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Old March 20th, 2002, 07:51 AM   #1
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Background zoom effect

Does anyone know how to do the zoom and/or dolly effect where the focus of your shot is a close up of a person who remains stationary as the background "stretches" or zooms?

It's used a lot in suspense movies where the character has just realized or seen something shocking. there a standardized term for it?

(Steadichupap...I'm betting you've done this before.)
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Old March 20th, 2002, 08:19 AM   #2
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Zoom Zoom

The basic Ideas is to zoom in at the same speed as which you move the camera away from the subject or move closer to the subject at the same speed as you zoom out. It is hard to do without a dolly or track system but can be accomplished handheld with a lot of practice. No idea what the technique is called.
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Old March 20th, 2002, 10:35 AM   #3
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Keep in mind that this is a cheap effect now-a-days. Especially
if you are making "student"/"low-budget" movies. It is not
considered "cool" anymore. If your story benefits add it ofcourse.

Just a thing that crossed my mind.

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Old March 20th, 2002, 01:59 PM   #4
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You're talking about the "Hitchcock"

Also known as "Vertigo" or "Dolly Zoom."

It's used in Jaws, The Mask, and Goodfellas, but my favorite use has to be when Chris Walken gets hypnotized in Communion.

And I agree: use sparingly, since this technique is hackneyed, and easy to fluff if your dollying is bumpy or isn't along the same line as your camera's focal line.
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Old March 20th, 2002, 05:57 PM   #5
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Thanks, guys. I'll have to try it out. Sounds not so easy on a budget (meaning no way I can rent a sturdy dolly)...but a worthy challenge (wheelchair here I come).

I understand your hesitance to add lots of special effects and cliché camera angles and movements. Actually, my favorite style of movies are the types that don't have one single whiz bang effect in them ("Barry Lyndon" and "A River Runs Through It" for example). I tend to like "story" based films.

Effects like the "Hitchcock" (thanks Robert for the terminology) are sometimes overused...but I think they still have their place. It's just a matter of using it in a seamless way that helps drive the story. And that's the key to everything...right?

Regardless...I want to stretch my wings as much as possible while still learning and try out everything I can. At this stage, about 70% of my shooting is just practice and personal stuff, and 30% is the corporate stuff I do for the web. I'm hoping to flip-flop those percentages someday.
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Old March 20th, 2002, 06:20 PM   #6
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John, do you have a dolly? You can pick one up on eBay for not a whole lot. Now, here's a trick you may not have considered (not necessarily for dolly zooms like you were talking about here, but in geneeral). I adapted this from something I saw advertised. This guy had taken some inline skate wheels and doubled them up in a V configuration on each leg of the tripod, then lined up 2 pieces of 1-1/2" PVC plumbing pipe to act as a dolly track. Cheap and lightweight. two of the legs ride on one "rail" and the remaining leg on the other pipe. He even suggested having a production assistant keep the sales slip and bring the darn pipes back to Home Depot when done...the cheepskate!!!! :-) But his wheel rig was like hundreds of dollars.

I thought about this a bit and decided, why not leave the wheels on a normal tripod dolly and instead modify the pipes. Saw them in half lengthwise on a table saw, then screw them down to cross-ties made of cheap 2x2 lumber using cheap 1-1/4" wallboard screws. I have a Quick-Set dolly that has beefy 4 inch wheels, and although these roll pretty well on almost any indoor surface, dolly tracks can be set down outdoors over uneven ground. Actually, I instinctively attach my dolly to my tripod whenever I can, even tho' it is a pain in the tush to carry around on the road (an extra 7.5 lbs in my luggage!)
By the way, do you have Home Depots over in Seoul??
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