Cinefade: variable depth of field in one shot

London-based filmmaker Oliver Janesh Christiansen has developed Cinefade, a unique system that enables cinematographers to gradually vary the sharpness of the background in a motion-picture shot at constant exposure, while keeping the foreground in focus, in partnership with cmotion Lens Control Systems of Vienna, Austria.

Using depth of field creatively

Cinefade is an in-camera effect that can immerse viewers in a story or make a client’s product stand out in a commercial, enabling a whole new form of cinematic expression. Christopher Ross BSC says: “Cinefade is a really useful and subtle tool to use in moments of extreme drama.”

Depth of field is a powerful cinematic storytelling device. In the past, cinematographers have been limited to choosing either a shallow or deep depth of field that is consistent throughout the shot. Cinefade gives the opportunity to explore the creative potential of a variable depth of field. Fading from a deep to shallow depth and thus gradually blurring the background could, for example, communicate a shift in the subject’s emotional state in a narrative or guide the viewer’s eyes to focus on a product in a commercial.

A video demonstrating the effect is available at

Cinefade uses a custom cmotion lens control system to vary iris diameter, changing depth of field. A custom-built variable Neutral Density filter sits inside a matte box and keeps exposure constant by slaving the filter motor to the iris motor.

The Cinefade system

  • works with any digital or film camera and cine lens
  • is quick and easy to set up
  • is simple to operate
  • allows for a range of up to 5 T-stops

Cinefade is currently being used by DoPs for TV dramas, feature films, commercials and music videos and is available as a rental-only item in London and Los Angeles.

About the developers

Oliver Janesh Christiansen is a 25-year-old half-German, half-Indian filmmaker based in London. After graduating in 2014 from Staffordshire University with a First Class Honours degree in Film Production Technology, Oliver has worked internationally as a camera operator and camera assistant. He invented and patented the variable depth of field method in 2015.

Cmotion GmbH is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. It designs, develops and sells quality wireless and cabled lens and camera-control solutions to the film and broadcast market. Cmotion’s products boast the most modular, ergonomic and multifunctional systems available today. See more: cmotion Lens Control Systems

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