4 Ways to Help You Keep Moving Subjects in Focus

If you’re having trouble keeping moving subjects in focus or you just want to further your videography skill, Park Walbeck has four techniques that should help.

In his YouTube video tutorial, he details the four tips that you can use that will keep subjects in focus as they move within the rfame. He then runs through a few different scenarios, letting you know which of the four ways he likes to use for each individual situation.


Each method that Walbeck presents is practical, using in-camera functions and techniques rather than expensive focusing systems.

“One of the most obvious ways to have continuous focus while you’re shooting is to buy an expensive follow focus system,” says Walbeck at the beginning of his video, “ …because a lot of us can’t afford to buy a focus system like that and/or to hire on people on all of our shoots to separately pull our focus, I’m going to be just covering how to do it as a one-man crew.”

Here are the four ways Walbeck says you can keep moving subjects in focus:

Set focus and maintain distance.

Keeping a constant distance from you subject will prevent the subject getting out of focus. This is one of the most obvious ways of keeping your subject in focus.

Manually focus as you follow subject.

If you looking for more more dynamic shots, like moving in closer to your subject’s face, Walbeck suggests that you manually focus as you are following the subject. It is a little more work than the first way and can take some practice, but it gives you more options regarding the distance between your camera and your subject.

Use a higher aperture setting.

Using a high enough aperture will basically allow everything to be in focus regardless of where it is in the shot. Walbeck says that he isn’t a big fan of this way because the shots using a high aperture doesn’t have a cinematic look, but he does say that it has its uses. For instance, if you want both a beautiful background and your subject both in focus, using a higher aperture would be a viable option.

Use a camera with autofocus.

Walbeck says that using autofocus is his favorite way to keep moving subjects in focus. When setting up autofocus on his camera, Walbeck chooses the setting best suited to the scene. Problems can arise if you subject moves out of designated focus area, so if your subject is going to be move left to right, an autofocus setting with tracking might be better at keeping the subject in focus. However tracking only usually works when there is only one subject.

Keep in mind that different situations will require different ways of keeping your moving subjects in focus. You may find that using a combination of the four ways presented will be much more effective than just sticking to one of the ways for life. Know which technique the scene needs and use it.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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