Follow TV Tropes


Binocular Shot

Go To

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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Pokémon anime, Team Rocket frequently uses high-tech binoculars to spy on the twerps.
  • In the ninth episode of Sound of the Sky, this is adverted when a single circle with crosshairs is seen: the POV is from Kureha's rifle, rather than Kanata's binoculars.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • 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.
  • Parodied and subverted in an episode of K-On! it appears the girls are looking on Sawako Yamanaka and following her around the school then we cut to a group shot and it's just them peering through rolled up booklets and they're standing right behind her.
  • In the Doraemon episode "Rub-a-Dub-Dub, See the World from a Tub!", Doraemon spots Sue in the Bathmobile while looking through binoculars, and a shot of her through the binoculars is shown.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes Season 2 episode 51, we get a shot of Happy S. and the new teacher through binoculars as Big M. is looking at them.
  • A very brief one appears in the Lamput episode "The Chase" when the docs spot Lamput through their binoculars.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, whenever Wolffy sits on the branch and looks through binoculars, there's usually a binocular shot showing what he's looking at.

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

    Films — Animation 
  • Used in the The Film of the Book Asterix and Cleopatra. Even though the character is holding non-existent binoculars (hey, they haven't been invented yet.)
  • Parodied by The Simpsons Movie when we see the POV of someone looking through binoculars and ZOOMING IN, complete with blurring and refocusing, before cutting to reveal Homer's just looking through his hands. And rotating them to activate the zoom effect.
  • Used in Toy Story when the characters look through Lenny the Binoculars. Which is weird since their heads are so small that they can only look through one lens at a time. This is also, apparently, the view Lenny always sees.
  • Used twice in Chicken Run when Mr. Tweedy uses his binoculars to spy on Ginger with his suspicions of the chickens being organized, until his wife gets his attention by slamming her fist on her desk. He turn around and sees her scowling eyes close-up. Later, Ginger and Mac use Mr. Tweedy's binoculars to see a large truck delivering a giant crate to the farm.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used frequently in Star Wars.
  • 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.
  • Ray's Paragoggles do this in Ghostbusters (1984), with a few extra graphics added at the sides. One problem, though: Most of the standard VHS releases cut out the "binocular" matte and the graphics, but left the beeping noise intact!
  • The shot in Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, when Commissar Ledvina observes the surroundings from his hotel room via binoculars.
  • In The Bridge on the River Kwai, the team of saboteurs use field glasses to check out details at the bridge. Interestingly, the shot uses only one hole instead of the typical two-hole matte to emulate the binocular vision.
  • Used in Layer Cake, when the protagonist and Mr Lucky are scoping out the area for the Overt Rendezvous with Dragan.
  • Ingrid Goes West: Keeping in the grand tradition of stalkers, Ingrid uses binoculars to watch a pretty woman from afar without her knowledge, as her predecessors in creep did long ago. Her use of it at least isn't sexual, but an extension of her vicarious obsession with the girl's Instagram.
  • In Deewaar, Samant's sniper aiming at Vijay is shown from the sniper's perspective – through the scope.
  • Parodied (and justified) in The Hebrew Hammer, as one of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front guards spots Mordechai through binoculars shaped like two African continents... but when he pulls away, it's shown that he was looking through Africa-shaped cutouts in the wall with normal binoculars.
  • Done in The Candy Snatchers while the kidnappers are watching the ransom drop. They bring books on birdwatching to avoid suspicion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Search has a variant. The first episode's opening scene is filmed from the P.O.V. of someone wearing a gas mask.
  • 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 in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 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.
  • The binoculars in Fallout: New Vegas act like this, at least in vanilla mode. Fans have since developed mods that give a single circle.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Looking through the Paragoggles, naturally.
  • The binocular view in Sub Battle Simulator.
  • The binocular view in Interstate76.
  • A cutscene in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn shows a view of an enemy base through high-tech binoculars, right before an airstrike.
  • A monocular variant in Warcraft III, as Rexxar is looking through a telescope at an enemy encampment.
  • In Rayman, the map screen is viewed this way. In an early cutscene, Mr. Dark can be seen holding a pair of binoculars while standing on a cliff, implying that the map screen is him keeping track of Rayman’s movements.
  • Taz: Wanted parodies this effect for the first person camera, where Taz seems to just focus, causing the screen to be covered by a matting that matches the shape of his eyes. The matting will even get covered up by Taz blinking.
  • The scanner visor in No Man's Sky functions as a high tech binocular that displays information such as in-planet time, how much time you have left on your hazardous environment shields, distance to your selected waypoint, points of interest such as facilities or resource formations, information about the species or mineral focused on your sight, etc.
  • Counter-Strike, for gameplay balancing reasons, puts a vignette when you zoom into a sniper rifle's sight (Scout, AWP, G3 and SCAR), but not when you zoom into an assault rifle's sight (AUG and SG 550).
  • Yandere Simulator, the street introduced in the October 17th, 2019 build, there is a pair of binoculars that give this effect, although all you can see is the sea and a few boats, one of them has who appears to be Kencho Saikou standing on the deck, watching the street with his own pair of binoculars.

    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!"
    Freakazoid: Do I have time for another looking through the binoculars gag? I like those! [looks through] Hula girls!
  • Used for a racist gag in the Private Snafu short "Censored," in which a Japanese soldier's "slant-eyed" POV through binoculars is portrayed with a butterfly-shaped matte.
  • In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "The Doom Funnel Rescue", this occurs when Fidgel is looking for a gas station in space.
  • In the Sylvanian Families episode "Here Come the Brides", Packbat looks at the Sylvanian Forest through binoculars, looking out for a forest fire he tried to start (the Sylvanians put out the fire before it could get any worse, of course). We get a shot of Sylvanian Forest through his binoculars as he's looking.
  • In the Arthur episode "Revenge of the Chip", as D.W. investigates to see if Arthur told everyone about her thinking green potato chips are poisonous, at one point she looks at him and Buster through binoculars and there is a shot showing what she sees through them.
  • This happens a lot in Ready Jet Go!, usually from Mitchell, who owns a pair of binoculars. Like in "Our Sun is a Star!", for instance.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: