Commercial "camera" effect

If you’ve watched TV lately, it is almost doubtless that you’ve seen an ad that uses this effect. (I believe I’ve seen it in some ads for clothing as well as the movie Enemy of the State.) It normally goes like this–people or things are moving, dancing, or whatever, then the action “pauses” as the camera performs a slow dolly, “rotating” around the actors (who are “paused”), then the action “unpauses” and the actors continue moving.
My question is this–is this done using an optical trick (lens, mirror…) or did the producers cheat and just use a 3D animation program (which even I could do…)? I’m not really sure which, but it’s starting to annoy me.

E.g., the swing dancers ad for slacks (I forget which brand, so their ad didn’t work for me. :))

[list=a][li]They got really strong dancers who could stop in mid-air while the camera dollied around them. This was especially difficult for the woman dancer who leap-frogged over her partner, then stopped, supported only by her fingertips. Even harder was controlling her scalp muscles at the same time to hold her hair out in mid-bounce. :)[/li][li]OK, joking aside. They use software to rotate the image. But they also must have several camera shots along the “dolly” path so they can blend it to look like a real dolly.[/li]
Although it creates some impressive effects, some actors are concerned that extension of this technology will put them out of business, a la Looker. I don’t blame them.[/list=a]

This was covered before (look for threads about “The Matrix” and “GAP Ads”. Basically the way this is done is a bunch of ordinary still cameras are set up in a circle around the actors and all are triggered at once. The moving camera moves to the start of the track, then all of the shots from the still cameras are spliced into the film. Then, the moving camera takes off again.

The only editing that is done is the removal of the still cameras from the image (since they would be visible in the background).

It’s a neat effect, but unfortunately one that is rapidly becoming overused.

If the site for the Matrix is still up, they have a page showing the camera setup and explaining how it works.

“You can’t run away forever; but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” — Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson —
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb —

Nope. I called it “time-stop action”. Click here for more:

If you can find HBO re-running their
“Making of The Matrix” show, the process is shown pretty well. You get to see the set with the hundred (or so) camera set into a green room.


I agree,the effect is already wearing thin.Pity. It reminds me of how quickly the daVinci effect was worn out. That is the computer effect that basically allows all colors to be pulled from a shot BUT ONE. Make-up people tell me horror stories, they had to use atrocious colors, or tones of greys, to do make-up, so that their colors did not come too close to the “Chosen Color” of the commercial.
Although I have no idea if the daVinci was used in it, the film “Pleasantville” makes us of this effect to incredible lengths. Basically, it is the backbone of the film. I loved it. :slight_smile:

Roger Ebert went into this in some depth in one of his “Movie Answer Man” columns. If you’re interested I could probably find the link.

The Comedy Central show The Upright Citizen’s Brigade recently mocked the effect by having the actors just stand still in mid-scence while the vidcam dollied around them. Once the dollying stopped, the actors continued the scene. I got a good chuckle out of it since the effect certainly is being overused.


Overused, yes, but any new development is grabbed up by the advertising industry and played for all it’s worth. Then they move on to something new.
BTW, I was greatly amused by the commercial that had the cowboy go flying over the head of the horse, and crash to the ground.