Cinematographer Emma Kragen describes six types of long take:

  • The establishing long take – immerses the viewer in a film’s environment and introduces a lot of different characters and their interactions to one another; for example, in ‘Boogie Nights’ you get a feel of what it’s like in the 1980s, in restaurant scene in ‘Goodfellas’ you get a feel of what it’s like to be a part of the mob.
  • The tracking long take – a character driven tracking shot; based on either how the character affects the environment or how the environment affects the character.
  • The exposition long take – used a lot in TV (e.g. ‘The West Wing’); used out of practicality in that it keeps a scene on its feet; serves partially as a transition scene; and partially as a way of getting a lot of exposition across.
  • The action long take – propels the action of the scene, while still making you stay with the actors; focuses on increasing the visceral nature of on screen action; makes the viewer sit with the drama of the moment (e.g. ‘The Revenant’).
  • The stationary long take – e.g. Hunger (2008); Woody Allen uses it a lot – for example in ‘Manhattan’ (1979) there’s a scene where the characters are moving in and out of frame and sometimes you can’t even see them, and he uses sound as another method of telling the story (we hear dialogue even though we can’t see the character whose taking).
  • The ‘fake’ long take – e.g. ‘Birdman’ (2014) uses extensive hidden cuts to appear like a single take film; the methods used – you can either under expose to create a cut point – e.g. use a black frame or a white frame as the end of one shot and beginning of the next shot; you can do the same with colour – a colour grade match cut; you can also use whip pans – you don’t notice a cut when it’s in the middle of a pan; can also use composites to create a graphic match that isn’t actually there.

List of references

Renee, V. (2016) ‘Here are six different kinds of long takes you can use in your film’ At: (Accessed on 10 June 2017)