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, sometimes Played for Laughs. 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, Snowy Screen of Death, Fight Woosh. 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:
- 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.
- A series of ads for Orkin pesticide company featured cockroaches that crawled on the screen. They were quite pleased when so many people admitted to swatting the screen to get rid of the "pests". Orkin withdrew the ad and replaced a couple of broken sets.
- This commercial for Jeno's Pizza Rolls uses this when the spokeswoman beats up some unseen male announcers shilling other products.
- A TVCM for Yakiniku King (a Japanese BBQ restaurant) has a fish getting flunged at a camera by a storm on a bright sunny day. This is to promote fish (or seafood as a whole) on their menu.
- In Episode 4 of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT, after riding a wild roller coaster too many times, both Sena and Yozora throw up directly on the camera lens (and all over Kodoka).
- 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, 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 Idolmaster: 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 its signature Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs to absolutely rip the Fourth Wall a new one.
- Attack on Titan: In Episode 24, the camera lens is briefly splattered with the blood of a Redshirt as the Female Titan wails on the Survey Corps.
- In Carnival Phantasm, during the game show in episode 1, Berserker suddenly beats up a cameraman, shown from the camera's perspective.
- In an episode of Pokémon Sun and Moon, Rowlet gets ejected out a window. The camera shows it from the ground, and Rowlet lands on the camera, cracking the lens.
- In episode 78 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons, Wolnie hits Wolffy with his frying pan and sends him up against the camera, where he then slides down and falls.
- PONIES The Anthology:
- The second series 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.
- The second series features this happening in the short "Rarity Wrecks the Camera":
- Parodies of The Avengers featuring the Hulk tends to be harsh on the camera.
- Team Fortress 2:
- A fan video for Heywood Banks's "Yeah Toast!" has a Pyro fly down a flight of stairs and knock down the camera for the current view. In keeping with the medium, this event includes a kill announcement.
- Another fan video featuring a female scout has this, as well after a baseball richoeting off the head of a Heavy and into the camera: here.
- Happens here◊ in this Sailor Moon fanart (MAJOR SPOILERS!!).
- Rise of the Galeforces ends the climactic final battle with the "fourth wall" being cracked by Peter Ludlow's severed head.
- 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".
- Madonna breaks the camera with her head near the end of the "Ray of Light" video.
- Beyoncé takes a baseball bat to a bank's closed circuit camera in the video for "Hold Up", then knocks over the main camera at the end.
- Numerous botches come from the cameramen getting too close to the action, which can result in any number of scenarios:
- 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.
- Defied at Ring of Honor's 2016 Global Wars, where a brave cameraman used his body to protect a $40,000 camera from the
rampagingpartying Young Bucks.
- Pob's Programme was a Channel 4 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.
- In the Sesame Street musical skit "Surprise", a pie flies right into the camera at the end.
- 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.
- 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.
- As most football games are played outdoors, and in the fall/winter with the accompanying weather, a good way to tell that the weather at a game is really bad is to have the precipitation obscure the camera.
- 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..."
- On The Crack, the narrator screams "YEAH! EPIC EARTHQUAKE!" and starts shaking the camera, leading Jason to fall about uncontrollably. Dan manages to make the narrator stop by telling him "Stop messing with the camera!".
- 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.
- 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.
- Episode "Robert Burgless" from Wacky Game Jokez, 4 Kidz! has Mickey the Dick tipping over the camera and cracking it during one of his outbursts.
- A transition in RWBY Chibi involves Jaune running face first into the camera, causing the screen to crack.
- In Chapter 25 from Gunnerkrigg Court, we see from a cam-bot's perspective as he's thrown across a room.
- In page 652 from Sandra and Woo, Larisa entirely breaks the camera to hide her plan from the audience.
- In El Goonish Shive, Pandora's appearance on live TV causes an EMP-like effect followed by a Snowy Screen of Death.
- In a NP strip, Dan goes on a rant about public restrooms ending with him grabbing the camera.
- 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.
- At the start of his "YOUTUBERS BLINDFOLDED PENALTIES" video, Calfreezy intentionally kicks a ball at the tripod, knocking over the camera.
- At the of The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Matrix, the Critic flies into the sky just like Neo at the end of the movie... only to slam into the camera, breaking the lens, and then falling down back to the ground.
- Mystery Science Theater F1: Matt gets set off whenever a driver mishandles a camera after a victory.
- On the Hydraulic Press Channel, the host set up a slow-mo camera and a GoPro inside the titular press. Whenever there's dust or pieces or liquid flying around, the cameras will invariably get hit, and their footage included in the final video.
- On one notable occasion, when a large Finnish-English dictionary was pressed, the book exploded, knocking the slow-mo camera onto the ground, and the blast shield straight off its mounts, destroying the main camera standing just outside the blast shield.
- In a video where an old pacemaker was pressed, the pacemaker caught on fire, almost making an example of the main camera once again before the host hurriedly pulled the camera away.
- During a channel collaboration with the Dudesons, as an extreme example, a GoPro was hooked up to an external screen and crushed while it filmed its own demise.
- The Black Critic Guy does this at the beginning of his review of Norm of the North, violently shaking the web camera while screaming about the biggest warning sign of how bad the movie sucks.
Black Critic Guy: ROB SCHNEIDER IS THE STAR OF THIS FUCKING FILM!!
- Happens early on in Shock Troopers: one of the first enemy soldiers shocked with the defibrillator gets blasted into a camera.