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Fish-Eye Lens

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"Recognising a portrait through this much distortion is impossible", said Tom hyperbolically.
The extremely wide-angle lens. Used to produce a sense of disorientation.

The lens in a door's peephole is a fish-eye, so this lens is used when a visitor is viewed outside an apartment. Makes anyone look distorted. May also be used from a low angle to spice up long-winded dialogue sequences in anime.

Also frequently used when shooting skateboarding and other extreme sports, as it can make big air look bigger from the appropriate angle.

Since less-expensive security camera set-ups are often fitted with wide-angle lenses to allow one camera to cover more area, the resulting footage may show a fisheye effect. Simulated security-camera footage, therefore, is also often shot with a fisheye.

Note that when seen in an animated format it is often a False Camera Effect, although a technique for drawing this way exists independently and can be used for the same sense of disorientation.

Nothing to do with Fish Eyes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Pani Poni Dash! used this effect to emphasize Miyako's gigantic forehead.
    • The same gag is used on Yue in Negima!, as both were made by the same studio - one of the OAVs opened a scene with a fish-eye view of Nodoka as she talks to someone, then pulls back to show it was the reflection off Yue's Forehead of Doom.
  • The first two Patlabor films have this on occasion, usually (but not always) when a character is getting reamed for screwing up.
  • Done a couple times in Naruto when a character is going crazy or about to succumb to his dark side (or both).
    • Mostly it's done just to show off, it seems, as many of the shots are completely gratuitous..
    • The manga often uses this for the traditional effect, or a lesser version for particularly intense full-page spreads (this is probably the best example).
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion did this often in Shinji's internal sequences, to heighten the sense of isolation around him. They're used in real-life scenes as well. There's a shot in episode 11 that's used to emphasize the implied menace of a locked door AND to visualize Asuka's self-centeredness. It's part of the Signature Style of Hideaki Anno.
  • This shows up rather frequently in One Piece during the Water 7 Arc. Particularly when there's segments of exposition being discussed between characters.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the Major and Batou are shown this way while they're piloting Tachikomas.
  • In Digimon Tamers, this is used both to enhance the idea that the world shown is a mindscape (When focused on a character) or that the characters are alone (when focused elsewhere). The technique is used sparingly.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was quite infamous for using the fish-eye effect on the most mundane of scenes, such as, for example, when a character is standing besides a fridge. These were fixed on the DVD version.
  • Invoked for a moment in Magical Pokaan, to make you think Aiko had snapped. She didn't, but it was terrifying nonetheless.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway's Flash: The film adaptation makes use of a number of warped fish-eye lens type shots to make Gigi's seemingly prophetic abilities, Kenneth's ruthlessness, and so on seem that much more surprising and disturbing.
  • Used a few times on Kyubey in later episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
  • Becomes increasingly frequent in Steins;Gate with Okarin's close-ups whenever something particularly traumatic happens or he gets closer to snapping from stress.
  • Used during a short skateboarding sequence in K, complete with the requisite low down angle and tracking to make it look like a skate video.
  • Used multiple times in Assassination Classroom. After Itona's Heel–Face Turn he creates a miniature tank to use for assassination. The boys get in on it, repeatedly upgrading the tank and eventually realizing it's standard lense doesn't help them navigate it better, but Okajima figures out what they need is a fish-eye lense... and then they use it for peeping. Naturally, it doesn't go over well. During the Reaper Arc, the students are imprisoned in a cage with explosive collars while being monitored with a fish-eye lense camera. The figure out how to exploit it by painting their clothes to match the walls and hiding in the distorted areas of the camera.
  • Berserk: Sometimes used when a character is having a particularly traumatic moment or memory (such as a restored Casca getting a flashback to the Eclipse).
  • Done a few times in Bungou Stray Dogs, notably one time right before Atsushi freaks out and once with a villain that was fighting Atsushi and Akutagawa during the Cannibalism Arc.
  • In a episode from the video game-based anime series Twinbee Paradise where one of the main characters woke up in a shrunken size shows a low angle shot of the door of her bedroom painted in a curvilinear perspective.

  • Action sports Films, such as skateboarding, used fisheye lens to capture the ride tricks while still be able to see the surroundings and the riders themselves in the action.
  • HAL 9000's POV shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey. His infamous glowing red eye was in fact made with a real fisheye lens. His POV shots are shot through one as well.
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast has one of these with Gaston through a peephole.
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): There is a mild fish eye effect in some close-up shots of individuals, for example when Sam is telling Riggan what's wrong with him.
  • Brazil uses the wide-angle lens in several scenes to underpin the surreal and bizarre atmosphere of the movie.
  • Used in Ernest P. Worrell to make Ernest look all the more obnoxious.
  • The Favourite: Makes frequent use of fish eye to heighten the emotions of the characters.
  • The film Hot Shots! had a character afflicted with "Walleye Vision" that made the world appear this way. This was a problem because he was a pilot.
  • The entirety of How the West Was Won was shot through two paired fisheye lenses, a purposeful choice by director John Ford to show the open, sweeping landscape of the West. It works beautifully for its intended purpose, but when used for close-ups inside buildings... not so much.
  • Just about every scene in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme uses it.
  • The Truman Show uses these to give the effect of cameras hidden in the environment. Other shots where they couldn't be placed use wideangle lenses.
  • A shot like this occurs in The War Of The Worlds (1953), when the scientists are testing the Martian probe viewer device.
  • In Poor Pretty Eddie, Eddie takes Liz to a dam so she can take publicity photos of him against the waterfall. The lens is used while he forces her to walk across a narrow passageway above the chasm.
  • Fragment of Fear uses this for Tim's P.O.V. shots at his wedding to Juliet.
  • In Getting Straight, this is used in two P.O.V. shots from Harry's perspective in a scene where Vandenburg is telling him to tell the student protestors about the small concessions the school has made to their demands, despite Harry's knowledge that giving them so little of what they want will just make things worse.
  • Jumanji: Used for the Jumanji game's POV when Alan and Sarah start the game in 1969.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Crystal Maze: When Richard was viewed through the computer in the Futuristic Zone, he would sometimes appear as if through a fish-eye lens.
  • Doctor Who director Graeme Harper has done this with nearly every new series story he has directed. Example from "Journey's End".
  • When Kramer decided to put his peephole in backwards (so people could see in his apartment), we saw him like this.
  • This is often used in establishing shots on TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive, because massive, all consuming piles of stuff apparently aren't freaky enough on their own.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Mind's Eye" used fisheye lens in a scene featuring Geordi La Forge when he was being manipulated via mental reprogramming to assassinate a visiting governor.
  • As Tosh0 shows, everything looks cooler through a fish eye lens!
  • Used in Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story in the "backstage" room where only characters who are aware of their fictional existence can discuss the story.
  • How every telecast of the game show Tattletales opened.
  • Top of the Pops used a fisheye lens, back when the technology was still new, for David Bowie's performance of "The Jean Genie". The episode was one of many that The BBC wiped during its junking policy, rendering it a Missing Episode, but cameraman John Henshall kept a copy of the Bowie gig's footage, allowing it to be recovered in 2011 for use on the Clip Show spinoff Top of the Pops 2.
  • Used in a Nightmare Sequence from a episode of Full House to show a disorientating effect of the family members in the nightmare, which is one of the most oddest dream sequences in the series next to the dream sequence of Michelle's fake feet growing while dressed up as a clown in one episode.
  • Used in the first episode of Series/Alf Played for Laughs.


    Music Videos 
  • The Beastie Boys are well noted for their use of this in many of their music videos, (such as "Intergalactic" and "Shake Your Rump") to the point where any usage of it in music videos by other artists (such as Eminem's Berzerk) will almost certainly be as a homage.
  • This technique was used a lot by music video director Harold "Hype" Williams in the mid- to late-1990s, especially ones that he directed for Busta Rhymes' songs.
  • In several shots of Garbage's music video for "Breaking Up the Girl", a robotic fish eye lens is seen moving around lead singer Shirley Manson.
  • Frequently used in Monster Magnet's "Space Lord" video, which was meant to parody hip-hop videos of the time, such as the ones the above mentioned "Hype" Williams was known for directing.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Appears in Marble Hornets as the chestcam Jay and more recently/earlier on (as the 'recent' footage is actually supposed to be from old tapes around 7 months ago), Alex wears.
  • Parodied in a Homestar Runner cartoon where Coach Z and Strong Bad make a rap song about how the fish-eye lens makes things look cooler.
    With a fisheye lens, you don't need to know how to rap or skateboard or do anything well!
    Just put the camera on the ground and aim it up
    My kicks look huge and my crew looks tough

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: In "Total Re-Carl", Frylock is shown from Carl's house peephole as he tries to get Carl's attention.
  • The Simpsons once had Marge look out the peephole at Skinner to produce this effect.
  • The Critic also did this, with Jay's ex-wife looking out the peephole at a grotesque Jay. She was even more disgusted to find he looked exactly the same when she opened the door.
  • One episode of Home Movies revolved around Brendon trying to buy a fish-eye lens to use in his movies.
  • A Very Special Episode of Family Guy, Peter looks at a distorted, puppy-eyed Quagmire though the peephole on his door. He's surprised to find that Quagmire really does looks like that, having gotten that way from the lack of sleep due to the domestic violence that had kept him up all night.
  • The Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short "Tall Timber" has a scene where, after a boulder crushes Oswald into a rotund appearance, the camera cuts to a wonky fish-eye closeup of his face.
  • The Legend of Korra: Korra gets shown in fisheye when the Red Lotus captures her and is about to subject her to metal poisoning.
  • Percy de Rolo is the subject of one in the third episode The Legend of Vox Machina when the Briarwoods—who slaughtered his family and had him tortured—show up unexpectedly at a dinner party. The cast and crew are mostly anime fans, with Percy's voice actor Taliesin Jaffe in particular having been involved in anime dubbing since the 1990s; this shot clearly hearkened back to the technique's particular use in anime to connote a character's fragile mental state.


Video Example(s):


Homestar Runner

Strong Bad and Coach Z film random things with this lens.

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Example of:

Main / FishEyeLens

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