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Watch: 8-Minute Supercut Celebrates The Evolution Of The Dolly Zoom

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by Kevin Jagernauth
January 20, 2014 11:30 AM
5 Comments
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While contemporary directors have no shortage of visual tricks and effects to use when putting their movies together, one of the oldest in the book requires nothing more than a camera and a set of wheels. You may not know it by name, but the dolly zoom is an effect that keeps the subject of the shot in focus, while the camera moves in or away, creating a pretty nifty effect on the visual plane. And now you can see the best of the best of that artistry in one pretty solid supercut.

Vashi Nedomasky, courtesy of his blog Vashi Visuals, has put together the best of the best when it comes to the dolly zoom, starting with Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," and moving forward in time from there. Comprising of 23 shots — with context of the scenes before and after to help emphasize the effect — the eight minute video is great look at how one technique can carry different weight depending on the filmmaker, genre and characters involved. It's definitely worth a watch so give it a spin below.

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5 Comments

  • JD | January 20, 2014 4:52 PMReply

    They missed Spielberg's very first dolly zoom, a police sniper's POV of an approaching car, in THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS.

  • Zach | January 20, 2014 3:08 PMReply

    Fincher has a lot of great dolly zooms I would've love to've seen, like the final scene in Panic Room.

  • Andrew | January 20, 2014 1:52 PMReply

    No, a dolly zoom does not just require a dolly and a camera...it requires a zoom lens as well. There are plenty of moving dolly shots in movies but to achieve a dolly zoom you must zoom out while pushing forward on a dolly, or conversely zoom in while pulling back on the dolly. These achieve different effects since zooming inherently changes perspective (compressing an image by zooming in...expanding by zooming out) while dollying just changes a camera's position. Deciding on which one is used really depends on the psychological effect one wants to achieve...for instance dollying out and zooming in would make the character feel compressed and closed in.

  • Paco | January 22, 2014 12:01 AM

    Can you tell if the camera is dollying back and zooming forward or vice versa? If so, how?

  • Andrew | January 20, 2014 1:55 PM

    That being said, dolly zooms are not easy to achieve since the timing on the zoom and the dolly move must be precise. That's why the earlier examples in the video appeared much shakier and archaic...they probably didn't have the equipment yet (such as a zoom motor) to make it more precise.

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