Pulling Focus with a 600mm Telephoto

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Whenever the topic of shooting HD video with the 5D MK2 comes up, someone always whines about manual focusing.  Most protesters argue that it requires a focus puller to do anything at all.

Get a grip folks, motion picture cameras have always been manual focus and for darn good reason; it's the only way to assure that the camera will be focused on the correct plane at the right time. While having a good focus puller is a real benefit, it isn't impossible to fly solo...

To prove my point, I twisted on the 600mm F4 and headed out to a rough-stock round-up near Kalispell, Montana to see what I could do all by my lonesome.  This is just a quick montage that my assistant Paul cut together for my 5D HD class at the Palm Springs Photo Festival but I think it shows what you can do if you learn which way to twist that pesky focusing ring.  All scenes were shot on the Gitzo G1380 fluid head.  Nope, no hand-held work in this piece.
No, it ain't easy, but practice makes perfect...

I think this little sample demonstrates that on-the-fly focusing is possible, even by guy who readily admits to sucking as a camera operator.  That said, a good camera assistant certainly is worth their weight in gold. In a future installment from Studio B, I'll share some really cool tricks for training a reliable friend to be an excellent focus puller. 

Stay tuned!