Long take

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In filmmaking, a long take (also called continuous take or continuous shot) is a shot with a duration much longer than the conventional editing pace either of the film itself or of films in general. Significant camera movement and elaborate blocking are often elements in long takes, but not necessarily so. The term "long take" should not be confused with the term "long shot", which refers to the distance between the camera and its subject and not to the temporal length of the shot itself. The length of a long take was originally limited to how much film the magazine of a motion picture camera could hold, but the advent of digital video has considerably lengthened the maximum potential length of a take.

Early examples[edit]

When filming Rope (1948), Alfred Hitchcock intended for the film to have the effect of one long continuous take, but the camera magazines available could hold not more than 1000 feet of 35 mm film. As a result, each take used up to a whole roll of film and lasts up to 10 minutes. Many takes end with a dolly shot to a featureless surface (such as the back of a character's jacket), with the following take beginning at the same point by zooming out. The entire film consists of only 11 shots.[1][a]

Andy Warhol and collaborating avant-garde filmmaker, Jonas Mekas, shot the 485-minute-long experimental film, Empire (1964), on 10 rolls of film using an Auricon camera via 16 mm film which allowed longer takes than its 35 mm counterpart. "The camera took a 1,200ft roll of film that would shoot for roughly 33 minutes."[3]

Later examples[edit]

A handful of theatrically released feature films, such as Timecode (2000), Russian Ark (2002), PVC-1 (2007), and Victoria (2015) are filmed in one single take, others are composed entirely from a series of long takes, while many more may be well known for one or two specific long takes within otherwise more conventionally edited films. In 2012, the art collective The Hut Project produced The Look of Performance, a digital film shot in a single 360° take lasting 3 hours, 33 minutes and 8 seconds. The film was shot at 50 frames per second, meaning the final exhibited work lasts 7 hours, 6 minutes and 17 seconds.[4]

Another example from television can be seen in the first season of HBO's True Detective. In episode four, "Who Goes There", protagonist Detective Rustin Cohle (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey) is undercover as part of a biker gang who have decided to brazenly rob a drug den located in a dangerous neighborhood. The shot begins with the bikers arriving to the drug den with McConaughey's character reluctantly in tow. The six-minute shot moves in and out of various residences, through several blocks and over a fence while shots are fired by shouting gangsters, bikers and police as they arrive on the scene. McConaughey at first assists the biker gang, then turns on them to abduct the leader, dragging him along for more than half of the continuous shot.[5] Director Cary Joji Fukunaga commented to The Guardian, "We required the involvement of every single department, like a live theatre show. We had make-up artists hiding in houses so they could dash out and put make-up on [Cohle's hostage] Ginger's head. We panned away for a second to do that. We also had ADs peppered around the neighborhood with extras who had specific things to yell and specific places to run. We had stunt guys coordinating with stunt drivers to pull up at the right time, special-effects guys outside throwing foam bricks and firing live rounds."[6]

The John Wick series of films are known for their long take fight scenes. This was due to the budgetary constraints of using only a single high-end camera for all the filming, and required close choreography with the various extras involved in the fights, having to run behind the camera after being one of the first fallen attackers as to come in again as a new attacker.[7]

In 2010, artist engineer Jeff Lieberman co-directed a 4-minute music video with Eric Gunther, featuring the indie band OK Go performing their song "End Love". The video was shot in a continuous take using three cameras, running 18 hours from before sunset to 11am the following day. The footage was condensed using time lapse techniques ranging up to 170,000 times speedup, with some brief slow-motion segments also recorded at 1500 frames per second.[8]

Sequence shot[edit]

A sequence shot is a shot, a long take, that includes a full narrative sequence containing multiple scenes in its duration, meaning different locations or different time periods. The term is usually used to refer to shots that constitute an entire scene. Such a shot may involve sophisticated camera movement. It is sometimes called by the French term plan-séquence. The use of the sequence shot allows for realistic or dramatically significant background and middle ground activity. Actors range about the set transacting their business while the camera shifts focus from one plane of depth to another and back again. Significant off-frame action is often followed with a moving camera, characteristically through a series of pans within a single continuous shot.

An example of this is the "Copacabana shot" featured in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990), in which Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) takes his girlfriend to a nightclub passing through the kitchen.[9]

Robert Altman's The Player opens with an elaborately-choreographed ten minute shot that follows multiple characters in multiple locations, both inside and outside.[10] Among the 17 scenes that comprise the shot, one character refers to the four minute shot that opens Orson WellesTouch of Evil.[11]

Average shot length[edit]

Films can be quantitatively analyzed using the "ASL" (average shot length), a statistical measurement which divides the total length of the film by the number of shots. For example, Béla Tarr's film Werckmeister Harmonies is 149 minutes, and made up of 39 shots.[12] Thus its ASL is 229.2 seconds.

The ASL is a relatively recent measure, devised by film scholar Barry Salt in the 1970s as a method of statistically analyzing the editing patterns both of individual films and of groups of films (for example, of the films made by a particular director or made in a particular period). Film scholars who have made use of ASL in their work include David Bordwell and Yuri Tsivian. Tsivian used the ASL as a tool for his analysis of D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (ASL 5.9 seconds) in a 2005 article.[13]

Directors known for long takes[edit]

Continuous shot full feature films[edit]

A "one-shot feature film" (also called "continuous shot feature film") is a full-length movie filmed in one long take by a single camera, or manufactured to give the impression that it was. Given the extreme difficulty of the exercise and the technical requirements for a long lasting continuous shot, such full feature films have only been possible since the advent of digital movie cameras.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ For a complete analysis of Hitchcock's hidden and conventional cuts in Rope, see David Bordwell's text in "Poetics of Cinema", 2008.[2]
References
  1. ^ Miller, D. A. "Anal Rope" in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, pp. 119–172. Routledge, 1991. ISBN 0-415-90237-1
  2. ^ Bordwell, David (2008). "From Shriek to Shot". Poetics of Cinema (Paperback; 2007 ed.). Routledge. p. 32+. ISBN 978-0415977791.
  3. ^ Cripps, Charlotte (10 October 2006). "Preview: Warhol, The Film-Maker: 'Empire, 1964', Coskun Fine Art, London". The Independent. London.
  4. ^ The Hut Project. "The Look of Performance". Archived from the original on 12 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Seitz: Why True Detective's 6-Minute Tracking Shot Is More Than Just 'Awesome'". Vulture. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  6. ^ Fukunaga, Cary (17 March 2014). "How we got the shot: Cary Fukunaga on True Detective's tracking shot". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  7. ^ Pappademos, Alex (15 April 2019). "The Legend of Keanu Reeves". GQ. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  8. ^ Rothermel, Ryan (22 June 2010). "OK Go "End Love" – Masters of the One Take Music Video, by Gunther and Lieberman". Motionographer. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  9. ^ The 10 Most Stunning Long Takes in Movie History — Taste of Cinema
  10. ^ The 10 Most Stunning Long Takes in Movie History — Taste of Cinema
  11. ^ The 15 Greatest Opening Long Takes in Cinema History — Page 2 — Taste of Cinema
  12. ^ "RogerEbert.com : Great Movies: Werckmeister Harmonies". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 8 September 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  13. ^ Yuri Tsivian, in The Griffith Project: Vol. 9: Films Produced in 1916–1918, Paolo Cherchi Usai (ed.), text at Cinemetrics.
  14. ^ "Chantal Akerman". Filmref.com. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Coyle, Jake (29 December 2007). "'Atonement' brings the long tracking shot back into focus". Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
  16. ^ 10 Signs You're Watching a Wes Anderson Movie|EW.com
  17. ^ The 12 Best Directors That Often Use Long Takes - Taste of Cinema
  18. ^ Greg Gilman. ‘One Tree Hill’ Director Completes World’s First One-Shot Rom-Com (Exclusive). Netflix. The Wrap. Retrieved 24 December 2013
  19. ^ The 20 Best Long Takes In Movies|IndieWire
  20. ^ The 20 Best Long Takes In Movies|IndieWire
  21. ^ A Woman Under the Influence (1974) - AllMovie
  22. ^ 'The Eddy' Team on How Jazz 'Brings Together Different Groups' — Variety
  23. ^ "Carl Theodor Dreyer". Filmref.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  24. ^ Hughes, Darren. "Senses of Cinema: Bruno Dumont's Bodies". Archive.sensesofcinema.com. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  25. ^ 13 Incredible Unbroken Takes in Movies|Mental Floss
  26. ^ Berlanga, Luis García - Senses of Cinema
  27. ^ "How the Gravity-Defying 59-Minute 3D Take in 'Long Day's Journey Into Night' Was Shot". IndieWire.com. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  28. ^ 16 incredible long takes|BFI
  29. ^ Frey, Mattias. "Michael Haneke". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  30. ^ 16 incredible long takes|BFI
  31. ^ Hou Hsiao-hsien: Long Take and Neorealism Archived 14 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Derek Malcolm (14 August 2003). "Silent Witness". London: Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  33. ^ Bong Joon-ho: Living Images, Moving Frames|Features|Roger Ebert
  34. ^ 20 Greatest Extended Takes In Movie History - GeekWeek
  35. ^ Billson, Anne (15 September 2011). "Take it or leave it: the long shot". The Guardian. London.
  36. ^ Rafferty, Terrence (14 September 2008). "David Lean, Perfectionist of Madness". The New York Times.
  37. ^ Sergio Leone, Father of spaghetti westerns Archived 26 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Steve McQueen's long shot in 'Hunger' is paying off, Los Angeles Times, 22 March 2009.
  39. ^ Sam Mendes explains why he made the World War I epic '1917' — and chose to present it as one long take
  40. ^ Hughes, Darren. "Tsai Ming-Liang". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  41. ^ The 12 Best Directors That Often Use Long Takes - Taste of Cinema
  42. ^ "Camera Movement and the Long Take". Filmreference.com. 6 May 1902. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  43. ^ "Focus on Play Director Ruben Östlund". European Parliament/LUX prize. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  44. ^ Tag Archives: David Lean
  45. ^ Fujiwara, Chris. "Senses of Cinema: Otto Preminger". Archive.sensesofcinema.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  46. ^ Colliding with history in La Bete Humaine: Reading Renoir's Cinecriture
  47. ^ Lim, Dennis (4 June 2006). "An Elusive All-Day Film and the Bug-Eyed Few Who Have Seen It". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  48. ^ Marcus, Millicent (2002). After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801868474. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  49. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Chicago Sun-Times. 6 August 1999.
  50. ^ Zack Snyder's Directing Style: 5 Techniques from Zack Snyder Movies|StudioBinder
  51. ^ Halligan, Benjamin (11 September 2001). "The Remaining Second World: Sokurov and Russian Ark | Senses of Cinema". Archive.sensesofcinema.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  52. ^ "The Spielberg Oner – One Scene, One Shot". Tony Zhou. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  53. ^ Cain, Maximilian Le. "Andrei Tarkovsky". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  54. ^ "Strictly Film School: Béla Tarr". Filmref.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  55. ^ 16 incredible long takes|BFI
  56. ^ "Rob Tregenza Interview". Cinemaparallel.com. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  57. ^ Brunner, Vera. "Phantoms of Liberty: Apichatpong Weerasethakul edited by James Quandt". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  58. ^ "Steadicam Shot".
  59. ^ Long Takes: Creative Examples of Camera Movements & Angles|StudioBinder
  60. ^ Lee, Kevin. "Jia Zhangke". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 29 January 2012.

Bibliography[edit]

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