Follow TV Tropes


Object-Tracking Shot

Go To

The camera sweeps across the landscape and focuses on a single white feather. A breeze blows and it begins to flutter, dancing away. The camera follows almost as if it was entranced. The feather travels far; through rain and snow, over mountains and through caves, it may even pass through a machine, dodge the pistons and avoid being set alight. The feather has become the main character for the moment, filled with suspense, beauty and purpose. It lands, then it's promptly stepped on by the lead character and it's on to the main story.

The Object-Tracking Shot is where the camera follows an object around the world the story is set, giving a tour or a beauty shot. May be important to the plot but doesn't have to be; it can have the actual characters in the background doing some foreshadowing and it generally appears at the start of the show.

Compare Epic Tracking Shot. For following objects that tend to impale people, you're after the Arrow Cam.


    open/close all folders 

  • Pretty much the complete content of a certain Twix advert where we're shown two bars being made as they travel until the mouth of a woman. All to the backing song of The Turtles' "Happy Together".

    Comic Books 
  • The Scrooge McDuck Story The Coin from Don Rosa is an entire Object Tracking Shot following a 25cent coin "traveling" around Duckburg.

    Films — Animation 
  • The ticket from The Polar Express. It does this a couple of times, notably with the cotterpin for the throttle of the train.
  • The eagle at the beginning of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
  • The leaf at the intro of Monster House.
  • The dinosaur egg and Pterodactyl at the very beginning of Dinosaur.
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole begins with Soren's father flying in and out the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow logos.
  • Rock-A-Doodle actually did this twice with a solar flare: the first time when we first arrive at Chanticleer's farm from outer space, and again when said flare shrinks the evil owl at the end.
  • The Disney short film Paperman follows the paper-plane with a lipstick kiss on it as it floats through the city before leading a horde of paper-planes to lead the protagonist to his amour.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The symbolic Bookends in Forrest Gump. The camera follows a feather it as it passes through a park, lands on a man's shoulder, goes above a car and under a second one then finally the feather falls right on the main character's shoes. He then picks it up and puts it in a book. In the ending, the feather starts from between Gump's shoes, flies into the sky (while still showing the main character for a while) and the feather starts dancing in the air before it turns and hit the camera.
    • This shot is notable in two ways: first, at the time (1994) it was a tremendously expensive and complex CGI feat (such an effect is trivial now, of course). And second, it references a minor theme discussed throughout the film, of whether the future is decided by fate or random. Forrest, at the end, decides it's a combination of the two, and the feather demonstrates this: it moves in a seemingly random fashion, but still has a meaningful journey.
  • The opening credits of Trick 'r Treat follow a man dragging a bag containing something brown and soggy, implied to be something that was once alive, occasionally panning up to focus on various characters that appear later throughout the film.
  • The plastic bag floating in the breeze in American Beauty.
  • The (primitive CGI) insect at the beginning of Men in Black, which ends up splattered on the windscreen of a van.
  • Star Trek: Generations had the ship-christening bottle.
  • Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, following the making of a Wonka Bar.
  • In Disney's Enchanted, when Giselle drops the poison apple, the camera follows it as it rolls down the stairs and across the ballroom all the way to Robert's foot.
  • The mind-blowing opening shot of Lord of War follows a bullet from its construction on a factory assembly line to its use on a child soldier in Africa, the entire sequence set to Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth".
  • One might say that the 1993 film Twenty Bucks is an Object-Tracking Movie, following a twenty-dollar bill from the mint to the shredder and observing all the lives it touched.
  • The season change transitions in the Harry Potter films are done with Hedwig, or some other bird, flying around Hogwarts.
    • Including a couple of humorous ones in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, first with the bird that gets smashed by the Whomping Willow, and then with the camera following a single falling leaf of the Whomping Willow before the shot widens to show the tree unceremoniously shedding all of its leaves.
    • Also used in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, with the camera following a crow's feather at the beginning and at the end of the "Tale of the Three Brothers" scene.
  • The FedEx package at the beginning of Cast Away.
  • In Night Watch (Series) we follow a bolt that has rattled loose from a plane experiencing heavy turbulence. It falls through the vortex, past the 100's of crows circling (hitting several) into a air vent on top of a building. It bounces down through the ducts before finally popping out one of the grates into the cup of coffee of a cursed woman. Of course this ruins her coffee and she had just used the last she had to make the cup...cursed indeed.
  • The camera pans around the children's box of gifts from Boo Radley in the opening credits of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Les MisÚrables (2012): After Valjean tears up his parole record and tosses it away, the camera follows a piece that floats up to the sky then swiftly falls as the scene cuts to eight years later.
  • Deleted scenes from Outlander shows that the film was originally going to be book-ended by following a crow flying around the landscape.
  • The Cabin in the Woods follows an eagle as the "kids" head up the to titular cabin tracking it long enough to see it crash into the force-field surrounding the area.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016) has the camera follow an eagle each time the main character enters the animius; giving us an establishing shot of the new setting of the scene. It also ties into the game's lore about how soaring eagles mark which structures are viewpoints because scaling these structures enables the subject to achieve greater synchronization with their ancestor.

  • An uncommon example from literature; every The Wheel of Time book starts out with the narration following a gust of wind as it sweeps across the countries and places before settling on the first viewpoint character. The series' iconic opening passage mentions that "a wind rose" and that "the wind was not the beginning... but it was a beginning."

    Live-Action TV 
  • A planned but unused opening credit sequence for Game of Thrones would have depicted an object tracking shot of a raven carrying messages between distant castles. Instead, the camera does track between many of the distant locales featured in the series, but it's not really following an object, and all of them are basically part of the World's Most Complicated Cuckoo Clock.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power depicts an object tracking shot of the leaf thrown away by King Durin into the bottomless pit of mithril found by his son. The camera follows the leaf falling and falling until it finds the bottom, ending the scene with one hell of a Wham Shot, a balrog.

    Video Games 
  • Navi at the very beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog does this with a flyer about the nearby comet.
  • The Sandvich from Team Fortress 2's "Meet the Sandvich" video, although the camera lingers inside the fridge after it is removed and devoured off-screen.
    • Then again, there WERE two slices of Sandvich in the fridge...
    • "Meet The Medic" might provide a disturbing explanation about whose point of view "Meet the Sandvich" was seen from.
  • Happens in the game Fable II at the start where we follow a bird as it travels across the landscape, into Old Bowerstone before landing and taking a shit. We then follow the shit as it travels towards the ground, complete with choir singing in the background, then it hits the main character.
    • Happens again at the start of Fable III when we cut away from the heroic chicken getting shot. We focus on a single white feather drifting up to the main character's room window.
  • Done in Dead Fantasy VI, as part of a homage to the opening scene of Final Fantasy VIII.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: The intro for each follows a seagull flying over the ocean.
  • Done with a cigarette in the first cutscene of Freelancer.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons did a parody of the Forrest Gump feather where it stabs Homer in the eye, twice, before Homer stomps on it.
  • Family Guy does a parody of American Beauty; where Peter Griffin follows a bag floating through the air in the Meg gets a Reality Show episode.
  • At the beginning of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Halloween episode "Boo Haw Haw", a leaf flutters through the air near Peach Creek Jr High and lands on Edd's head. He then adds it to a pile of properly sorted leaves.
  • There's actually a Rocket Power episode that follows Twister's lost hat until Twister finds it again.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Luna Eclipsed", when Luna as Nightmare Moon appears, the gust blows Applejack's hat off her head. The camera follows the hat as it travels toward the statue of Nightmare Moon.


The Feather

The opening of "Forrest Gump"

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ObjectTrackingShot

Media sources: