How to Dolly Zoom Without a Dolly or a Zoom Lens

The "dolly zoom" or "zolly" was made famous by Hitchcock in the movie "Vertigo" and since then has been used in countless Hollywood movies. Just a few years ago, this move was almost impossible to pull off but with today's new gear, almost anyone can do it. 

To produce the zolly effect you will need to either push the camera in while zooming out or pull the camera out while zooming in. Doing this manually is almost impossible but this becomes extremely easy if we zoom digitally in post. If you have a camera that shoots in 4K, you'll have plenty of extra resolution to digitally zoom with. 

The other half of the puzzle is camera movement. If you have a gimbal you might be able to pull this off but if you happen to own a slider, this will be much easier. If your slider is electric, that's even better. We own the Rhino slider which can automatically replicate the same move again and again. We set the slider to go back and forth and we did take after take very quickly for the skit at the beginning of our video. You'll notice that the zolly effect isn't super significant and that is because our slider isn't very long. Getting closer to your subject and moving the camera a further distance will produce a much more pronounced effect. 

If you don't have a slider, don't worry, you can also easily pull this off with a drone. Simply fly the drone back and forth away from the subject without changing direction or camera tilt. Remember that for the effect to work, you need to have a noticeable object in the foreground with a background element behind it. 

In Adobe Premiere you can zoom in or out over time by creating key frames. Watch the video above to see exactly how to do this. To get the most extreme zolly effect, try to keep your foreground object in exactly the same place. A perfect zolly shot will have a stationary subject with a background that is quickly growing or shrinking. 

If you like this sort of thing, you may want to check out our full-length tutorial on videography.

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9 Comments

Alex Armitage's picture

"How to get me to click on an article with just the lead photo"

John Dawson's picture

"to click"?! How about "not to click"?

The Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate is awesome. Been in my dock for a couple of years and I use it almost every week for various things.

John Dawson's picture

AH! My eyes!

Rifki Syahputra's picture

awesome stuff..
now I can eat bananas without bananas..or eating :) jk.

somehow reminded me on Mr bean's holiday movie where he record the award-winning movie with his arm back and forth

Marek Stefech's picture

"Top gear" of photography

Mick Ryan's picture

Great funny video. Still a bit disturbed by ‘that shot’ of Patrick. Lee can you give the Apple hate a rest. It’s boring to listen to people tell you about what they hate. You can tell how great Permier is for this kind of editing without referring to other hated software/hardware. It’s a slippery slope into troll land form there.

Do even Mac users like being forced to use iTunes?

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Frankly, Patrick's star turn here is just as terrifying as anything Hitchcock ever did.