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One very long continuous shot. The camera moves, the actors move, things happen, the camera keeps shooting. Difficult. Expensive. Rarely makes it out of the editing room intact. [1]

This used to be much more common, since before Desi Arnaz's Three Cameras technique and pre-shooting on film became popular, most TV shows were done live with just one camera.

The technical term is Long Take, not tracking shot, which is a similar but different technique.

Compare Leave the Camera Running, which may also be a long single shot, but is really distinguished by its staticity. Also compare Epic Tracking Shot, where the camera movements are virtually impossible without some sort of visual trickery. A Sub-Trope of Real Time.

Examples of The Oner include:


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Anime

  • "Cannon Fodder," from the anthology movie Memories is animated to seem like a continuous shot.


Films -- Live-Action

  • Serenity introduces the crew by tracking through the ship in a oner. It actually needed two shots because of the configuration of the ship sets. The cut is disguised with a Whip Pan.
  • This was a trademark of Orson Welles' work:
    • There are two long takes in Citizen Kane. It was the first time it had ever been done for narrative purposes rather than technical limitations. At the time, no one had ever thought to do it. As a newbie to film making, Welles didn't know that, and impressed everyone by pulling it off.
    • There's a four-minute continuous take in The Stranger that starts in the middle of the road and then follows the actors through the forest.
    • The opening sequence of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil features one of the most famous continuous camera shots. It's also an impressively long Tracking Shot.
      • Also, the scene which takes place at the Sanchez residence where Menzies discovers two sticks of dynamite in a shoebox Vargas had just moments before seen to be empty. This was the first scene filmed. When Welles shot it in one continuous take, it put the film ahead of schedule which helped to placate studio execs nervous about having the meticulous director at the helm.
  • In Bruges homages Touch of Evil with a scene of Brendan Gleeson's character watching the appropriate scene from the film and then having a long phone conversation with Ralph Fiennes' character within a single shot.
  • The 2003 film Russian Ark was filmed in a single shot that lasted over 90 minutes. This historical drama took place in the Russian State Hermitage Museum and involved over 2,000 actors.
  • The 2005 independent movie The Circle, starring Angela Bettis, was also filmed entirely in a single take. Especially impressive, given there were a few different locations, a flashback sequence, and two of the actors moved from one location to another in a car.
  • Robert Altman's The Player has an eight-minute single-cut intro. It featurs two men walking through the scene discussing old movies with single-cut intros.
  • The Secret in Their Eyes has a truly impressive Oner that starts high in the air, shot from a helicopter approaching a soccer stadium where a game is being played, pans over the players and zooms in on the crowd where Esposito and Sandoval are trying to find the suspect which they do right as a goal is converted and the crowd goes mad, causing them to lose him which in turns gives place to a chase scene through the inside of the stadium, up and down several levels of passages and staircases, inside a bathroom and back out, and eventually back out onto the playing field, where the suspect is finally captured. The whole scene lasts over five minutes.
  • Manoel De Oliveira is famous for using veeeery long takes, some of them runs over thirty minutes.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Rope was made "continuous" by irritating closeups of a back or whatnot to allow changing reels. Technically, there are a total of ten cuts in the entire film, counting the opening of the first reel. Of those, half are disguised by having an actor or a prop in front of the camera; the other half are simply done as regular cuts.
    • None of them are real cuts, though- the camera had to be changed and stopped, and the action had to be broken off, but the actual shot is continuous.
  • Quentin Tarantino examples:
    • The final, Tarantino-directed segment of Four Rooms.
    • In Pulp Fiction, the scene with Jules and Vincent in the apartment building hallway at the beginning is one shot. A shorter one follows Vince into and through Jackrabbit Slim's.
    • In Jackie Brown the opening credits with Jackie on a moving sidewalk were a single shot.
      • Plus the scene where she wanders through the mall working herself up into being panicked, and waiting an appropriate about of time before yelling for Ray in order for her scheme to work.
    • In Kill Bill Vol. 1, the part in the House of Blue Leaves where Sofie Fatale leaves O-Ren's dining room and goes into the restroom was one long shot.
    • In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Blonde walking to his car to retrieve gasoline in order to light a captured, beaten, and tortured cop on fire.
    • In Death Proof, a conversation in a coffee shop around half-way through.
  • Minority Report had a Oner sequence that was homaged by Kill Bill Vol.1 that involved the camera floating above the ceilings of the apartment building. If I recall correctly, they had to actually invent the camera arm in order to film it.
  • The famous "hallway rampage" sequence of Chanwook Park's Oldboy pans along a long hallway, following the hero as he fights off an entire gang, armed with a hammer. The scene nears four minutes in length.
  • The tour of a London neighborhood at night at the start of Absolute Beginners is an even more extreme example, as it is also a complete musical number as well.
  • An even earlier cinematic use, possibly even the first, was in the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which begins with a three-minute continuous shot which moves between two interiors across a large set -- both technically and aesthetically daring for the time. Even more impressively, this shot is from Jekyll's point of view. At one point the camera-as-Jekyll even looks in a mirror; the production had the actor standing on the other side of a glassless frame, with a duplicated section of room-scenery behind him.
  • Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory has one.
  • Brian De Palma's Raising Cain, Snake Eyes, and Bonfire of the Vanities.
    • Snake Eyes deserves special mention for both it's length and complexity. The only other Oner which matches it is Tony Jaa's ascent up the restaurant in Tom Yum Goong.
    • DePalma loves this. It's used in The Untouchables, for suspense before Wallace and George get killed, and in Redacted, where it's justified through the use of supposedly found footage.
  • Impressively, the Thai martial arts action movie Tom Yum Goong (known in the US as The Protector and the UK as Warrior King, starring Tony Jaa) features a four-minute one-shot elaborate fight sequence that reportedly took eight days to get right in which Tony Jaa fights his way up a building. Up multiple sets of stairs and through rooms, with occasional pans out and back again to show extras landing after being thrown over the railings. The only CGI in the whole sequence is a window breaking, and only because the real prop didn't work right and cheating it in with CGI was cheaper than rebuilding the entire set for another take.
    • Another occurred during a fight in the old Redfern tram depot, against bikers, skateboarders, and roller-skaters.
  • Children of Men features a number of these, with a degree of special effects assistance which has not been completely revealed. It's known that some of the shots used blue screen effects, and some were stitched together cleverly from short takes.
    • The in-car sequence required a complex rig that was placed on top of the car so there would be no equipment in the car aside from the camera itself while it was moving. CGI was used heavily to add elements that would have been impossible to film traditionally, as well as replacing parts of the car that had to be removed.
    • Alfonso Cuaron seems to enjoy these - there's a couple of sequences in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban that use this, such as a panning shot starting outside Hogwarts and going inside to see our heroes around three-quarters of the way in.
      • The Time-Turner scene. Hermione puts the Time-Turner around hers and Harry's necks. They go back in time and turn around to run out of the clock tower. The camera goes out through the clock and catches up with them in the courtyard. This all happens in one take which lasts for slightly longer than one minute.
      • Chris Columbus was impressed by these because the length of the shots in the first film were literally how long the kids could stay in character. The kids improved a bit by the second film, so the shots are somewhat longer than on the first, but not by too much. So naturally Columbus found it impressive that they had come far enough to do an entire scene in one take by the third movie.
    • And again, in Y Tu Mama Tambien, during the scene where the boys are driving the car.
      • Also, while less impressive from a technical point of view (there's no tracking), the scene where the boys are hitting on Luisa while watching the mariachis.
    • Another example from Cuaron: the kiss under the rain in Great Expectations.
    • Let's not forget his sequence in Paris, je t'aime, called "Parc Monceau." The whole short film was one continuous shot.
  • John Woo's Hard-Boiled includes a two-minute and forty-two second long take of Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) and Alan (Tony Leung) clearing room after room of bad guys during the big shootout at the hospital. The Criterion edition of this Hong Kong action classic actually has a chapter dedicated to this sequence called "2 Minutes, 42 Seconds."
  • The movie Postcards From The Edge starts with a scene Lampshading this practice; a misspoken line threatens to ruin the entire shot.
  • Cannon Fodder, the third segment of Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories is over twenty minutes long, but consists of a single, long shot.
  • Fight Club has a scene which appears to show Tyler in two places at once, achieved by Brad Pitt running around the back of the camera very quickly as it pans round.
  • The scene in Goodfellas where Henry Hill takes his girlfriend to the nightclub, past the line at the door, in through the kitchen and out into the club is a well known example.
    • After three takes, Scorsese's assistant director asked if they could take a break because the extras were getting tired. Scorsese had not realized that, to save money, the extras outside the club were also the extras for the interior, and had to run in and get in place while the camera was in the kitchen.
    • The reason the shot is so long is that while Scorsese was allowed to film at the real Copacabana club, he couldn't use the main entrance.
      • This is what prompted Scorcese to do the tracking shot, but once he'd started filming it he decided to artificially extend the shot to exaggerate the effect: Henry and Karen's route through the kitchens is actually a complete loop, and they leave through the door they came in.
    • The main stumbling block on the shot was Henny Youngman, playing himself as the entertainer at the end of the shot; he kept flubbing his lines after the rest of the shot was completed successfully.
  • Rare in James Bond movies, but in You Only Live Twice, there's a extended helicopter tracking shot as Bond runs across a roof, beating up dock workers working for the villain. It is also awesome.
  • Perhaps the most disturbing example of The Oner comes in Kubrick's film of A Clockwork Orange, in which Alex's head is forced into an (obviously full) water trough while he is brutally beaten (complete with zany 'bong' sound effects). Apparently there was actually a breathing apparatus under the water, but it failed to work properly and McDowell did, indeed, nearly drown.
  • Be Kind Rewind has a nice oner where we see a bunch of films getting edited simultaneously.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, the 1930 version has a rather long shot of French soldiers getting mowed down.
  • While they aren't true oners a lot of older musicals have dance numbers with few cuts. "Fit as a Fiddle" from Singin in The Rain is done in about 4 shots max and "Make 'em Laugh" has a Oner where Donald O'Connor does two back flips in a row off two walls.
    • Fred Astaire insisted on doing his dance numbers this way.
    • Busby Berkeley supplied a famous example in Lady Be Good. Two-thirds of Eleanor Powell's dance to "Fascinating Rhythm" is a single shot.
  • The Dark Knight, The Joker, a hospital, and a lot of bombs, some of them even going off (the trouble he has with the detonator was a Throw It In).
  • The Longest Day has an immensely long shot in which a helicopter follows the French commandos storming a few blocks in a long stretch that was masterfully orchestrated.
  • Propaganda pic I Am Cuba has some incredibly long takes filmed from the back of moving cars, and in one, which follows the coffin of a dead student through crowded streets, the camera goes up the sides of a building, through the top floor, and then out again along a balcony...It was done by having the camera passed along a 'bucket line' of volunteers!
  • Darren Aaronofsky's The Wrestler has two extended sequences which follow its protagonist from just behind his shoulders.
  • The 2000 film Time Code consists of four continuous 90-minute shots, each filmed in a single simultaneous take. Each shot follows different parts of the action, and is displayed in a quadrant of a split screen.
  • Big Fat Liar actually does one of these very well, in Jaleel White's introductory scene at an on-location film shoot. The DVD deleted scenes contain an even longer cut of the same shot.
  • Cloverfield has a lot of these, due to its premise of the camera being operated by one of the main characters.
  • Ed Burtynski's documentary Manufactured Landscapes opens with an alarmingly long shot of a Chinese factory floor--nearly ten minutes of assembly lines and work benches.
  • Shaun of the Dead has two oners of Shaun walking from his flat, across the street to the store, and back. One of them takes place before the Zombie Apocalypse and one is during. Shaun had just woken up and is equally oblivious in both.
  • The opening scene of Strange Days, taking about five minutes with a handicam and several physical stunts (like climbing a ladder and jumping off a building) and ends with the POV cameraman/character falling off a roof and dying.
  • The long Steadicam shot in The Formula, including the men walking down flights of stairs while talking.
  • When Robbie first comes to the beach in Atonement, there's a oner that follows him as he takes in all the carnage. It's five and a half minutes long, required a thousand extras to film, and Steadicam operator Peter Robertson collapsed after it was finished.
    • Joe Wright's a fan of these. In Pride and Prejudice, right after Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy dance at the ball, a montage of the ball starts. It's easy to miss that this is really one long shot. After a bit of dialogue, Keira Knightley had to sprint through the house to pass a doorway before the camera got to it, and then steady her breathing for when the camera got to her in her next position.
  • Boogie Nights has several of these, including the opening, the pool party, the scene where Little Bill shoots his wife, her lover, and himself, and the ending.
  • Cry Wolf has a rather impressive Oner with an extremely steady cameraman --- no dolly used, even. It goes over all sorts of rough terrain.
  • David Copperfield employs these for several of his "make enormous things disappear" tricks.
  • Both Henry V films have one. Olivier's 1944 version had the charge of the French cavalry at the beginning of the Battle of Agincourt. Branagh's 1989 version had the king walking the battlefield at the end of the same battle.
    • Branagh's actually has a second extended shot earlier in the film. When Judi Dench is monologuing, the camera slowly zooms in on her and just her, then zooms back out. It's a three-or-four-minute-long shot of nothing but brilliant, brilliant acting. Branagh's long tracking shot of Judi Dench (Mistress Quickly) directly references Olivier's version: while otherwise taking a completely different approach to the play, Branagh set up and shot that scene identically to Olivier (though I think Branagh's shot was longer).
  • Ghostbusters had one in Louis's apartment during his party. The entire shot was also ad libbed by Rick Moranis.
  • Irreversible consists entirely of Oners shown in reverse order. One contains a murder, another a rape.
  • $la$her$ appears to be shot entirely in one continuous take done by the cameraman of a murder reality show. The cuts were actually disguised by being done when no actor was on camera, but there's still fewer than one cut per 10 minutes of action throughout the movie.
  • The first sequence of Living in Oblivion is about an independent director's attempt to get an emotionally charged scene in one shot. He suffers every setback in the industry.
  • The pull-back from inside Audrey's apartment at the end of "Somewhere That's Green" and out into the street up to the top of a building for the beginning of "Some Fun Now" in Little Shop of Horrors was one continuous shot, achieved with a crane mounted on a crane.
  • The opening shot of The Day After Tomorrow is the longest CGI generated one-shot, it goes for at least a couple of minutes.
  • Saving Private Ryan has a few that might qualify. The ones I can think of is the scene in which the squad enters Neuville, the scene with the halftrack and a shot in the final battle where Mellish, Henderson and Upham move to the second floor of the cafe.
  • Kenneth Branagh's 1996 movie version of Hamlet features several entire scenes, including ones that span several rooms, shot in a single take as well as most of the soliloquies.
    • Branagh appears to like this technique: he used it three years earlier in his adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing as well. Roughly the last eight minutes is one continuous shot.
  • In the film of the musical 1776, the opening scene of Adams descending the staircase from the bell tower, entering the Continental Congress, and delivering his opening monologue before the first song is all one take. The filmmakers note in the DVD commentary how difficult it was building a camera rig that would give a smooth transition from descending from the ceiling into the Congress chamber. There's a noticeable bump as the camera is wheeled off the extending platform used to film the stairs part of the shot.
  • All the Presidents Men has one which makes you marvel at the talent of Robert Redford. It's a six minute long shot of Redford talking on the phone with three different people, in a total of four phone calls. Not only is there the challenge of making a phone call interesting to watch, there's also a ton of dialogue featuring some heavy exposition and the extras are making a lot of noise in the background. At one point Redford calls one of the people he's talking to by the wrong name, but keeps character and just goes with it.
  • James Rolfe had to make a film for his film course where he had to make the whole thing a oner. Pretty much deciding "Screw that" (he's much less profane than the character he's best known for), he decided to fake a oner by use of whip-pans. Since the shots are clearly in different places, it's obviously not a 'real' oner, but his teachers liked it anyway. Thus, The Night Prowler.
    • Although he did make a film in 2000 called Kill For Thrill that is (for the most part) entirely in one take as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. You may need to turn the audio down for this one.
  • The film Death Sentence has one which follows Kevin Bacon's character chasing a Mook through several floors of a parking complex.
  • Funny Games featured several of these throughout the film, including a 10-minute take of Anna and Georg cutting through their bonds and moving into the kitchen after the killers murder their son and seemingly leave them alone in their own house.
  • Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls had one in the scene where Monty and Julia arrive back at her house after a night out on the town.
  • Peter Greenaway's intro to Prospero's Books has the title character reciting Shakespeare while the background comes alive behind him with characters appearing out of the shadows, including a small boy urinating in said pool. There are actually several long panning shots that follow characters through multiple sets while giving monologues.
    • Greenaway loves doing this in general by either keeping the camera still and shooting one long take or following the characters through various sets as mentioned above. He did this throughout the entire film, The Cook the Thief His Wife And Her Lover.
  • Dario Argento's Tenebre takes a crane shot up one side of a building, over the roof, and down the other, for no reason other than that it's awesome.
  • Except for maybe the Flying Elvises, Honeymoon In Vegas is a thoroughly forgettable movie that happens to contain one of the best put-together long takes I've ever seen. It's August in Vegas, and two old-school wiseguys (James Caan and Johnny Williams) arrive for a little R&R. They're shown in a dolly shot walking poolside upon their arrival, walking, walking, weaving around cabana chairs and splashing children, walking, walking, for about 30 seconds ... suddenly Caan stops and turns to Williams:

 Goddamn it's hot.

  • In the first Superman film, Superman flies off Lois' balcony and seconds later within the same shot Clark appears at her door. The part of the shot where Lois watches Superman fly away is actually Margot Kidder looking at a rear projection.
    • It's also not a single take, but two shots very cleverly edited together.
  • A quite powerful one near the end of Wall Street, as Charlie Sheen is arrested for insider trading and slowly breaks down in tears during the long walk out of the office.
  • The film version of Doom has one as its Crowning Moment of Awesome, a single continuous sequence seen from the first person, that due to filming requirements had to be done in this manner, with the actors for the monsters stacking up into a long line behind the camera, and staying outside of the shot the entire time.
  • La Vie En Rose. You know the scene.
  • Gus Van Sant frequently uses long takes. In Elephant, for example, shots often show characters simply walking for several minutes of screen time, sometimes without the camera even following them (that is, they walk away and the camera remains stationary, with them shrinking into the scene's background).
    • He also used it in his earlier Gerry, a lot. One of particular note is an extended shot of the two main characters walking through the desert, the camera in extreme close-up, with only the crunch of the rocks beneath their feet on the soundtrack.
      • Another was a seven minute shot of the two of them walking away from the camera (as it followed them) as the sun rose.
    • There's a particularly painful one in Last Days, a long shot featuring the camera on a dolly moving slowly backwards from a window. It was complicated by a) they only had two pieces of dolly track for a movement about five times that distance b) the ground was visible in the shot and c) they were shooting live sound. An extra on the DVD shows a bunch of art dogs trying their damndest to remove the track and then reassemble it behind the dolly while crouching beneath the shot and not making a sound. It took upwards of a dozen tries before they got it.
  • M. Night Shyamalan does them a lot. Most notably in Unbreakable, where about half the film is made up of them.
    • The whole earth bending battle in The Last Airbender is a very impressive shot.
      • This was actually used several times throughout the film. Such as when Aang and the Blue Spirit ( Zuko) are escaping a Fire Nation camp and the finale as Aang fights his way through a Fire Nation army in the Water Tribe's settlement.
    • In The Happening the camera follows a gun as one person after another picks it up and kills themselves.
  • Special case: Dancer in The Dark shoots all its Musical numbers as one continuous Long Take using up to 100 stationary cameras in Technicolor, then cuts between all the footage generated. The rest of the movie is filmed with blurry handheld cameras in the style of Dogme 95, to show how the protagonist is going blind and the musical numbers are what she sees in her head. The result is fascinating because you can tell all the footage of singing dancing was taken from multiple odd angles of one single take. (under a desk, atop a railway car, etc.)
  • Unique, if somewhat short, variant: Silent Hill features one shot that starts directly behind the protagonists struggling to hold a door shut, facing a complete wall. It then rises until pointing downwards, over said wall and door, and then lowers until aiming straight-on again behind the men trying to break in. Obviously thrown together with just a bit of cheap bisecting CGI of the wall to cover the wipe, right? Nope; the entire wall was constructed to let the top open up, allow the camera through, and close back up before coming down on the other side.
  • The amazing zero-gravity fight scene in Inception
  • Scaramouche features the longest continuous sword fight in film history. As it took place in a pre-Revolutionary France theatre, complete with over 600 extras in full costume, they had to get it done in one take. As it was so long the lead actors couldn't be trusted to do it, so the fight director and his assistant did it all in long-shot. After beginning the fight on the edge of the boxes, it moved to the corridor outside, then to the balconied foyer, where a single camera picks up the shot and follows them down the stairs, across the foyer, and back into the auditorium, roughly a third of the fight. The whole fight took over seven minutes, included two near-fatal accidents, and needed nine cameras to film, to cover the boxes, the corridor, the foyer, the auditorium, onstage, and backstage, none of which could be in shot for any other camera. After it was done, the leads did some close-ups of a few short sequences during the fight, and these close-ups cover the cuts between each camera.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind uses a few, usually requiring Jim Carrey to run around like a mad man to be in two places at once.
  • Twelve Angry Men has two--one towards the beginning, in which each of the jurors establishes himself as the camera pans around the room and focuses briefly on several different conversations; and one when Henry Fonda goes to wash his hands and other characters duck into the bathroom to chat with him.
  • A Knight's Tale had one that the director freely admitted was for a purely practical reason: he really wanted to film one scene in a certain cathedral and could only get permission to film there for one night. Since setting up individual shots always takes up a lot of extra time; he managed to film quickly by reducing the scene to three: a lengthy distance shot during which most of the scene takes place, and two brief close-ups for a dramatic exchange of final words at the end.
  • Shows up a few times very effectively in Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy:
    • A woman enters a building where someone has just been murdered. We spend a good while just waiting outside, until we hear her scream as she discovers the body.
    • The killer invites another victim into his apartment, followed by the camera retreating down the stairs as if afraid of what's going to happen, and ends up on the street as numerous people walk by, oblivious to what's happening in the building.
    • The protagonist's sentencing after he's framed for the murders is filmed from outside the courtroom, as the soundproof doors only let us hear pieces of what the judge is saying as people walk in and out. They shut just before he states the sentence, but the furious shouting afterwards makes it clear what it was.
  • The scene in Back to the Future Part II where the whole McFly family (including three characters played by Michael J. Fox) eats dinner was filmed as a oner to showcase the new technology that made the scene possible. When someone pointed out that you wouldn't film the scene that way under ordinary circumstances, Zemeckis decided to break it up.
  • The scene in The Hunt for Red October where the officers eat dinner is done as one take with the camera panning to follow the conversation like someone sitting at the table turning his head.
  • The whole Baggahr chase scene in Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" is a Oner, in which Tintin, his Dog Snowy, and Captain Haddock are on a motorcycle chasing down a bird holding the three scrolls leading to Sir Francis Haddock's sunken treasure. They race through (as well as lay waste to) the entire town, and the camera shifts from person to person as they all get separated. The camera never cuts once, and it lasts for approximately 5 1/2 minutes, easily making it one of the most jaw-dropping scenes in the whole movie, as well as cinema history. Holy balls, is it awesome!
  • Used in Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans. When arresting a suspect who's holed up in his house, McDonaugh orders his unit to keep their guns trained on the front door. Then the camera follows him as he circles around through the neighbor's adjacent house, enters through the back door, puts his gun right against the back of the suspect's head, and marches him out through the front door.
  • Hanna has several long takes, including a 3-minute one happening in a busy bus station and ending in an underground tunnel brawl.
  • The Avengers has one in the climactic battle, following each member of the team as they whoop the Chitauri's collective ass to hell and back.
  • Gun Crazy used a oner during a bank holdup filmed from the inside of the getaway car.


Films--Animated

  • The five-minute title scene of the 2009 film of A Christmas Carol," starting with one conversation with Scrooge, flying all around London and then back down to the other side of the city, finishing with him approaching his house. Also in the same film, the entire "Ghost of Christmas Past" scene simply faded from time period to time period without any cuts.
  • In The Polar Express, the scene where Hero Boy loses a ticket is a oner as we follow the ticket's journey as it blows around in the wind as it returns to the inside of the train.
  • A scene near the beginning of Beowulf goes from inside a mead hall to above it, where a rat is caught by a bird and flown far away, to Grendel's lair.


Live-Action TV

  • In the Firefly episode "Objects in Space," the second-to-last shot of the episode was one long shot over about a minute, showing each member of the crew. It was intended to show that River had been accepted onto the ship as one of the crew, as opposed to a passenger, by having her appear with everyone else on the ship.
    • The scene ends with Summer Glau and Jewel Staite in the cargo bay of the ship. Because everything had to go right in one take, if anyone made a mistake, they'd have to start the whole scene over again. When Summer kept screwing up, forcing a reshoot because the very last part of the long scene (it's about 5-7 minutes long) was screwed up, it necessarily ended up frustrating the other cast members, who, from the other side of the set, would cry out "SUUUUMMER!" whenever she messed up. This became a behind-the-scenes running gag: whenever someone would screw, they'd shout "SUUUUMMER!"
  • BBC documentary series Planet Earth included a shot of wild African dogs chasing a gazelle. While the pack strategies used by hunting canines was well understood, an entire hunt had never before been filmed from start to finish. The camera crew used a single camera to capture the hunt from a helicopter in one long shot, which is detailed in the "Making Of" featurette on the DVD.
  • The filming of the song "The Parking Ticket" from the Buffy musical episode was done in one take. The camera starts on Giles, Xander and Anya, then pans over to Marti Noxon singing before rejoining the Scoobies' conversation.
    • One of the opening scenes of "The Body" was shot as a oner, which adds to the realism of the episode.
    • Maybe the first one to show up in the series is the first episode of season three, as the gang returns to school.
    • Whedon actually uses one in the very first episode of the show and comments about this very fact in the DVD commentary.
  • And to complete the Whedon Trilogy, the intro of the Angel Investigations gang on their first day of work at Wolfram & Hart was a oner, and featured every starring member of the cast.
  • The Mad About You episode "The Conversation" (Paul and Jamie are anguished about whether to leave Mabel alone through the night, not going to her when she cries) was filmed in a single shot, except for The Teaser and The Tag. They then apply Lampshade Hanging in The Tag, when Paul and Jamie are watching and discussing a movie filmed in that way - Paul points out how difficult this is for the actors, while Jamie (who had actually flubbed one of her lines) merely claims "It's their job!"
  • One episode of Phsycoville hans one cut. *One cut in the entire 30 minute episode*.
  • The West Wing opened the series with a long one (Leo arriving for work) and came close to closing the series with a similar one (POTUS Bartlet thanking all of the minor staffers, including a funny inside joke between Martin Sheen and his real-life daughter).
  • The X-Files episode "Triangle," features an alternate-reality Scully and a modern-day Mulder thrown into her 1939 world. Though the show actually had a few cuts, each act was one continuous shot. This results in a beautiful moment in the first scene back with the original Scully. Skinner flubs a line, and manages to correct in character, but collects a Death Glare from Gillian Anderson along the way. Apparently she was really tired of doing that damned scene.
    • That scene was a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Anderson, as it was the one shot in the episode where the camera was focused entirely on one character from start to finish. The camera tracked her for 10 minutes, 20 seconds as she engaged in separate but continuous conversations with The Lone Gunmen at her desk, Skinner in his office, Kirsh in his office, Spender in the X-Files office, and again with Skinner in the elevator (who managed to get to first base with Scully before Mulder) before escaping in The Lone Gunmen's van. Brilliant.
  • Early episodes of ER often used continuous panning or dolly shots to stress the intensity of the moment, during mass-casualty incidents when the whole cast scrambled to save several lives simultaneously. Also used to express how shockingly vacant the ER seemed when everyone was evacuated due to its toxic contamination.
  • Episode 4 of Psychoville is a comic homage to Rope, but manages to one-up the original by shooting the entire 28-minutes of action in just two takes, the first of which was 17 minutes long - something that was only possible on video, since film cameras only contain 10-minute reels.
    • In the episode Quentin Tarantino directed of CSI, the he includes such a shot, the camera first filming the CSIs talking around a table, before following Sarah across the entire lab as she goes to fetch a suspect's file in another room.
  • Third Watch's 100th episode, "A Call For Help" consisted of 4 Oners, each comprising about 10 minutes of screen time.
  • Scrubs season one episode "My Student" began with a two-and-a-half minute Cold Opening. DVD special features show that the primary technical difficulty was actor Donald Faison's inability to sink a three-pointer on cue.
  • The two-minute date at the end of the How I Met Your Mother episode "Ten Sessions." (better known as the one with Britney Spears.)
    • Also in that show, in the episode "The Naked Man," the camera pans away from Ted to follow another character; when it pans back ten seconds later he's managed to take off all his clothes.
  • British police series The Bill used it a lot in the very early days of its existence, when the remit was to create a kind of documentary effect (example: one episode had a scene following one of the lead characters from behind as they walk off the street into a supermarket, down one of its aisles, and out into the alleyway at the back, with the entire scene done in one-take). But it doesn't really rely on it much anymore, very often using Whip Pans and other camera tricks to break it up.
  • The first post-credits sequence of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica mini-series is a 3 minute 15 second steadicam shot running around the upper levels of the ship, with almost every named crew member wandering through.
  • The series 4 opener of Skins begins with one of these. It's comfortably the best thing about the episode.
  • A faked Oner/tracking shot appears in the BBC/Discovery Channel documentary Life in the "Plants" episode, where the camera glides through a moss-covered tree while plants grow over an entire season in fast-forward. The whole thing took two years to compile due to the different growing rates of the plants and lasts one minute on screen.
  • The Doctor Who audio story "Scherzo" is also done this way, as it involves only The Doctor and his companion talking for all 4 episodes. This isn't particularly unusual for the series -- because of the recording technology at the time, the very early shows HAD to be made like this; although the cameras can be cut between, the action (with sound effects) had to be done in a single take. The very first episode consists of a few long takes, sometimes with special effects sequence edited to join them later.
  • The intro to Drop the Dead Donkey follows Damien out of the editing suite, switches to other characters as they pass through the busy office (passing all the main characters), moves on to the news-desk set and ends just as they go on air.
  • Often used in I, Claudius.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Fallen," one of the first scenes follows Jonas from Level 18, into the elevator, down to Level 28, and into the briefing room, all in one continuous shot. One of the direct-to-video movies, Stargate: Continuum, opens with one of these directly, starting in the Gateroom as one team arrives from offworld, then travels through the base, and back to the Gateroom again as SG-1 prepare to leave.
  • Rick Mercer's rants, beginning Deliberately Monochrome on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and continuing (in full color) on the Rick Mercer Report. Comedienne Elvira Kurtz, on her short lived series Popcultured!, did a bit showing all the work that goes into these Oners, including holding up a mirror to show the cameraman walking backwards and keeping pace with her with a full rig on his shoulder.
  • The penultimate Band of Brothers episode "Why we Fight" opens with a shot of a violin being taken out of a case. The camera pulls back to reveal the full string quartet playing in a bombed-out German town, and then executes a complicated maneuver around the town square, showing the townsfolk salvaging whatever they can from the rubble, before tilting up to reveal some members of Easy Company standing in what's left of the upper story of a house. The shot only lasts a couple of minutes, but must have taken ages to set up. (The violin also BookEnds the end of the episode.)
  • In Community, the opening scene of Season 2 is a continuous panning shot over multiple sets as the characters wake up to the first day of the new college year.
  • In Breaking Bad, Jesse goes through a long explanation of how he's expected to teach the Mexican Cartel how to cook Walt's meth, followed by Walt cruelly refusing to help him, all done in one take with some very impressive acting by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
  • The Da Vinci's Inquest episode "It's Backwards Day" begins with a ten-minute scene that looks like a full oner, but has at least two edits (a whip pan just before Detective McNab arrives on the scene, and a shot following Officer McNab (the detective's daughter) when she is walking towards a witness for an interview). During this scene, Da Vinci is investigating a hit-and-run by talking to five different people (two uniformed officers, a paramedic, a detective, and an eyewitness), discussing the failure of his "safe injection site" plan with Detective McNab, and flirting with Officer McNab. Even though it's been edited, it's very well executed.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 is made of these--all the host segments are done in a mere one take, with the exceptions of ones featuring the Mads as they have the cheat of cutting back and forth between the Satellite of Love and the Mads' base. The theater segments, which usually last anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes depending on the placement of host segments and commercials, also have to be done in one take to maintain continuity.


Music

  • The vinyl LP Needle Time by Warsaw Pakt was recorded direct to disc in two continuous, approximately 20-minute takes.
  • Live In '79 by Cheer Up Charlie Daniels was recorded live in one 26-minute take.
  • There was something of a “direct to disc” fad in Canada in the late 70s (i.e.: live recording to a vinyl cutter in one take). The (in)famous pop group Rough Trade’s first album was a direct to disc recording


Music Video

  • Icehouse's Crazy is an early example.
  • Spice Girls, "Wannabe." Actually three shots, broken up by what looks like two very short pans over and "through" walls.
  • OK Go, "A Million Ways" (an elaborately choreographed dance sequence) and "Here It Goes Again" (an elaborately choreographed dance sequence on treadmills).
    • OK Go seems to be trying to build a repertoire of these with the new videos for WTF?, This Too Shall Pass, and White Knuckles.
      • The video for End Love consists of a single live-action take shot over 18 hours, which used time compression to give a stop-motion feel to the video. A local goose named Maria took a shine to the band and hung around them during most of the shoot. The video finishes with a timelapse shot of the skyline that compresses eight full days into four seconds of runtime.
      • The Rube Goldberg video isn't quite a true oner, and the band has admitted to such. The machine worked in its entirety three times (each time filmed as a continuous take), but the video contains at least one well-disguised cut in order to sync better with the music.
  • Eagle-Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight." Not a true oner, as there are hidden cuts that allow Eagle-Eye to play all the important roles, but it is presented as such.
  • Jamiroquai, "Virtual Insanity."
  • Lisa Loeb, "Stay."
  • Prodigy, "Smack My Bitch Up", also filmed in first person with a Tomato in the Mirror ending.
  • "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor - a Oner of Sinead's head looking straight to the camera. Intercut with some shots of her moping around a park in Paris at the insistence of the studio, who had paid to film her in Paris, dammit, and were going to get their money's worth.
  • Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How It Feels" was once credited as the most expensive single-shot music video to date.
  • REM's "Imitation Of Life" is an oddity: a very short single-shot video, where the music video is made by continually playing it forward and in reverse while panning around the footage to highlight certain aspects at the right time.
    • Prior to that, they made another such video for a song called "Bang and Blame" for their album Monster.
  • Coldplay, "Yellow."
  • Feist, "1234" and "I Feel It All".
  • Lucas, "Lucas with the Lid Off." Amazingly complex, with some weird Escher-esque perspective tricks, and yet it was still filmed in a single take.
  • Radiohead's "No Surprises" video is notable, in that the continuous 57 seconds in which Thom Yorke is submerged was done by speeding up the track Thom is miming to as his face becomes totally submerged, then editing the footage to slow it down for the full minute. The making of this video is featured in the band's documentary Meeting People is Easy, which shows Thom's frustrations with being unable to do the shot correctly for several takes.
  • Nine Inch Nails - "March Of The Pigs"
  • Primus - Mr. Krinkle
  • The Smashing Pumpkins - "Ava Adore". Notable for having several sections slowed down or sped up to create graceful or oddly jerky motions.
  • Jars of Clay - "Work".
  • Traci Bonham, "Mother Mother."
  • Miley Cyrus, "Start All Over"
  • Linkin Park's "Bleed It Out" video shows a bar fight in reverse as the band preforms on stage in "forward time." It looks good and was done through a combination of Green Screen and carefully timed tracking shots. As opposed to...
  • Mutemath's video "Typical" where the band had to perform the song from "finish to start" reversing the lyrics so their lips sync up when the music is dubbed over. Actually consists of two shots (the lead singer obscures the camera partway through to hide a cut), but the overall impression is of a Oner.
    • Their second video, "Spotlight," is another Oner, sped up from an approximately 12-minute shoot to match the song. Some parts are sped up more than others, such as when they move the piano into the van. It was actually finished on the first take.
  • On a similarly backwards note, Cibo Matto's "Sugar Water", directed by Michel Gondry, is a really interesting example. The same single shot runs forwards on one side of the screen and backwards on the other side - and yet there is interaction between the two sides.
  • Nick Cave & PJ Harvey's "Henry Lee"
  • Animusic's "The Drum Machine."
  • Spoon's "The Underdog" is one long tracking shot following several people through various halls and rooms of the studio passing the relevant musician as each new musical element is introduced.
  • Fastball's "Fire Escape". There's a twist at the end where the actress in the video can't open the door to the car, and as she storms away angrily, the director yells "Cut!" and tells the crew that they're going to shoot the entire video all over again.
  • Sky's "Some Kind of Wonderful."
  • The Tea Party's "Babylon."
  • Semisonic's "Closing Time" is two parallel Oners shown side-by-side.
  • Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma" and "A-Punk".
  • Massive Attack have two of the best-known videos of this type: "Unfinished Sympathy" and "Protection".
  • Jack Johnson's Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. Done backwards in addition to being a oner.
  • While we're at it, God Lives Underwater's video for From Your Mouth is also a backwards oner. Strangely hypnotic, if a little disgusting.
  • Puffy Ami Yumi's Nice Buddy is set up like this, but considering that, at one point, 8 identical versions of one of the singers runs past the screen...
  • The video for Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream had 5 shots in total for video lasting more than 3 minutes. Whole not a Oner, the long shots are notable.
  • Metric's Gimme Sympathy. They even let you see how they did it.
  • Elton John's "I Want Love" is shot like this, following Robert Downey, Jr as he lip-syncs to the song. (Downey, allegedly, kept wanting to gesture with his hands; allegedly, they taped them into his pockets to help him avoid that.)
  • Will Young's Leave Right Now, which took several takes to get right and resulted in a large amount of bruises for a large amount of the cast. Especially Will.
  • Inugami Circus Dan's Honto ni honto ni gokurosan.
  • Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It). This is one of those cases where it took a few takes to film (about three) the video, but it was edited to seem like a Oner though there are a few dozen visible camera shifts in the final product (not counting the flashing at the end).
  • Janet Jackson's "When I think of You"
  • Alanis Morissette's "Head Over Feet"
  • U2's The Sweetest Thing (except for the beginning where the girl gets into the vehicle), as well as Numb.
  • Lisa Stansfield's "Never Gonna Give You Up"
  • Ludo's "Love Me Dead"
    • This acually employs the well-disguised cut at least once.
  • Lisa Mitchell's "Neapolitan Dreams"
  • Kylie Minogue's "Come As You Are" is displayed this way, with Kylie walking around a town square, but as she walks back to the start people and objects in the background start repeating, along with past versions of Kylie singing.
  • The Chemical Brothers' "Star Guitar" is also shown as a Oner, but again is obviously CGI. The various components of the song are displayed as objects passing by when looking out of a train window. Both this and the above example were directed by Michel Gondry, who seems to be fond of this trope.
  • Weezer, "Undone (The Sweater Song)."
  • "The Denial Twist" by The White Stripes.
  • "Second Go" by Lights.
  • Serj Tankian's "Sky Is Over"
  • Loading Ready Run's "Desert Bus Killed the Internet Star" - Featuring 7 people in one small room (full of couches/electronics to be maneuvered around), with the camera being handed off 3 times.
  • Sara Bareilles's "Gravity".
  • Charlotte Hatherley's "White" is another reversed Oner... in which she also plays the guitar in reverse, all the while being pelted with paint.
  • Free As A Bird by The Beatles is made to look like this, even though it would be utterly impossible for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that they include old clips of The Beatles spliced in.
  • The first half of Theory Of A Deadman's "Hate My Life".
  • LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends". Up close and personal, with added face paint.
  • Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" uses it very effectively, with some intense (and seemingly improvised) dance moves and an equally intense light show going on around the Swedish pop star. It's really not to be missed.
  • "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars appears to be this.
  • "Evlenmeliyiz" ("We Should Get Married") by Turkish pop singer Hadise, which breaks the fourth wall in playful fashion.
  • "Mad World" by Gary Jules.
  • "Americanarama" by Hollerado.
  • "Second Chance" by Peter Bjorn and John. Much like the video for Mutemath's "Typical", this video features the band performing the song frontwards as various things are poured onto them in reverse. Like the Mutemath video, the band had to lip-synch the song backwards.
  • "Happiness" by Goldfrapp. Appears to be one-shot, one has to wonder what kind of fitness is needed for over 3 minutes of bunny hopping.
  • "Anti-D" by the Wombats. An emotionless Murph walks through a suburb while strange and improbable things happen around him until, halfway through, he is mauled by some doctors. They leave, all the colorful characters from before help him up into a chair they've suddenly acquired, lift the chair onto their shoulders, and carry him down the street, throwing confetti and holding balloons. All of this is one shot.
  • The drama version of "It's You" by Super Junior has the camera follow each of the members around a small town square as they walk in and out of the frame for their solos. At the end, they all walk back into frame and come together at the intersection.
  • "Who Dat" by J. Cole.
  • Charlene Kaye's 'Animal Love I'. They also helpfully show how it is done.
  • In Iamamiwhoami's hour-long concert video TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN each number is a single take, stealthily edited together to appear nearly seamless. The tracking shot in "u-1" is particularly long and challenging.
  • Shawn Mendes is building a repertoire of these ("Something Big" being a notable aversion).

Theater

  • Several plays are staged such that the actors never leave the audience's sight. This is especially common in shows with smaller casts, where two actors might carry out what is essentially a single long scene for the duration of the play.


Video Games

  • Some First-Person Shooter games use a version of this trope appropriate to the medium, usually by removing or limiting direct control over the players movement and weapons, or taking place before the player has access to weapons. The player has control over their viewpoint, and it's most often done as an alternative to an introductory cut scene.
  • Half Life is probably the most famous, and earliest (released in 1998) example. All the games directly follow one long shot from Gordon's point of view, differing from other games at the time (and still many now) due to lack of traditional cut scenes or even loading screens (instead simply showing the word "loading" in the center of your view while the next level loads -- though this could technically be considered a disguised cut because of how the engine works). The only parts of the series that are less than seamless are when Gordon is knocked unconscious or teleported.
  • Far Cry 2: A taxi drive after you arrive in Africa. It describes the setting, the current goings on, information on the game factions and antagonists.
  • Call of Duty 4: Has the player in the shoes of overthrown President Al-Fulani, being captured, taken onto a car and driven around, you can see things like a family being killed, armed men breaking into houses, APC's firing on unarmed civilians, a group of your apparent supporters being lined up against a wall and shot, when you arrive, you are taken to a televised/filmed rally, tied to a post, then executed by Khaled Al-Asad.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum's opening sequence with Batman escorting the Joker into Arkham has a feel much like this.
  • The Dead Space series avoids ever "cutting" its camera, from the moment you start a new game to the ending. Even the sparse loading screens zoom the camera up to a computer panel, to zoom away when it's finished.
    • The sequel does this as well: you've never not looking at Isaac.


Web Original

  • Echo Chamber has an episode on Walk and Talk which was done in one take, except for The Stinger after the credits.
  • Both of the Ryan Vs. Dorkman fights open with one of these. 19 seconds in the first one, 30 seconds in the second. (To be sure, 20 seconds isn't that impressive... but all the other examples on here are actual films with actual budgets, as opposed to two untrained amateurs playing with sticks.)
    • Topped by Ryan vs. Brandon 2, by the same team +1 (Dorkman did cinematography). A 23-second Orbital Shot Oner. (Clip starts at said shot, so just rewind to the beginning if you want the whole thing.)
  • Daft Hands. Daft Hands. Daft Hands. Daft Hands. Daft Bodies.
  • Know Your Meme did a whole episode on this technique, including some of the above.
  • The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan made a 9-minute lipdub of American Pie that was done all in one take.
  • Loading Ready Run did this with "The Writers Room", a sketch consisting of a single shot over six minutes in length. It was especially challenging as most of the actors had minimal stage experience and weren't used to memorizing all of their lines and cues. "Desert Bus Killed the Internet Star", while shorter, required actors entering and leaving the frame, hiding and passing quickly behind the camera in the middle of a small, furnished room.
  • Mystery Guitar Man has one called 'Evolution of Games' .How it was done is shown here.
  • Shorewood Lip Dub is a 4.5 minute long video filmed backwards. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • The entries of Marble Hornets vary in length from half a minute to seven minutes, and almost all of them are done in a single shot. It serves both to lend credibility to the premise that it was done hastily by film students on the fly and to make the entries almost unbearably suspenseful.
  • Cypress Ranch High School's Anti-Bullying music video is all one long (and impressive, considering the scale) shot, a fact which was overtly parodied by South Park in "Butterballs." An interesting note is that even when one girl blacks out the camera with her hand, it continues to be a single shot.


Western Animation

  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron opens with one of these, following a bald eagle over various natural landmarks in America's Old West. It was one of the first sequences started during production and one of the last to be finished.
  • The final shot of Fantasia, during the "Ave Maria." A very complicated shot to film, comprising one of the biggest multiplane set ups ever devised, and was finished only hours before the movie's premiere.
    • According to one article, the shot had to be done three times. The first time it was discovered that the entire shot had been filmed with the wrong lens on the camera, producing impromptu time lapse footage of the animators working around the edge of the frame. The second time there was an earthquake during shooting, which shook the planes out of alignment. The shot was eventually completed so close to the wire that the first print of it had to be spliced into the reel in the projection room of the premiere theater.
      • Also, the Astronomic Zoom that opens the "Rite of Spring" segment, although it consists of separate elements combined through cross-dissolves.
  • The simulated Epic Tracking Shot that opens The Rescuers Down Under, done using the then-new CAPS program that replaced the traditional multiplane camera.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the opening song ends with a long pan out on Quasimodo standing atop the cathedral, which then pans down to the Paris streets.
  • Robot Chicken has one starring the titular Robot Chicken fighting through the various characters that have appeared in the show in the style of The Protector (which is itself lampshaded).


Other

  • In an audio example, the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama series "Cyberman" was done in a single take from start to finish, with everyone in the studio at the same time and special effects being added in real time.
  • A lip-dub is a short film who's only real characteristic is being a oner. When this troper's school did one to celebrate the tenth anniversary, it involved, like the Fight Club example, lots of people running the long way 'round the entire school, sometimes twice to be at the right place. It ended up nine and a half minutes long and several people had three appearances.

Notes

  1. Not to mention an expensive pain in the ass on film cameras, many of which hold no more than 5 minutes (if that) of film for a shot. A screwup means a lot more than just a reshoot.
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