Understanding How the Dolly Shot Works
26 Jul

Understanding How the Dolly Shot Works

Some of the most powerful shots in filmmaking history were created using a dolly. You’ve probably seen a dolly shot in a movie before—Jaws features a dolly zoom that is quite famous. But how are these iconic shots taken? This brief overview of the filmmaking technique will help you with understanding how the dolly shot works.

What Is a Dolly Shot?

A dolly shot is a shot taken with a camera mounted on a dolly, which is a type of wheeled cart used in filmmaking. These types of shots are usually quite smooth and can be used to follow a subject or perform a dramatic zoom onto the subject. Sometimes, filmmakers combine dolly shots with panning or tilting camera action to make the shot more dramatic or highlight a certain emotion.

How It Works

A professional dolly setup looks intricate, but the concept behind how it works is actually not all that complicated. In some cases, the dolly and camera mounted on it are freestanding and can be operated on their own. In most professional contexts, the dolly is mounted on a set of tracks that determine its path of motion. Usually, a trained individual, called a dolly grip, will be the one operating the dolly and controlling its movement.

Ways To Use a Dolly Shot

After understanding how the dolly shot works, you may be wondering how, exactly, one can use it. Read on to learn some of the most popular uses for dolly shots.

Zoom Shots

Though dolly zoom shots are similar to zoom shots, the two differ slightly. While a zoom shot only adjusts the camera’s focal length, a dolly zoom moves the entire camera toward a subject. This movement is often used to highlight a subject for dramatic effect.

Tracking Shots

Because dollies are on wheels, they are equipped to capture very smooth moving shots. This makes them the perfect choice for tracking, as they can follow alongside or behind a moving subject without distracting from the action of the shot.

360 Shots

In a 360 dolly shot, the dolly and camera travel in a full circle around a subject. 360 dolly shots give the audience a unique perspective and capture the action from every angle.

Now that you understand dolly shots a bit better, try using them in your own work. Not everyone has access to a professional dolly, however, so if you want to try out a dolly-like shot with different equipment, consider using a POV rig from Glide Gear. Find the equipment you need to succeed in our collection.

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