Man from U.N.C.L.E. swish-pan decoded at last

Well, today I was watching an old “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episode. This spy series ran from 1964 to 1967 and one of the things it accomplished was to popularize the “swish pan”, also called the zip pan.

Whenever the action switched to another location (which happened a lot; since the world is the spies’ playground), instead of doing a normal cut they would insert maybe half a second of stuff blurring horizontally at an accelerated rate, so it looked like you’re in New York, the camera suddenly swings around, and Boom, you’re in Morocco or some other exotic location. This became a trademark of the series and helped create an “anything can happen” sort of vibe.

So anyway, having a pause button at my disposal, I thought I’d take a closer look at one of these swish pans, and was astonished to discover that, every time, the first frame would be this

You see a blurred image, but you can just make out the name FRITZ WEAVER in big yellow block letters. I then used an image sharpening program (SmartDeblur) on it, which brought the background out - it’s London Bridge, with a masted boat in the foreground. Wow.

(Fritz Weaver did indeed appear in an UNCLE episode - the first one, in fact - but this image seems to be from something else.)

Anyway, that’s a mundane and pointless thing I had to share.

That would be Tower Bridge.

What the fuck are you talking about


Something kinda neat.

I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s obviously over your head.

Fritz Weaver is an actor. He did a lot of tv in the 60’s. Strangely enough he only appeared in Man From Uncle one time.

It might be a little M&P, bit this is primarily about a TV show.

<Swish pan over to Cafe Society>

That’s because his character gets it. (Gets it = dies.)

That is Kewl. I’m sure they had stock “swishes” in the can, but you would think an editor would have deleted block lettering.

Then again maybe the yellow lettering there as a starter on purpose to grab your eye.

So were the same rapid frames used every time or did you just examine one occurrence?

Interesting that the pic is in color, since the first season of Man from U.N.C.L.E. was broadcast in black and white. Possibly the whole “swish” was just made up of random frames from various sources, and was the same in every occurrence?

The credit sequences for Max Headroom had many embedded credits (names faintly laid into one frame each of the fast montages), mostly for the FX guys who were not given screen credit in those days. Sounds a bit like the same thinking.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Weaver could never appear again… It’s not uncommon for guest actors to be recycled in shows like that - Weaver played at least 4 separate characters in Mission Impossible, for instance. It still goes on - Law & Order was famous for not only bringing back guest actors, but occasionally bringing them back to play major characters (which makes watching reruns fun, when you see Lenny Briscoe as a sleazy defense lawyer, or Lt Van Buren as a victim’s mother).

I’m wondering if that screen may have been a credit screen from something else Weaver appeared in, though I’m not familiar enough with him to guess what.

I got that frame from a second season episode (“The Arabian Affair”). They use the same swish pan every time, but sometimes they flop it left-to-right so it swishes in the opposite direction, in which case Fritz’ name reads backwards. The first frame is the only one where there’s anything recognizable - mostly its just colored lights.

Went back and checked the first season pilot episode - yep, the same pan is there but in black and white.

I wanted to check out “The Arabian Affair” because it traumatized me as a kid. In it, Thrush (evil organization bent on world domination) develops a machine called a vaporizer - but it’s not the kind you put Vicks Vap-O-Rub in. The have a peasant chained to a wall, and they turn on the machine, and the room fills up with foam, then they blow the foam out and the chains are still there but the guy is gone. That one really gave me nightmares.

Well, watching it again, I was appalled at how shoddy the whole sequence was. It’s just a lot of soap bubbles, like the kind Peter Sellers unleashed in “The Party”. I guess tragedy really does repeat itself as comedy.

Now that’s a surprise. I doubt if a b & w scene was colorized, so it must have been color to begin with, but made monochrome when needed. I wonder if the entire first season was filmed in color (perhaps to anticipate future TV), but made monochrome for broadcast?

That is neat, thanks.

Side note, Photobucket is crap. Try imgur.

According to the list at IMDB all of Fritz Weaver’s pre-1964 work was in TV series, which were presumably all in black & white which deepens the mystery of the color frame with his name on it.

I love the show, and bought all the DVDs. I had no idea they’d pioneered the swish-pan (and never heard the term before!) I am, of course, quite familiar with the effect; it seems like the updated super-high-tech version of the old “moving airplane on a map” effect (reconstructed and mildly parodied in the Indiana Jones movies.) It’s a “jet age” equivalent: you move from here to there so fast, you can’t really see it happening.

EXCELLENT bit of detective work! Are there specific images in other parts of the swish, or is it that one image moved sideways to make a blur?

Great work.

I don’t know if they actually invented it, but they sure whaled on it and made it a signature thing.

Later on, “Batman” gave us the “swirl pan”.
Then George Costanza came up with the “swish and swirl” pan.