View Full Version : Follow focusing system, which route?

05-12-2005, 05:27 PM
Hello! All,

Longtime visitor, first time poster! I might be getting around to shooting a documentary, hopefully within a few weeks. I am putting together a list of items to buy, my budget should be around $10K for equipment, and am looking for advice on a follow focuser system.

I would like some feedback on these items from Cavision (http://www.cavision.com/follow_focusing.htm) versus a remote control by Varizoom (http://www.varizoom.com/controllers/rockdvx.php/)

What do you think? I would really welcome some feedback. Thanks in advance.

05-12-2005, 05:35 PM
Do you understand that those two items are totally different?
The Cavision follow focus is for manually focusing the camera. The Varizoom Rockdvx is for controlling the zoom servo.
Why do you think you need either item to make a doc.?
You'd be better off spending that money on good sound & lighting gear.

05-12-2005, 05:38 PM
Thanks for your feedback, I have no experience with any of these systems and I thought the Varizoom could be used for remote focusing. Would'nt a follow focuser be advisable for any types of shooting? Please educate me on this.

P.S. Thanks for your patience!

05-12-2005, 05:50 PM
It's just not an absolutely critical item. The camera WILL focus without it.
Do you already have a DVX or is that also part of your 10k budget?

05-12-2005, 05:56 PM
I will be loooking into purchasing a dvx100a as well with this budget. I am also looking into acquiring lighting, mic's, tripod, and a few other goodies. Also, I am considering a mattebox, complete with french flag, etc. Do you think the mattbox is essential or a bit too much?

Could I rely on getting good zooms with the camera's internal focusing capabilities?

Sirius Doggy, thanks for your ongoing help, truly appreciate it.

J.R. Hudson
05-12-2005, 06:12 PM

What are your intentions when you get this camera? What exactly do you forcast accomplishing? I do not know you experince level but it sounds as if this may be a bit 'too much camera' for you; and gear.

05-12-2005, 06:36 PM
I agree with John, It sounds a bit like you are just trying to pimp out a DVX with all the possible accessories without really knowing what they are used for.
I think you should maybe hook up with someone in your area that has a DVX or similar camera and maybe do a bit of apprenticeship.

05-12-2005, 07:01 PM
I have used several mini dv's, mostly Sony 1 chippers and am moving up to a more pro camera, preferably a Panny dvx100a. I don't want to "pimp" out the dvx, rather I am making sure I get the equipment that I need for the documentary (ies) that I will be shooting. I have lots of free time throughout my normal work schedule, so I plan on getting acquainted with the dvx thoroughly. I am jumping in and getting my feet wet to the pro level so to speak; I am always learning as I go along. As always, I appreciate your feedback.

05-12-2005, 07:04 PM
If that's the case then here's the best advice I can give you.
Get the camera first. Learn it inside and out. By that I mean learn what all the buttons do, and the menu structure.
Then you'll have a better idea whether or not you NEED a follow-focus, zoom controller, mattebox, etc....

The DVX is quite a camera without the above mentioned accessories. Those items will enhance your project if you know how to use them properly.

05-12-2005, 07:10 PM
Sirius Doggy,

Thanks! I was thinking of the accessories so that I could make the necessary calculations of what the total expenditures would be. I guess I might have jumped the gun.

05-12-2005, 07:46 PM
The one essential item not even mentioned was a really good tripod.

05-12-2005, 08:28 PM
By the time you get the camera, tripod, small portable lighting kit, reflectors (very important for a doc), microphones (lav and shotgun -- no wireless) with boompole and windsock, batteries, and all the little bits like cables, power inverter (so you can recharge batteries in a car), cases, insurance, etc., etc, you'll find it very hard to fit your 10K budget.

And this is all just the mandatory minimums to produce a watchable doc. Once you've got these covered, then you can worry about frills.

Jim Brennan
05-13-2005, 12:14 AM
Stick with the DVX and a good tripod. Any gear you buy beyond that will depend completely on what you are using it for. (actually that will also influence what kind of tripod you get as well) You say that you are doing a doc, but what kind? If it's about the mating rituals of armadillos, then you won't need much in the way of audio gear. But if you will be doing interviews, a lavaliere mic might be a good idea. If your doc will be done completely in the field (no interviews, mostly out doors) your lighting choices will be different then if you do a bunch of interiors. If you plan on shooting a lot of exteriors, but will be moving around a lot chasing the armadillos, a mattebox may be a bit bulky, but a sunshade would be a good idea to prevent lens flare.

A follow focus is a bit much on a DVX (IMHO) unless you are using a micro 35 adapter, or will be doing more than one stop, especially for a documentary. And the servo zoom on the camera will do you just fine.

05-13-2005, 01:52 PM
Thanks a lot for the great feedback. Yes, I will be doing several interview related scenes, some outdoor shooting as well. My documentary, at least this one, will be environmental, leaning more some medical issues as a result of chemical spills as well as research. Also, I have considered a good tripod, I'm also looking into that as well.

I am very excited, motivated and ready to dig into all that is necessary to follow through on this as well as other projects. I am also very grateful for everyone's input and expertise.

Jim Brennan
05-13-2005, 02:44 PM
SPend some time on this site reading through old threads that interest you. This site is better than any books I've read on filmmaking

Good Luck with your project

05-15-2005, 01:37 PM
Good advice from everyone. The DVX is capable of superb images with just the stock setup.

09-26-2006, 12:25 PM
unless ur using a lens adapter there would be absolutly no point to a followfocus.. unless you plan on shooting all the way zoomed in and need to focus back and forth on a flower and guy in the background.