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[[quoteright:320:[[Music/LindseyStirling http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lindseystirling_rackfocus_4081.jpg]]]]

Changing the point of focus from one character or object in frame, to another character or object that is closer to or more distant from the camera, typically with little or no movement from the camera itself. Used to subtly direct the viewers' attention to a specific part of the screen.

Alternatively called "Roll Focus" or, in film, "Pull Focus". Requires deft manipulation of the DepthOfField.

In motion picture and film-based television production, this is often done by a separate person (the "focus puller" or "first camera assistant") rather than by the primary camera operator. In video production, the cameras usually aren't large enough for this to be necessary, and on consumer-level gear, it might not even be possible because of the way autofocus is usually implemented. [[note]]Now that video-equipped [=DSLRs=] (originally designed for newspaper photographers creating web content) have made inexpensive, near-film-quality video a reality for all but NoBudget directors, rack focus is something nearly any camera operator can do, but it requires either a very steady hand (and tripod), a pile of expensive Hollywood-style equipment (the big guys are starting to use [=DSLRs=] too), or a software hack like Magic Lantern that can automate the process by taking over the camera's autofocus mechanism. Needless to say, like every other pro trick that amateurs pick up, it can be horribly misused, and as [=DSLRs=] and their smaller EVIL brethren become cheaper and more popular, it probably will be.[[/note]]

Sometimes used in two-dimensional animation, which involves filming the foreground and background separately and then combining them.

In theory Rack Focus should be made redundant in new [[ThreeDMovie 3D films]] because the viewer would be able to change focus at will. Of course because it is a simulation of 3D this isn't quite true and the technique remains. This sometimes causes frustration as the viewer wants to change focus but cannot.

Not to be confused with MaleGaze, a camera shot designed to focus on a woman's rack.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* A rather famous animated example comes from the opening song of ''Disney/TheLionKing'', when the focus shifts from a line of [[MisplacedWildlife leaf-cutter ants]] on a branch in the foreground to a herd of zebra thundering by below.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Up}}'', when Carl Fredricksen looks up to his house where the picture of his wife is hanging.
* Used beautifully in ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfTheGuardiansTheOwlsOfGaHoole'' with a flying owl in the background and one of its feathers in the fore, as seen in the [[http://youtu.be/x8RKCmkOyB4 trailer]].
* ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'' uses it to rather clever effect: As Woody is trying to escape out the window of the daycare restroom, the camera pans to the mirror opposite as the janitor looks right at Woody's reflection and [[HeyWait comments "What the heck?"]] Then the focus shifts to show he was actually looking at a patch of scum on the mirror that's just big enough to obscure Woody.
** ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory2'' has a scene where Woody looks at Jesse sitting depressed on a windowsill.
* Used in ''[[AGoofyMovie An Extremely Goofy Movie]]'' after Max leaves for college, when Goofy is in his empty room and sees in the mirror reflection that he left his old stuffed bear behind n his bed.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Executed well at the beginning of ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' when the focus shifts from Jake's face to the floating drops of water(?) to introduce the fact that it's [[ThreeDMovie 3D AND RIGHT IN MY BLOODY FACE!!]]. However the technique can be annoying later on as explained above.
* In the film of ''Film/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'', as Harry walks past a Quidditch store, the view, from inside the store, shifts from his face to a closeup of the ''Nimbus 2000'' lettering on the broom in the window.
* ''Film/MasterAndCommander'', while the crew is on shore leave in the Galapagos, this is used to transition from Dr. Maturin holding a beetle to [[spoiler:the Acheron sailing in the inlet right before his eyes]].
* In ''The Master Detective and Rasmus'', Kalle and Anders need to catch up with a car, a seemingly insurmountable task according to Anders. In response, Kalle looks into the background of the scene, where a RackFocus reveals a motorcycle with a passenger's seat.
* In ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', when Eddie has his EurekaMoment, with Eddie in the foreground and the newsreel footage in the background.
* The first film in the ''Film/TheHobbit'' film series used this in a conversation between Gandalf and Galadriel, since it was taking place telepathically. The focus faded forward and back several times within one shot to indicate who was "talking".
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Glee}}'', Santana, placed in the immediate foreground, makes a rude crack about all-boys schools being an endless source of gay jokes; the camera then pulls a dramatic rack focus to the other end of the room to capture Kurt's irritated reaction.
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[[folder:Music]]
* Music/LindseyStirling's music videos often feature this technique. For example, the ''Series/GameOfThrones'' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oNpmSAvpGQ cover]] done by Stirling and Peter Hollens used this when the latter finds a chess piece; it moves the focus from his face near the ground to the small brown chess knight.
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[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', this effect is simulated to shift focus between Ellen and Abraham's axe in [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2009-08-26 this strip]] and the former page image.
* Used in ''{{Webcomic/Homestuck}}'', in a single panel, [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=006701 here]].
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E3LessonZero Lesson Zero]]" of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', there is a particularly well done instance of this at the end of the episode, where we focus on a worried Spike to Celestia lecturing Twilight in the library after the latter had caused a ruckus just to find a lesson to learn.
** "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E19PuttingYourHoofDown Putting Your Hoof Down]]" has an even better example, switching focus between Fluttershy and a boarded-up door.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* The [[http://lytro.com Lytro camera]] takes pictures in such a way as the focus can be adjusted in post-production, theoretically making rack focus effects on a still image possible (i.e. in a GIF animation or something similar). However, the ability to do this goes away once you've exported the picture to JPEG from the native format.
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