Thanks to the Rule of Perception
, fictional surveillance cameras are always large, obvious, and move.
Moving surveillance cameras are known as Pan/Tilt/Zoom, or PTZ, cameras. They have motors which move the camera, providing controls to the operator to allow them to point the camera at items of interest and zoom in on them.
While PTZ cameras are very cool, they are much more expensive than their fixed counterparts. An extremely high end remote control camera
can cost up to $2000. [[note:Lower end cameras may cost only a few hundred dollars, but zoom levels, resolution, movement speed, and low light performance decrease with cost.]] As such, they are generally limited to high security applications, as well as large department stores who must reduce shoplifting and can afford the high cost.
More importantly, PTZ cameras are only useful when monitored by a human who can move the camera and zoom in on suspect individuals or activities. Fictional cameras are almost never monitored, sweeping automatically through a preset pattern instead. Anyone infiltrating a Supervillain Lair
or other secure facility will face the challenge of dodging the cameras to pass undetected.
These two factors make remote control security cameras a bit less common than fixed cameras in real life. Most people don't have the resources to pay for the cameras or the staff to operate them. But due to the Rule of Perception
, nearly all fictional surveillance cameras can move. A black hemisphere on the ceiling may not be obvious enough to a viewer, but a moving, whirring, device will be.
See also Insecurity Camera
- Alan and Charlie's mother has one of these at the front door of her house in Two and a Half Men.
- Breaking Bad: Gus adds one to the lab Walter and Jesse cook in. The use of a PTZ camera here is justified, since cooking methamthetamine is a complex process and it makes sense Gus would want to zoom in to see what they are doing up close. However, it is still a bullet type camera instead of a dome.
- In the Will and Grace episode 'Hocus Focus', there's a PTZ security camera in the room Karen is going to have her conjugal visit with Stan. She develops an amicable relationship with it, and when she's informed Stan can't come, she turns to the camera in anger.
Karen: Did you know about this?
The camera moves up and down, as if nodding.
Karen: And you didn't tell me.
Camera moves left and right, as if saying no.
Karen: You should be ashamed of yourself.
Camera lowers slowly, as if it were ashamed.
- Watch_Dogs takes this quite far, with even laptop webcams and body worn cameras being moveable by remote control.