Film editors need a way to get from one scene to another and, unlike Star Wars: Episode III, The Matrix doesn't just wipe us from one image to the next. Instead, we have some very meaningful transitions that speak to the nature of what the Matrix is.
We don't have enough space to cover every single time we transition through the use of the old zoom-in (there are so many) but let's take a gander at a few.
Welcome To The Matrix
First, we have the transition from the opening credits sequence and conversation between Trinity and Cypher to the first scene, in which the policemen arrest Trinity. The camera zooms through the Matrix code at first and then we have a monochrome monitor where we see a phone call being traced. The camera continues to zoom through the phone numbers as they appear and toward a ball of light, which, as it pans away, we see, is the flashlight of a policeman.
Although we may not know it yet, we have already been fundamentally introduced to the Matrix. We have zoomed through a computer containing Matrix code, all the way through a digital space and ended up in a computer-simulated world.
Now let's take a leap forward to Neo's interrogation scene, where the agents have him in captivity. When we first see Neo we are actually looking at a wall of screens in which we see Neo from a security camera angle. The camera zooms in on one of these screens and then goes through the screen to the actual scene where we are looking at Neo.
So we go from a digital image of Neo to the real Neo without that image of Neo even changing. Of course, the Neo we're seeing is still a virtual Neo (even though we don't know it yet).
It's Neo's not being real that the screen transition is hinting at. The fact is that there is no difference between the Neo we see on a screen and the Neo we see in person. Of course, to abstract it another level, we are watching Neo on a screen in a theatre or our homes. So taking into account our screen, the security camera screen, and the Matrix as a virtual representation, and finally the real world, there are four levels for us to zoom through (we know, that just got really deep…).