How to…shoot a trombone shot

This one is a tricky one – and a good challenge to keep you busy!

A trombone shot, or a dolly zoom is a great technique to add some pizazz to a scene where a character experiences something shocking, intriguing, upsetting or just bizarre!

Take a look at this famous clip from Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws:

Here the character stays the same size and position, but the background seems to move around him (or, our perspective of the background changes).

It’s a disorientating effect.

Hitchcock used it in Vertigo and once you know what it is, it will pop up in all sorts of places! I even spotted one in the live episode of Coronation Street (with the tram crash).

Alfred Hitchock's Vertigo

Alfred Hitchock’s Vertigo

All you need is a good bit of co-ordination.

What you need to do is:

1) Choose a subject for a shot – your older brother, a teddy bear or something else that will stay still.

2) Position your subject and camera so you can frame the background – make sure there are points of reference (there’s no point making a cool effect in front of a white wall!).

Either:

3) Zoom in on your camera and at the same time walk backwards away from your subject.

Or:

3) Zoom out on your camera and at the same time walk towards your subject.

This can be tricky to get the timing right – go slowly to begin with. The trick is to get the movement of the zoom to be exactly the same speed as your movement.

Good luck! We’d love to see your results!

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