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Zoom Shots / Dolly Zoom Shots (Zolly)

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

The dolly shot is often combined with lots of other cameras moves to create a unique look that’s right for the scene. One of those shots is the zoom.


What is a zoom shot? A zoom shot refers to the technique of changing the focal length of a lens (and hence the angle of view) during a shot.

It’s fair to say the easiest way to define a zoom is to see one.

But how does that become the dolly zoom shot?

What is a dolly zoom shot (zolly)?

The dolly zoom shot is a combination of the dolly and zoom. The dolly zoom creates a unique look on screen. The dolly zoom shot was originally called the Vertigo effect, after the Hitchcock film of the same name. Notice how Hitchcock uses it to show Jimmy Stewart’s fear of heights in the scene. It’s an extrapolation of what he’s feeling inside. Hitchcock mixes the dolly zoom shot with a point of view shot to give us an intimate portrayal of the horror.

He’s afraid to climb the stairs, and it costs Kim Novak her life

Arguably, the most famous dolly zoom shot is from Jaws. It’s combined with that great Spielberg face to show Chief Brody’s abject horror as he realizes his kids are in the water with a Great White Shark.

There are lots of dolly zoom shots used in films over the years and for different purposes.

But there’s one filmmaker that stands out above all for his use of the dolly shot. In fact, it’s very easy to define dolly shots in his work because it’s one of his characteristics of being an auteur. So, who is it?


Spike Lee dolly shot example Spike Lee burst onto the scene with She’s Gotta Have It but became part of the mainstream when Do The Right Thing came out in 1989. Lee employed a completely unique take on the dolly shot to allow us to travel with his characters.

This is an important question. Now that we understand the film producer job description, how do we get started?

As you can see in this montage of Spike Lee dolly shots, the effect is used in a variety of ways. Matt Zoller Seitz and Richard Cruz point out in their Indiewire article on Lee’s shot, that it’s disruptive. It reminds the audience they’re in a movie and he’s giving them a point of view. The shot completely solidifies the themes and emotions stirring within the story. ​So now that you’re an expert on what’s a dolly shot, there’s plenty more for you to check out! Think you know everything about the close up? Think again!

Here is an example of Zolly Shot from our work for Kuwait's Ministry of Youth

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