Usually song-and-dance routines, when placed in a drama or comedy, are intrusive. They interrupt the narrative. They suck you right out of the story. The “fourth wall” is broken and viewers become aware that, “Oh, it’s just a TV show.” It’s for good reason they are called “showstoppers.”
In Dudley the Dragon, the stories were like a musical stage production. Every episode featured two, three, or sometimes four musical numbers. The song-and-dance routines were just that—routine. It was fun and frivolity for the younger viewer.
Not this time. This episode was more straightforward than its predecessors.
In this case, “Dreaming of Dragons”* meshed unobtrusively with the narrative. Here, Dudley is pining away for another dragon, in song. Kirk Dunn’s movements and Alex Galatis’s singing, as Dudley, expose the very heart of the character.
What makes the sequence all-the-more special is that it’s one long camera shot. No cuts. No flashy special effects. Nothing distracts from the mood. So smooth is the camera tracking, viewers may not be aware of its movement. We are completely focused on the character and what he’s feeling. Which is how it should be.
As Dudley walks forward, the cameraman is constantly stepping back, panning and tracking with Dudley, all the while keeping him properly framed while he, himself, avoids the trees and bushes and wires in the studio. While unremarkable and virtually unnoticed by the viewer, it’s an amazing shot.
How was it accomplished? Apparently, by means of a jib, which is a boom device mounted on a mobile tripod. It has a camera on one end and a counterweight and controls on the other. It allows for smooth tracking shots from various angles. See here for details.
So here’s a salute to those responsible:
Director Steve Wright.
Camera operators Ted Hart and Alfie Kemp.
Jib operator Wojtek Kozlowski.
Camera assistant Matthew Andrews.
and to Kirk Dunn and Alex Galatis for a fine performance.
Photo © Breakthrough Entertainment Inc.
*Actual title, “Somebody Like You”