Riflescope POV

Greetings to all. I am hoping to direct my first short film in the next couple of months and would appreciate advice on how to get the classic shot of crosshairs on the target, as seen for instance in, 'The Day of the Jackal' I don't have access to a camera at the moment so have been unable to experiment, also I will be shooting the film with a digital camera. Any advice on the subject would be most welcome.


Owen Dickey

"would appreciate advice on how to get the classic shot of crosshairs on the target, as seen for instance in, 'The Day of the Jackal"

First thing that comes to mind is just get a piece of clear plexiglass or lexan and, print the design your looking for and draw it onto the glass using straight edges. Mount the plexiglass on something sturdy, shoot through it.

There are problems with this if you don't know your frame size, the distance your shooting, if your zooming-ing, etc...
2nd idea, do it in post. (snicker snicker snicker)

Pre-planning is everything. Get that camera ASAP and go out and play.

Michael Zelazny
Gaffer/ Grip and so much more

If this is being shot on DV, my suggestion would be to shoot it clean and post the reticle in After Effects or your compositor of choice. This gives you latitude with your framing and with the design of the reticle effect.

Brandt Wilson

The rifle scope effect is something you can easily do in post. My gut tells me that you would want to shoot the actual POV stuff zoomed in pretty far to simulate the effect of a telescope. Everything else you're easily able to do in post. The vignette and the crosshairs themselves are things you can build in Photoshop or illustrator. You can export a frame from your shot itself, bring it into Photoshop or similar, build the rest of the effect on a different layer, then export that layer with an alpha channel.

If you haven't done this before it might sound a little daunting, but trust me it's about ten minutes to an hour's worth of work, depending on how intricate you want to get with the crosshairs.

You might also consider colour correcting the image differently (i.e. more blue, more crushed blacks, etc.) than the rest of your footage to make it look different.

Best of luck!

Ben Rock

Also bear in mind that if you do this in shot, the crosshair will be out of focus - you may or may not like this, but I would suggest post.

Adam Ings

I've done it on Betacam . . . it was rather easy.

Except for getting the scope ( a real one) very precisely aligned with the lens, it was no problem at all. I don't recall if I used Macro or not but I don't think so.

Blain Brown

Shoot it at the highest zoom level (most telephoto setting) of your camera. Then, in post, superimpose the crosshairs graphic on the image. You can blur the crosshairs a little for realism's sake.

It will also help to shoot the footage as if you're aiming a rifle (a bit of shake, then 'locking in' to the target')

Good luck!


Paolo A. Dy
Director | Cinematographer
Manila, Philippines

If you follow this thread:


You'll see a nice expensive setup of what your looking for done in camera, but they have the toys, tools, time and knowing to pull this off.

I'd op for doing it in post for the most flexibility.

Paul Magee soc
Steadicam Owner/Op
Philadelphia, PA

Most movies portray sniper scopes as being a perfectly transparent viewer with an illuminated crosshair. In reality, something that happens with a lot of scopes is that a small circle of your target image with an edge falloff swims around the blackness that makes up the rest of the lens until your eye is optically aligned with the rest of the optics. If memory serves, this happens on the opposite side of the crosshair from your eye, so it can look odd and disorienting.

Brandt Wilson

Hi There,

Doing it digitally (in post) is probably the only way you are going to be able to get the effect right, because both the crosshair and your subject (which must be far away on a long lens to get the telescopic sight from the 'scope rifle right) must be in focus.

You can't do that by putting something in front of a lens.

Check it out - go do some research by looking through some 'scopes on high-powered rifles to see how the crosshairs look. The general rule is that the lines are very solid (i.e. non-transparent) but very thin, but if I was you I would get a little digital camera and take some photos through the telescopic sight looking at a subject at approximately the right distance you want so you can replicate the effect with utmost realism.

As someone else has mentioned, this is easily possible to do with a combination of Photoshop and final cut pro/whatever editing tool you choose. If you're not Photoshop-savvy, it's easy enough to find someone who will be.

Trust me, you can definitely do it. I am a master at Photoshop having used it for about ten years now, and it is really really easy. The legwork is in doing the research, but that is the same with anything when you are the director whether it be understanding the story, setting, characters, choice of props and art direction, lighting, whatever – research . . research . . . research until you know it without thinking.

Good Luck!

Benjamin Gregory Rood

In "Behind Enemy Lines" I did a scope in post as an old fashioned optical effect - but you can do a digital one now easily...I also tested shooting thru old lenses ( as was the case I believe in "Enemy at the Gates ) and actual riflescopes but it was difficult and the results not spectacularly different from a post FX.

John Moore
Point Road
1041 North Formosa Avenue
Writers Bldg., Suite 9
West Hollywood
CA 90046

Hi Owen,

if you're open to compositing (including directly in editing software such as Final Cut Pro), then Artbeats.com has a great product called "Reticles" ( *http://tinyurl.com/o466b )*. It's packed with reticle graphics (static and animated), grime layers... you name it. Available in both NTSC and HD. I'd be surprised if you can't find what you're looking for in there.



I used a pinhole camera (xl2) for the scope effects with no crosshairs, and shot he wide angle with DigiBeta, then did the crosshairs in post with combustion. the effect was great!

Ryan Snowden
A bit of everything
Beijing, CN

Benjamin Rood wrote :

>Doing it digitally (in post) is probably the only way you are going to be >able to get the effect right, because both the crosshair and your >subject...

We recently did this shot with a real rifle-scope provided by Props. Originally we all thought it would have to be mounted way out from the lens due to most scopes' eye-relief so far from the back of the scope since you have the weapon recoil. In the end, we got it mounted very close, and perhaps focused it partially via the backfocus on the zoom (we're on Vipers/24p, so maybe backfocus helped it - I couldn't tell you 100% - the B-Cam team Eric Fletcher and Paul Janossy rigged it several ways until they found the best options).

In the end it worked great and I wanted to do it 'real' because I didn't want it done in post. Its really cool with a zoom so you can change sizes.

Mark Doering-Powell
Director of Photography

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