How Did They Create ‘Birdman’s 90-Minute Plus Tracking Shot? A New Featurette Explains.

Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) is probably my favorite movie so far this year, but it wasn’t just an artistic achievement, it’s also a technical one. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki create the illusion of it having been filmed entirely in one long shot. And while you can sorta guess how they did it, the fact that you can’t quite put your finger on it creates the magic.

Of course, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to know how the sausage is made, and this new featurette from Variety, The Seamless Look Of Birdman, describes some of the spices and offal. Digital colorist Steve Scott tells them:

“The whole movie is one shot. Well how do you do that? We  started talking and brought up the idea of dissolves between shots, and I talked to our editor and I said where are those moments when you would never notice a cut? Well, in the pan [As in, the quick horizontal movement of the camera]. So let’s go into the middle of the pan and cut there, so by the time we get settled, we’re in the midst of the shot.”

You sort of know that inherently as you’re watching it, but it’s still so perfectly executed that you can’t help but be impressed by it. I would’ve also liked to see how Iñarritu and Lubezki choreographed some of the crane shots and seamless-looking camera moves through multiple stories of space, but I do enjoy that the premise of Variety’s video is, “Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki executed an audacious seamless editing strategy on Birdman. How did they do it? We talked to the color lab guy, Steve.”

Also, at 3:06 of the video, I’m 90% sure he says “Zach Anafilakis.”