[youtube www.youtube.com/watch

I’m sharing this video not because it’s adorable (and Sweet Christmas is it adorable), but to complain about the tilt shift focus change in the second shot. I’ve seen it a few other places recently–Steven Moffat’s Sherlock uses it and Top Chef uses it for its food photography–and I very much dislike it. It looks nice in a still photograph because you can quickly and easily figure out where your eye is supposed to focus. But when the focus is moving in a film, your eye has to move along with the camera. 3D movies make this even worse. Think of the one of the first shots in Avatar. We’re floating through the ship that’s bringing Jake to Pandora. The camera focuses on him, leaving the background blurry. If it were real life, I’d be able to choose whether I wanted my eye to focus on Jake or the background. In the movie, I can’t change the focus, but I can still look at the background. My eye, thinking it’s looking at a real 3D environment, tries to refocus to make the background clear, which would take Jake out of focus, but it can’t, because only the cinematographer has control over the depth of field. In the second shot of this deer video, there’s nothing our eyes can do except watch a blurry image until the camera gets around to focusing.