This scene, which I can't find anywhere but on a Facebook page, contains one long zoom taking up approximately 50 - 70 feet. Can anyone suggest how it might have been done (considering the time period), or a way to replicate it with simple equipment?

The movie is called Les Ailes (1927) (aka Wings), and the scene in question is here:



1 Answer 1


That's not a zoom at all. You can tell the difference between a zoom and a dolly shot by how the background changes.

Zooms are shots using the camera lens to change the magnification of the image. Here's a video that explains it:

This is definitely a dolly shot. You can see how people sit back in their chairs as the camera approaches to let it pass. To be clear, it's either a crane shot with a large crane or a crane shot on a dolly with a small crane. Huge studio spaces allow for use of large equipment of the time.

Something similar to this but with an overhead arm:

Early film era crane on dolly

And here's what a giant crane would look like (from 1934):

Giant crane from 1934

  • 1
    That video on the difference between zoom and dolly is fascinating. I don't know if I ever consciously picked up on the difference between the two. Jan 7, 2016 at 17:16
  • There's also the jib that fills the gap between a dolly and a full crane. And then there's the arial photography. Jan 7, 2016 at 20:34
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox, did you mean "aerial"? Arial is a font. Jan 7, 2016 at 21:12
  • @DangerZone Ugh, yes. Errr.. maybe I meant the mermaid? Jan 7, 2016 at 22:08
  • 2
    @DangerZone They should have named her "Helvetica". Jan 7, 2016 at 22:09

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