Show-Focus: The Future of Pulling Focus
Guillaume Couche, a Masters student at the Royal College of Art in London with a background in mechanical engineering, has created a prototype for what he calls “Show-Focus.” Designed to facilitate the duties of the on-set focus-puller, Show-Focus renders a physical representation of the invisible plane of focus so that the precise focal point can be deduced, and captured, at any time. The model is compromised of two components, communicable through a wireless connection: the camera module and the controller. The camera module, which is attached to the body of the shooting camera, provides a real-time 3D map of what is being filmed, while also controlling the focus ring through a motorized mechanism. The controller — as its name suggests — displays the map and allows the focus-puller to oversee the movements of the focus ring.
Couche created Show-Focus to open “new ways of creativity in filmmaking and documentaries…[by enabling] anticipation, precision and adaptation in hard to handle situations, such as unexpected movements.” In studying the progression of photography and filmmaking alongside the DSLR, Couche “discovered that focus pulling has not really evolved since the early ages of cinema and can still be tricky for small crews or specific shots.” His ultimate goal is to simplify the controller to such an extent that the focus-puller could view the plane through a pair of augmented reality glasses.
In the meantime, Couche is looking to collaborate with one of the big equipment companies to bring Show-Focus to market, by adapting the prototype to the appropriate lenses and improving the user interface. Till then, you can get a feel for the model from the above video, and head to his site for the full overview.