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What is a tracking shot?

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

A tracking shot is when a camera moves towards or away from the subject, either on a dolly, Steadicam, handheld, or crane across the terrain.

A tracking shot does not have to necessarily follow one subject. The subjects can move. Cross crowds, vistas, or the ocean can also be the subject.

This tracking shot from Touch of Evil uses various camera moves and techniques to keep the audience on the edge.

Another common use of a tracking shot using a dolly is when the subject is walking and talking at the same time. The easiest way to guess a dolly shot would be to identify the smoothness of the camera, as it moves following the subject.

This dolly tracking shot at the famous Philadelphia Art Museum from Rocky II works as a good example.

This montage comprises of a number of camera movements. But, we dolly with Rocky as he crosses the busy streets. This shot also focuses on how far Rocky has run, and how determined he is to get to his destination.

This shot from Full Metal Jacket emphasizes on the character by ensuring the eyes of the audience are on Lee Ermey. It removes focus from the rest of the men and emphasizes on a Sergeant who deserves recognition and respect. 

Now that you've learned about the tracking shot. Watch one of our productions below and let's see if you can find the tracking shot.

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