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Dolly Shot Example: "Grey's Anatomy"

by Jeremy Butler

The dolly shot is named for the device that creates it, the camera dolly--a wheeled camera support that can be rolled left and right or forward and backward. In a behind-the-scenes video of Grey’s Anatomy (2006–), one can see the camera operator seated on the dolly, with a grip pushing him and a focus puller adjusting the focus as Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) talk in a hallway (see The operator pans as the dolly moves past the actors. 

The resulting shot, as it appears in the episode and is presented here, is only eight seconds long and combines a pan with the dolly shot (the difference in Meredith’s wardrobe suggests that the behind-the-scenes shot is of a rehearsal or alternative take). Similar to the dolly shot, the tracking shot earns its name from small tracks that are laid over rough surfaces, along which the dolly then rolls. In practice, “tracking” is such a broadly applied term that it may be used to refer to any sideways or backward/forward movement, even if actual dolly tracks are not involved. In addition, in television studio production sideways movement is sometimes called trucking or crabbing, and a semicircular sideways movement is usually called arcing. Many of these terms are used interchangeably. Also, dollying need not be in straight lines that are either perpendicular or parallel to the action; dolly shots may move in curves, figure eights, and any other direction a dolly can be pushed or pulled.

Dolly Camerawork in "Grey's Anatomy"

A sample of dolly camerawork in "Grey's Anatomy."

from Grey's Anatomy (2006)
Creator: ABC
Posted by Jeremy Butler