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Magical Security Cam

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"It's very sweet until you realize how many hidden cameras he had to set up to get all this."
Bill Corbett, Batman & Robin RiffTrax

In many situations where someone watches a recording of an event that the audience has already seen happening, the recording will — by the purest coincidence — happen to use exactly the same footage that the audience has already witnessed. That is to say, it will include all the same dramatic camera angles, pans and zooms as the original scene, despite that there's no way an in-universe device (especially a stationary device, like a fixed security camera) could have captured and produced such, well, cinematic footage.

Even if not recycled footage, there are other elements used to produce a similar results including:

  • Perfect composition, especially notable on a panning camera keeping perfect pace with the subject. They are rarely standing in the upper right corner of the screen with their back turned.
  • Cinematic angles, as most security cameras are stationed near the ceiling looking down, not making it very effective in showing a close-up of an actor. Even the footage of an In-Universe camcorder using Jitter Cam can make you wonder why the subjects aren't aware they are being recorded.
  • Dynamic editing, letting us jump in at the best part. Especially helpful with paring down the footage from multiple cameras, as even just a split-screen means someone had to sync it up.
  • Image resolution and sound quality on par with non-security cam footage. Even in the modern era of 4K cameras, many security cameras used today still produce low-resolution images that can even make it difficult to make out facial detail.
  • Smooth, continuous video. A camera that continuously records and saves high resolution, high frame rate video will run out of storage space in short order. Even today, security cameras tend to have very low frame rates (you only need a few frames per second to be able to at least tell what is going on), and often only save footage when movement is detected.

Sometimes this is Hand Waved by overlaying visual effects on the recording — conversion to black-and-white, simulated scanning lines, a date/time stamp or watermark, meaningless computerese, advanced technology where cameras can be anywhere, and so on; this still doesn't change the fact that the movie isn't attempting to recreate the scene as it would actually appear to the in-universe device. This is only averted in science fiction settings, where the footage is often a holographic recording instead, allowing the characters to directly observe the incident.

See also Magical Computer, Caught on Tape. Compare Surveillance as the Plot Demands, where the footage is equally implausible but due to location (How did they get a camera on the moon?) and not necessarily the angles. For security cams that are actually magical, see Magical Camera.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A rather odd example in the Bount Arc of Bleach. There's an old footage of a battle between Quincys and Bounts, which was not recycled scenes, but done in a cinematic way with multiple and dramatics angles and all (but Deliberately Monochrome and with typical VCR-ish distortion). It gets odder when Mayuri sort of handwaves it saying "It seems the one who filmed it did at a distance". It doesn't help.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura, episode 3 — "Sakura's Heart-throbbing First Date". In Kero-chan Check, Kero-chan wonders how Tomoyo was able to get all that footage of Sakura hunting down and capturing the Watery card.
  • The cyberpets in Den-noh Coil only exist as projections in the characters' Augmented Reality glasses. Somehow, the pets can see and hear things when nobody is around to point their glasses in the right direction. This becomes a plot point when one character uses her pets to spy on the others, implying that there were sensors around to spy with, and the pets were allowed to use them. The Fridge Logic in this series is rather Orwellian.
  • D.Gray-Man: When Timcanpy replays Allen sending him away after Tyki Mikk destroys his innocence and almost kills him, he does so from the viewer's angle, including himself in the picture.
  • In El Cazador de la Bruja, Stalker with a Crush L.A.'s job is to stealthily monitor and film Ellis with a camcorder. Twice we see Rosenberg viewing the results of his filming. The one time the camera is fixed in place, appropriately angled, and unedited, averting this trope. The other time is obviously reused clips from another episode, even though it would mean L.A. had multiple cameras set up, some right in front of Nadie and Ellis's faces, and then cut them all together.
  • In Element Hunters, there is apparently technology to visually see the memories of the characters. This is used during their superiors' briefings and reviews of episodes, usually giving at least three perspectives of events.
  • Happens in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex — Section 9 is reviewing footage of Kuze's attack on the Prime Minister. Assumedly, the camera recording it was slightly behind and to the left of the Prime Minister's head. This is made all the more infuriating by the fact that the Prime Minister was using interceptors (microcameras that record video through the eyes of the person in whom they're installed) for security reasons, and realistically, the team would have been watching the footage collected through her eyes. Also, the attack took place inside a Buddhist temple, which do not usually have security cameras in them at all.
  • Macross:
    • Used in Macross 7: whenever there's footage of the currently occurring battle in the Battle 7's bridge screens, you better bet it's the same Stock Footage we see all the time; dramatic angles, cuts and everything. Also handwaved, as it's shown that the ship launches a swarm of camera drones called Conserax into the action to capture it up close.
    • Lampshaded in Macross Frontier — a new recording of Ranka's public performance in an earlier episode surfaces, and it's exactly the same as the footage from that earlier episode. Alto remarks (surprised) that they sure "filmed that well".
  • In episode 9 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS the newer characters are given a brief rundown of Nanoha's past, which includes footage from the previous two series. While theoretically most of it could be hand waved as part of the general Midchildan Magitek, at least some of it came from the very first episode, before Nanoha ever even obtained her magical powers. All three seasons are rife with Magical Security Cams, but this example is probably the most blatant. However, some segments of 'brief rundown' include what appears to be more Magical Security Cam footage given some of the angles, zoom levels, quality, and so forth — except these were never part of the original series and were in fact created specifically for this sequence. In fact, it seems that the security cam is so magical, it sees what looks like a good bit of a series denies the viewers!
  • The first part of Megazone 23 reuses action scenes as cam footage several times.
  • Episode 25 of Mirumo de Pon! begins with a montage of various times Kaede used her magical microphone to help Mirumo defeat the Warumo Gang. It's then revealed that this footage was a video tape being watched by the Warumo Gang themselves, who then come up with a plan to stop Mirumo and Kaede. When the gang's leader asks if anybody has a question about the plan, Hanzo asks "Who recorded the video we've just watched?", which gets everyone confused, as none of them knows.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam has a rather egregious example of this when Domon and Allenby meet Wong for the first time. While Wong summarizes Domon's life story, a holographic video screen pops up behind him, showing not only Domon's flashback to when he was training with Master Asia (which was in the middle of the wilderness, where no one should have been around to record it,) but a clip of the series' first OP.
  • An episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion has a group reviewing the Evas' success — including footage shot from the inside of an angel's mouth and the inside of a volcano. It's the Clip Show episode with Gendo giving a report to SEELE.
  • Sonic X goes even further and uses a fitting scene that wasn't even shown in the episode when it happened. In fact, said scene occurs afterwards.

    Fan Works 
  • Justified in Power Rangers Take Flight; the Rangers have small flying camera drones dubbed "Hoverbirds" at their disposal, that automatically seek out trouble and display it in their AviMorphers and in their helmet visors. Unfortunately, the villains have access to the Hoverbird feeds, too, and exploit it several times including turning the Rangers' apartment building into a monster, forcing the Rangers to destroy it with their Megazord. They eventually have the Hoverbird frequencies changed, however, rendering it a non-issue.
  • Averted in Second Chances both in regard to Howard and Maria Stark's resurrection and Howard learning about previous events in his son's life. When Tony and Friday finally find footage of the Starks' reappearance, it's a CCTV camera spotting them a couple blocks from where they appeared. And when Friday shows Howard the events of Captain America: Civil War, he's generally stuck watching footage from security cameras which only sometimes have sound and often have poor angles.

    Films — Animated 
  • It's Older Than Television: The Cameraman's Revenge, made in 1911 by Ladislaw Starevitch, is by some standards the oldest Stop Motion film with an actual plot. In it, a bike-riding grasshopper who is the titular vengeful cameraman captures some insect infidelity on film (making him a Literal Surveillance Bug, albeit only for himself). When it's later shown at a theater, the incriminating footage is identical to what we already saw, even including the cameraman himself. Oops. Hey, they were new to this stuff...
  • Despicable Me has two seamless cuts to camera footage, implying that the camera shot and "real" one are identical. One goes from the collapsing pyramid to a news program. In the other, we follow the shrink-ray-stuff covering the moon, then cut to The Big Board watched by the minions.
  • Subverted in Megamind. When Megamind taunts Metro Man on a video screen at the beginning of the movie, camera-bots can be seen hovering in front of Metro Man to supply his end of the conversation back to Megamind.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As a meteor shower destroys the space shuttle in the beginning of Armageddon (1998), NASA has a live feed of the mayhem at mission control, complete with flashy editing cuts.
  • Batman Film Series:
    • Batman Forever:
      • Bruce has archive footage of Chase doing a slo-mo Hair Flip.
      • Maroni's murder trial must have been an even bigger media circus than O.J. Simpson's: The cameras perfectly capture the acid attack, Batman's intervention, and even a close-up of Dent getting splattered in 800 ISO. (A similar narrative device would be used for Mr. Freeze's origin story in the following movie.)
    • Mr. Freeze apparently had hidden cameras set up all over the place so he could watch footage of him giving his wife a snowflake necklace in Batman & Robin. In another instance, Batman shows Mr. Freeze a recording of Poison Ivy stating that she (not Batman as she'd previously told Freeze) unplugged his wife's cryotube. It's a replay of the clip from the movie, with no sign that Batman's vantage point at that moment was up near the ceiling. The same recap also mentioned how the security camera at Fries's lab apparently follows the good doctor and zooms in at all the right moments, such as when he plunges into that milky liquid that turns him from Fries into Freeze.
  • In Batman: The Movie, Robin follows Bruce and Kitka's date on the TV in the Batmobile, but the camera that watches them follows them wherever they go whether it be in the restaurant, the horse carriage, or Kitka's apartment and of course the shots of this Hidden Wire match the ones we saw them in seconds ago.
  • Averted in Battlefield Earth. Security cam footage, even footage of things we've already seen, look like they were actually shot on a security camera. They still use the same vertigo-inducing Dutch Angles the rest of the movie employs, however.
  • In Captivity, the main characters watch a sepia-toned video tape of the killer being molested by, and then killing his mother. Later, a similar video shows that the killer's brother was present.
  • Averted in The Conversation — being a movie all about surveillance, all the security camera shots are accurate. In fact, it inverts it in that the normal camera sometimes behaves more like a security camera, though it's possible that the main character is under surveillance and we're seeing the footage. Similarly, the 2013 movie Closed Circuit also features this, with the title referring to London's system of cameras.
  • Dark Star: During the asteroid storm, the ship's computer displays an image of the bomb clearly taken from outside the ship, and from the perspective of the audience.
  • Averted for laughs in The Distinguished Gentleman when an Engineered Public Confession is captured with a camera lying sideways. The payoff: everyone has to lean their head a bit to see the confession when it's played out, until someone actually gets the idea to turn the TV sideways.
  • In Driven, at one point in the final race, Joe Tanto cuts a corner of the track to get ahead of the lead car by jumping it off of the rumble strip over the grass. At the team's pit, they watch a replay of the event — the exact same footage, CGI, free-floating tracking camera and all.
  • Dr. Lamb has the titular Villain Protagonist, a pedophile/necrophile, filming himself doing... things to the corpse of a 17-year-old teenager he recently strangled and smuggled into his apartment. The police recover his homemade snuff film later on, and the footage shown is the exact same as the one seen by audiences.
  • Enemy of the State: Deliberately played with. A lingerie store has a security camera, allowing the NSA group to rotate the footage in real time using "speculation" based on shadows and whatnot. They specifically point out that it's not reliable, and the Big Bad orders his men to get the bag and see if the MacGuffin is in it (it is).
  • Futureworld, the sequel to Westworld, has a scene towards the beginning in which park officials meet the press with a damage control type presentation. They explain, while showing 'archived' footage that just happens to be from the previous movie, how the park is now safe.
  • The Island (2005) has security cam footage of Michael Clarke Duncan trying to escape and being dragged back by guards that is not only obviously the same footage we saw earlier but includes an angle that puts the camera in the middle of a corridor about one foot above the floor.
  • James Bond:
    • You Only Live Twice: Viewers on the ground see one of the space capsule capture scenes from outside the spaceships — from the same angle as the audience see it. And earlier on, Tanaka's cameras record Bond pursuing Aki, and his helicopter towing away a carload of bad guys, with similar vantage points.
    • Never Say Never Again: The attack on the terrorist hideout at the beginning of the movie is revealed to be a training exercise when we see a videotape of the events which shows what the viewers saw a few moments earlier.
  • Machete: Played with. Senator McLauglin's atrocities are revealed to the public with a damaging tape that shows scenes from earlier in the film; this is part of the Stylistic Suck the movie uses.
  • An odd example is provided in The Matrix Reloaded. At one point during his encounter with The Architect, Neo is shown images of humans all over the world, and later images of his own life — many of which are scenes taken directly from the previous movie. However, it's justified in that the entire universe in which this takes place is a computer simulation, so — assuming that the Architect keeps records, which seems likely given his characterization — he could re-render the scenes on his monitors from whatever angle he damn well pleased.
  • The crooks in Mr. Nice Guy, are chasing a reporter after she catches their drug deal on tape. A pity her cameraman didn't survive, since he was good enough to catch the action from multiple angles without moving, and managed to edit the footage on the fly.
  • Justifiable in the film adaptation of Night Watch, as the clips in question are from the Night Watch's (actually) magical Analytical Department.
  • Other Halves: Played with. All of the security footage is unique, from angles where security cameras are typically mounted. But Elle is able to amass all the footage and cut it together into a video montage in just a few hours.
  • Averted in P2. Since the heroine is locked in an underground parking lot at night, the footage on the security cameras is from a single angle and is badly lit.
  • The Criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show has black and white photographs of earlier scenes in the movie. Some could be explained as pictures the wedding photographer took, but it's unlikely that he followed our heroes all the way through the song, "Dammit Janet". In the remake, he has photographs of Brad and Janet during the "Time Warp" in Frank's castle.
  • In The Running Man, both the faked footage that implicates Ben Richards as 'the Butcher of Bakersfield' and the footage that clears him is essentially the opening scene, edited in the first version and undoctored in the second. The edited version is kind of justifiable in that it's crude fascist propaganda, the second version isn't.
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk scans through Enterprise's security footage from the events of The Wrath of Khan, which basically means he watches the end of the film on a grainy screen.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home begins with a group of Klingons replaying the destruction of the Enterprise from the previous movie — using footage from the previous movie, of course.
    • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, as Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sybok walk away from the shuttle on the 'god' planet, the bridge crew watch their departure on the viewscreen, from a camera angle several feet away from the shuttle.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Happens all the time in reality shows, and even some pseudo-reality shows. "So I'm assuming, if you're in the interview booth, you survived your ordeal with the scorpions?"
    • Played with relentlessly on Drawn Together: sometimes no, they didn't survive. Sometimes their appearance changes in the cuts between. Sometimes they don't get interviewed After the incident, they get interviewed During...with the requisite changes to their "I had no idea" speeches.
    • Nearly any Reality Show, especially of the Reality TV Show Mansion variety, will feature impossible shots, such as one person dropping a bombshell followed by a closeup Reaction Shot from a camera that couldn't possibly have been there during the "immediately previous" wide-shot.

By Series:

  • In Andromeda, replays of events by the AI look exactly like if they occurred in the show, and in fact, characters can look at the scene in 3D in virtual reality (although it is the distant future).
  • Averted in the TV miniseries version of The Andromeda Strain. A small-town sheriff, infected with the virus, goes crazy and shoots and kills nearly everyone in a local diner. When the army watches the footage later, it's the exact same events, but seen from the security camera's position. However, this doesn't answer the question as to why a small-town diner in the middle of nowhere has such a need for security...
  • Inverted on occasion by Arrested Development. Sometimes, when a security camera is present in a scene, the camera angle will default to the security camera. A good example can be seen in "Spring Break-Out".
  • The Arrow episode "Emerald Archer" is ostensibly a documentary on vigilantes, so gets around this trope by only using Stock Footage taken from angles that would imply they were shot by CCTV or roving news cameras.
  • In Batman (1966), in addition to Bruce and Kitka's date, one episode has the Riddler making a silent movie. The camera is in his bakery truck or just past certain doors, but the footage is just monochromatic reclips of what the viewers have seen, requiring the "camera" to be out of the truck/on the far side of the room from where it is.
  • A security camera in an episode of Blake's 7 cuts between two viewpoints. It'd make sense if it were cycling cameras, but one camera is uselessly but dramatically focused on the boots of the invading hordes.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have both avoided this with "security camera" footage. "The Prom" and "Reunion" have footage from previous scenes, shot in black and white and from a higher angle.
  • Avoided in an episode of CSImen in drag stage a daring casino robbery, which we see in the usual style: flashy edits, strange zooms, slo-mo, everything. When the police view the security camera footage, however, it is obviously shot from a stationary video camera on the ceiling, not on multiple film cameras. In other words, it looks real. CSI abuses the hell out of Enhance Button, but not this trope.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Planet of the Spiders", a psychic character is hooked up to device that shows his thoughts and is given the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. The device then shows footage from an earlier episode where the sonic screwdriver is used. Of course, some of the footage isn't from the point of view of the Doctor or the sonic screwdriver.
    • A later episode in the series gets around this; during The Trial of a Time Lord sequence, when the Sixth Doctor asks how they can show footage neither he nor his companion saw during a Whole Episode Flashback, one of the other Time Lords explains that anything within a certain range of the TARDIS could be filmed.
    • In "Forest of the Dead", while the footage that CAL sees of Donna on her TV can be chalked down to it being a computer simulation, rather than security camera footage, the closeup shot of a Vashta-infested suit's skull and the shot of the Doctor hanging on a ledge in the Library doesn't seem to match up with any visible flying cameras (which CAL is seen to use at one point).
    • Missy again in "In the Forest of the Night", this time with an orbital shot of Earth as it is hit by the flare.
  • German TV Show Das Geständnis (The Confession) was a typical Daytime Talk Show which showed footage of the "guests" (albeit created for the show and not shown before) taken by a Magical Security Cam, all the while pretending that this was real. Bad enough to be mocked by German comedian Oliver Kalkofe, who called this "God's Security Cam".
  • Subverted in the pilot episode(s) of The Invisible Man. When Darien breaks into Arnaud's stronghold, Arnaud is watching him from a bank of security monitors, the viewers' perspective sometimes changing to just one fixed camera as Darien passes through that hallway — only special effects are applied to show the "thermal vision" setting of the cameras, so Darien can still be seen while invisible.
  • Jake 2.0 has an especially glaring example, as footage from a spy satellite shows video obviously shot from near ground level.
  • Knight Rider: Every time the baddies of the episode get some footage of KITT, it's footage from the previous episodes. Since the series relies heavily on Stock Footage, there is a chance that the Magical Security Cam footage will later appear as part of the episode itself. KITT's own security cams are apparently also magical; the footage he records often shows events from multiple angles, all different from the one at which he was actually physically located.
  • Lost's season 3 episode "I Do" shows Jack watching Kate and Sawyer in a post-coital glow in a bear cage, reusing the same footage from minutes prior. This means that one security camera apparently has: A) instantly developing film stock instead of grainy video, and B) a side-moving dolly to add drama whenever it feels like.
  • Daytime Soap Opera cameras must have this, as one arc in Passions has Theresa viewing a fake video shot in such a manner and still being convinced. It's almost as though you can taste the stupid.
  • Averted and defied in Person of Interest, as security cameras are an important theme of the show; any time we see the scene from the POV of a security camera, we see a plausible security camera shot. Played straight, however, in the rare Previously on… segments. These are seen from the perspective of the Machine, but most of the clips displayed are this trope.
  • It's standard practice on Power Rangers for any and all video feeds to either reuse footage, or at least not look like it was taken with an in-universe camera. Some seasons handwave it with the images being literally magical, but not all of them.
    • Averted in Power Rangers Mystic Force, when the Red and Pink Rangers hijack a parking garage's recorded tape to make sure their identities stay secret. Not only did the security camera not show the same fight footage from minutes earlier, but their Transformation Sequence was instantaneous in the recording, unlike what the Stock Footage earlier showed.
      • Reverted right back in the first scene they show the footage, in which they also zoom in on the map the monster is holding. Justified, of course, since they are literally using magic to do this.
    • Power Rangers in Space had the most egregious example EVER. Andros is watching security footage of himself and his missing little sister, Karone, playing. Now, not only does the footage constantly change camera angle, but the footage was also taken in an empty meadow where cameras would be unlikely. To top it off, one of the camera angles is a POV shot of the monster that took Karone! And despite all these cameras, the only clear shot we get of the monster is a Bigfoot-esque shot of the monster getting away. The security network was able to put a camera on the monster's head and still wasn't able to identify it.
  • The Professionals: In "Heroes", an armoured car robbery is witnessed by a member of the public with a handheld 8mm camera. When we see CI5 watching the footage, it includes shots taken in an amateurish fashion (people in the way, jerky film, etc) but also scenes from the robbery it would have been impossible for the cameraman to have filmed (such as the shooting of a security guard who is inside the armoured car) but which we saw in the previous action sequence.
  • Almost averted in the third story arc of Sapphire and Steel, in which the capsules' surveillance cameras produce fixed-angle images with no zooms or other dramatic trickery — except in one sequence, which cuts between Sapphire in Capsule 3 and Sapphire's image on a monitor screen; the monitor screen image is clearly the same footage with a video effect on it, and includes a dramatic zoom.
  • A stills-camera variation in the Saved by the Bell episode "Model Students" when Screech takes pictures of the girls in their swimsuits against their will. When we see the pictures, the girls happen to be perfectly posed with brilliant wide smiles. And they are also completely dry despite the pictures being taken at swim practice. So convenient of the girls to pose themselves like that for just enough time before getting into the pool and smile for any hidden cameras that might be photographing them.
  • Averted in the Seinfeld episode "The Frogger". Elaine sneaks into Mr. Peterman's office and eats a cake hidden in the refrigerator. The following scene has Elaine eating the cake and dancing around in slow motion. At the end of the episode, Mr. Peterman shows her the scene as shot from a security camera. It shows Elaine dancing around in normal speed while eating the cake.
  • Justified in Space: 1999's first episode. The Alphans watch footage of the Moon leaving Earth's orbit, but it's explained as being long range video from a Mars satellite.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series two-parter "The Menagerie", Spock displays records of his initial mission on the Enterprise, actually footage from the show's original pilot. Shortly into the presentation, Capt. Kirk comments that recording devices couldn't possibly have captured everything they're seeing, and it indeed turns out that the footage is actually being telepathically projected by aliens.
    • In the middle of the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint", Commander Riker is shown a recap of the story so far, and Enterprise's internal cameras appear to be the same ones the film crew used.
  • In The Sweeney, one hand-held 8mm character gives two different views of the same armoured car robbery.
  • Turned into a Running Gag in Titus. Used often as a flashback or a fantasy segment by making it a POV shot or a character or object. It usually comes with a label like, "Psycho Bitch Cam" and Titus getting punched repeatedly by his (ex)girlfriend from her perspective. When using purported actual security footage, it would usually be stationary or at least semi-realistic with no cuts or dramatic shots, like the "Marijuana Task Force Cam" (the S.W.A.T team breaks into Titus's bathroom after Dave grows weed in there).
  • Ugly Betty provides an example of a magical cellphone cam: Wilhelmina Slater has shoved an old lady (Betty White) out of the way to get a cab. Two bystanders get the incident on cellphone cam. Result: A dance remix of the incident.
  • Averted frequently in The Wire. We see shots from the POV of security cameras in almost every episode, and they're never magical.

    Music Videos 
  • It can be safely said the reason producers and directors get away with this is because their audiences are so well trained to accept what they see. In the famous Bruce Springsteen video of "Dancing in the Dark" (directed by Brian De Palma!) he calls a teen-age fan up on stage with him. There was a controversy at the time as to whether this was "real" footage or faked. A skeptical viewing of the video, however, shows several close-ups of actress Courteney Cox as Bruce speaks to her and holds out his hand. For the situation not to be staged, the singer would have had to have a camera embedded squarely in his manly chest, stomach, or crotch.

    Video Games 

In General:

  • Some courses in Racing Games, such as Mario Kart and Wipeout, have jumbotrons that deliver a live feed of you racing from your perspective. Even after the race was over, the screens would show the fly-over view of the track as you were viewing it. While the technology to deliver such in-car feeds, called Race Cam, predates the SNES,note  it's not likely that the game designers of the early '90s were racing buffs, so 4th and 5th gen cases could fall under Accidentally-Correct Writing, as opposed to justified.note  Regardless, this still does not excuse using solely the Player Character's camera view for the entire race; apparently Protagonist-Centered Morality has infected the broadcast crew.

By Creator:

  • This trope is endemic to the output of Digital Pictures.
    • Night Trap: The normally stationary security cameras suddenly zoom in or out and sometimes even move to cover new angles whenever something is happening in a room. At times the video could be coming from a camera physically located at the same place as where the normally static image originates, but many times the change in video feed would require physically moving the camera. Double Switch, being largely the same type of game in a different location, has the same problems.
    • The same occurs in Ground Zero: Texas by the same company. While the cameras are attached to freely rotating stun cannons, there's no way they should be able to achieve the panning shots and sudden cuts to other parts of the scenery.
    • Humorously, Scene of the Crime, their prototype game which preceded Night Trap, is an aversion. The installed cameras never move from their fixed locations, and keeping a close eye out for how things change in any given scene is key to correctly pointing out the culprit at the end.

By Title:

  • The 7th Guest: This occurs rather frequently in the cutscenes of The 11th Hour. Samantha Ford is able to see certain areas of the Stauf Mansion on her computer monitors and relay them to the handheld Gamebook that Carl Denning is carrying. There's even one instance where the camera moving through the house on one of her screens is shown as gameplay of The 7th Guest. This is hand waved in the manual in saying that Samantha is capable of "psychic hacking", which is also how she's able to give you hints during puzzles.
  • In AMBER: Journeys Beyond, your ghost-hunting partner Roxy had rigged up a network of CCTV cameras around her Haunted House, and they start recording whenever a haunting happens in a particular room, broadcasting in blue monochrome to a handheld device you're carrying. The cameras always zoom and lock onto the phenomenon in question, complete with dramatic music.
  • Averted in Dead Space. When telecommunicating with you, most characters also have a video feed even though most of them are usually on the run. In an early scene, you can see one of the characters through a glass while he's tele-speaking, and he's holding his hand at the exact point a camera would need to be to transmit the view you see of his face. This is because the images are actually generated in real time from a camera positioned where it should logically be — this isn't uncommon in video games; even characters who aren't physically present are usually transmitting "live" from an unreachable room floating off the map somewhere.
  • Happens in Final Fantasy XIII when Colonel Nabaat shows Sazh the security camera footage of how his son became a l'Cie at the Euride Gorge power plant. It's given scan lines but is as full of dynamic camerawork as the game's other cutscenes. Also happens in a televised news report about the pursuit of the Pulse l'Cie, which reuses footage from an earlier cutscene.
  • Averted in kind of a behind-the-scenes way in Half-Life 2 in that characters appearing on television and computer screens are always actually being rendered live in a room hidden somewhere off to the side on the map that contains them and the background of the room they were in. You visit some of these locations later and see that there actually was computer equipment where they were looking and talking to you. However, the security monitors you are able to interact with, like the Combine panels in Nova Prospekt or the black-and-white resistance panels, do not show visible cameras when you visit the locations they show.
  • Homeworld gives us Magical Space Fighter Gun-Cameras in a cutscene from the first game.
  • Televisions in Katamari Damacy usually show your character from the same perspective as the in-game camera.
  • Manhunt has a plot device that plays with this in a bad way- every level is littered with planted security cameras so that Starkweather can film Cash's murder spree and keep an eye on him, so we can assume cameras are everywhere, covering every bit of open ground. Even so, any performed execution is always shot from a perfect up close angle with excellent lighting, which would still be impossible to film with even that many cameras. Subverted however in a few scenes where it seems they are genuine camera shots used during cutscenes.
  • Flip-flopped the Shadow Broker Archives in Mass Effect 2. You sometimes watch legitimate security cam footage, like when Thane stealthily assassinates two guards. But then played straight with a video for Jack's escape from Purgatory, as it starts from behind a prison guard, then following her running, and then panning above her as she uses her biotics to flip herself over the same guard and then blast him once she lands. The footage was archive, which could mean it was edited together from several sources. Seeing as how the Mass Effect universe could have cameras embedded in just about anything, and VI programs that were able to automatically pull off Manipulative Editing in near real-time (example:If you did not save the Salarian Councilor in Mass Effect 3, Udina spontaneously had a clip available that made it look like Shepard shot the Councilor, despite the footage depicting an event only a couple minutes in the past), it is not unlikely that such a cinematic archive could be constructed.
  • Happens in Ripper, as the surveillance bugs allow a video feed from the room in which they've been placed. Any angle in the room is valid, with dramatic editing as well, even though the bug was placed on the wrapper of a cigar in a cigar box and facing up, so the only thing that should be visible is the ceiling.
    Spoony: It's cool the bug I put in his cigar box provides multiple camera angles.
  • Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict averts the trope by having footage of the competitors shot by cunningly hidden cameras in the floor or floating bots. At least it does in the FMVs.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the Cheat Commandos Thanksgiving special; Gunhaver sees that Blue Laser has invited the other Commandos to his Nana's house for Thanksgiving dinner (he was invited, but his teammates didn't inform him because they feared his "rescue" attempt), and rushes off to "save" them. Blue Laser Commander then points out "But I'm not thankful for that guy over there with the camera!" Cut to Reinforcements on the other side of the room, standing next to a camera on a tripod and a bunch of lights, casually going "Hey guys."

  • Averted in Dragon City when Emily pulls out surveillance tape of Rachel getting shot. Not only was there a good reason to have a security camera there (a mayoral press conference), but the comic uses new art (due to the fact that the art was upgraded multiple times between the original event and the watching of the video) and portrays it from the correct angle of a camera.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • During an April Fools' Day gag, Dan views the previous day's strip on a screen and Minion informs him that the "cameras" pointed at the wrong dimension that day.
    • At the end of a Q&A session, a monitor can be seen that has images pulled from that session and references are made to high-definition cameras with up to 2000x zoom ostensibly for "security purposes" that Dr. Germahn has all around his labs and facility.
  • Parodied and lampshaded in Skin Horse when Moustachio's memory drum of the Old War turns out to resemble a newsreel summarizing the entire war.
    Chris: Well, that was a weirdly well-edited and narrated memory.
    Unity: Yeah, you should see the ones he had colorized.
    Moustachio's narration: Special thanks to R.K.O. for sound...

    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", Batman finds a video recording that depicts the origin of Mr. Freeze. Although supposedly recorded with a single unmanned camera, the angle changes multiple times. (On the DVD commentary, the producers admit it makes no sense but that it sure made the scene more dramatic.) What makes it especially strange is that, when the security footage cuts to a different camera angle, the transition is accompanied by a split-second of static, which is of course what you see on a security monitor when switching between feeds from different cameras. In short, the effect is to make it slightly more plausible (as if Fries's laboratory had four or five security cameras, and the tape Batman is watching was edited together from all their footage), but really, it just draws your attention to how little sense it makes.
    • Occasionally occurs in Batman Beyond, ex. "The Call", though this could be hand-waved as future technology. Particularly in "The Call", in which the cameras on the Batmobile can provide 360-degree views from its recordings.
  • A rather odd example in Exo Squad when a news broadcast is cut short when the camera is shot. The odd thing about it is the fact that the camera that is blasted can be seen on screen being destroyed just before the signal dies.
  • Fantastic Four: The Animated Series: In the episode "Nightmare in Green", the news footage of the fight between the Thing and the Hulk is just reused animation from earlier in the episode. That news station must have some amazing cameramen and editors to create such a cinematic looking clip.
  • Gargoyles does this, showing "recorded" footage of a just-seen-ten-minutes-ago Flashback — purported to take place during the first season — in the episode "Double Jeopardy". The angle changes at a blatantly rapid pace, requiring numerous, levitating, invisible cameras and an aspiring Mr. Exposition to splice them all together to give context to The Reveal.
  • In the Godzilla: The Series episode "S.C.A.L.E.", the titular Animal Wrongs Group takes over a secret island reservation for Kaiju by the protagonists as part of a documentary being conducted by the Intrepid Reporter. Most of the action is filmed by security cameras on the island (complete with differing screen labels for changes in angles). They make an effort to have most of the shots look like actual camera footage, though some of the angles are a little too difficult for a security camera to manage.
  • Iron Man: The Animated Series:
    • In one episode, Tony Stark's jet is shown on the hangar's security camera as being there one instant and gone the next. When he pauses the recording, animated footage of the Mandarin's henchmen stealing the jet is shown, which they apparently did by stopping time. Not exactly magical as per the above definition (the footage is all from one, albeit low, camera angle), but magical nonetheless.
    • The episode "Distant Boundaries" introduces a new villain named Dark Aegis via surveillance footage from a past fight with Iron Man. The security footage is so inexplicably professional and cinematic looking that one gets the sense that Tony edited shots from multiple cameras into a short film for some reason.
  • Kim Possible:
    • "Queen Bebe" ups this slightly by having the camera filming at a really high frame rate. The Bebes, who were moving at superspeed, were visible when the footage was played back at a normal rate.
    • In "Sick Day", Wade plays back the previous scene to show the transfer path of her brother's cold germs to Kim's mouth (at the Possibles' breakfast table, implying that Wade has cameras in Kim's home). She replies, "I don't even want to know how you got that."
    • In "Clean Slate", after Kim gets Laser-Guided Amnesia, her Dad tries to refresh her memory by showing her Blipvert Clip Show. Fans at various forums were quick to point out how there weren't cameras monitoring a number of the events shown, and gave us all one more reason to be suspicious of Papa Possible.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Quite possibly literally, given the nature of the show, in "Magical Mystery Cure": during her song, Princess Celestia shows Twilight scenes from her time in Ponyville, which she claims she has been using to watch her progress.
  • In the Pound Puppies (2010) episode "The Accidental Pup Star", when a girl videotapes Rebound singing, she manages to capture footage from inside a fountain Rebound fell into despite being a good 10 or 20 feet from it while standing still. Said footage also includes an Orbital Shot when Rebound hits the final note.
  • Lampshaded in one episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) when Mojo Jojo is showing footage of people being transformed into dogs in different countries to the girls (taken from a previous episode of the series):
    Blossom: How'd you get this footage? What, you have cameras all over the world?
    Mojo: Yes! Now shut up!
  • Lampshaded in an episode of ReBoot, after giving his audience a news report that includes images from Season 3, Mike asks (rhetorically) where they get their footage from.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Averted in "Krusty Gets Busted". Director Brad Bird took great care to stage the action of the Kwik-E-Mart robbery so that everything could be captured from the angle that a security camera would plausibly be.
    • In "Deep Space Homer", though, there's a perfect example of this trope. The hatch on a space shuttle is blown, in order to remove debris from inside, and Homer is accidentally sucked out as well. Cut to NASA ground control, who have an image of Homer dangling from the outside of the shuttle—taken from outside the shuttle. How did they get a camera up there?
    • The MST3K Mantra should be invoked whenever scenes in Clip Shows are presented as footage someone has available. One IMDB review for "Gump Roast" notes, "...All this can be seen on a big screen so apparently Homer is being filmed by someone all the time. And not just one person, from the quality of the footage I'd say a whole camera team and a sound guy."
  • Teen Titans (2003): Slade is pretty good with cameras. Can occasionally be hand waved as "Oh, he recorded it with a Sladebot." Occasionally...
  • The Venture Bros.: The episode "Shadowman 9: In the Cradle of Destiny" consists mostly of Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch being shown flashbacks of their careers by the Council of 13 via Surveillance as the Plot Demands. The Magical Security Cam nature of the footage is lampshaded:
    The Monarch: Did that video have a wipe?
    Councilman 1: Councilman 3 got Adobe Premiere.
    Councilman 3: Was it too showy? I thought it would make the scene more lively.
  • Wakfu establishes a justification for this in the first episode when the Big Bad first appears onscreen.
  • X-Men: Evolution has magical news cameras in full effect. This is particularly noticeable in several instances when news footage is rewound.
  • The X-Men: The Animated Series two-parter "Sanctuary, Part 1/Part 2" has Magneto give a video presentation to the U.N. about the plight of mutants across the globe. The video largely consists of footage from past episodes, including scenes without Magneto that he couldn't possibly have recorded.

    Real Life 
  • The famous first step on the moon by Neil Armstrong was recorded by a camera on the outside of the landing module. The answer here is that there was a cargo pallet that they dropped next to the module, and that it automatically deployed and set up a camera to start broadcasting for this very purpose.

Alternative Title(s): Magical Security Camera