Cinefade allows cinematographers to vary depth of field in one shot at constant exposure. The gradual transition between a deep and a shallow depth of field can be used to accentuate a moment of extreme drama.
The Cinefade effect is a novel storytelling tool and a creative effect. There are however also various practical applications of a variable depth of field that can make the life of a focus puller easier.
Tracking shots at a shallow depth of field in which the camera tracks closer to the subject are notoriously hard for focus pullers to keep sharp, especially if the subject is also moving. They may only have a couple of centimetres of depth of field to play with and the chances of achieving critical focus with such a narrow depth of field are low even for experienced camera assistants.
What’s more, the shallow depth of field look and large format cameras are popular with cinematographers and not something they like to compromise on.
Cinefade to the rescue. A variable depth of field can be used to extend the depth of field when tracking towards the subject to give the focus puller a better chance of nailing critical focus.
The video below demonstrates a tracking shot with a focus pull from 5m to 1m and compares the normal tracking shot with one that has a Cinefade from T2.8 to T16, giving the focus puller an extra 8cm depth of field at the close focus end.
Arri Amira with Angieneux 18-80mm lens
Dolly: 5m – 1m
Focal length: 80mm
Cinefade: T2.8 – T16
Dof: 40cm – 10cm
Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via email. Can you think of any shots where a Cinefade may have helped you to nail the focus on a critical shot?