A long take is a single, unbroken camera shot that lasts much longer than a typical shot. While the idea’s been around for a long time, it feels like it has extra impact in today’s world of hyper-editing and constant angle changes. Some examples below.
It feels almost cliché to be linking up an Ok Go video at this point, but ya gotta hand it to the band; They have really mastered the art of making “event” videos. Check out this amazing long take video featuring the Notre Dame marching band:
Film directors have long known the power of the long take (Daily Film Dose offers up this list of “The Greatest Long Tracking Shots in Cinema”). One of the best is this scene from “Goodfellas,” where Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco walk through the Copacabana.
More music video examples after the jump.
The studio version of that Ok Go song has a different video, also long take, featuring an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine. (Wired has an article on how it was done.)
Vampire Weekend shot this video all in one long take too:
The first video I ever remember seeing that was all one shot was Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” (directed by Ethan Hawke). I recall how much the pacing of this video stood out back in the day on MTV. (Young people: MTV actually played music videos once upon a time.)
Obviously these shots are all very elaborate in their own way. But shooting in one long take with a single camera is a good example of how you can selectively (i.e. in just certain areas, like editing or number of cameras) embrace constraints and/or underdo the competition. When you do, you’re forced to think creatively and often get a finished product that really stands out from the pack.