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Watch: A Scorsese Fast Dolly Zoom-In Supercut

From faces to guns to cocaine to pasta sauce, the fast dolly zoom-in is one of Martin Scorsese’s go-to expressive camera moves. Here, Jorge Luengo Ruiz compiles four-minutes of them in what is both great mid-day cinematic eye candy as well as something of a critique. Ruiz writes:

Martin Scorsese’s penchant for a specific kind of zoom, one where he runs the camera right up to the face of his subject, falls somewhere in between the subtle and the obnoxious. Seduced as we are by the style and panache of Scorsese’s oeuvre, we let this habit of his pass us by unnoticed at first, just another notch on his highly snazzy belt, just another way he makes us feel part of the stylised worlds he constructs. But once you see it, it becomes difficult to unsee it, and you begin looking for it. And when this starts, it quickly becomes apparent just how often he tends to use this kind of zoom.

Nearly 20 years ago, key grip Frank Dellario wrote for Filmmaker “Moving the Mount,” an article on the art of the dolly grip. There are many articles from our magazine in the ’90s that are dated now by technology or change in production practice. But much of this article still holds true. An excerpt:

The ability to introduce camera movement into a scene is an important tool that no filmmaker should be denied. Successful dolly moves occur through careful interaction and timing on part of the director, actors, D.P. and the dolly grip. The dolly grip’s role is simply to move the camera from point A to point B as smoothly as possible and at the proper speed. Depending on the complexity of the move, there may be more points, or positions, and varying speeds. A relationship of trust between the D.P. and the dolly grip is key to the smooth execution of these moves. Besides focus, the movement of the dolly is the only aspect of the camera that the D.P. does not have direct control over.

If you ever get a chance, watch the dolly grip performing a move. It’s a very zen thing – or what some people call “being in the zone.” Dolly grips totally tune out everything from distracting noises, the grimaces of an angry producer in overtime hours, or the flirtatious glances of smitten P.A.s while they concentrate on executing the move. Depending on the shot, that could be just the wheel, which they stare at to maintain a constant speed while watching for their marks. Or it could be talent, who they have to track with in order to maintain the framing of the shot.

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