The opening scene in 2015's Spectre has a long continuous sequence which, as an amateur filmmaker, is difficult to figure out how it might have been done.

  • The movie begins as an apparent crane shot over a Mexico City Day-of-the-dead parade.
  • The camera slowly comes down to shoulder level while tracking a male/female couple in costume and masks walking against the parade toward the camera, then past it, and the camera follows them.
  • They walk into a hotel and then an elevator with the camera following into the elevator.
  • The elevator goes up a few floors, opens, and the camera backs out of the elevator. The couple follows the camera then transitions to walking ahead a few steps to a room, open it, and walk through. The camera follows them in (oddly closing the door for them as neither of them do).
  • The couple takes off masks, there is some conversation between them as the woman goes into the bathroom and comes back to find, now clearly Bond, in street clothes with an equipment case.
  • Bond climbs out the window and the camera follows through the window, then leads as he walks along old building ledges, etc.
  • The camera climbs now evidently flying as there are openings several stories high below it. Bond walks several blocks on rooftops past the camera until he gets to his vantage point across from a building full of bad guys.
  • The sequence finally has a jump cut to look into the bad guy building and then back to Bond.

I suppose with a $200+ million budget, they would think nothing of post-producing a montage of shots into a smooth, continuous flow. But I can't help wonder if they really did it in one shot, transitioning from quadcopter to steadicam and back for the shot?

  • 2
    Top search result for "Spectre opening shot" = hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/…
    – DA.
    Nov 8, 2015 at 7:18
  • Just as a side-note, because you seem to be interested in this kind of technique: The movie Birdman is shot as one (seemingly) continous shot. Not just its opening sequence.
    – BestGuess
    Mar 20, 2019 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


As it turns out, it was expectedly not a single shot, but skilled editing of multiple continous tracking shots, some done with steadicam and some done with cranes (and a little bit of CGI). In fact it didn't even all take place in Mexico City but also partly in Pinewood Studios London. This is explained by the movie's cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema in a short Hollywood Reporter article, which briefly lists the various different separate takes and how they were done each:

It was accomplished with several meticulously choreographed long takes edited together with shrewdly placed wipes and a smattering of CG (though Hoytema insists there are no fully CG shots in the sequence).

The first shot was lensed with a Technocrane, which creating the establishing shot, then lowered the camera and zoomed in to follow the actors. A transition occurs when Bond and the woman enter the hotel, which is actually on a different street. A Steadicam picks up the actors, following them through the lobby and into and up an elevator. The hotel room is a set built at Pinewood Studios in the U.K.

When 007 goes out the window, a camera on a Technocrane follows Craig as he runs across the roof. “There was a gigantic support scaffolding the length of the block and three stories high to accommodate the track for the Technocrane,” says van Hoytema.

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