The long shot

In filmmaking and creating, a long take or a oner is an uninterrupted shot in a film, which lasts much longer than the conventional shot or editing pace of the film itself or of films in general, usually lasting over several minutes.

Long takes are most of the time accomplished using a “dolly” shot or Steadicam shot. Long takes of an arrangement filmed in one shot without any editing are rare in films. Therefore, I will explain further how it is done, and draw specific examples using two very different movies.

The term “long take” is used because it avoids the vague meaning of “long shot”. This can refer to the framing of a shot, and the “long cut”, can refer to either a whole version of a film or the general editing and pacing of the film. However, these terms are occasionally used conversely with “long take”.

When filming Rope (1948), Alfred Hitchcock envisioned for the film to have the effect of one long continuous take, but the cameras they used could hold no more than 1000 feet of 35mm film. As a result, the takes used up a whole roll of film and lasted up to 10 minutes. Many takes ended with a “dolly shot” to an unimaginative surface (such as the back of a character’s jacket) where they would zoom all the way into the blackness of the suit and then cut, change the film and start over again zooming out. When one re-watches it today, these transitions do not seem very smooth at all. The entire film consists of only 11 shots and a total running time of 80 minutes.



One thought on “The long shot

  1. Wow! I have always wondered how they were able to do this! Thank you for the enlightenment on the subject. We should see Birdman together soon and try to point out where the shots begin and end.


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