continuous camera moving through a window

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    • #37073

      hi. does anyone know the technique on how to get the camera to continuously move through a window? here’s an example from antonioni’s the passenger:
      thank you.

    • #164347

      It appears that in that example shot, the top grate was in at least two pieces and once it cleared the field of vision of the camera, it was pulled apart so the camera could move ‘through’ it. The bottom grate was probably moved immediately as the camera approached.

    • #164348


      BTW if you are watching this on youtube only, you are missing out on a true visual treat.

      The film in question is The Passenger by Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni. He died a few weeks ago. He was in his 90s. He had a stroke in 1985 and the few films he made after the stroke are not A list Antonioni. He is known for great cinematography and films about angst that do not emphasize plot. His liveliest films are Blow-up, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger. Famous films from his early period are LAvventura and The Red Desert.

      The scene with the camera going through the window is well known to (serious) film buffs and is one of the most discussed scenes ever. The board at (internet movie data base) has many posts on the subject of the filming technique for this scene as well as what the heck is going on during the scene. I put several posts on that stack myself.

      I thought Jack Nicholson resolved it when he discusses the filming of the scene in his commentary on the DVD. He said that the entire hotel was a set that was constructed to split apart allowing the camera on a crane to exit at the precise moment.

      (Nicholson describes making the film as one of the best experiences of his career. At the end of each days shoot in the Sahara (Africa, not Vegas), the Italian film crew somehow managed to have huge Italian gourmet meals delivered in the middle of nowhere. Have forgotten the details, but Nicholson obtained ownership rights to the film in a settlement with a studio a few years back. He is responsible for the re-release of the film in theaters a couple years ago and for the release of the DVD.)

      You would think that Nicholsons eye witness account about how the scene was filmed would have ended the discussion to everyones satisfaction. However, there is a post thread at imdb that thinks that Nicholsons memory just isnt what it used to be.

      This contrarian is citing a recent book about Antonioni that has pictures of the set with an explanation of how they did it. In summary, it goes something like this: The windows bars are on hinges. The inside the room filming was done with a steadycam. As the camera appears to leave the room through the window, the bars are pulled out on their hinges and (the hardest part) the camera is smoothly attached to a crane for the outside part of the shot.

      The Passenger is possibly Antonionis most accessible film to the general public (i.e., it has a linear plot of sorts). Also, if you ever wondered if Nicholson could play a part without looking unhinged or insane (i.e., overacting), The Passenger is it. A number of years ago when I was doing film reviews on TV, I named The Passenger as one of the 5 best films I had seen that year. Clearly, Im biased; check it out anyway!

      REGARDS TOM 8)

    • #164349

      Notice the perfect continuity of the kid’s skirt blowing in the wind as the actors on the outside stop at the point the camera reaches the window.

      The camera is hooked to a track on the ceiling. then, when it arrives near the window, the actors stop in place. They then stop filming, open the grate and perfectly hook the camera to a crane outside the window. They then resume filming and the actors are free to move around again. Antonioni took eleven days filming the scene!

      Traditionally, long tracking shots (the technical term for shots like this) involves extensive and complicated movements of the camera. without any edits. This could was an exception.

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