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Changing Focal Length in a Dialogue Scene (1 reply)

Brant
2 months ago
Brant 2 months ago

Hi Roger,

I've noticed, very often with the Coens, but in many other examples as well, what appears to be a sudden change in focal length at certain crucial points on a character who is engaged in one-on-one dialogue.

You might start the scene with what looks like a 27mm or 32mm, and then at a certain point when the conversation turns in nature, or as an emphasis to a character reacting to something important, you'll move to perhaps a 40 or 50, going from a medium to an MCU or closer on that character's face.

Or...maybe you're moving the camera closer, to the character, keeping the 32 or 27 on there? But with the wider lens, the face tends to distort when you get close, so I'm wondering if you accomplish this kind of visual emphasis typically with the longer lens. There are too many examples to mention, but in "True Grit," Maddie talking to LaBoeuf after she awakes in bed has such a moment. 

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

I will usually change a lens and move the camera closer when I am wanting to make a character larger in  frame.

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