Camera Assistant

Posted by Brian Paris on Mar 1, 2009 in Blog |

Have you ever wanted to be a camera assistant? Do you even know what a camera assist is? Well, on a film (or digital cinema) shoot the 1st Assistant Camera is usually the guy who pulls the focus on the camera. Whenever the distance between the camera and subject changes, you need to adjust the focus to keep your subject sharp. Unlike video where the operator usually pulls his own focus, in bigger productions you have someone who’s job it is to keep track of the lens focus. This is done either by hand using a follow focus or done remotely with a motorized radio controlled follow focus.

Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you consider that some shots only have a depth of field of a few inches, it is very important to have someone who can consistently do the job. There is nothing worse than pulling off the greatest shot with a great performance from the actor and then have it out of focus. It is one of those jobs were you don’t get talked about much when things are going well, but people get pretty angry when things go wrong.

If you really want to see what a 1st AC does, you should check out this interview on the FreshDV Film School Website. They shoot an interview with Bob Sanchez, a guy who has been doing it for 30 years. He talks a lot about his job, and gives some good tricks of the trade.

Another good site for information and forms useful to camera assistants is the Camera Assistant’s Manual site. It is the companion website to the book of the same name.

Additional Info: Wikipedia – Focus Puller

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