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Binocular Shot

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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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Team Rocket frequently uses high-tech binoculars to spy on the twerps, complete with crosshairs, distance measuring, random graphs, and video-like zooms.
  • 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.
  • In the Pecola episode "Gazelle's Goof", there is a shot shown through Mrs. Bernard's binoculars as she looks around the beach to see how things are going. There are two more when Pecola borrows her binoculars, once when he uses them to look for Golagola and once when he notices Gazelle struggling to stay afloat in the water.

    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.
  • Robin (1993): Right before Lloyd Waite is shot a couple of panels are from the sight of the shooters' sniper scope, and make it unclear for a page if the shooter is going to aim at Lloyd or Robin.
  • Wolverine: Patch: After 'Patch' (who's actually Wolverine in disguise) jumps from his ally Archie's plane into the jungle, a red-tinged binocular shot shows that he's been spotted despite his precautions. The next page changes viewpoint to reveal that the villainous General Coy and his troops are watching.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, during the Rainbow Road scene, Bowser finds Mario and Peach and watches them through a set of high-tech binoculars. We see through the point of view of Bowser with his binoculars, with markings from the binoculars visible.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Even though the character is holding non-existent binoculars (hey, they haven't been invented yet.)
  • 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.
  • In Wild America, this is used in some shots of the Stouffer brothers looking at wildlife through binoculars.
  • In Bedtime Story (1964), Lawrence watches through binoculars as Freddy and one of his marks drive through Beaumont-sur-Mer.
  • In The Million Dollar Duck, Hooper spies through binoculars from his roof as Charley lays one of her golden eggs.
  • The realistic version, using a telescope, happens several times in Master and Commander, usually Played for Drama.
    • At the start of the movie Midshipman Hollom is panning his glass across a fog bank when he sees a glimpse of a sailing ship in the fog. When he takes a second look however, there's nothing there. When the captain takes a look, he sees the flash of cannonfire and has just enough time to order the crew to hit the deck before they are raked with grapeshot.
    • At one point, Captain Aubrey looks through his glass at the Acheron and sees his French counterpart peering back at him with his own glass.
    • Used for a Mood Whiplash moment when revelry on the HMS Surprise during the night cuts to someone looking at the ship through a glass, showing their enemy has managed to find them again.
  • Mermaid Down uses this when Dr. Beyer spies on the fishermen as they catch the mermaid.
  • In Thunder Alley (1967), this is used when Francie is using binoculars to watch Tommy during a race to see how he acts during blackouts.

    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 episode of the Aussie kids' show New Mac Donalds 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.
  • Temps de chien: Such a shot is used in the third episode when Antoine decides to use a pair of binoculars while looking outside the window at Manon's house, only to spot a neighbor doing the same thing before coming over and introducing himself as Stéphane to Antoine.

  • Used occasionally in Old Master Q as a sight gag. Notably, one strip where Master Q is depicted as a voyeur spies a lady undressing from an opposite building via binoculars... until seeing the lady's burly, muscular husband staring back at him with a different set of binoculars. Cue Master Q going Oh, Crap! before fleeing.

    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).
  • Sunset Overdrive: The High Points collectible is defined by usable binoculars that the player quips when used and looking at a specific area through a double-circular frame.
  • 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.

    Web Videos 
  • Freshy Kanal: Double-circles shot is used in "Bear Grylls vs. Steve Irwin" rap battle when Grylls uses a binocular to spot Irwin messing with a snake.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender uses a telescope shot in the first episode, when Zuko sees Aang and Katara jumping off the old shipwreck.
  • Comes up from time to time in Butterbean's Cafe, usually whenever Ms. Marmalady is spying on Butterbean and the Bean Team.
  • 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!
  • Let's Go Luna!: In "Honey in Paris", the kids hide out in a cheese shop as they follow Honey, who they think wants to visit someone named Mon Amour. They view her through binoculars, and there are a few shots showing what they see through the binoculars.
  • Molly of Denali: In the crossover episode "Cry Wolf," a binocular shot is used when the Kratts are finding the wolf pack.
  • Done Once per Episode in My Friends Tigger & Pooh, sometimes combined with Telescope Shot, whenever the Super Sleuths check the Finder Flag showing where they need to go. This was dropped in favor of a Periscope Shot in the final season.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "The Doom Funnel Rescue", this occurs when Fidgel is looking for a gas station in space.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Bake It Til You Make It," Zeke cups his hands around his eyes while looking for the perfect dirt for his mud pie.


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Al Steals Woody

Woody is stolen by the greedy owner of Al's Toy Barn.

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