Great tracking shots are legendary. They’re the cinematic equivalent of watching the best ballet troupe dance to the best musicians. Each movement, of both the cast and crew, must be meticulously planned. Every component must work in total harmony to create one, long continuous sequence that is a piece of art unto itself. But those single takes, like the night club entrance in Goodfellas, or the battle scene in Children of Men, are not just a testament to skillful filmmakers’ abilities. They add tension to the story by denying viewers a chance to breathe. They aren’t easy to pull off, which is why the very best are easy to remember. Now one studio has taken all of the challenges that come with a tracking shot and elevated them. Literally. This incredible short video of a busy bowling alley was all filmed in one take by a drone.
“Right Up Our Alley” takes viewers on a dizzying ride through Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater in Minneapolis. Piloted by Jay Byrd Christensen of Rally Bird Studios, it follows a drone through the complex. The camera comes soaring in from outside before touring each and every part of the establishment. That includes hovering over the lanes as bowling balls head towards the pins. Under and around both patrons and machinery. And also through the kitchen, bar, and theater. All before it concludes with a perfect ending.
The added audio, which includes plenty of The Big Lebowski Easter eggs, also creates the feeling of jumping into the middle of a story. Players argue with one another. Patrons wait for a show that might never start. Friends toast to a night out. Yet all the while the alley remains active, as though a drone isn’t even there.
Jay Byrd Films
You can almost miss how impressive this really is while watching it. At first all you can notice is the wizardry and coordination needed to pull this off. But like a great tracking shot, by the end you’re so invested in the moment you give yourself over to it. It can only be fully appreciated when you stop yourself to consider what you just saw.
Tracking shots aren’t easy under the best of circumstances. Neither is safely operating a drone in a tight space. Putting them together sure is memorable, though.