When you’re shooting a scene there are a lot of choices to be made about what’s in the audience’s focus. If you want them to see everything, then you need to use a deep focus shot. 

Today we’re going to go over the deep focus shot, deep space mise-en-scene, and see why these camera angles should definitely be part of your shot list.

info

The deep focus definition

What is deep focus cinematography? Deep focus cinematography is a kind of Camera Angle that allows the Cinematographer to keep everything in perspective without favoring foreground, mid-ground, or background.  Everything is lit and visible.

info

Opposite: The opposite of deep focus is shallow focus.

Mise-en-scene: Deep focus shots need to be accentuated by the mise-en-scene so that the characters, and their surroundings, pop.   

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Maze Runner

This is a deep focus shot with deep space composition from Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018).

How to shot list deep focus shots  

So, you think you want to shoot your next scene in deep focus? What do you do now? You need to put your deep focus shot on a shot list so your DP can anticipate and prep with the set decorator to make sure everything pops. Plus, you may want to make sure props knows what will be used in the scene.

Introducing Shot List Template and Storyboard Template Builder - Add New Shot

Add deep focus shots and storyboards to your shot list.

Specific camera movements matter too. Will your deep focus shot be static, or will you follow your subjects with a Steadicam? Will you use a wide angle or can it be done in a medium?

You want to capture all these crucial details in your shot list. With StudioBinder, these details are already listed as options, so you only need to check their boxes. This allows you to create creative combinations that make your movie come to life.

How to Create a Shot List with StudioBinder - Shot List Creator Template - 6

Your signature deep focus shot is only a click away.

Collaboration is fast and efficient. Send your shot list to the DP with the click of a button. The best part? We let you start shot listing for free. This gives you more time to think about the intangibles.

For example, can you use your deep focus shot in combination with deep space mise-en-scene?  

info

Deep space mise-en-scene definition

A film utilizes deep space, when significant elements of an image are positioned both near to and distant from the camera. A deep space film shot utilizes deep space when the subjects of an image are positioned both close to and far away from the camera.

info

Opposite: The opposite of deep space is shallow space. 

Technical aspects: Deep space shots do not have to be in focus, but they do have to show the breadth of scale. So wide shots are often used to promote deep space shots.

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Wonder Woman

This deep focus film shot frames Wonder Woman (2017). 

Deep space cinematography

While not all subjects have to be in focus, all of them have to be in frame and lit visibly. Deep space is achieved when the mise-en-scene is carried deep into the frame. Actors and objects are placed in particular places to draw the eyes in every direction.

The deep focus shot utilizes this space. The lighting in this scene favors all of the elements of the scene. You’re able to search for emotional depth and story elements in each character’s placement throughout the frame.

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Ex Machina

This is deep space composition but not deep focus. Ex Machina (2015)

Deep space composition

Deep space composition and the deep focus shot first came to prominence in Classical Hollywood Cinema. They had early origins in the Stage and Stage dressing. In Classical Hollywood, shot length tended to be longer so there was more opportunity to establish a deep focus shot with deep space composition.  

Deep focus shot + deep space composition.

In modern Hollywood, shot length is short and editing is fast. It’s easiest to pick out deep focus shots and deep space composition because the frames usually tell multiple stories.

Check out this deep focus shot from All The President’s Men.
Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - All The President's Men

The subtle deep focus meaning here is a secret exclusive. All The President's Men (1975). 

The story here is the scoop Redford is getting, but it’s also what’s happening in the back left. The meeting that’s going on without him.

It makes this office feel busy, but also makes what he’s doing feel exclusive.

Let’s take a look at the Classical Hollywood film known for showcasing deep focus shots and deep space throughout the narrative.

I’m talking about Citizen Kane.

The deep focus shots in Citizen Kane 

Sometime moments after you find out “movies” exist, someone is going to tell you about Citizen Kane. Kane came about during a cinematic revolution. Movies were just starting to mean something and technology was catching up to ideas directors had in their heads.

Deep focus shot alert!

Cinematographer Gregg Tolland and Director Orson Welles did not invent deep focus shots, but they decided it would be a great theme for the movie. Deep focus could help isolate Charles Foster Kane from the time he was a boy until he became an old man.   

This deep focus camera work is impressive.

As he advanced in life, deep focus could show how far away he pushed people.  As Kane becomes more and more self-centered, we can see how his soul has become corrupted. His selfishness is accentuated with the use of deep focus and the deep space composition with the wall-length mirrors.  

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Citizen Kane

Deep focus shot showing self-absorption.

Citizen Kane is the paradigm, but what about movies today? Sure, shots and editing have changed, but deep focus can still affect modern Hollywood.

Modern deep focus shot examples

Deep focus shot examples occur in every era of filmmaking. George Romero utilized deep focus to frame the Zombie onslaught in Night Of the Living Dead.  

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Night of the Living Dead

This is deep focus cinema at its finest. Night of the Living Dead (1968).

And Darren Aronofsky utilizes the deep focus shot in Mother! to show the fanatics ready to tear Jennifer Lawrence’s character apart.

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Mother Film

Deep focus example from a master. Mother! (2018).

The Coen’s apply deep focus here to show that Chigurh is operating in isolation. We know the victim has nowhere to go. We know the bag guy is going to get away easily. No Country For Old Men uses deep focus and deep space to create a vast chase movie.

What about an ultramodern film? Tangerine was directed by Sean Baker and shot entirely on an iPhone. He uses the iPhone’s settings to shoot deep focus and frame this portrait of Los Angeles usually not seen.

It’s a creative way to blend in the safety of the Donut shop and the danger of working the street in front of the place.  

Deep Focus Shot - Best Camera Movement and Camera Angles - Tangerine 2

Tangerine (2015). Deep focus cinematography on an iPhone. 

Up Next: 30 D.P. tips you need to know! 

So, now you know about deep focus cinematography, we have lots of other creative cameras for you. When you’re directing or DP’ing your next project, we’d love to see you think outside the box and use some pro-tips no one told you about in school.  

Like this post? Share it!

twitter-bird-bue-gray

Deep Focus Shot: Creative Examples of Camera Movements & Angles" #shotlist #filmmaking

Click to Tweet
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows. 

Learn More ➜