Tracking Shot – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Film Directing Glossary Terms

I. What is a Tracking Shot?

A tracking shot, also known as a tracking sequence or tracking camera movement, is a filmmaking technique where the camera moves alongside or follows a subject as they move through a scene. This type of shot allows the audience to feel as though they are moving with the characters, creating a sense of immersion and movement within the film. Tracking shots can be achieved using various equipment such as dollies, cranes, or even handheld cameras.

II. How is a Tracking Shot Achieved?

There are several ways to achieve a tracking shot in filmmaking. One common method is to use a dolly, which is a wheeled platform that the camera sits on. The dolly is pushed along a track, allowing the camera to smoothly follow the action. Another method is to use a crane, which can move the camera up, down, or side to side to capture dynamic shots. Handheld cameras can also be used for tracking shots, giving a more intimate and shaky feel to the movement.

III. When is a Tracking Shot Used in Film Directing?

Tracking shots are often used in film directing to create a sense of movement, energy, and continuity within a scene. They can be used to follow characters as they walk, run, or drive through a location, giving the audience a sense of being right there with them. Tracking shots can also be used to reveal information or set the mood of a scene, such as slowly tracking in on a character’s face to show their emotions.

IV. What are the Benefits of Using a Tracking Shot?

There are several benefits to using tracking shots in filmmaking. One of the main benefits is that they can create a sense of immersion and movement within a scene, allowing the audience to feel as though they are right there with the characters. Tracking shots can also add visual interest and dynamic energy to a scene, making it more engaging for the viewer. Additionally, tracking shots can be used to reveal information or set the tone of a scene, adding depth and complexity to the storytelling.

V. What are Some Examples of Tracking Shots in Famous Films?

One famous example of a tracking shot is the opening sequence of Orson Welles’ film “Touch of Evil” (1958). The shot follows a car as it drives through the streets of a Mexican border town, creating a sense of tension and suspense. Another iconic tracking shot is the Copacabana scene in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990), where the camera follows the characters as they navigate through a crowded nightclub in one continuous take.

In conclusion, tracking shots are a powerful filmmaking technique that can add movement, energy, and immersion to a scene. By following a subject as they move through a location, tracking shots can create a sense of continuity and engagement for the audience. Whether achieved with a dolly, crane, or handheld camera, tracking shots are a versatile tool that can enhance the storytelling and visual impact of a film.