Phantom Ride, 1898

Phantom rides or panoramas were an early genre of film popular in Britain and the US at the end of the 19th century. Pre-dating true narrative, the films simply show the progress of a vehicle moving forwards, usually shot by strapping a cameraman to the front. The term phantom ride was applied because the position of the camera meant that only the track and scenery could be seen and the movement appeared to be coming from an invisible force. Though many early films showed local tracks the demand for new footage led to more exotic locations being filmed. This brought a new dimension to the genre, showing foreign lands to those who would otherwise never see them. The genre is also significant, despite its short-lived popularity, due to the role it played in the development of the tracking shot, longer films and film editing, as well as its re-emergence in 4D film and simulation.


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