How to Create the Dolly Zoom Effect in Post, No Zoom Lens Required

The Dolly Zoom—also known as the Vertigo Effect—is a powerful cinematic technique that involves moving the camera in one direction while you zoom the lens in the opposite direction. But did you know you can actually create this same effect in post without a zoom lens? Thanks to high-res cameras, you can.

This was as much of a surprise to us as anybody else, but filmmaker Lewis McGregor of YouTube Channel UglyMcGregor shows you that it is possible to “fake” in After Effects using certain kinds of footage.

In fact, that’s how he created the snippet of footage below:

There are, of course, some limitations. And we’re not talking about the part of the video where McGreggor rightly points out that “90% of things created in post aren’t as good as capturing the real thing.” That part goes without saying.

The limitations we’re referring to have to do with the shot you’re using. You’ll need to have your subject dead center of the frame because you’ll be losing a lot from the margins to create this effect, and you’ll need to use footage that is at least 3K in resolution (again, because you’re cropping).

But if your shot matches that criteria, you can take a standard tracking shot and create the dolly zoom effect shown above in After Effects. It’s not perfect, but in a pinch, when you find yourself without a zoom lens, the technique produces solid results.

(via No Film School via SLR Lounge)