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Binocular Shot

In which a character is looking at something in the distance through binoculars, and the viewer is treated to the POV of that character. Often "enhanced" by matting the screen with a double-circular frame, supposedly emulating the binocular experience. Indeed, this is so common that the more correct matting looks weirder.

More recently, this same shot is used with a matte frame and a tint that is reminiscent of looking through a sniper scope. Another variation has the character using extremely fancy binoculars with data overlays; thus transforming this into a variant of Robo Cam. Camcorder viewfinders are also common, for characters shooting video of each other.

It is also common for the viewer to first pan over the viewed object or person and then quickly move back onto viewing it. Sometimes the viewer can't believe what they saw, looks at it without the binoculars, then looks back at it through them.

Used frequently in The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch, et al.

The most common form is silly, since as long as the binoculars are aligned to the user's eyes correctly, the user sees a single circle through the binoculars, not two overlapping circles. Even if two overlapping circles are seen, they indeed mostly overlap rather than appearing side by side.

Not to be confused with the Scope Snipe.

Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In the Pokémon anime, Team Rocket frequently uses high-tech binoculars to spy on the twerps.
  • In the ninth episode of So Ra No Wo To, this is adverted when a single circle with crosshairs is seen: the POV is from Kureha's rifle, rather than Kanata's binoculars.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • In the first season, a shot of Italy, Germany, and Japan was framed this way when America was spying on them through binoculars.
    • The sniper scope variation was used in season four when Italy took aim at France.

     Comic Books  

  • Used in many Tintin adventures, e.g. The Shooting Star.

     Film - Animated  

     Film - Live-Action  

  • Parodied in the ZAZ movie Top Secret!: when a character looks at a prison camp through binoculars, a cow in front of it is seen to climb over the double-circle matte.
  • The two-overlapping-circles variant was used in the first two Harry Potter films, both for each movie's Quidditch scene.
  • Back To The Future Part II when Marty uses binoculars at the dance in 1955 and later when the DeLorean is flying above Biff's car.
  • Spoofed in Surf Ninjas, where a guy with an eyepatch looks through one, and it's just one side of the binoculars.
  • Used in Star Wars, albeit adapted to fit the setting — rather than seeing through regular binoculars, we see through Luke's macrobinoculars.
  • Occurs in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Used pretty unconvincingly with model shots in Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, as seen here.
  • Used several times in Rear Window.

     Live-Action TV  

  • Even The Amazing Race used this during a challenge in Season 5, Episode 12, in which racers had to identify the Philippine flag through binoculars. It also toyed with it a bit: as one racer looked through the binoculars with the lens cover still on one side, just one circular frame, offset to one side of the screen, was shown.
  • An ep of the Aussie kids' show New MacDonald's Farm defied the convention: there's one ep where the characters are on a mock safari, and one of them is looking at the animals (dressed up as wild animals) through a pair of binoculars. The shots used for the binocular shots are matted with a single circle.
  • One of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 skits accompanying Catalina Caper made fun of the device by having cambot demonstrate a series of mattes, starting with the binocular matte, then progressing to sillier cut-outs.
  • The 2008 Academy Awards featured a comedy bit where, in the event that the Writers' Strike lasted through the awards ceremony, the crew had prepared a series of increasingly asinine montages. One, the Tribute to Binoculars and Periscopes, consisted entirely of these shots from famous movies.
  • LOST episode "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1", Ben communicates via mirror flashes with the other Others. We see the reply as Locke looks through binoculars.
    • An earlier episode, "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1", has two. The first is Kate looking through binoculars at an incoming sailboat, and the second is Sayid looking at the now far-less-mysterious Four-Toed statue, both represented by a double-circular black frame.
  • Used accurately in the Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee miniseries - that is, with only one circle, not two overlapping circles. It also had imperfections in the glass as an added touch.
  • The miniseries Generation Kill, which is based on the story of a US Marine Recon unit in Iraq in 2003, uses several forms of these, including the binoculars, rifle/sniper scope, night-vision goggles, and the hand-held video camera. While the series is quite realistic otherwise, they still fall victim to using "two overlapping circles" with the binoculars.
  • Parodied in the "Dog City" episode of The Jim Henson Hour. From the POV of villain Bugsy Them, we see the two leads through two overlapping circles. Then the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal that Bugsy isn't looking through binoculars — he's just holding up a piece of cardboard with two overlapping holes and looking through it.
  • On a skit n the MST3K Jungle Goddess episode. Joel demonstrates the various types of scope shots in films(binocular, keyhole, periscope).
  • In the Police Woman episode "Fish" from 1974, a hitman aims at his victim through the window of the victim's hotel room. The scene imitates the view through the sniper scope: we see a circular fame with crosshairs.

     Video Games  

  • During the intro scene to Psychonauts we get a goggles variant. It's tinted red at first so we think it's a monster, but it turns out it's this trope.

     Western Animation  

  • Rocket Power, "Double-O Twistervision" has a scene showing two movie villains through a cutout of two circles, so as to simulate the Binocular Shot.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender uses a telescope shot in the first episode, when Zuko sees Aang and Katara jumping off the old shipwreck.
  • Done in Freakazoid!, with the titular character switching from viewpoint to viewpoint to establish where he is... "Palm trees? Hula girls! Pineapples? Hula girls! Surfboards? Hula girls! Hula girls! Hula girls! Of course, it all adds up! I've landed somewhere in Norway!"
    • "Do I have time for another looking through the binoculars gag? I like those! (Looks through) Hula girls!"


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