I thought before we get our feet dirty on set, it’d be better off if I had a clear idea of the lens usage. Based on my knowledge on lens from the past 1 year of film production experience and recent lectures and tutorials, I will analyse one scene from my all time favorite Korean film, “Old Boy”.
1. The first shot in the scene is a close up of Dae-su’s face. The lens would have a long focal length (telephoto), as there is a very shallow depth of field, and the room in the background (visible in the right top corner) is out of focus.
2. Then the camera tilted up to Dae-su’s daughter’s face without the change in the lens(a long focal length) and pans sideways. With a train coming up from the background where things are all blurred, out of focus. Flashback begins.
3. CU of heroine. A standard lens.
4. The ant’s legs are on focus while the background is off focus. A long focal length lens(telephoto).
5. Looking at the ant from heroin’s point of view. A telephoto lens, as there’s a shallow depth of field. A few seconds later, depth of field becomes even shallower, I suppose this was done at the post-production stage by employing computer software such as ‘Aftereffect’.
6. CU of her staring the front. A standard lens, as if is a short focal length lens, there should be distortion in figure as the size of shot is CU here. Also, there’s no need to use a telephoto lens not only as the background(window) and object is too close thus unable to make a outstanding distinction between, but also as the background is black, fundamentally rapidly passing walls outside the window, already helps set the object apart from it.
7. Flashback ends coming back to reality. A long focal length lens.
Focus does really direct audience attention to specific part of object or the whole frame. It’s like director saying “I want you to look at it”. It becomes more apparent when a telephoto lens is used. By a various use of different length lenses we assume what a director wants to point out or where s/he guides audience’s attention towards. Thus, if a standard lens or a short focal length lens is used, we can assume that the shot establishes a sense of space so that audience can get a big picture in their mind, accordingly a better understanding of a story.