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Closeup on Head

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The scene begins with a tight closeup on the character's head, so that it's the only thing we see. After a moment, the camera pulls back to reveal the amusing, and sometimes surprising, surroundings.

A type of Reveal Shot. Often used to reveal a Trick Dialogue or a Not so Dire shot.

When it's just the eye(s) in the very first shot, it's an Eye Open. Compare Nostril Shot, when the shot is taken from a low position, therefore displaying the nose for added intimacy and creepiness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Episode 18 of Fushigi Yuugi, Miaka travels to Kutou with Chichiri and Tasuki using the former Seishi's teleportation abilities. The camera focuses on Miaka's face as she praises Chichiri's magical skill, and then zooms out to show the three of them jammed up in a tree as she complains of their landing place. More Hilarity Ensues.
  • Used in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Utena is lying on a bed, talking about what she's going to have for lunch the day after. As the camera zooms out it reveals that she just had (or is having) sex with the Big Bad, Akio.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Warrior Cats graphic novel Winds of Change, in one scene, there are two panels showing Mudclaw's eyes next to some sideways blades of grass, and then the next panel zooms out and shows him waking up in StarClan.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert, Feb 28, 1991: After two panels showing just Dilbert's face in closeup, the third panel shows a crowd of salespeople clinging to his back.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Kuzco and Pacha are fleeing the guards while testing various potions to see which will change Kuzco back into a human. One potion turns him into a bird, and he brags that he's flying them to safety before the camera pulls out to reveal he's actually the size of a canary (obviously not enough to carry the hefty Pacha) before the two plummet into a river.
  • Horton Hears a Who!: Horton is walking on a suspension bridge and reaches the end when the ropes break. The camera cuts to a close-up of Horton as he screams, supposedly falling to his death, before he (and the audience) realizes that he's safely on the other side.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers: As our heroes travel on horseback to save Princess Minnie, there are close-ups of Mickey, Donald and Goofy as they look back to see if each is behind. The camera then cuts to reveal they're all riding on one horse.
  • The Rescuers Down Under: Wilbur wakes up from being sedated and comments that his head feels like it's in a vise. Pull back to reveal... his head in a vise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Europa Report: Used for a Bait-and-Switch in; when an apparent survivor being interviewed after the mission is actually dictating her log shortly before her death.
  • A Fish Called Wanda: When Archie is apologising to Otto, his head is first seen the right way up, then the camera turns upside down and zooms out, revealing him being dangled out a window by his ankles.
  • Hostel: A particularly horrific example; Josh and Paxton receive a text message from Oli saying he left, with a close-up picture of his face. Turns out it's actually his severed head.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: At the beginning, we first see the adult eponymous hero as he lifts his head triumphantly. Then he gets punched, and we see that he's actually a hostage.
  • Lucky Number Slevin: The film alternates between two of these at the end to hide the exact circumstances of the Rabbi and the Boss.
  • Song of the South: As Uncle Remus begins to tell his first story, the camera closes in on face, which is made barely visible in his dimly-lit cabin. Then, when he suddenly launches into "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", the scene quickly zooms out and brightens to reveal the colorful cartoon world of Br'er Rabbit and his friends.
    Uncle Remus: Yessuh, it happened on one of them "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" days. Now, that's the kind of day where you can't open your mouth... without a song jumpin' right out of it!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. In "The Magician", we see Thea Queen with Einstein Hair before the camera view rotates to show she's been kidnapped and hung up by the heels.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Willow is shown apparently casting a love spell when she calls on the Goddess Hecate to "send me the heart that I desire." Turns out she's playing a poker game.
  • An episode of Burn Notice began with Michael talking right into the camera, giving a recap of the Story Arc so far. After he's done, it's revealed that he's talking to his contact Carla rather than breaking the fourth wall.
  • Not the Nine O'Clock News had a racist thug bragging about how he and his friends beat up some black/Asian people over the weekend, with the zoom out revealing that he was wearing a police uniform.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a parody of a boxing documentary. Its interview with the boxer's grandmother is entirely shot in close-up, until it pans out at the end to reveal that her rocking chair is tied to the top of a station wagon, which then drives off.
  • This happens in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop when Eun Bi and Kang Hyuk are having a conversation about him becoming the owner of the ramyun shop. The shots make it look like he's leaning in a doorway while speaking to her, when he's actually lying on a table behind her.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), we see Sam lying with his eyes closed as the wind plays with his hair. The camera pulls back to show that Sam is lying on a broken wooden structure surrounded by abandoned buildings.
  • During The Teaser of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Waking Moments", Tuvok is woken up by a call to report to The Bridge. The camera stays tight on his face until he reports for duty and is greeted by laughter from the other characters; the camera then pulls back to reveal that he forgot to get dressed. (It turns out to be a "Not Wearing Pants" Dream.)

    Comic Strips 
  • This Dilbert strip. The topic is mainly on shopping and salesperson's presence in that if you want to buy something, they were never there but if you're just browsing, they'll be on you like the ugly on your momma, which is taken literally by the third panel with the closeup now being zoomed out.


    Video Games 
  • Escape from Monkey Island begins with a closeup of Guybrush's face as he recounts his life as a pirate in a journal entry. Then Elaine interrupts him and the camera pulls back to reveal he's tied to the mast of his own ship, which is being invaded by enemy pirates.

    Web Animation 
  • Banana-nana-Ninja!:
    • Parodied in "Banana Shop of Horrors Pt. 6", where a Talking Heads conversation has the camera focusing on Kostlowski's nose, then zooming out to show his whole face.
    • In the "World of the Damned" chapter, a closeup on Seppuku's face zooms out to reveal a volcano monster lurking behind him.

    Web Comics 
  • Jack, at the end of Arc XXVIII, uses this, in a particular case of horrible, horrible imagery. The arc starts a while before this strip, but for those who dare, the Closeup On Head starts here and continues until strip 1373.
  • A variant in Gunnerkrigg Court. Chapter 25 begins with a closeup of a robot mantis' antenna, then pulls back to reveal his surroundings, then keeps pulling back until we see the entire city skyline.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Bringing Silly Back arc starts this way focusing on Elliot's head to indicate he is the narrator for the storyline.
  • Skin Horse: Close-up on Tip and Sweetheart's heads as they're talking. Then the last panel zooms out to reveal that they've been imprisoned by the crystal entities in the basement.
  • The B-Movie Comic has one on an extra, who immediately lampshades that something horrible is about to happen to him.
  • The Daily Derp has Derpy trying to eat an ice-cream cone with a muffin, which seems to fly off for no reason. Turns out she is upside-down.

    Western Animation 
  • In Mission Hill, Andy applies for a cartooning job at an "alternative paper", and is in a Closeup On Head shot during the interview. The camera pulls back to reveal that he's interviewing at a paper called The Daily Supremacist.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum:
    • At the end of "Fan-Bidextrous", we get a close-up on Fanboy before a pull-back reveals he's stuck to Mr. Mufflin covered in cement.
    • In "Speed Eraser", a close-up on Kyle's head is shown, then the camera zooms out to reveal his body is missing as a result of the magic eraser.
  • Futurama:
    • Professor Farnsworth is in an extreme Closeup On Head shot (only his forehead, eyes, nose and mouth are visible) as he and his companions are escaping the Titanic. He says, "At least there are plenty of lifeboats. We won't have to dress as women and children." Pull back to reveal that he is dressed as a child, complete with big lollipop and sailor suit.
    • Futurama does this a lot. One episode has Fry preparing to jump out of a plane. Closeup On Head on Fry's face, screwing up his courage, then asking Leela to push him. Turns out, she already did.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
    • In the episode "Mad Dog Hoek", the stubble-faced 1930s-style wrestling announcer is in a Closeup On Head shot as he says "and believe me, it ain't pretty." Pull back to reveal he is wearing women's underwear.
    • In the more famous episode "Stimpy's Invention", Ren agrees to test Stimpy's first invention, and then is shown in a Closeup On Head shot. Pull back to reveal that Ren has a telephone receiver and a big hunk of cheese strapped to his head, as Stimpy introduces the Cheese-O-Phone.
  • Done in an early Looney Tunes short: a man shot in close-up talks about how he didn't have to pay taxes. Pull back reveals that he is behind bars.
  • Invader Zim has a fun one: in one episode, he and GIR are in their ship. GIR starts to sleep on Zim's head, until Zim yells at him to get off. He then goes into a speech detailing his plans as the camera dramatically zooms in... only for him to cut mid-sentence to yell at GIR, who had resumed his perch.
  • In the Mickey Mouse short "Runaway Brain", Mickey is brought into a mad scientist's laboratory to have his mind swapped with that of a Frankenstein's Monster. As the smoke clears, we get a closeup of a pair of eyes as we hear Mickey say "I don't feel like myself," followed by the camera zooming out to reveal that those eyes belong to the monster with Mickey's mind.
  • In Taz-Mania, in the episode Toothache Taz, after Taz starts yelling out in great pain because his tooth hurts, the camera ZOOMS IN to REVEAL that there are some toothache guys using picks to work on said tooth, and one of them comments about the job, while the other one suggests to throw down their picks and "walk." But, after a silence, both say, "Naaaaaaah." And they start working on Taz's tooth again while singing. The camera then cuts back to Taz and the Platypus Brothers.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Happens to Twilight Sparkle after being "cursed" by a plant. Camera focuses on her head from the time she wakes up to when she sees herself in a mirror; when she realizes what's wrong, the camera pans back as well.
    • Inverted in the episode "Call of the Cutie"; when Apple Bloom rants off her problem to Rainbow Dash, she shoves her head into the camera when she concludes with "...but AH WANT IT NOW!"
    • In "Secret of My Excess" after Zecora describes Spike's greed-induced growth to Twilight, just their heads are in focus for about half a minute, before the camera zooms out to reveal Spike robbed the entire hut.
  • In the "Spongebob Squarepants" episode "Shanghaied" after Spongebob uses his wish to make The Flying Dutchman a vegetarian so he won't eat them, it cuts to Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward seemingly in front of Spongebob's house with a close up of their faces as Patrick and Squidward congratulate him, then the camera pans out to reveal that their bodies have become fruit so that the Flying Dutchman will still get to eat them regardless of being a vegetarian.
    • In "Party Pooper Pants", we get a close-up of SpongeBob's face before zooming out to reveal he's in a rabbit costume.
      SpongeBob: I can take losing the topic cards and the phone in the punch bowl...but I WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAD THE BUNNY HOP.
    • In "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", at first it appears that SpongeBob has impaled Squidward on the head with a double bass bow, but the camera pulls back to show that it was just a portrait of Squidward (which already had a scared expression for some reason).
  • The Cleveland Show: In "Once Upon a Tyne in New York", Lester calls Cleveland from Harlem, saying that the people are mad at him for saying "that word you call Rallo all the time". A zoom-out reveals that he's tied up and suspended over a flaming oil drum.

    Real Life 
  • A much-circulated unintentional example from CSPAN. Closeup on Cheney in the Rose Garden, all serene, nice sunny day. Bush is speaking offscreen. The zoom out reveals that Cheney is not in the audience or next to the podium, but way off to the side in the shadows, apparently lurking behind some trees and shrubs as he watches the press conference progress. It probably wasn't as weird as it looked out of context, but it generated a lot of Darth Sidious jokes.


Video Example(s):


"Fruit Prevents Scurvy!"

When he, Patrick and Squidward are about to get eaten by the Flying Dutchman, Spongebob cleverly wishes for the Dutchman to be a vegetarian so they won't be eaten. Too bad Dutchy just gives himself a wish.

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