“Long takes”, “long tracking shots” or “one-shots” are impressive shots with no cuts used in TV that can introduce us to new settings or characters. They require some impressive coordination and skill to perform by both the director, crew and actors, but when they pay off it can be extremely rewarding for the audience to watch, and they’re often the shots we remember most.
Stephen Amell, lead actor in the comic book TV series Arrow announced on Facebook via TVLine that the premiere of the new series “has the opportunity for us to have the most vicious, violent one-shot in the history of network television”. While we wait to see that, I decided to compile a list of my favourite TV long takes of all time, subject to change of course, especially after seeing that action sequence mentioned in Arrow.
Some of the videos below may require you being redirected to Youtube in order to watch them.
This entire scene from True Detective was a brilliantly executed, single six minute shot. It’s a live action sequence that features some suspenseful and also adrenaline fuelled moments, uses a load of actors and extras and spans across a wide area. It is a great piece of Television, and like many of the examples in this article, could belong in a feature film.
The critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica mini-series introduces the crew of the Galactica in a great long tracking shot of the set, traversing several corridors and rooms. Visitors are seen being given a tour of the ship soon to be taken out of service, and Commander Adama rehearses a speech while he bumps into other crew members along the way. I think this is a great example of introducing an enclosed set and many of the actors in this one scene.
Band of Brothers – Why We Fight Beethoven scene
Band of Brothers is a series set during World War II that followed the journey of Easy Company from their training and deployment until the wars end. The multi award winning Band of Brothers was the most expensive television mini-series made by any television network when it was created, and as of June 2016 is the highest rated show on IMDb. The episode Why We Fight opens with a man playing violin to scenes of a village in ruins. The scene sets the tone for the episode, and the episode appropriately ends with the same man finishing the Beethoven piece and then putting his violin away.
Game of Thrones The Battle of Winterfell scene
This week saw the end of another epic series of Game of Thrones, and there were certainly no holds barred in the long-awaited Battle of Winterfell. In a scene that used an astounding 80 horses to achieve, there was a great long shot of Jon Snow in the midst of battle. The production team of Game of Thrones go to great lengths to make some visually gripping scenes, and this is a great example of their work doing just that.