This is a subject I've brought up several times (on the old board), and each time Nick was adamant that you should never use shallow depth of field in stopmotion because it makes everything look miniature, and that's something you want to avoid at all costs. 

But my position is that stopmotion can use all the tricks available to live action cinematography - and SHOULD if the director or DP thinks it's the right choice. 

Here are  a few screengrabs:

To me these shots don't look miniature - they in fact have a certain sophistication that I really like. Just like a 'real' movie! Or maybe it's better to say - they might reveal their miniature nature, but we already KNOW it's miniature!! I don't think it detracts at all. In fact it adds a charm the shots would lack if everything was in clear focus.

I feel like the technique should fit the project - some films call for a simpler approach where everything remains in clear focus all the time - which imparts what I think of as a television sitcom type atmosphere - and more cinematic films should freely use techniques like shallow DoF, focus pulls, dappled lighting, low level lighting, etc - just as they're used in live action films. Why not? 

Here's one of the clips I grabbed these from, so you can see the focus pulls in action:

I'm interested in what people think. Nick, I suspect you were thinking of a different kind of shot when you made those comments - maybe a situation where the director was going for full depth of field but was unable to achieve it? But in certain situations I think there's absolutely no reason to limit yourself arbitrarily to not using the full reportoire of photograpic effects these incredible little cameras give us! It's just a matter of using the right tricks in the right places.

Opinions? Comments? 

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Josh Mahan said:

I agree, but you do have to be careful depending on the shot....Rules only exist so you are conscious of what you are doing. If you think it will benefit a situation to go against the "rule" fine. But, at least you are aware of what you are deciding to do and how it might be perceived by the audience.

That's exacly how I feel about it. Like my signature said on the old board, Rules exist, not to be broken, but to be outgrown. Meaning you should understand the rules first, then you know how to use them effectively and when / how to bend or break them. 

I agree with everything said here about shallow DOF and its ability to lead the eye. If you are working with a video camera and have no way to get shallow DOF, you can use light and shadow instead to let the viewer know what they should be looking at. On stage, it would be... Whatever the spotlight is pointed at ;)

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