This Dizzying Drone Video is the First to Use the ‘Vertigo Effect’

You might want to take some anti-nausea meds before you watch this one. Balance, a film by Tim Sessler and Brandon Bray, is a dizzying, disorienting display of drone cinematography that may just leave you slack jawed. It’s also the first drone film we know of to use the famous “vertigo effect,” AKA dolly zoom.

Made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film Vertigo, dolly zoom works by zooming the lens to change the field of view while moving the camera simultaneously to keep the main subject the same size during the move. The result is unsettling, disorienting, and kind of awesome.

In the video above, cinematographer Tim Sessler takes advantage of this effect to make a drone video unlike any other we’ve seen. Interspersed between helicopter-captured shots of Manhattan from above are barrel rolling, vertigo-effect laden drone shots that will leave you (or at least left us) spinning:

In order to capture this unique footage, Sesser says they had to use two new camera techniques for drone cinematography: extreme roll moves with the MoVI M15, and a vertigo drone effect.

“Aerial footage these days is perfect. Maybe too perfect?” writes Sessler. “The horizon is always perfectly level, shots for the most part are very straight tracking or push-ins without much life or human feel to them—in other words the technical perfection nearly adds to how removed a lot of these shots feel.”

The rolling, tilting, and panning motions helped set their video apart, but it’s the vertigo effect where Balance really stands out. For each of those shots they used a Canon CN-E 15.5-47mm zoom lens, starting at 47mm and zooming out to its widest angle while simultaneously moving the drone towards the subject, keeping the subject the same size.

Here’s a short behind the scenes look at how the video came together, including the vertigo scenes:

You can read the full behind the scenes breakdown on the Brooklyn Aerials blog here. And if you want to see more of Sasser’s work, be sure to check out his website.

(via ISO 1200)