Guerrilla Filmmaking 101: Character dolly

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 18 22.03

Job 30:26: Character dolly.

Character dolly,

or push-in, is when the camera approaches its subject.  Often the the character is first framed in a wide view before the approaching.  The camera can close in slowly for an emotional effect or quickly for an exciting effect.  It is a substitute for zoom or a match-cut for a specific purpose at the decision of the director.

This technique requires thought.  You are making a statement and it may not be subtle.  The subject becomes important.   If there was a point to be made it is made this moment.  Slow approach is best for melodramatics or introducing emotion into the subject.  The background may emphasize excitement or loneliness.  A fast approach is best for terror, excitement, or exhilaration.

Give consideration to your subject.  The subject should be or made important.  Introducing every ancillary charter is awkward, unless that is what you intend.  The Character Dolly, is a fatiguing movement.  It zaps the energy it represents.  Don’t tire your audience with repeated push-ins.

When would I use the character dolly?  It was something I wanted to use in Job 30:26, although not a favorite technique, I confess.  There some finality to this technique, an explanation mark.  If I were to approach slowly, I’m trying to tell you, as a member of the audience, pay attention to the the subject.  If I were to approach quickly, I want to make a dramatic point and exit.  Sort of answering a question that was never asked.

There are subtle uses of push-in, although I little notice on television or film.  The camera can quietly evolve camera framing to a closer tighter shot.  Imagine a mid shot between two characters engaged in a conversation.  As the dialog develops, the camera eases closer to one of the talent.  A mid-shot  becomes a medium close up timed when he or she is about to deliver an important line.

As seen in: Job 30:26
In the film’s conclusion, the morbid creature has risen from it’s slumber. The camera pulls in quickly for a dramatic effect before the lights fade out.

Guerrilla filmmaking 101 is a series a posts covering the basics in a quick-footed production.  Every director carries his or her own filmmaking philosophy.

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