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The opposite of overcranking.

Undercranking involves filming at a slower frame rate so that the action is sped up when played back. Sometimes witnessed in car chases, especially on the 1960s Batman TV show. In the days when film cameras were hand-cranked, most operators were trained to slow down slightly whenever a punch was thrown, so that the blow would seem faster than it really was: almost all of Jackie Chan's martial arts movies make use of the same basic principle during the fight scenes to make the action seem more exciting. When shooting video, where the framerate cannot be manually controlled mid-shot, a similar effect can be produced in the edit suite by selectively deleting a single frame here and there.

Generally, the frame rate isn't lowered to less than 21 frames per second, as anything beyond this makes the effect too glaring. More extreme undercranking tends to be used for supernatural characters (to emphasise their unnatural speed), or comedic effect (because it's easy to make it look funny). As with overcranking and the Chariots of Fire theme, if someone's running, expect to hear "Yakety Sax" either onscreen (if it's a comedy) or in your head (if it's not).

Beyond extreme undercranking, where you are still counting in frames exposed per second, comes "Time Lapse" shooting, where you are counting in seconds (or hours, or longer) per frame exposed. Popular subjects for time lapse are blooming flowers, the movement of the clouds or stars, building construction, and city streets.

A significant part of The Silent Age of Hollywood. See also Fast-Forward Gag and Adrenaline Time, i.e. ramping. Sub-Trope of In-Camera Effects.


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  • Used on Transformers toy commercials, to avoid having to either sit there for five minutes while a kid transforms a 10-inch-tall toy, or cut off a transformation halfway through to fit in the commercial slot.
  • LEGO commercials use this as well. Whenever the set is being thrown together in the commercial, it's actually the model being taken apart in reverse so it looks smoother and faster.


    Film — Animated 
  • Parodied in Surf's Up during the set-up for the surfing competition. During an undercranked montage of the set-up, the backing music speeds up faster and faster. At the end, one of the characters says "I feel lightheaded" in a chipmunk voice.

    Film — Live-Action 

In General:

  • Most kung-fu movies in the 70s were undercranked to make the action look faster.
    • Inverted by Bruce Lee, whose scenes were overcranked because he was so goddamn fast.
  • Due to different TV standards in the world, this may be applied to the entire film to conform to the European PAL standard. Speeding up 24fps film to 25fps to conform to the PAL standard. This does not apply to NTSC territories like Japan and the USA.

By Creator:

  • Used by the Marx Brothers, e.g. in A Night at the Opera to make Harpo's character run down the stairs unnaturally fast.
  • Mack Sennett seems to have used an especially low frame rate for his comedies to make the action more zany and frenetic.

By Movie:

  • A variant on this was used in 28 Days Later. The film was shot using Canon XL-1 DV cameras, which have the ability to use a very, very fast shutter speed (1/1600th of a second or faster) that appears to playback at the same speed as the rest of the movie, but while looking very jittery and jumpy. Nearly all of the scenes featuring the infected were shot this way.
    • And, interestingly enough, the scenes with Jim toward the end.
  • Used in some scenes in Aliens to make the Xenomorphs move with inhuman speed. And Bishop's Five-Finger Fillet, of course.
  • In the opening scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff flings Cap down some stairs using her powers before walking backwards and shutting the door using her telekinesis. Her backwards walk is undercranked and very creepy looking.
  • Big Bird in Japan: Barkley is so frightened by the statues at Sanjusangendo Temple that he runs away in sped-up film.
  • Oddly used in one chase scene in Blade.
  • Used in Blade Runner to emphasize Pris's temper-tantrum when she gets shot, and used again briefly near the end of the film, to make Roy Batty appear inhumanly fast as he darts across Rick Deckard's field of view. Rutger Hauer's actual movements were slow and deliberate, so as to (successfully) make the scene not look like it's undercranked.
  • In order to achieve the intense shots of the car bearing down on Brendan in Brick, the car was backed up slowly past the undercranked camera, then the film was reversed to give the impression of the car shooting towards the viewer.
  • The Russian ballet in the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie.
  • Call Me Bwana uses this in a scene where the capsule's rocket is activated while it's strapped to a truck, causing the truck to drive in circles at high speed.
  • In A Christmas Story, in the Imagine Spot with Ralphie shooting the bad guys, they are in fast-motion. Also, the scene where Ralphie turns in his paper begins and ends with fast-motion scenes of the boys running to and from school, complete with chipmunk voices. Some shots of the Bumpuses' dogs storming the Parker's kitchen are sped up as well.
  • During the three-way sex scene in A Clockwork Orange, with the William Tell Overture as a soundtrack.
  • Some of the shots of the out-of-control steamroller in Dad's Army (1971) are sped up to increase the urgency.
  • All of the zombies in the Day of the Dead (2008) remake are supernaturally fast and strong, which is most often represented by the actors having their movements sped up greatly in post-production in a comical manner.
  • Doctor... Series:
    • Several shots during the car chase in Doctor in the House (1954) are sped up to add to the scene's tensity.
    • Played for Laughs a few times in Doctor in Trouble:
      • When Dr. Burke arrives at Simon's house.
      • When the Master-at-Arms runs down to Roddy and the models from an upper deck to try and catch Dr. Burke.
      • When Dr. Burke sprints away from the Master-at-Arms in a scene set to a tinkly piano variant of the film's theme.
      • When Dr. Burke escapes from the Master-at-Arms in his vest and Y-fronts before climbing into an air pipe to hide.
  • Used quite noticeably for some fight scenes in Equilibrium.
  • Fatal Termination: One scene involves a child being kidnapped by mobsters, being grabbed By the Hair and hoisted outside a moving vehicle. In a behind-the-scenes video, the entire chase scene is shot in undercrank mode, making it look a lot faster than it did in real life, obviously to ensure no harm happens to the child actor. It's possibly one of the most messed-up stunts ever pulled with a child actor below 10 years of age... (WARNING: Linked video may be disturbing for some viewers)
  • Used in Gladiator with a shot from the arena floor that makes the tigers even quicker and scarier.
  • For his Film of the Book Firefox, Clint Eastwood hired the same special-effects man, John Dykstra, to do the supersonic nap-of-the-earth fighter-jet chase footage as George Lucas hired to do the Endor speeder-bike sequence mentioned below. In the behind-the-scenes featurette, Dykstra said it was quite a struggle to find a place with enough land to do the sequence because like in Return of the Jedi, the camera was being cranked at 1 frame per second, on a Learjet.
  • Used very subtly on the first person viewshots (to the point of near-unnoticeability) during parts of the famous chase scene in The French Connection.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy makes extensive use of this (or overuse, depending on one's POV).
  • An odd case is found in Godzilla Raids Again. In some of the fight sequences between Godzilla and Anguirus, the usual overcranking technique used to add a sense of weight to the monsters was accidentally reversed - but the effects supervisor liked how the shots turned out and kept the footage anyhow.
  • Used for the Knight Bus in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The sequence was filmed with the bus driving at normal speed and the rest of the traffic driving slowly. Then they sped up the footage so that the bus would look fast and the other vehicles would look normal.
  • Used in Home Alone after the entire McCallister family oversleeps the morning they are set to leave on a Christmas vacation to Paris, and are in danger of missing their flight. A shot of the house's foyer shows everyone (except Kevin, who is still sleeping, unbeknownst to the others) hurrying up and down the stairs and through the halls getting ready as the airport shuttle drivers are waiting outside. This happens again in the sequel, and the effect is also used when Kate and Peter bolt out of bed before screaming, "We did it again!"
  • Used often, to comedic effect, in Hot Fuzz for everything from shoot outs to signing papers.
  • In some horror movies (the House on Haunted Hill (1999) remake, Thir13en Ghosts, and Jacob's Ladder come to mind), the ghosts are filmed WAY undercranked to make them look deranged and supernaturally fast on playback. Especially the headshaking ghosts.
  • The blaxploitation movie The Human Tornado severely undercranks every single "unimportant" fight scene, along with Dolemite's hilarious commentary.
  • Undercranking was used to create the signature head twitches of the 'demons' in Jacob's Ladder. This effect in turn was replicated several times in the Silent Hill video game series.
  • Frequent during the fight scenes in the early James Bond films, particularly egregious in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • Used for the Audrey II scenes in Little Shop of Horrors, because the hydraulics used to move the animatronic puppet were too slow at natural speed to match the fast-paced dialogue.
  • In the first two Mad Max films, many actions scenes are sped up massively to make the cars appear to be driving faster. The fourth movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, is a nearly non-stop, two-hour long car chase, and over half the movie is either undercranked or overcranked to a degree.
  • Used heavily to speed up the many car chases in Moving Violation.
  • Utilised in Nosferatu during a scene where Orlok’s carriage is moving, to help it appear unnaturally fast.
  • Played for Laughs in On the Buses when a policeman is knocked to the ground by a lorry's cab flicking up.
  • Paranormal Activity was known for doing this in place of a Time-Compression Montage. (it even gets parodied at the Academy Awards, with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin sharing a hotel room.)
  • Used to make the chandelier appear as if it was falling faster in Lon Chaney-starring adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
  • Raising the Wind: When the orchestra purposely plays too fast to undermine Chesney in front of the examiners, the film is sped up to make the scene funnier.
  • Used frequently in Requiem for a Dream during drug scenes.
  • In Scream (1996) the shot of Casey's corpse falling from the tree was sped up to avoid an NC-17 rating.
  • Star Wars: The backgrounds of the speeder bike race on Endor in Return of the Jedi are the result of an undercranked camera and a Steadicam.
    • So undercranked that it shot one frame per second.
  • Chase scenes in Strange Psychokinetic Strategy go really fast, and include many of the same gags that The Benny Hill Show employs.
  • The climax of Strangers on a Train (in which a carousel spins dangerously out of control) was achieved this way. It hasn't aged particularly well, however.
  • The entire four-minute opening credits of Three Men and a Baby is undercranked.
    • As is the opening montage of its sequel, Three Men a Little Lady.
  • Used frequently in The Three Stooges shorts as a kind of special effect. Many of their signature gags are undercranked.
  • Occurs for no particular reason in the Olivia Newton-John sci-fi film Toomorrow, when ONJ and her wacky bandmates pile into her tiny car and peel off into the streets of Chelsea in London.
  • Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet cuts undercranking into sequences with stylistic results.
  • In The Daisy Chain, this is used for shots from Daisy's perspective at the pool, before she drowns another child.
  • A Safe Place (1971) does this in one scene of Fred spinning around on a swivel chair.
  • Ferry Cross the Mersey uses this in an early scene of Gerry getting dressed. The music he's listening to on the radio is sped up and high-pitched. Undercrank is also used during a silent film-style chase scene towards the end of the movie.
  • Partners (1982) uses it when Kerwin is rushing in the pink convertible to save Benson, who is Alone with the Psycho.
  • Up Pompeii films:
  • In Watch Your Stern, one shot of Commander Fanshawe's bicycle going over the side of the HMS Terrier is sped up for comedic effect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every "Mind Your Manners With Billy Quan" sketch from Almost Live! uses this effect combined with editing to make Billy and The Rude Man look like they toss projectiles at each other.
  • Seen at the end of every episode of The Benny Hill Show. This may have tainted it forever. Hence Yakety Sax is the Standard Snippet to undercranking just as Chariots of Fire is to overcranking.
  • Used in every episode of The Big Comfy Couch as part of the "Foley Family" skits and the "Ten Second Tidy".
  • Frequently used in the live-action "For Real" segments at the end of each episode of Cyberchase, especially in the early seasons. It's mostly used for comedic effect, but is also used to speed up somebody sorting something, putting something together, or writing. In 2005, a special marathon of the show featured various live-action interstitials between episodes hosted by the "For Real" hosts. One such interstitial featured Bianca playing DanceDanceRevolution so vigorously that the footage sped up more and more until she exploded.
    • The segment following "A Crinkle In Time" involves Bianca wanting a fast bicycle to beat her friend when they race in the park. She makes a grand entrance riding up to her friend in fast motion, and the effect is used again when she speeds away, not listening to her friend saying that she doesn't want to race today.
  • Doctor Who: "The End of Time" uses this when the Master devours a roast turkey in a matter of seconds, as well as during the Demonic Head Shake.
  • The first act of the Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 episode "Whatever it Takes ..." uses this technique to show three repetitive days in June and Chloe's life: Chloe comes in from her nights out, goes to bed, June gets up, watches TV on the couch all day, Chloe gets up, goes out, and the cycle starts again.
  • This was necessary in many of the numerous chase scenes in The Fall Guy. Part of what makes Colt's truck so cool is the substantial body lift which also made the at least one Ramp Jump per episode more credible. On the other hand, it completely mangled the vehicle's handling: The high point of gravity in combination with the very long and soft suspensions would have caused it to tip over whenever taking corners even at normal speed, let alone during a high-speed chase. So whenever it was involved in a high-speed chase in an urban setting, while the other vehicle drifted around the corner as usual, Colt's truck was filmed separately and undercranked.
  • Any scene with the bamboo car on Gilligan's Island was conspicuously undercranked, likely to avoid damaging the scenery.
  • Often used in bursts in Good Eats, when Alton is doing something that would otherwise be boring, like stirring a bowl full of something.
  • Unfortunately quite obviously used in early episodes of Highlander: The Series, especially in the pilot when they had to make Richard Moll look like a skilled and dangerous sword fighter. Yes, "Bull" from Night Court.
  • In Your Dreams uses this all the time. Most commonly this is used to speed up unimportant actions (such as characters walking from place to place) or to speed up lengthy actions in place of montages (such as cleaning up a room).
  • The gimmick of the 1953 BBC interlude London To Brighton in Four Minutes, and its remakes in 1983 and 2013.
  • The Munsters
    • In relation to that, there was a Nick-at-Nite commercial that promoted the comedic effects of "Fast motion!", featuring said scenes from The Munsters.
  • My Favorite Martian had a few of these moments, too, especially when Uncle Martin and Tim were trying to hide something from the nosy neighbor/air-headed landlady Mrs. Brown, or worse, Detective Brennan.
  • Used in Royal Pains for montages, at least in the Pilot Episode.
  • Every single stinking car chase scene they ever filmed in the entire run of Pamela Anderson's V.I.P.
  • Often used on Zoom in "Café ZOOM" segments that involve mixing a batter or frosting a cake, as those tasks are more time consuming. It was also used in a segment where two cast members make homemade butter by shaking a jar of cream and salt; one of them acknowledged that the footage would be sped-up since watching them take turns shaking a jar would be "pretty boring" otherwise.
    • Also on the original 1970s series, used during the opening theme after David note  from Season Two introduced himself.
  • Used for the Jackalope segments on America's Funniest People, overlaid with funny voices by Dave Coulier.

  • Used comedically in the music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's "White and Nerdy".
  • Used in TLC's "Dear Lie" Music Video, resulting in some really weird dancing.
  • Orbital's video for "The Box". It looks like Tilda Swinton moved very slowly during filming, so the undercrank brings her up to normal speed while still making her movements rather unnatural and reminiscent of stop-motion; everyone around her is a super-fast blur.
  • Madonna's "Ray Of Light" video is mostly sped-up film of everyday life.
  • Used extensively in Ok Go's video for "End Love" with a few moments of Overcrank for contrast.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: The trailer "Things will be different" used this effect on in-game scenes.
  • Silent Hill, being heavily influenced by Jacob's Ladder, uses a similar effect on some of its resident monsters, particularly in the third game.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's plays this straight with one of the possible effects where Bonnie or Chica, when in the West and East Hall corners (respectively), will have their heads twitch unusually. It becomes especially apparent in later nights.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 has this right on its menu screen—the new animatronic, Springtrap, is a horrific, twitchy, disturbing mess. It was also seen having whole-body spasms this way in the trailer, seemingly implying that it was on permanent undercrank. In game, it's just as motionless as the rest of the animatronics, save for a few moments when it moves with a disturbingly human-like fluidity (though you'll only get to see this in jumpscares or as it sneaks into your office behind the monitor). The last between-night minigame provides the context for the trailer scene, and it's even worse than previously thought. The ghosts of the missing children have just forced the Murderer into the Springtrap suit, and it triggered. That twitching? It's the Murderer's death throes.
    • Ultimate Custom Night When you turn up the heat on Rockstar Freddy when he asks you for coins, sometimes he will go "YouaretryingtotrickFreddy...”, Youaretryingto(gibberish)”... Or “Freddy doesn't like this!" getting increasingly chipmunklike by the second.
      • Some of the animatronics are also displayed like this. If you unlock all the cutscenes, you get a special "Void" cutscene where Golden Freddy twitches until he gets dragged into the dark.
  • A CGI equivalent was used in the trailer for a Warhammer video game. During a battle, there's a brief glimpse of an elf fighting an ork. While the motion of everything else appears realistic for the size of what's moving, the elf's movements are animated so he is wielding his swords inhumanly fast to show he isn't human.
  • Some of the monsters in UNLOVED can use "Demon Speed" to rush into your face from the other side of a room in an instant. Rather than leaping or flying, they use their normal movement animations played at extremely high speed, creating an effect similar to undercrank.

    Web Original 
  • raocow will sometimes speed up some of the footage of his Let's Play videos in order for them to fit in YouTube's 11-minute (later upped to 15) limit. He calls this "chipmunk time". Even though YouTube no longer has a time limit, he still does this sometimes anyway to spare the viewers from watching something repetitive over and over, or because it's funny.
  • This is how Fred gets his trademark high-pitched voice.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Battlefield Earth, during his epic meltdown, he rants on how stupid it is by screaming "stupid stupid stupid" followed by a Cluster F-Bomb. Most of the rant is double-speeded.
    • Also done with a "Try, try, try, try, try, try..." Madness Mantra in the Garbage Pail Kids review.
  • Christopher Odd tends to use this when he has to repeat a section in a game or gets lost for too long, in order to keep his videos shorter.
  • During The Runaway Guys' playthrough of Sonic Adventure, ProtonJon tries to make Amy Rose walk up a slope that she wasn't meant to walk up. This makes Amy walk very slowly, and Jon keeps her at that pace to prevent her from possibly falling off the slope as a result. Because Amy is walking extremely slowly, the footage is sped up in post, with the side-effect of giving everyone chipmunk-esque voices and making them very hard to understand.

    Western Animation 
  • Used in The Amazing World of Gumball. In the episode "The Laziest", Gumball and Darwin undergo a sugar rush, which causes them to run around with their voices chipmunked (including at least one line that's sped up so much that it's unintelligible).
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender Aang does this after having a sip of Chi Enhancing Tea and goes all over the place on his Air Scooter. While riding around when he talks his voice is extremely high and very fast. He keeps going until he hits a pole.
  • The Cleveland Show episode "Beer Walk" begins with a comedic Time Lapse that compresses roughly 48 hours into 30 seconds. Cleveland happily announces that the weekend has begun, takes off his pants, plops down on the couch with a considerable supply of beer and snacks, and turns on "a sporting event". As Cleveland sits motionless in front of the TV, Donna folds the laundry, chases Rallo around, re-upholsters a chair, cooks dinner (spaghetti) for the family, chops firewood in the living room, clears away a sea of empties left by Cleveland, dusts, vacuums, and finally collapses on the couch in exhaustion. Then Cleveland, who had been asleep, wakes up and says:
    Cleveland: Is it Sunday night already? Another weekend of us doing absolutely nothing.
  • Family Guy: A cutaway from "Quagmire's Quagmire" has Peter ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant, and the cashier asks him if he'd like to upgrade to an "extra large" meal. As Peter takes his time to make his decision, a whole year goes by outside the windows before the world descends into nuclear war, gets attacked by aliens and is taken over by apes.
    Peter: N... No. Yes—No!
    Ape Cashier: You sure? It's only 29 cents more.
    Peter: (beat) Yes.
  • King of the Hill almost the entirety of the shows opening title sequence is animated as if it was undercranked.