Silencer follow-focus system replaces focus puller, gives control back to the videographer


posted Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM EDT


There are, say the folks behind the Silencer, an electronic follow-focus system that just entered crowdfunding on Kickstarter, two types of follow-focus systems on the market. Their system aims to take the best of both worlds.

Each current system has its drawbacks. With some you can control focus yourself manually or electronically, but in the process, you have to change your grip on the camera rig and perhaps disturb your framing in the process. With others, smooth focus changes are possible, but you rely on having a second individual -- your focus puller -- to control focus for you, while you concentrate on framing. That means handing part of your artistic vision as videographer over to another individual, something we're loathe to do.

With the Silencer follow-focus system, you retain control over focus yourself, but it's adjusted with a simple trigger that can be mounted within easy reach on your camera rig, saving you jostling the camera every time you make a tweak. And the Silencer's trigger is pressure-sensitive, so you can make focus changes as quickly or slowly as you like.


Like most such systems, the Silencer's physical connection to your lens is a short geared band which wraps around the lens barrel, its teeth gripping the focus ring. precisely where it needs to be will depend on your lens, and so a set of adjustable rails are included which attach to the base of the Silencer. And since the length of the band is fixed, you can adjust the a tension pulley to keep it taut.

The Silencer draws power from an onboard battery or an external, 12-volt battery pack, and the battery can be removed without first dismounting the camera. The camera battery should also be able to be changed with the device mounted, but if not, it's just a matter of a removing quick release plate to detach the camera.

Three versions of the Silencer will be available. The base Silencer Lite has a lower level of pressure sensitivity for its trigger, and a less powerful motor than its siblings. The Pro kit upgrades the trigger and motor, and finally the Pro Zoom kit allows a second motor to be attached, so that you can also control zoom with a second trigger. At the moment, the Lite version is available for around US$450, and the Pro for US$850. The Pro Zoom costs a whopping US$1,800.

More details on the Silencer Kickstarter page.