Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Camera Technique: The Fall

This week's interesting camera movement comes from writer/director Tarsem Singh's The Fall. I saw this film a year or so ago when I first subscribed to Netflix and instantly became fascinated with the following bit of trivia: shot in twenty-eight countries over four years, Singh claims that there were absolutely no special effects or any use of green screen, which is particularly impressive when you consider the extraordinary look of the film. The gif below demonstrates vertical swish pan:

Gif taken from this Tumblr account.
Swish pan is rapid and produces a transitory blur. In the shot above, the camera focuses in on a red footprint and pans up vertically to show the source: a woman bounding up the stairway. Swish pan, AKA whip pan, is used especially well in this scene because it gives the viewer an added sense of rapid action (running + momentary blur = swifty).

In the next gif, we see another vertical pan, only this time without the swish:

Gif taken from this Tumblr account.
Instead of focusing on a single object moving upwards, this gif illustrates a slightly different technique. The pan moves downward at a moderate pace and forces the viewer's eye to look over the edge of a balcony and down on what is happening below. This allows the camera to capture the visual similarities between the pattern on the floor, the circular motion of the dancers, and even the rounded grouping of characters in the center of the shot. This would not have been so obvious had the director framed the scene differently or had not guided the eye toward the point of emphasis with this specific camera movement.

For more information:


  1. Wow, that vertical panning shot is amazing, breathtaking. These about both fantastic examples of interesting use of camera movement.

  2. The second shot alone prompted me to add this to my Netflix list.- Stacey