September 04, 2008

Tracking Shot

Tracking Shot

Camera on dolly and Tracks

Camera on dolly and tracks


Tracking Shot (TAF). The film camera is quite literally placed on a low platform (a dolly see below) which is on a track like a railway track. This means that the camera can be kept at a precise heigght and the speed can be adjusted. A very famous and extremly long tracking shot is in Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend which tracks in a parallel way alongside a road filming dozens of cars which have been involved in a a pile up. Tracking can be in parallel to a scene or else the camera can track forwards or backwards. The way the tracking is done can create a range of different connotations. Tracking done at high speed is often used in Action-adventure films in chase sequences which will emphasise the sense of speed. If tracking is done very slowly a dream or trance like feel is expressed. If a person is held consistently within the frame at one extreme of the frame it could impart a feeling of being imprisoned for example. another famous tracking shot also with a crane is the opening sequence of Touch of Evil dir Orson Welles. See it in the YouTube extract below:

Opening sequence from Touch of Evil


The story of the long tracking shot would be best told in one take. Our camera could begin with Orson Welles's "Touch of Evil," pass through Jean-Luc Godard's "Week End" and Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas," and finally arrive at the latest installment in the canon: Joe Wright's "Atonement." (Jake Coyle: Boston Globe December 2007)


The tracking shot from Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend below

Tracking shot from Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend

The Atonement Tracking shot discussed is currently available at YouTube




A camera dolly

A camera dolly

A dolly is a platform with wheels which allows the camera and camera operator to move around very smoothly. for a tracking shot the camera is placed on rails. this allows he camera to make smooth changes in distance in relation to the subject of the shot. The word dolly is also used as a verb to describe the action of moving the camera when it on a wheeled platform. See tracking shot below and separate article on camera movement.


The development of The Steadicam has allowed for making tracking shots less expensive and difficult.


Webliography


Guardian Film blog on Atonement tracking shot

BBC Blast Advice on how to create a zero budget tracking shot for video.


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