animated GIF of scene from The Matrix described below

The above is a scene from The Matrix (1999), where the camera view zooms in on a TV screen and then transitions to the scene shown on the screen. Which movie was the first to use this technique?

1 Answer 1


It's really just a modern take on Orson Wells' Citizen Kane (1941) 'through the skylight' shot - though the transition is smoother due to advanced editing/CGI techniques. In the original they try to hide the transition in a lightning flash.
It was probably even easier to do than the original, as they could be filming footage showing on the TV which was already shot inside the room, meaning the actual cross-fade is to & from the exact same piece of footage. The skylight shot had to be done in two takes/setups.

Note there's also another clever transition through the neon sign first. This can be done as a simple practical effect, by making the sign in two halves, on tracks, which can be pulled apart as soon as it goes out of shot to let the camera crane through.
You can even see the split point as the camera approaches…

enter image description here

This technique is so practically simple yet effective, they were still using it as recently as Sam Mendes' 1917 (2019)

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    Here it is in 1943 - another great movie BTW: "The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp".
    – davidbak
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 18:36
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    "they could be filming footage showing on the TV which was already shot inside the room" — or even simpler, imagine playing the shot in reverse and then superimposing the window and building during the zoom out, without any need to cut or cross-fade. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 3:37

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