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Camera Ab Use

"Ed, did you Eat The Camera?"
Edd, Ed, Edd n Eddy

(Start shaking your monitor now.)

How does one show that the on-screen action is getting out of control? By having it hit the camera! The entire screen will shake, or be obscured by gunk or debris. If the impact is really bad, it will crack the lens or even break the camera, treating the audience to a screenful of static.

Normally, when a camera shakes during filming, it's considered a mistake, and it's edited out or the scene is reshot. After all, the shake ruins Willing Suspension of Disbelief by drawing attention to the camera — "why the hell is there a camera in the setting?" An actual crack in the camera lens would also guarantee a new shot, since the crack would be in every shot and the lens would ultimately need to be replaced. All the same, some filmmakers and showrunners will use camera shaking or other abuse intentionally. The phenomenon has proliferated to the point where it's being used in computer-generated Special Effects shots, animation, and video games — Camera Abuse without the camera.

Of course, Camera Abuse can be justified when it's explicitly presented as the view from an In-Universe Camera — such as an Insecurity Camera, a character's handheld camera or even just someone's first-person point of view. Not surprisingly, there's quite a bit of overlap with Deadline News.

As a use of the medium as something more than the medium, this is a subtrope of Painting the Medium. Compare Body Wipe, where someone often walks into the camera, Jitter Cam, False Camera Effects, Lens Flare, Screen Shake, Screen Tap, Ominous Visual Glitch and Snowy Screen of Death. Frequently overlaps with Interface Screw when used in videogames. Not to be confused with Camera Screw.

(You can stop shaking your monitor now. No, really. You're going to break it or something.)
Examples with their own sub-page:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertisements 
  • A station identification-cum-promo for House showed Dr. House peering straight out at the audience, then tapping the camera lens with his cane. There's even a soft thunk of cane-on-glass when he does it.
  • An ad for Scalpicin scalp treatment showed the screen getting scratched up while a man scratched his scalp.
  • At one point in the Dr. Strange trailer for Batman: Arkham City, the mook he's torturing for info on Batman coughs up blood (or something) onto the camera lens.
  • The commercial for Skechers' Air-Mazing Kid has him throwing a football at the camera at the end, causing the screen to be shattered.

    Anime 
  • The opening credits of Detroit Metal City end with Krauser II seizing the camera and spinning it violently around to face... the show's logo.
  • Unusually for animation, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex often mimics the look of a hand-held camera by having the picture shake slightly. A lot of the perspectives being shown are from cameras or people's vision (thus why you see the icons on the screen), so some shaking, static, and the occasional Snowy Screen of Death (when the point of view gets knocked out) are to be expected.
  • Lucky Channel:
    • In his appearance in Lucky Star, Anime Tenchou violently shakes the camera while claiming the show is too slow-paced. See it for yourself.
    • In a different Lucky Channel, when Minoru finally snaps, he ends up toppling the camera and cracking the lens.
  • The opening sequence of Initial D Second Stage has Kyouchi's Evo III and Ryousuke's RX-7 drift by the camera, causing it to topple over after the RX-7 passes.
  • During Nanoha and Fate's final battle in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, when Nanoha deflects Fate's Photon Lancer into the sea, the splashes leave water droplets on the camera lens.
  • Each episode of the official Haruhi-chan:
    • Each episode of the official self-parody anime on YouTube begins by having the camera crash into Haruhi, shattering the screen. (And her regular self made a Dynamic Entry once in the regular series.)
    • The Brigade production features this as well. When Asahina uses the Mikuru Beam (aimed at the camera) it goes blurry for a few seconds with Kyon sounding like he got hit with something...followed immediately by Nagato tackling her and the camera dropping to the ground as everyone tries to pull her off Asahina.
  • Blood splatters the camera during a Benizakura storyline fight sequence in Gintama.
  • The Stinger in the Spring OVA of Mahou Sensei Negima! has the Chupacabra some students were looking for throwing a rock at the camera and smashing it.
  • In the series Flag, which is seen entirely through the "eyes" of photo, video, surveillance, web, and automated cameras, this happens nearly every time the protagonists tag along with the military or other armed groups.
  • Episode 11 of Fireball ends with Gedächtnis finally finding the "spies" who had infiltrated the mansion and were providing the Laugh Track for this episode, punching out the operator and shattering the screen.
  • In Le Portrait de Petite Cosette, whenever there's a lot of blood flying around (which is pretty much twice an episode), the camera will get splattered.
  • Blood splatters on the camera whenever someone gets scythed in Ookami Kakushi.
  • In an early episode of Birdy the Mighty Decode, after losing the criminal she was chasing, Birdy kicks a bit of debris in frustration, which hits the camera and sends it tumbling before the view turns to static. Especially strange considering this was part of a (third-person) flashback supposedly shown directly from her memory.
  • Director Naoto Hosoda employed the same effect in both Koe de Oshigoto! and Kiddy GiRL-AND where the virtual "camera" is placed at floor-level and the vibration of someone running past jolts makes the picture.
  • Heroic Age: Episode 12 begins with showing the Silver and Bronze Tribe rolling out and one of the space insects apparently proceeds to eat the camera (and probably the camera team as well).
  • Mostly in battle scenes, Kara no Kyoukai often uses shaky camera effect. But hell, it's just awesome.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - The Futami twins literally hold the camera demanding to be filmed.
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, Himeko Katagiri effectively sums herself up in 10 seconds by tripping on a Banana Peel and landing on the camera. See it here.
  • Stand Proud, the third Anime Theme Song for the 2014 adaptation of Jojos Bizarre Adventure, covering the Stardust Crusaders arc, ends with Jotaro's Stand, Star Platinum, using it's signature Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs to absolutely rip the Fourth Wall a new one.

    Fan Works 
  • The second Ponies The Anthology features this happening in the short "Rarity Wrecks the Camera":
    Rarity: Of all the worst things that could happen this is the worst. Possible. *Crash*
    Twilight: Are you all right?!
    • Also invoked by Fluttershy in three.

    Hand Puppets 
  • Pob's Programme was a Channel4 children's TV programme. Pob is supposed to live inside the viewer's TV set and the show has Pob apparently breathing on the screen, then writing his name in the steam on the screen. See here.

    Music 
  • Unintentionally invoked by melodeath band In This Moment during the filming of their Prayers music video, where a camera moving in for a close up broke lead singer Maria Brink's nose (must have been headbanging too hard...). Not to be deterred, Maria just let them superglue her nose back together and finished the shoot. You will notice that in some of the shots of the final video she has her hair pulled over her face to hide the cut.
  • Also shown in the music video of "Genie", by Korean group SNSD, where the group smashes a cake onto the camera, which is intended to be the viewer of this music video.
  • In the music video for "Mr. Simple," Super Junior's Eunhyuk "kicks the camera" during his dance break, causing cracks to cover the screen for a moment.
  • In the music video for Bad Religion's "Broken", the camera is hit plenty of times. The lens cracks and is replaced mid-song, while both video and audio keep running, albeit the former completely blurred for the lack of a lens.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • In the music video for "Beverly Hillbillies", Al tries to follow the camera when it does a rapid-fire sequence of continuously changing angles, until he gets so fed up that he grabs the camera to stop it from moving.
    • He also breathes on the camera in "Eat It" and licks the lens in "Smells Like Nirvana".
    • During his take on Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" in the "UHF" video, he punches the screen and cracks it.
    • Charles Nelson Reilly does the same at the end of "CNR".

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Numerous botches come from the cameramen getting too close to the action, which can result in any number of scenarios:
    • A simple bump by the wrestlers by simply not seeing them there.
    • Cameramen tripping over fallen/ing wrestlers.
    • Getting knocked off of the ring apron.
    • Some wrestlers (such as Shawn Michaels) simply attacking the cameramen for no real reason.
      • Special mention should go to former WCW wrestler Bunkhouse Buck (a.k.a. Jimmy Golden) who would routinely attack the cameraman as part of his entrance, just to underline what a loose cannon he was.

    Sports 
  • The first year that broadcasters mounted a camera on front end of the barrier separating the main track from the pits at the Indianapolis 500, a car went out of control and hit it head-on.
  • At the Beijing Olympics, one female archer hit a near-impossible perfect bull's eye — straight into the tiny camera in the center of the target.
  • Happened accidentally on the original American Gladiators. One contestant was to run the Gauntlet. When the event started, the Gladiator fired his cannon, missed the contestant, and hit the camera, breaking the lens.
  • One behind-the-net camera got nailed by a deflected shot during an NHL game in October of 2010. Play had to be delayed to clean up the pieces. To reiterate: the goal of hockey is to strike a small puck into a net, often at speeds exceeding 100 kph. When broadcasters began putting cameras in the back of the goal nets, this was the obvious result.
  • Broken bat takes out a camera at an MLB baseball game.
  • As with Professional Wrestling, a lot of Camera Abuse in football comes from players accidentally running into the cameramen after being forced out-of-bounds. Here's one example.
  • In a 2009 Ohio State University home football game, during the marching band's performance of Script Ohio, the sousaphone player who's in charge of "dotting the i" in "Ohio" ends up dotting the ESPN cameraman.

     Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • All the videos that can be downloaded to an iPod end with Strong Bad popping up on a black screen, looking around him and wondering, "What am I doing in this tiny box?" He tries to get out and cracks the "screen," after which he tells the viewer, "Whoops! I hope you got the extended warranty."
    • Later videos have him popping up at the end and saying "Uh oh! Faceprint!", pressing his face up to the screen and leaving a print. Then he says, "Eugh, you're gonna need one a' those... shimmy cloths..."
  • In the Brain POP Jr. episode about collages, Moby puts various things on the camera.
  • Happy Tree Friends: Choosing "Sprinkle" in "Petunia's Summertime Smoochie" leads to Petunia getting crushed between a blocked water hose and the camera glass. Not a pretty sight.
  • During the warthog chase in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, some mud splashes onto the camera. Also during explosion effects, since that what Halo does, and Red vs. Blue is made using the Halo engine. Also used if to show something heavy falling, even when the engine wouldn't force them to do so. Such as when Casboose's Berserk Button is pushed in the original series.
  • Team Fortress 2:
  • Vocaloid: Kaito's hugging attempts may be hazardous to your lens.
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse:
    • In "Party Foul", Nikki accidentally knocks over a camera with a beach ball, making the picture appear sideways. She apologizes to the person recording them.
    • "A Spooky Sleepover" cuts to static after a pillow from the gang's pillow fight hits the camera.
    • In "Doll vs. Dessert", Raquelle knocks over a camera after slipping on some butter.

     Web Comics  

     Web Originals  
  • The first No Through Road video ends with the camera being used as a murder weapon, thus cracking and getting covered in blood and saliva.
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre:
    • In episode "Grace Poole", Jane has troubles to set up her camera and start recording. She leans on it and we see some close-up shots of her chest.
    • In episode "Consequences", Mr Rochester is seen turning on the camera with his face and hands fairly close to the lens.


(We told you to stop shaking your monitor! Now look what happened. Hope you're happy.)
Bullet TimeCamera TricksCamera Chase
Bold InflationPainting the MediumCapital Letters Are Magic
Haruhi-chanImageSource/Anime & MangaKnockback Slide

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