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- Airplane!: Played for laughs, of course: The circle is obvious, the film is sped up, and as it goes on more and more incongruous vehicles (including a beer truck, a wiener mobile and a farm tractor) get added in.
- Gojira, particularly noticeable with the firetruck scene: There's only one truck! Also common in later Godzilla films when miniatures aren't being used.
- Top Secret! played for laughs when the camera cranes back to display the entire circle.
- There is also a running feet example similar to the Hogan's Heroes example below... only to have the feet break into a time step on the third pass.
- Flyboys: The same generic, red CGI Fokker Dr.1 triplane appears muliple times, often within the same scene.
- The famous long dolly shot that opens Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon was filmed by having the actor walk a figure eight path that crossed the dolly tracks twice. Clever framing makes it look like the camera is following the woodcutter through the forest but he's actually walking around it.
- Lampshaded in The Truman Show, when Truman realizes this is happening with the vehicles that are passing by.
- Gettysburg uses this technique to allow an admittedly large number of extras to represent two huge armies. Particularly noticeable with the cavalry. The actors can change their uniforms but their horses can't change their coats.
- In-movie variation in Help! - in the Bahamas, the police chief welcomes the Scotland Yard detective and presents a squad of policemen for inspection - the squad consists of only four men, the last in the row ducking and heading to the front of the row as the other two pass by.
- An old Roger Corman trick of course, but he'd also paint the cars a different color on each side.
- In Cannibal! The Musical, this is an Overly Long Gag. Townsfolk spill forth from the local tavern, and the same 30-something people are seen about a dozen times.
- A variation shows up in Monty Python's Life of Brian with the Roman Soldiers repeatedly trooping into and out of the hideout of the Peoples' Front of Judea. If you look closely you'll notice that the number of soldiers going in is different from the number coming out.
- In the Sword of Truth, Jagang did this to make it look like the army went one way, forced a confrontation with Kahlan as she went scouting, and pretended to believe that his ruse had fooled her. His army attacked that night.
- Parodied in the Discworld novel Moving Pictures.
'Why not ride the camel past the picture box, and then get the handleman to stop the demons, and lead it back and put a different rider on it, then start up the box again and ride it past again?' said Victor. 'Would that work?'
Dibbler looked at him open-mouthed.
'What did I tell you?' he said, to the sky in general. 'The lad is a genius! That way we can get a hundred camels for the price of one, right?'
'It means the desert bandits ride in single file, though,' said the youth. 'It's not like, you know, a massed attack.'
'Sure, sure,' said Dibbler dismissively. 'Makes sense. We just put a card up where the leader says, he says—' He thought for a second. 'He says, "Follow me in single file, bwanas, to fool the hated enemy," OK?'
- In the Geoffrey Trease novel "Cue for Treason" this is accomplished by Mr. Desmond's Shakespearean era theatre troupe using a couple of halberdiers on top of a small rise and the rest of the troupe out of sight sounding like a passing column, making lots of noises while actually marching in circles.
- The superintelligent rats pull this off in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. When the main colony is about to be bulldozed by scientists looking for their escaped rats, they have enough advance notice to evacuate most of the population, but they know a suddenly-empty nest will seem suspicious. Seven or eight volunteers remain, and when the nest is opened, they run a circle route in varying patterns to present the illusion of a steady stream of escaping rats.
Live Action TV
- Used twice in the opening credit sequence of Hogan's Heroes with running prisoners and guards falling out for a midnight rollcall. The camera is aimed at their feet to hide the fact that it's the same men both times.
- Mash: used in at least one of the "bugout" episodes, with anachronistic vehicles thrown in to boot.
- An episode of Land of the Giants featured the heroes stealing a bunch of giant spark plugs. There was only one spark plug prop, though clever editing handles the issue quite well as they steal one at time and immediately hide them all.
- An in-Universe example from Dad's Army where the platoon was on guard at a local Italian POW camp and had to conceal the fact that most of the prisoners had temporarily escaped (they were working for Private Walker and would be back before dawn). They got the remaining ones to jog through their hut over and over again while the authorities did a headcount.
- An similar example occurs in an episode of Hogan's Heroes where the prisoners loop into a truck they are being loaded into in order to convince their guard, the loveable but hapless Sergeant Schultz that he is bringing full numbers home to the camp. Though Schultz does think he has seen some of the prisoners before, he is easily convinced otherwise.
- Doctor Who did this with Daleks before the revival came and could finally afford some decent CGI.
- The intelligent raptors in a Wild West Dinosaurs D20 campaign setting are said to do precisely this to show larger numbers than they actually have.
- Half-Life 2 uses this during shots where citizens are seen from afar, such as on the monitors in Kleiner's lab: the stream of citizens walking on the security cameras are actually the same low-resolution model that respawns back at the start point as soon as it walks off-screen.
- In the Rocky and Bullwinkle serial "The Metal Munching Moon Mice" Boris Badanov, pretending to be a pied piper, runs the same few moon mice in front of Rocky & Bullwinkle over and over again; at one dollar per mouse, they soon owe him thousands.
- During The American Civil War's Siege of Yorktown in 1862, Confederate general John Magruder actually did this to convince Union general George McClellan that Magruder's small force was a big one. It worked, and McClellan settled in for a siege rather than overwhelming the vastly outnumbered Confederate garrison.
- This was a huge part of the traditional Victory Day military parade in the Soviet Union. Planes, for example, would fly over Red Square, fly out of the Moscow airspace, and then loop around for another flyover. Furthermore, there was a very large unit of the Soviet military devoted solely to parading on important national days.
- Circular Drive-style deceptions were popular with the western Allies in WWII, originating with the British in the Western Desert and later embraced wholeheartedly by the U.S. Army and climaxing in an entire false invasion force off of Calais on D-Day. Literal Circular Drives were a popular part of these deceptions, with trucks full of mannequins and fake insignia. Since allied trucks typically had tarps over their cargo beds two soldiers sitting next to the tailgate would often be enough to convince most observers who'd naturally assume that truck was full. Why send a whole truck just to carry two men?.