What is this shot/effect from Heroes called?
May 5, 2009 7:47 AM   Subscribe

On NBC's Heroes, what is the shot or effect called when Matt Parkman uses his telepathy? Bonus points if you can also point me to tips for emulating this in After Effects.

In case you don't watch the show, the foreground elements remain stable while the background moves further away. I lack the vocabulary to google effectively, so any help is appreciated.
posted by cramer to Technology (11 answers total)
A dolly zoom.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:51 AM on May 5, 2009

That wikipedia entry has a number of other names for the technique -- the other one I've heard the most often, I think, is "zoom in / dolly out". The basic idea is that you zoom in with the lens while pulling the camera away, or vice versa, so that the foreground elements stay the same apparent size while the background shows the effect of a zoom-in or a zoom-out.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:58 AM on May 5, 2009

Colloquially, I have heard the term "film school zoom."

I don't know, but it seems like it would be difficult-to-impossible to emulate in post if you hadn't shot it that way.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:39 AM on May 5, 2009

Search for Hitchcock/Vertigo zoom or shot. That's where the technique was popularized (don't know that he actually invented it).
posted by madmethods at 8:50 AM on May 5, 2009

Wikipedia has a detailed description of how it works, along with a list of alternate names for it. Most famously used by Hitchock for Vertigo.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:50 AM on May 5, 2009

More colloquially known as the trombone shot.
posted by The White Hat at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

It is not something you can duplicate in post. It's a strictly in-camera effect. I suppose you could do it in post if you planned for it beforehand, and it'd be quite easy with a green-screen'd foreground object and then a static background plate, but doing it on set is so simple and so basic that there's simply no reason to do it after.
posted by incessant at 9:44 AM on May 5, 2009

I know you didn't ask, but here are some of the most famous (and awesome) ones.
posted by originalname37 at 9:48 AM on May 5, 2009

It's a dolly zoom, and as incessant has pointed out, you cannot do it in post.

You achieve this effect by dollying in in synchronization with zooming out. The result is the shifting of the field of focus and the depth of field. There's just no way to do this effect in post--without that you did chromakey in the first place.
posted by Netzapper at 11:51 AM on May 5, 2009

firstly, you'll need to separate the foreground from the background - either by shooting the foreground on greenscreen and keying it out, or rotoing it in aftereffects (or whatever program you use) Next you'll need to replace the background with a clean plate that you've shot or created - a clean plate would be just the background elements without the foreground - once you start moving the background away from camera, new areas of the background will be revealed that weren't visible at first, so you'll need something to reveal. Any camera movement that is present in the foreground plate will need to be echoed in the bgd that you are moving away, but to a lesser extent - this will give a nice feeling of parallax. Another thing that will help sell the effect is to have some midground elements that recede from camera half as much as the background.

as people have said above, it can be done in camera, but I've had to do it digitally lots of times. Are you working on something that you need it for? Fell free to memail me if you have any questions
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:02 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

BTW...the episode "Eclipse", where everyone loses their powers, is pretty hilarious. Matt does his sideways head bobbing thing but there is no vertigo shot, and the intended mind-reading victim just looks at Matt and says somethng to the effect of "why are you staring at me sideways"?
posted by randomstriker at 12:13 PM on May 5, 2009

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