Moon Smart Focus – AI-Powered Range Finder for Focus Pullers Explained

At Cine Gear 2023, we stopped by the Moonlighting Industries booth to learn more about their Moon Smart Focus system. This Swedish company has designed a premium AI-powered distance meter that promises to support focus pullers in their work. The second iteration of this product features smaller, improved hardware and retails for $24,000.

Pulling focus can be one of the most challenging, stressful tasks on set, especially if you’re just starting out. Keeping things in sharp focus while the camera is rolling requires endless hours of practice and, even for the most experienced camera assistants, there are shots where things can get tricky.

Luckily, technology can come to the rescue. On the show floor at Cine Gear 2023, Michel Teixeira from Moonlighting Industries provided an in-depth overview of their AI-driven range finder. So let’s take a closer look!

Moon Smart Focus Brain
Moon Smart Focus Brain. Image credit: CineD

Smart range finder for 1st ACs

The system is essentially a smart range finder that relies on AI to recognize multiple humans inside a shot and calculate the distance of their eyeballs from the lens. This should provide 1st ACs with precise, instant measurements for executing their work.

Moon Smart Focus Eyes
Moon Smart Focus Eyes. Image credit: CineD

The system consists of three main hardware components: the Moon Eyes, the Moon Brain, and an iPhone. The Moon Eyes is a stereoscopic camera sensor that normally goes on top of the lens. It observes the scene, extracts the depth information of the actors, and hands it on to the Moon Brain processing unit.

Moon Smart Focus Brain on Sony VENICE 2 camera rig
Moon Smart Focus Brain on Sony VENICE 2 camera rig. Image credit: CineD

As a final step, the included iPhone showcases a live preview of the scene with distance data displayed as an overlay label over each actor. The idea of having a dedicated Apple device to use exclusively with the Moon Smart Focus system is to avoid delivery of personal notifications during operation.

The system supports several semi-automatic operating modes, such as Nearest Person, Person, Object, or Point. So, for example, you can decide to track a human subject regardless of their position in space, focus on the person that is closest to the camera, or even draw a frame around an object on your smartphone/tablet to track its position.

Moon Smart Focus user interface on iPhone
Moon Smart Focus user interface on iPhone. Image credit: CineD

According to Michel, Moon Smart Focus integrates with any system that currently supports the Cinetape protocol. The Swedish brand has been working side by side with companies such as ARRI, Preston, Teradek, and Tilta to ensure compatibility with existing follow focus systems, and provides dedicated cables for connection to devices such as the ARRI RIA-1 and LCUBE CUB-1 modules.

Price and availability

The Moon Smart Focus AI-driven range finder is shipping now. The system comes as a kit that retails for $24,000. It includes the Moon Brain, Moon Eyes, all the cables you need, an iPhone 12 Mini, and a Peli Case 1300.

For more information, please visit Moonlighting Industries’ website here.

Have you ever used a range finder system for pulling focus? What do you think of the Moon Smart Focus system? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!


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