Screen grab from Earthrise, shows the full frame in focus

Depth of field is used to draw your attention to a specific part of the screen. A shallow depth of field means your foreground is in focus and the background is out of focus. A deep depth of field means your entire shot is in focus.

I’m going to use the short film, Earthrise, to help show off how depth of field can be used effectively. I was the writer and co-director of Earthrise and Noah was the cinematographer and did our first rough edit.

Actress Mary Jenifer Mitchell works with an alien specimen in Earthrise

Above you can see a shallow depth of field meaning the object in the foreground is in focus on the actress in the background is out of focus.

Actor RJ Wagner in the foreground, Actress Elisa Vasquez in the background

In this shot we’re using the action from Elise Vasquez to balance out the background and make it interesting while leaving our focus on actor RJ Wagner.

Actresses Mary Jenifer Mitchell & Elise Vasquez. Mary is in focus, Elise is slightly out of focus
Actresses Mary Jenifer Mitchell & Elise Vasquez. Elise is in focus, Mary is slightly out of focus

The example above is a scene where we shift focus between the two actresses on screen. The depth of field is deeper so that they’re only just out of focus enough to direct your attention where we want it to go.

If you want to learn more about depth of field and how it’s used clink on this link to watch what Noah has to say!