Point of view shot

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A point of view shot (also known as POV shot or a subjective camera) is a short film scene that shows what a character (the subject) is looking at (represented through the camera). It is usually established by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character's reaction (see shot reverse shot). The technique of POV is one of the foundations of film editing.

A POV shot need not be the strict point-of-view of an actual single character in a film. Sometimes the point-of-view shot is taken over the shoulder of the character (third person), who remains visible on the screen. Sometimes a POV shot is "shared" ("dual" or "triple"), i.e. it represents the joint POV of two (or more) characters. There is also the "nobody POV", where a shot is taken from the POV of a non-existent character. This often occurs when an actual POV shot is implied, but the character is removed. Sometimes the character is never present at all, despite a clear POV shot, such as the famous "God-POV" of birds descending from the sky in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds. Another example of a POV shot is in the movie Doom, which contains a fairly long POV shot which resembles a head-up display in a first-person shooter video game, with the viewer watching through a character who is venturing through hallways shooting and killing aliens.


"Point-of-view , or simply p.o.v., camera angles record the scene from a particular player's viewpoint. The point-of-view is an objective angle, but since it falls between the objective and subjective angle, it should be placed in a separate category and given special consideration. A point-of-view shot is as close as an objective shot can approach a subjective shot - and still remain objective. The camera is positioned at the side of a subjective player - whose viewpoint is being depicted - so that the audience is given the impression they are standing cheek-to-cheek with the off-screen player. The viewer does not see the event through the player's eyes, as in a subjective shot in which the camera trades places with the screen player. He sees the event from the player's viewpoint, as if standing alongside him. Thus, the camera angle remains objective, since it is an unseen observer not involved in the action." - Joseph V. Mascelli in The Five C's of Cinematography


A POV shot need not be established by strictly visual means. The manipulation of diegetic sounds can be used to emphasize a particular character's POV.

It makes little sense to say that a shot is "inherently" POV; it is the editing of the POV shot within a sequence of shots that determines POV. Nor can the establishment of a POV shot be isolated from other elements of filmmakingmise en scene, acting, camera placement, editing, and special effects can all contribute to the establishment of POV.

With some POV shots when an animal is the chosen character, the shot will look distorted or black and white.

Leading actor POV

Subjective viewpoint is what it is called when the leading actor is the subject of the POV. The audience sees events through the leading actor's eyes, as if they were experiencing the events themselves. Some films are partially or totally shot using this technique. In fact, there is an entire genre of pornography dedicated to videos seen through POV.

One of the first films to use this technique was Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Everything is seen through Jekyll's eyes, as he leaves his house to go to the medical lecture. Then, as he begins to speak, Jekyll is seen for the first time. When Jekyll first transforms himself into Hyde, Mamoulian once again uses the subjective camera to record his agonized reaction to his own drugged drink.

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