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Camera Blur

Real cameras blur images in a particular way when areas of the image are out of focus. Plenty of camera operators in the history of filmmaking have regarded defocused areas of the frame as mistakes; Gregg Toland, visionary cinematographer of Citizen Kane, went to extraordinary lengths to keep items in the extreme foreground and background of that film in sharp focus, even devising (with Orson Welles) a customized camera for this purpose.

Nowadays, however, good-looking camera blur is not typically seen as a flaw. It has a practical purpose, putting the audience's attention where the director wants it, which iswhy a rack focus shot, in which the focus changes from a figure in the background to one in the foreground, or vice versa, is part of the cinematographer's palette of storytelling tools. It also is often considered beautiful to behold, so much so that the Japanese coined a term for the quality of the out-of-focus image, boke (also spelled bokeh, which is closer to a phonetic spelling).


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