Perspective distortion seems to be one of the most confusing topics in photography. There are all kinds of erroneous “facts” about it. Like focal length being that which distorts your subject, and not the distance to the subject. Well, this video from This Place puts that myth well and truly to rest and also illustrates why “zooming with your feet” is the dumbest phrase in photography.
The Hitchcock zoom, Vertigo effect, dolly zoom, it has a bunch of different names depending on who you ask. But it’s all the same thing. Moving the camera away from your subject while zooming in. Or, bringing the camera closer to your subject while zooming out. It’s a very difficult technique to master, but today we have digital options to make life easier and simulate it in post.
In this video from Tom’s Tech Time, we see one way to create this effect using footage from just about any drone. Of course, the higher the resolution, the better the overall quality will be, but the principle can be applied to any of them.
The dolly zoom, also known as the “Vertigo Effect” or “Hitchcock Zoom” can be an amazing technique to add tension or drama to a scene. It’s a process whereby the camera is dollied in toward your subject while the lens zooms out wide. Or, the reverse, where the camera moves away from your subject while the lens zooms in.
It’s a difficult technique to master, and almost impossible if shooting on your own. You have to move the camera, adjust the zoom of the lens, and try to keep your subject in focus all at the same time. This video from Lewis McGregor shows a technique to create a similar effect without doing any zooming whatsoever. But, there is a caveat. It won’t really work if your camera only shoots 1080p.
Hong Kong is incredible mix of old and new. The opportunity to take stunning shots is there and is just waiting for the right creative vision to bring it to life. And Brandon Li has vision oozing our of his ears.
Hong Kong Strong is a 7 minutes journey into the city. And it takes the kind of spatial and temporal liberty that makes those seven minutes feel like 2. From vertigo effect (which is the first time I’ve seen being done in post), through aerial footage, hyperlapses and just about any other cinematic trick you can envision.
The results are spectacular.
The Hitchcock Zoom, also known as the dolly zoom, the Vertigo effect, reverse tracking shot, triple reverse zoom, the trombone effect, as well as countless other names, is the process of simultaneously moving the camera while zooming the lens to keep your subject a constant size within the frame while the environment gets larger or smaller.
This is not an easy trick to pull off, which goes a long way towards explaining why we’ve never seen this effect used with drone footage before. Now, thanks to a collaboration between Tim Sessler, Brandon Bray, Brooklyn Aerials, and Freefly Systems, titled Balance, we can finally see this beautiful effect used from the air.
For anyone who has ever seen those shots where it looks like the subject of the scene stays the same size but the background recedes away, this video is a quick tutorial that explains how to achieve the shot in camera.
The video above is more detailed but here is the summary.