Epic Tracking Shot YKTTW Discussion

Epic Tracking Shot
(permanent link) added: 2009-11-14 10:38:09 sponsor: KJMackley (last reply: 2009-12-12 07:06:02)

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This is where the camera moves from one location to another, usually following/ pulling away from the characters so that you can see the sheer scope of their environment or so that you can see their exact location in relation to someone else.

What usually makes this so "epic" is that the complexity of the shot is such that it would be impossible to do without the use of some sort of visual effect, such as going from a city skyline into an apartment, and then through a keyhole into the bathroom. This doesn't mean that there has to be loads of Conspicuous CG, it's just that it would be quite difficult and very expensive to do certain shots like that any other way.

It's becoming quite popular to combine this with between scene eye catches, at least to give the illusion that it is one continuous shot. Another popular variation is where the camera seems to sink into the ground or ceiling to show what is happening on different floors.

A production can also have several very wide camera shots taken from a helicopter and zooming in slightly without actually being one of these shots. The key is how it goes from an extremely wide angle to a reasonable close-up or vice-versa.

Compare The Oner.

  • ReBoot, by virtue of being the first All-CGI Cartoon, pioneered this use in television. It was actually quite common for an episode to begin with a view of Mainframe, then with a series of twists, turns and dizzying angles it focused in on the spot they needed to be in order to begin the story.
  • Star Trek: First Contact began almost inside Captain Picards eye, then progressively pulled back to show how massive the borg complex was. A later moment in the movie begins with a view of the Enterprise, then travels underneath the saucer section to focus on a couple of people emerging in space suits to walk across the hull. It gives a real sense of size to the ship.
    • Other Star Trek series would often have a shot of someone looking out a window to have the shot pan out to show the rest of the ship or station they were on. In Star Trek: The Next Generation they would visually "cheat" the image by pulling out only part way, then cut to the approximate area of the ship. In later series as CG became more cost effective, they would do it uninterrupted.
  • Smallville uses these on occasion. One shows Clark leaving Smallville by Super Speed, then the camera pulls back to see the entire Earth, and then zooms in to South America where Clark is arriving.
  • Firefly uses the "sink through the ceiling or ground" variation in the episode "Objects in Space" for both River listening in underneath the rest of the crew and Jubal Early listening in on top of their ship.
  • A particularly impressive shot was used for Treasure Planet. You see a half-moon in the sky and when the characters talk of going to the spaceport the camera then zooms towards the moon and as it gets bigger you see more details and eventually notice that it isn't a moon, but the spaceport itself shaped like a half moon.
  • Warehouse 13 uses the eye catcher variation using a handful of stock footage bits of moving quickly around the warehouse only to merge the stock footage with original footage as it goes into a specific area.
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