructing a very similar dolly, so if you had any questions about what goes in where or how to use the skateboard wheels your questions will be answered.
The video is a bit old, but still worth a watch if you just started videography and looking for inexpensive hacks. Click to continue ›
Now, every once in a while we have a "dare" tutorial, one that will kill an entire month of weekends (and then some). Those are not for the faint of heart, but the results and satisfaction from completing one of those projects in unbelievable. (see the battlefield pinhole camera for example). It is the same with this project - it is not an easy task, it takes woodmenship, electronics know-how, and plenty of time, but the results are stunning.
(But hey, you know what, even if you just pick up one of the ideas in this post, it would rock. For example, building the collapsible rails idea to be used with the cheapo motor slider puller)
The movie comes first - this should get you motivated - then the instructions. Embrace yourselves.
As more and more people get into video the number one accessory they seem to want after a shoulder rig is a slider. A slider allows short trucking camera movements. Commercial sliders run the gamut in price (from several hundred to several thousand) and design. A slider usually has a captive body that you mount a tripod head to. The body runs on a track on mechanical bearings or some low friction material. The tracks seem to run anywhere from 2 to 5 feet and can mount on a tripod themselves or some have feet that allow you to lay the slider on the ground for a low profile shot, or rest it on a convenient table or counter top. Click to continue ›
The good guys over at Age of Rockets are sharing their DIY design for a video dolly. Me likey. Unlike the iPhone Dolly or the PVC Skater Dolly which are for small cameras, this one allows you to mount a full fledged tripod on it. Probably a light camera only, but still better than a skateboard :).
Photographer Tony Carretti came up with a pretty twisted way to make a cheap follow focus.
Tony uses a $2.49 Bed Bath & Beyond twist jar opener with the focus ring on the lens replacing the jar lid. As Tony says it is not solve 100% of your follow focus problems, but for $2.49 it really is a sweet solution.
If you are looking for a more complete DIY solution, prepare your workshop and check out the friction based follow focus that we features a while ago.