Features and Columns · Movies

The Casual Film Lover’s Guide to Shallow Depth of Field

Toss a coin to your focus puller.
Black Sea Shallow Depth Of Field
By  · Published on December 19th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that introduces the pros and cons of shallow depth of field.

Some movie lovers have zero interest in knowing how the sausage is made. Others — including all the sick puppies who clicked on this article — gain a deeper appreciation for films precisely by learning more about the craft.

The video essay below is an accessible introduction to a key aspect of movie making. What is and isn’t in focus is a conscious choice made by filmmakers. Likewise, whether the director of photography and/or focus puller opts to film a scene with a shallow or deep depth of field is no accident.

Depth of field serves a practical purpose, sure: it can be used to unambiguously tell us what to focus on, or it can be a way to create atmosphere and world-building by allowing our eye to wander and take in our surroundings. But, as is the case with most of the nitty gritty in filmmaking, practicality and artistry go hand in hand: there’s often a narrative purpose at play here, too. Then again, some people think you need bokeh for your film to feel cinematic.

To learn more about how filmmakers tweak depth of field and the pros and cons of shallow focus, check out the video essay below:

Watch “The Pros And Cons Of Shallow Depth Of Field”

Who made this?

This video essay on the pros and cons of a shallow depth of field is by In Depth Cine, a YouTube account dedicated to providing its audience with practical rundowns and explainers on some of the more technical aspects of movie-making. Gray Kotzé, a documentary DP based in South Africa, is the man behind the channel. You can check out Kotzé’s portfolio on their website here. And you can check out In Depth Cine on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).