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Emphasis by Focus

Sometimes the animation team for an Anime or video game, or the artist of a comic, will draw (or generate, on more recent shows) a shot that looks as if it had been filmed on a set with an actual camera using an unusual lens or other camera trick. In addition to giving the moment a special emphasis, when well done the result looks enough like the corresponding live-action film moment that the viewer is not likely to consciously notice it. Alternatively, it can be used for a film-within-the-film, such as an out-of-focus effect to show amateur film-making, or scratch effects to indicate old film. Admittedly, this has become easier in recent years with the advent of computer-assisted and -generated animation, but the stylistic technique first appeared years ago, when such distortions and effects had to be meticulously created by hand.

This can also be used in comics, as the page image illustrates.

Common types of False Camera Effects include lens flares, Fish Eye Lens shots, wide-angle shots, simulated scanning lines, and the Vertigo Effect. If the action bumps or shakes the "camera", it's Camera Abuse. Most often, these effects are replicated because of The Coconut Effect - we think of a blurry screen as being "what disorientation looks like", even if our actual eyes don't work that way.

See also Retraux.

Examples of False Camera Effects include:

Anime and Manga

  • The first episode of Ah! My Goddess (the newer one) had scan lines scroll across a television that was depicted, as if the frame rate of the TV didn't match the frame rate of the "film".
  • Azumanga Daioh had a promotional short available for download, Azumanga Web Daioh. It's presented as a video project made by one of the characters using a hand-held cam.
  • In Black Lagoon, there are impact shudders at points of the chase between Revy and Roberta.
  • Dennou Coil often used very subdued Jittercam effects when a horror element presented itself.
  • Episode 1 of Vision of Escaflowne includes Lens Flares in outdoor shots when Hitomi is practicing track and field.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist uses a false-focus effect so often you don't even realize that animation isn't supposed to work that way.
  • Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight loves to use fish-eye lenses.
  • Episode 1 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha includes a brief sequence of Nanoha running that is made to look like it was filmed with a hand-held camera.
  • In episode 6 of Midori no Hibi there is a moment when Shiori is speaking about her mother in heaven; it's presented using a pseudo-Fish Eye Lens, shot from above down into Shioiri's face.
  • Moribito Guardian of the Spirit uses this in episode one. When one character dives into a river to save another and goes under, the camera pans across the river, only to suddenly stop and whip back as the character surfaces, having skipped over her.
  • "Yura Yura" the last opening for the original Naruto series uses this.
  • Satoshi Kon enjoyed using effects in Paranoia Agent. His Author Avatar lampshades it somewhat in the Paprika. Both the show and the movie employed shaky-cam, false focus and depth of field shifts.
  • Most of the Non-Indicative First Episode of Suzumiya Haruhi consists of a fake amateur science fiction movie filmed on a camcorder by the main characters, including jump cuts with non-matching sound, characters appearing out of frame, production crew wandering into frame, and the whole thing appearing in 4:3 aspect ratio, where the rest of the series is in 16:9. The animators even added the slightly grainy quality of many lower-cost camcorders, and out-of-focus shots. Even later on in the series, there would be the occasional Fish Eye Lens shot. The producers even used cheap-sound synthesized music to create the effect of a cheap high school background music production.
  • Baccano has a scene where water droplets splatter the camera lens.
  • Tsukuyomi Moon Phase does it but not with the camera itself, instead a spotlight and microphone are visible during some scenes.

Comic Books

  • In the Elf Quest story Recognition there are two instances in which two adjacent panels show the same view, but one has the foreground blurred, the other the background, simulating a changed focus of a camera. [1]

Live Action TV

  • In Babylon 5, the CGI shots of the titular space station during the first year used Lens Flare to add realism.
  • The most famous non-Anime example would have to be Firefly, which used Lens Flare effects and shaky-cam in the CGI-only shots to provide added realism and contribute to the Used Future feel.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined has this by the truckloads. Nearly every scene "shot" in space has at least one shot with fake camera effects added to make it seem as though a real cameraman was trying to keep up with the action. Cue the Shaky Cam, Lens Flare, focus adjustments, and various zooming levels as though scanning for objects to pay attention to. And this is a time when CGI itself already looks very lifelike on its own.
    • Best of all is when debris from an explosion seems to hit the camera and break it, in a completely CG shot.

Video Games

  • If we're talking about lens flares, pretty much every video game since the first Unreal.
    • The Metal Gear Solid games had more. Looking around in First Person View when outside can give you a lens flare which shifts, brightens and vanishes as you turn your gaze towards and away from the sun - and changes the background noise to make it sound like it was shot through a Steadicam.
      • If Snake gets hit in Metal Gear Solid 4, the camera gets noisy every time he's struck.
    • Both Penumbra episodes give off a strong effect if the character looks too long on the monsters around him. Used in gameplay, too, because eventually he'll panic and give himself away.
    • Similarly in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Looking at monsters (or down when in high areas) make the vision blurry until it's nearly impossible to see anything. (The character still controls normally, however.)
  • Killzone 2 uses false TV effects. The menu screens mimic the pop, picture shake, and chroma-separation effects of poor-quality SDT Vs. Quite strange to see on this troper's LCD display at first.
  • In Left 4 Dead, not only is there film grain added, but there's even a slider in the options menu to control how much grain you see.
  • In the Thief series, there is at least one point in Deadly Shadows used False Camera Effects, right after the mission 'Killing Time'.
  • In the beginning of Bioshock when you are swimming through the ocean, there are little water drops on the screen, as if you were looking through a wet camera lens, when in fact you are seeing what the protagonist sees. So unless he is wearing glasses, it makes no sense.
  • Some of the Scenery Porn-tastic cutscenes in Okami use Lens Flare to show off how shiny the place is now that you've cleaned it up.
  • One of the best examples occurs in the Metroid Prime series. When the environment is very bright, you'll sometimes see a ghostly reflection of Samus' face on the screen. There are a few other effects, too — the screen fogs up when near sources of steam, and raindrops dot the screen if you look up in rainy areas. These are all justified because the protagonist really is supposed to be viewing the world through a piece of glass (She wears a helmet).
  • Telltale Games are using various downgrades of the visual quality lately:
  • When dropping the vehicle in the first Mass Effect, the camera would use a zoom effect like it was trying to get the perfect zoom on it.
  • Silent Hill 2 adds film grain which makes the movie look more like a J-Horror film. You can disable it in the options menu but the atmosphere suffers.
  • Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days includes things like compression artifacts to make the action look like it was shot by a crummy handheld camera or cellphone.

Web Animation

  • Used extensively in the more recent episodes of Banana-nana-Ninja! Lens flares and blur effects are common.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In the Tex Avery short, "The Magical Maestro", after the third use of the "rabbits on his hands" gag, a hairline suddenly appears on the bottom left of the screen, as if the filmreel was having problems at that point of the cartoon. After about 30 seconds of this, the opera singer (and the music) abruptly stops to pull it out and throw it away before continuing as if nothing happened.
    • The studio eventually put red stickers on the film cans telling projectionists about the gag so they wouldn't try to clear the hair out of the film gate.
  • In The Lion King a Rack Focus is simulated during the "Circle of Life" sequence (the shot with the ants and the zebras). There is also a simulated Tracking Zoom when Simba sees the wilderbeest stampede.
  • Near the end of The Incredibles, there is a brief Jittercam shot as the Parr family runs from the limo into their house.
  • In the Pixar film WALL-E, when the title character disturbs a pile of shopping carts, as he runs past the camera point-of-view, there is a brief moment when the image goes out of focus, then quickly back in again.
  • The pilot for Moral Orel used fake Jittercam for dramatic moments, mainly when Bloberta was alone.
  • The Spectre DC animated short used a lot of fake frame errors to give it the feel of a 70s thriller.
  • The episode "Mysterious Mysteries" in Invader Zim had some supposed camcorder footage of the title character. It included the camera being dropped and it swtiching to static at the end.
  • In an episode of Wakfu, the camera is hit by gunfire and cracked.