What Robert Zemeckis Can Train Us In regards to the Shifting Grasp Shot


Welcome to The queue – Your daily distraction from curated video content from across the web. Today we’re going to watch a video essay on how director Robert Zemeckis is the master of the moving master shot.

Let’s face it, it takes a long time to get all the fame. And to be fair, there’s something wonderfully bold about a well-executed Oner: the intense staging, the incredibly fluid camera, all the different moving parts. Continuous recordings are difficult to achieve, which is why they sometimes generate so much praise and hype. Heck, there are even full-length films that are entirely about the spectacle of a single take (or its appearance): Rope (1948), Russian Ark (2002), Birdman (2014), and 1917 (2019) to name a few.

But did you know that burst shooting has a sneakier, more practical cousin? That’s right, it’s time to talk about it the moving master shot. What is the moving master? Well, that’s exactly what it sounds like: a master shot (also known as a long shot, which captures all or most of the action in a scene) that moves a lot. The advantage of the moving master is that you can get plenty of it cover without making a scene feel too static. By just moving the camera and cast, you can effectively get a wide variety of coverage with far less Setups (also known as the positioning of the camera and lights for a particular shot). As you can imagine, this saves a lot of time. And with a professional movie set, saving time means saving money.

One of the masters of the moving master is Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis. The following video essay examines Zemeckis’ filmography to demonstrate the practical and narrative benefits of this technique.

Clock “Shooting Moving Masters Zemeckis Style“:

Who did that?

This video essay about Robert Zemeckis and the moving master recording is from an author, director and video essayist David F. Sandberg (from Shazam! fame). His production includes no-budget horror films shot in his own home, starring his wife and frequent collaborator Lotta Losten. You can follow Sandberg on Vimeo and on Twitter. You can also subscribe to it here on YouTube.

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