The shot from The Lady Vanishes I am talking about is when Iris looks back to say goodbye to her friends after getting clonk on the head. She was feeling dizzy when she got on the train.

black-and-white blurry image of a woman

Can you let me know the actual name of this effect or how Alfred Hitchcock shot this? This is for my research project. I thought it was interesting since I do not see this in modern films. Does anyone know if Alfred Hitchcock was the first person to use this in movies as a transition?

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    “I thought it was interesting since I do not see this in modern films.” Nowadays people overly rely on post production digital effects. This is a practical effect using a special lens. If you are intro filmmaking I strongly recommend experimenting with putting physical objects in front of the camera. Even a paper towel tube or a small metal pipe. You might be shocked to see how simply one can create cool effects with simple objects. Sep 1, 2020 at 15:12
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    @Giacomo1968: If one uses an optical or digital post-production effect, or using a physical or chemical post-production effect on a copy of the film, one will end up with a copy of the film that has the effect along with an original that doesn't. If the effect doesn't turn out as desired, one can re-use the original film and apply the effect differently without having to re-shoot the actors. By contrast, if anything goes wrong when using in-camera effects, or using chemical or physical effects on the original camera film, it will be necessary to re-shoot the scene from scratch.
    – supercat
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:48
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    @supercat True. But in my experience that is a production management mindset that does not fall out of line with experimentation. My goal is simply to state that some people are a bit too rigid of in-camera versus post… Just experiment and then jump off from there as to how best to do something. Sep 1, 2020 at 15:55
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    These days, of course, you composite pseudo-live in digital 'video' whilst shooting film on a splitter, so you can test what you'll get post-pro without touching the master. I do think the old kaleidoscope effect would be a bit simplistic for a modern audience, though; & you could easily do it in post if you ever felt the need ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:23
  • He time travelled forward to 1975 and used Queen's setup for Bohemian Rhapsody. Sep 1, 2020 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


It's done using a prismatic kaleidoscope filter over the lens, known as a multi-image filter.

They were very popular in the 60s & 70s for 'flower power/drugs/music video' type shots, often rotating the filter as the camera rolled, to make it even more 'dreamy'.
Their popularity declined in later years - same as anything else, it just became passé, "been there, done that, worn the t-shirt out".

I have no idea who may have been first to use such a filter.

See this question & answer at our Photography sister site - What is this physical filter, shaped like a shallow pyramid? - elements copied below…

This is a small version for a stills camera, but they could be made in any size.

filter front view filter side view

enter image description here

  • That example looks OK, but many were prone to colour fringing on all but the central sharp image as the segments are like very weak prisms. Not a problem in B&W of course, except that it adds to the softening of the outer images
    – Chris H
    Sep 4, 2020 at 9:41
  • Sure, but that's pretty much in the definition of prism ;) [goes to look at his Dark Side of the Moon album cover… yup :P
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 4, 2020 at 10:37
  • Presumably they choose the material for low dispersion, while your typical rainbow prism is chosen for high dispersion. But they can't get zero dispersion
    – Chris H
    Sep 4, 2020 at 11:29

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