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Orbital Shot

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"Look, can we stop talking like this? I'm getting very dizzy."

In this inverse of the Round Table Shot, there is only one subject around whom the camera circles (usually on a dolly track), so as to provide a rotating view from all sides. Sometimes used to give the impression that the subject is spinning.

This was a particularly common shot in music videos during the 1980s. Sometimes after a blurred orbit the setting might be altered to simulate a sudden change. See also Dizzy Cam, which is an Orbital Shot done with a handheld camera at a distressing speed.

Orbital Kiss is a common subtrope. The Orbital Shot is often used in Bullet Time.

Not to be confused with Kill Sat or Orbital Bombardment, both an entirely different kind of orbital shot. Also not to be confused with Roundabout Shot.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the final episode of Steel Angel Kurumi 2, the animators' virtual camera does an Orbital Shot around Nako as she performs in the cello competition.
  • This happens in Death Note, during a personal confrontation between L and Light.
  • The ninja teams in the second opening of Naruto.
  • There is one in Ouran High School Host Club around Renge, when she accuses the members of the male club of not being good enough.
  • In the opening of the second season of K-On!, there is an orbital shot around the whole band as they're playing in the music room.
  • This is seen in the first episode of Fate/Zero, as Kirei is told about the Holy Grail War.
  • Episode 1 of Kotoura-san uses this camera trick during the Downer Beginning when Haruka's elementary classmates chant "Monster! Monster! Monster!" towards her after they figured out she has Telepathy. It is done very effectively since that moment forever and clearly establishes her sense of loneliness and betrayal even though she was being Innocently Insensitive.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal has a fairly elaborate and protracted one in its Transformation Sequence, where the spinning is paired with dizzying zooms and zoom-outs that give a three-dimensional view of the sparkly, prismatic CGI void the heroine transforms in.
  • The Bleach anime's opening credits sequence ends on one of these of Ichigo.
  • The anime adaptation of March Comes in Like a Lion employs this when Rei let's out a Cathartic Scream in an empty park after Yasui takes out his frustration over his loss onto Rei.

    Asian Animation 
  • The first episode of Nana Moon features a rotating shot of Keke as she stands in fear in the elevator when its lights start to flicker as a result of the comet's power.

    Films — Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: The Movie: Papa Zola gives BoBoiBoy a pep talk of how he has to grow up and become BoBoiMan, in the middle of which he picks BoBoiBoy up by the shoulders and shakes him to hammer in the message, and the camera revolves around the two of them.
  • Brother Bear: During the song "No Way Out", as Kenai is confessing to Koda that he killed his mother.
  • Cars 3: At the start of the Good-Times Montage of Lightning's success near the beginning of the movie as he is racing the Dinoco Light 350, the camera is rotating around him.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: At the start of "Catchy Song", the camera circles around Wyldstyle to show her feeling of being surrounded by the speakers blaring the music. However, her head keeps facing the camera, turning around on her shoulders at the same rate.
  • The Lion King (1994): When Scar is interrogating Simba in front of his pride over his "responsibility" for Mufasa's death.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • Very much overused in Norm of the North. The camera will frequently orbit around the characters, often with little rhyme nor reason. Case in point.
  • Ratatouille: While Rémy adds ingredients to the soup just before he notices Linguini watching him.
  • Shrek:
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Happens when the Queen drinks her potion and begins to transform into an old hag.
  • In Turning Red, this is combined with a transition to an overhead shot during the red moon ritual scene.
  • Used forebodingly in Watership Down, when Hazel's group are inside Cowslip's warren. They're bunched up in the middle of a large chamber with multiple entrances, and the perspective rotates around the room, looking at them through each entrance in turn. It's creepy, because two or three resident rabbits crouch anxiously inside each tunnel, out of the newcomers' view, and are eavesdropping on their conversation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bad Boys II, when the villain calls the heroes to inform them that he holds the lead girl (who happens to be one hero's sister and the other's girlfriend) hostage, the camera does a dramatic Orbital Shot as one of them delivers the punchline "Shit just got real!"
  • Sent up in Hot Fuzz, where the camera spins around the protagonists as they deliver these immortal lines:
    Angel: You're a doctor. Deal with it.
    Danny: Yeah, motherfucker.
  • Parodied in Superhero Movie: Dragonfly and the Hourglass confront each other while the camera spins around... making both of them rather dizzy.
  • Famously, The Matrix during Bullet Time.
  • Homaged in Shaolin Soccer, when Sing confronts the bullies with a soccer ball while the coach watches.
  • Used during Pita's kidnapping in Man On Fire.
  • In the Twilight films, this happens whenever Bella and Edward stand beside each other, to denote the seriousness of their conversation. It got really annoying, really fast.
  • Done to excess in the final rendition of 'This Is Me' in Camp Rock when Shane and Mitchie meet on the middle of a catwalk-esque podium to sing.
  • The forced Mind Meld between Spock and Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • The Joker and Rachel in The Dark Knight in his second "You wanna know how I got these scars?" scene where he crashes Harvey Dent's fundraiser.
  • The Dark Knight Rises:
    • Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle get a lot of overlapping close-up orbital shots during the scene where they are dancing together.
    • During Batman's first fight with Bane, there is an orbital shot of Bane after Batman tries killing the lights.
  • In the just-begging-for-a-RiffTrax horror film Darkhunters, there is a scene where a demon is holding Carol Miller by her jacket and pulling her up to his face, and while they talk the camera is constantly panning around them. It's not a continuous shot but a series of half-orbits around the two of them, zoomed in close to their faces. Watch it here starting at 51:50. It lasts nearly three minutes, so have a bucket handy... Dizziness exacerbated by forcing you to read subtitles during the whole thing!
  • A fairly brilliant one in Murder in the First, orbiting a cell set in the middle of a room. Thanks to flyaway walls, the camera appears to move in and out of the cell.
  • Abused a lot in House of the Dead, during the big zombie fight scene.
  • A long one at the climax of Talk Radio.
  • This happens every time Nash has a "Eureka!" Moment in A Beautiful Mind.
  • Done in Public Enemies during the start of the second bank robbery. The camera starts level with their gloved hands. Then it swivels around Pete Pierpont as they enter.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, after Cap escapes the S.H.I.E.L.D. holding area in Manhattan, he ends up in Times Square. The spinning camera nicely represents his bewilderment at the sights and sounds of the modern world. "Times Square Orbital Shot" could be a trope on its own.
    • In The Avengers, during Nick Fury's famous quote — "I recognize the council has made a decision, but given that it's a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it." — the camera is orbiting around him and the holographic screens showing the council.
  • A Pearl in the Forest has a variant on this. Sednem escapes from her village after she is raped. As she breaks down in hysterics in the forest, the forest spins around her, a shot that was presumably captured by placing the actress and the camera together on a rotating platform.
  • The opening scene of Reservoir Dogs at the diner, where the protagonists are having a random conversation while the camera spins around the table.
  • The extended cut of King Kong (2005) includes an orbital shot of a sailor being Eaten Alive by the piranhadon.
  • The Shawshank Redemption has a neat example with an orbital shot of Red as he's looking for Andy's hidden cache in the forest, showing how vast and wide the space he's in is, the kind of space he hasn't been in for most of his life.
  • Judgment at Nuremberg: Director Stanley Kramer was nervous about his long courtroom examination scenes coming across as boring on the screen. So he filled the movie with swooping, circling camera movement in and around the characters. The most extreme example of this, and the most famous shot in the movie, is the scene where the camera does a complete 360-degree orbit around Col. Lawson during his opening statement.
  • In 12, a Russian remake of 12 Angry Men, the first vote of the jury is captured in a 3 1/2-minute tracking shot that makes a full circle around the jurors. Just when the camera completes its circle and it like it seems the jury will be done in five minutes, the camera zooms in on the Rogue Juror casting his lone Not Guilty vote.
  • Primer: Seen when Aaron realizes Abe wants to make a bigger box.
  • A Hard Day's Night: While The Beatles are performing "And I Love Her", the camera rotates around Paul McCartney's head, before being silhouetted with a stage light.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part One does one as Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, Mundungus and Fleur all take Polyjuice Potion to assume Harry's appearance. The camera does a full circle, tracking over the five swallowing Polyjuice doses from Moody's flask, then following Moody as he walks around Harry. By the time the camera has gotten back to its starting point, the Polyjuice has taken full effect.
    Fred and George: Wow, we're identical!
    Moody: Not yet, you're not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
    • The Flash (2014): Toward the end of "Invincible", the camera circles around Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin when they're talking in the pipeline.
    • Crisis on Earth-X Part 4, the camera rotates around a few of the heroes standing in a circle starting when Oliver asks if they've located the Earth-X Waverider.
  • Frequently used on Lost when "the whispers" are heard, including a shot of Sayid first hearing the whispers in "Solitary."
  • The final scene of the Battlestar Galactica episode "Pegasus".
  • Happens in the last episode of Carnivŕle while Ben is healing people, spliced with the scene of the ferris wheel spinning.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Lie to Me", when Ford is inviting Buffy to come into his trap.
  • Occasionally used on MythBusters to intro a special guest (such as the Navy pilot who took Adam up for the sonic boom vs glass tests).
  • Used on the 2009 version of V in episode 5 when Anna talks to someone.
  • Glee loves this technique, especially during solos.
  • Used during several episodes in the Korean Series You Are Beautiful, such as Taekyung and Minam kissing.
  • Used in the CBBC series Moondial, the first time Minty travels into the past.
  • Stargirl (2020): In "Shiv Part One", the camera spins around Stargirl and Shiv for almost 20 seconds during their battle in the auditorium.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Naked Time", the camera circles Spock as he loses control and begins to sob. Leonard Nimoy actually suggested this, as he thought it would be more powerful than a regular shot.
  • Almost Once per Episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation, especially in the first season. When the Enterprise D is about to engage its warp drive, the virtual camera will start at either the port or starboard bow, track a full circle around the ship, and end at the stern on the same side before the engines engage.
  • Used in the final battle of Ultra Fight Orb, when Orb launches ALL three of his Sluggers to slice Reibatos into chunks. The camera pans around Reibatos so that we, the audience, can clearly see that every inch of the villain's body is being minced.
  • More than one episode of Ultraman Z does this, notably in the crossover episode when Ultraman Z and his godfather, Ultraman Ace, takes on the monster Barabbas; the camera spins around Barabbas as both Ultras flies in circles blasting the monster with their ranged attacks.
  • CSI: NY: Used nicely in "Hung Out to Dry" as the camera pans all the way around Mac while he's noodling over the cryptic messages on the victims' t-shirts.


    Video Games 
  • Used in one of the later conversations with Jack in Mass Effect 2, when the camera rotates around her as she tells Shepard about her boyfriend's sacrifice and the effect it had on her.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode uses this once, when Ness pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment and destroys Pokey's statue.
  • Happens when you idle in Fallout 3, Oblivion, and Morrowind.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones has this as the Prince performs a finishing move on the Final boss
  • In Max Payne 2, if you are on a ledge and you jump off and pause it will result in this.
  • The reveal trailer for Guilty Gear Xrd actually uses this as a Wham Shot, showing that the game isn't using high resolution sprites like prior games in the series but instead 3D models that have been meticulously animated to resemble sprites as closely as possible.
  • The last cutscene in Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil, the one with Lolo giving Klonoa a tearful hug good-bye, orbits around the characters when it happens.

    Web Comics 
  • MegaTokyo does this in five panels, in the middle of a fight in a crowded nightclub. It's about as confusing as you'd expect, and it's entirely possible to miss the fact that it's the camera that's rotating, not Kimiko.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Phantom Planet, the finale of Danny Phantom, Danny and Sam get one during a romantic moment.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents! Timmy has one as he tries on Vicky's crown and is cheered on by all the children.
  • Attempted by Bloo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends as he was making a movie about... something. The camera was an imaginary friend himself who said he always hated that effect.
  • Used in The Legend of Korra episode "The Revelation" when Korra and Mako are fighting some chi-blockers.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: In "Nobody's Nose", when the natives surround Mike while proclaiming her to be the "nose" of the First Day of Spring festival.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Done in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" as the town is cheering Rainbow after she saves a group of senior ponies.
    • Happens at one point in "Sleepless in Ponyville".
    • Twilight has one in part one of "Twilight's Kingdom" as she is looking up at the princesses flying around her during their Pep-Talk Song.
  • Elinor Wonders Why: Done in the episode "Light The Way" as Elinor, Olive, and Ari see dozens of fireflies blinking around them as they blink lights in the night. It's known as one of their famous scenes in the show.
  • Ninjago: Used in a flashback in "The Hatching", toward the end of Wu and Garmadon's battle with the Time Twins.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Mother Simpson": When Mona sees Joe Namith's wavy hair and opens up to the wild 1960s culture. During this moment, the house background turns into psychedelic, colorful graphics.
    • "Grade School Confidential": When Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel embrace while sharing a dance in the romantically-lit school cafeteria.
    • "All About Lisa": When Lisa gets applause from the audience at Krusty's show and feels the sensation of popularity for the first time.
  • In an episode of Catscratch, the brothers visit Scotland to prove that Gordon is from the Highland Quid clan like he always says he is. When Gordon learns that he may not be from the clan, there's an orbital shot as the words "not from the Highland Quid clan" echo in the background and Gordon has a Heroic BSoD.
  • Occurs in The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Fuzzy Logic" when Fuzzy does a Big "NO!" after seeing the squirrel holding up his banjo.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • Used on Jet during the "Lone Star" song in the episode of the same name.
    • Used on Mitchell when he sings "The Spirit of Christmas" in "Holidays in Boxwood Terrace".
    • Used on Zerk when he looks at the view from the treehouse in "Zerk Visits Earth".
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "The Gungan General": When Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Dooku are returned to their cell after their first escape attempt and Hondo is pacing a circle around them the camera tracks Hondo's movements.
  • Pearl gets a very dramatic and aesthetically pleasing one in the Steven Universe episode "Mr. Greg".
  • Tangled: The Series: Combined with Counterpoint Duet in "Cassandra's Revenge" when the camera circles around Varian and Cassandra arguing in song form whether Cassandra is too far gone or not.
  • Done at least Once per Episode in Vampirina, usually during a song number.
  • "Verwitterte Melodie" (1943) includes what was a very sophisticated shot for animation of the era, in which the camera does a full 360-degree turn around a record player that a bee finds forgotten in a meadow.

Alternative Title(s): The 360 Shot


Nothing Left to Lose

As Varian attempts to reason with Cassandra through a duet, the camera soon revolves around the two.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrbitalShot

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