aka: First Person Camera
A shot that shows the perspective of a character, as if the viewer is looking through his eyes. This is most commonly accomplished with a Steadi Cam
or handheld camera operator standing in for the character, in appropriate clothes. Alternatively, it could be the actor or a stand-in with a small camera mounted to (or held very near) his head to keep both hands free for action.
Used sparingly, usually when there is an in-story reason for this perspective, such as:
- Murderer P.O.V.
- Impending Doom P.O.V.
- Huddle Shot
- Mouth Cam
- The character is being channeled by a psychic or medium, and the viewer looks only at what he saw.
- The character's identity is to be concealed from the audience, as in the Murderer P.O.V. shot.
- The character is a horrible monster, and its appearance is to be concealed from the audience. This can be accompanied by the Shaky Cam (as it was for Buffy's First Evil).
- The character's vision or perspective is unique in some way, such as a special form of vision (thermograph, low-light, colorblindness, sonar, etc.); special effects are used to reveal this; see also Robo Cam, Binocular Shot.
- Some versions of The Rashomon do this.
The tricks and variations used for this shot can also, as one might surmise, be used in First-Person Shooter video games
Interestingly, the FPS genre sometimes does this for cutscenes and trailers (though many games just keep the player in the FP POV during cinematic events, instead of using pre-rendered cutscenes). Either way, it is a fantastic tool for making the events of the story more intense and immersive. And without the limitations of having a high-quality image from a first person perspective in real life, First Person Shooters LOVE this trope.
Compare In-Universe Camera
(formerly named First Person Camera
, which now redirects here). Contrast Face Cam
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- Jim Varney's Ernest P Worrell commercials in the '80s always had him addressing the camera as his unseen "buddy" Vern.
Anime and Manga
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED uses it for comedy in an early Will They or Won't They? scene between Murrue and Mwu, when Murrue, trying to have a serious conversation, asks Mwu for his thoughts; from Mwu's perspective◊ we see his gaze stray down from Murrue's face to her chest.
- Texhnolyze occasionally shows things from Ichise's perspective, down to the HUD he sees because of his recently upgraded eyes.
- An interesting use of this trope was in Osamu Tezuka's Jumping, a 6-minute cartoon consisting of a one long POV shot through the eyes of an incredibly-high-jumping creature (whose face and identity are not shown to the viewers). See for yourself...
- Neon Genesis Evangelion features POV shots occasionally, usually from Shinji's perspective. A scene in End of Evangelion gives us his POV of Asuka with a horrific rage-face◊ leaning over Shinji while having some sort of mental hate-sex with him.
- Russian Ark features a single 96 minute take from the perspective of an unnamed narrator walking through Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, witnessing operas and a grand ball across different time periods.
- Jaws. Namely, the POV of Bruce the shark.
- Lampshaded as the central feature of The Blair Witch Project.
- Used for a few minutes in Doom as a homage to the original video game.
- A slight variation of this—the "perspective" of a dead or incapacitated character—is one of director Quentin Tarantino's trademarks and such a scene is present in most of his movies, perhaps most notably Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction.
- In Bruges ends with the camera from Ray's POV as he is wheeled into an ambulance on a gurney. He may or may not be dying, the ending is ambiguous.
- Before making Citizen Kane, Orson Welles tried developing a film adaptation of Heart of Darkness that would be shot entirely in first person.
- An early example is the 1947 film noir Lady in the Lake, directed by and starring (as Philip Marlowe) Robert Montgomery, which was filmed almost entirely in P.O.V. Cam to imitate the original novel's first-person narration. Just so the film's Big Name Star was not totally unseen, he appears in bridging sequences and is seen whenever Marlowe looks into a mirror.
- The first half of another 1947 noir, Dark Passage, is shown from the viewpoint of the main character; after he has plastic surgery so he looks like Humphrey Bogart, we see him onscreen.
- In Tower Of God, Anak's flashback of the last time she saw her mother is shot entirely in point of view.
- Appears very frequently in The Silence of the Lambs.
- Much of Cannibal Holocaust used this technique.
- The echolocation of the alien creatures from Pitch Black is represented by POV shots of "images" made up of tiny pixel-dots that convey textures and surfaces.
- The original The Fly may be the Trope Codifier for how this trope can depict a monster's unusual sensory mode, thanks to its famous shot of the leading lady screaming as seen through multifaceted insect eyes.
- Used in Kick-Ass when Hit-Girl has to clear out a darkened room full of thugs with night vision goggles. It was used to add a bit of humor as it was done First-Person-Shooter style, and also an excuse to not overuse several epileptic white flashes.
- The '50s corporate-intrigue drama Executive Suite opens with a scene from the perspective of the company CEO whose subsequent death by heart attack sets the film's plot in motion.
- The science fiction film It Came from Outer Space uses the alien's POV for its first few encounters with humans (including a semi-transparent "eye" over the whole screen) to keep from revealing the alien's appearance too early.
- The 1931 film of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde uses this twice, once in the beginning (from Jekyll's viewpoint as he dresses and travels to a lecture) and then again after the first transformation to Hyde (as he spins around in confusion and finally catches himself in the mirror).
- The film version of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is partially shown in this manner, using a tilt-shift focus (which picks out sharp objects in an otherwise blurry image) to depict the viewpoint of its protagonist, who suffers a stroke that among other debilitations leaves him with the use of only one eye.
- All the SQUID scenes in Strange Days are filmed in this way.
- Enter The Void uses this a lot, particularly in the intro when the main character is still alive
- A rare literary example is H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Outsider", which follows reason #5 to a T, and disguises the narrator's identity from the audience right up to the last sentence.
- In the Time Machine gamebook series, all illustrations are from the protagonist's point of view.
- Likely Suspects, a playful detective show that had a short run on Fox starting in 1992, is based on this trope. The viewer plays the role of a rookie partner to the main character. The perspective frequently shifts from POV to standard cinematography for flashbacks or other scenes where the viewer character isn't present.
- House did this in the episode "Locked In".
- Peep Show sticks to this almost exclusively, hopping between characters' perspectives (including those of random passers by). This becomes very weird in kisses and sex scenes.
- The M*A*S*H episode "Point of View" used this to great effect, with the camera taking the place of a patient in the hospital, allowing the viewer to experience the characters from a different perspective.
- In the Small Wonder series finale "The Rip-Off", this was done when Vicki, connected to the hotel TV, showed how the robbery really happened.
- Saturday Night Live had a couple of sketches that were shown from a first-person point of view:
- Probably the most popular sketch that uses the P.O.V. Cam is Christopher Walken's recurring sketch, "The Continental." Justified in that the original version of "The Continental" from the early 1950s was done through P.O.V. Cam too.
- A sketch from a Jean Doumanian era (1980-1981 season) episode hosted by Karen Black showed a stroke victim laid up in a hospital bed. The viewer sees how his nurse (Yvonne Hudson) treats him like a baby and how no one — not even his daughter (Karen Black) and her boyfriend (Charles Rocket) seems to care that he had a stroke (except for his friend, Rachel, who loved him).
- A short film (also from the Jean Doumanian era — this time on the episode hosted by Sally Kellerman) centered on a man who turns out to be one of the freed Iranian hostages from the early 1980s and everywhere he goes, people bombard him with questions and exploit him. For maximum Nightmare Fuel, it ends with a man dressed as Uncle Sam eerily announcing, "Welcome home, son!" and strangling the unseen man with a yellow ribbon as "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree" plays.
- From season 20 (another seasonally rotten season), there was a one-off sketch on the episode hosted by Bob Newhart in which a post office supervisor (Newhart) tries to fire a worker (who appears in POV Cam).
- A recurring sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show featured Gleason as Joe the Bartender, who would address the camera as unseen customer "Mr. Dennahy".
- The Sanctuary episode "Metamorphosis" takes place mostly from the first-person POV of Will, and only switches to a normal third-person POV for a few scenes.
- The Plainclothesman, an early '50s detective show, was shown entirely from the POV of its main character.
- For its second season, the early '50s dramatic anthology series Gulf Playhouse used this technique for all episodes, and the show was even retitled First Person Playhouse to reflect this.
- The Tales from the Crypt episode "You, Murderer" is done from this perspective, with the main character speaking in an impersonated Humphrey Bogart voice and old footage of Bogart himself digitally inserted into scenes where his reflection is shown in mirrors.
- Another Crypt episode, "Abra Cadaver", is partially shown from the POV of one of the characters after he dies.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Dark Frontier" starts off with a Borg-eye view of an assimilation job. Also serves as a Villain Prologue.
- Bones did this in The Ghost in the Machine, where the entire episode is told from the murder victim's skull's point of view.
- Infamous example: the video for Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" is a first-person view of a night's debauchery and sexual harassment being done by a woman, thanks to a mirror-reveal.
- Cinnamon Chasers' "Luv Deluxe", a young man's wild romantic road trip that also has Multiple Endings, available here.
- Technically, every single first-person shooter, by definition. Many also do cut scenes in first person, such as Half-Life and Call of Duty, often making the hero The Faceless.
- Interesting variant in the original Unreal Tournament. Typically upon death, the camera goes into third-person to allow the player to watch their character's death animation. If the death was via sniper bullet to the head or resulted in Ludicrous Gibs, however, the camera instead continued viewing from the head's point of view as it bounced away from the rest of the body.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has one cutscene where Link is shown waving to his sister from her point of view as she is carried to her rescue by Tetra and her pirate crew.
- Most of the 3D Grand Theft Auto titles has a dynamic camera option while driving, giving the player several dynamic angles to view themselves through as they drive like a high speed chase scene. If this camera option is in use while the player is being chased by the cops, sometimes the camera switches to the cop's point of view as they chase the player.
- The "Spudgy Cam" gives a great view of the world from a Pekingnese perspective on Eat Your Kimchi.
- Pinky And The Brain episode 55 segment 1 "The Pinky P.O.V." was shown entirely from Pinky's perspective, featuring a visible nose, hands and full body reflections. Can be seen here.
- The Arthur episode "You Are Arthur" features this technique through the entire episode, where viewers get to watch Arthur run a 3k race through his point of view.
- The third segment of Family Guy Viewer Mail #2, "Point Of Stew", lets see the world through Stewie's eyes.
- The beginning of The Venture Brothers episode, "íViva los Muertos!" shows the POV of one of The Monarch's henchman as he dies and is revived as Venturestein.