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Recurring Camera Shot

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This shot again? The Monolith must be doing something.

In some works, viewers may notice different scenes that seem very similar to each other, a visual kind of Motif. This can be accomplished by framing those shots the same way, arranging objects within the shot in the same pattern, or having the characters in the same pose. Often in these cases, the director, photographer, or artist is trying to tie them together for some reason. Either something is occurring in them that is related, or there is something present there that they are trying to draw attention to without being obvious. In these cases the settings and characters in the scene may be different but certain elements will be present.

Distinct from Stock Footage in that this is not simply reusing the same footage over and over. Each recurring shot is a unique one, filmed, rendered or drawn separately from the others.

Compare Match Cut for a similar technique used to transition between scenes. When this is employed at the start and end of a work, they form Book Ends.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen (2013): We get two shots set up with someone looking out of the study window.
    • The first time, it is with Elsa during "For the First Time in Forever" number, where she is looking at the kingdom citizens waiting outside the gates. This is to show that's she nervous about opening up to all those people out of fear that her powers will be revealed to them.
    • The second time, it is with Hans during his Motive Rant to Anna, where he looks out the window. Due to the blizzard outside, there are no people this time and he only sees his reflection in the glass, showing that he only cares about himself.
  • Up:
    • One occurs during the marriage life montage at the beginning, as the couple are going up to their hill in the park with the tree on it, first with Ellie running up to it with Carl lagging behind, then as an elderly couple with Carl at the top and Ellie, who is beginning to fall ill behind right before she collapses.
    • The montage right after that, which shows Carl's daily routine as a widower, repeats two shots from the marriage montage — one of Carl having breakfast, and one of him cleaning a window. The main difference is that Ellie is absent, emphasizing how empty his life is without her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey as the Monolith is jumpstarting human development it is shown with the sun right behind its top edge and the moon above that. Later when the one on the moon sends its signal the shot is seen again, the sun over its top edge and the earth this time above that.
  • Arrival: The first shot is a view of the lake outside Louise's house seen from her porch as she's talking about the beginning and endings of stories regarding her daughter. It's seen a short time later as she is taken by the army to the landing site, the helicopter shown flying out over the lake, as she begins the main story. It's seen a final time at the end by which point the audience knows that her memories of of daughter are actually what will happen rather than what has happened, the end of of the movie's story is actually the beginning of her daughter's story.
  • In The Cranes Are Flying, the opening romantic scene at the bridge with the lead couple Boris and Veronika gets repeated shot by shot later in the movie. This time with Veronika and Boris' cousin who lusts after her.
  • Deepwater Horizon: Early on there's a shot of the gas port on the Williams' car as they fill up, followed by a shot of the fuel connection of the helicopter taking the crew out to the Horizon. These are likely relics from an earlier form of the film which was going to be a commentary on society's dependence on petroleum before it became a disaster film.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The iconic shot of Elliot's bike flying across the moon is actually repeated later as the gang are going to meet E.T.'s ship, the bikes shown flying across the setting sun, though this shot is considerably less known.
  • There are several recurring shots in The Fountain.
    • One with Tom/Tommy/Tomas looking up at a light source over his head.
    • A shot of him passing by the camera at high speed, Tom in his bubble ship, Tomas on a horse and Tommy in his car.
    • One with him kneeling before the camera as she puts her hand on his head.
    • One of Tommy/Tom whispering to Izzie/the tree.
    • Tom/Tomas reaching his fingers toward the tree.
  • In Jojo Rabbit, Jojo's mother Rosie's distinctive shoes recur throughout the movie. In particular, there are several shots of them being at his eye level while she stands over him, like at the ledge of the pool he's swimming in. It culminates in a shot while he's out playing of them being the first thing he sees while she's hanged from the gallows in the town square for being a political dissident.
  • The battle at the entrance of the skyscraper in The Matrix and the entrance to Club Hel in The Matrix Revolutions both end with Trinity kicking someone in slow motion. The kicks themselves have nearly identical choreography as well.
  • The Searchers has recurring shots of the sun-drenched desert, flanked by shadowy foreground objects. These pop up as Book Ends, and a few times in the middle of the film.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has one near the beginning when the robots arrive in New York, first with bystanders pointing at them, three of them lined up in a row, followed by the police shooting at them arranged and framed the same way.
  • Some of the most iconic shots in Volver are the Penélope Cruz boob shots. The first is at the start of the film, and she is cleaning off a kitchen knife in the sink. The next time, she's cleaning the knife again but now of her husband's blood after her daughter/sister killed him.
  • Oblivion (2013): The scene where Jack finds Julia's sleeper pod, with her visible through the viewport while he looks down at her from the right with a hand on the pod, is mirrored later when he puts her back into it right before he flies up to the Tet.
  • The opening shot in Mad Max: Fury Road of Max looking upon a valley with his ride next to him is repeated later when he watches the rest of the group dash away across the salt sea.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Endgame has two reaching back to earlier films:
      • Pepper kissing Tony on the cheek right after his death is framed the same way his mother kissed him right before she and his father left for the last time in Captain America: Civil War in the B.A.R.F. simulator.
      • The last time we see an Iron Man helmet, it is in the same position and the same angle as the first time we see the Mark I helmet.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home: A shot of Pater and MJ's hands as they walk together, first as they are awkwardly trying to avoid coming into contact, and then later after they become a couple as they actually start holding hands.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The episode "Walkabout" has repeated shots of Stephen Franklin seen through a drinking glass.
    • The final episode shows Delenn from behind watching Sheridan as with her arm held out as he leaves for the last time . The last shot of the episode is of her shown the same way holding her arm out to a rising sun.
  • The Leverage team was often shown from above with them standing in a circle usually when they were about to break up into the roles of their job.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: There are a number of shots of characters' eye from the side with the light of whatever they're looking at reflected in them, Bernham reflecting the binary stars, T'Kuvma reflecting the flame of a torch on his bridge, and Lorca's reflecting the stars out his ready room window.
  • That '70s Show: A regular occurrence - nearly Once an Episode - is the Circle where the camera spins around between the characters as they're implied to be passing a joint around.
  • Glee: In the first episode, as Will blackmails Finn into becoming the male lead in his glee club after marijuana is found in his locker, the camera focuses on a poster in his office reading "Priority #1: Help the Kids", showing that he's not living up to its words. Two seasons later in "Goodbye", when Will finally confesses to Finn his secret, that he put the pot in there in a desperate plot to get him to join, the poster is shown again, showing that he's now living up to its words.

  • Starlight Brigade: Strive's hand reaching toward a star. This is the first shot we see, then repeated during the assault on the polyhedron, where he reaches for a star he can see beyond the barrier.

    Video Games 
  • In Mega Man Zx, Vent/Aile is having a problem fighting a Mini-Boss, when their partner, Giro, shows up as a transformed Mega Man Model Z who leaps to the air and then takes down the Mini-Boss in one powerful slash from his sword. In the sequel, when Grey/Ashe has difficulty fighting another Mini-Boss, Vent/Aile shows up, now as Mega Man Model ZX, doing the same move to the Mini-Boss to save them.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: During the "Subspace Emissary" campaign, Diddy Kong tries to enlist the help of Fox McCloud to help him rescue Donkey Kong. Fox starts to walk away, so Diddy grabs him and drags him off by the scruff of his collar. Later he tries to get Fox's fellow Star Fox pilot Falco Lombardi to help as well, but he has the same reaction as Fox, so Diddy grabs him and drags him off the exact same way (this time with Fox walking behind the two, shrugging as if saying something at his teammate's expense).