The dolly zoom is as familiar as it is hard to describe: a space-bending cinematic effect created through a combination of camera movement and zoom, which has been used for a wide range of purposes but perhaps most often serves to create a lurching sense of anxiety.
That’s how it’s employed in a pivotal shot in Disney’s 1994 classic The Lion King, which homes in on young Simba’s stricken face as a stampede of wildebeest approaches. This is a classic instance of the dolly zoom — but, as Jesse Tribble says in his video essay on the subject, the technique’s use in a 2d-animated film reveals some interesting things about the medium. Watch Tribble’s video below:
Tribble begins by outlining the principles of the dolly zoom and its uses in live-action cinema, presenting famous examples from the likes of Hitchcock and Spielberg. Moving on to cel animation, he recaps how the medium has historically rendered camera movement into space — a discussion that involves the multiplane camera and its eventual replacement by digital compositing.