In Knight of Cups (2015), Barry breaks things in rage.

Pieces fly all over the camera. But this scene is shot so closely to the camera.

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How do they shoot breaking things without causing any damage to the camera?

  • 4
    It's doubtful the camera is as close as you think it is. That's what lenses are for.
    – Paulie_D
    May 5, 2017 at 10:06
  • 1
    +1 Paulie_D. Cameras can zoom in. Assuming it's a physical zoom (rather than a digital zoom) - which seems like a safe assumption for professional film studios - there wouldn't even be a loss of image quality for doing so.
    – Steve-O
    May 5, 2017 at 13:08
  • Telephoto shots give themselves away when the camera moves as in this shot, so to me it actually looks zoomed out. Regardless, it would be a simple matter of putting a sturdy sheet of Plexiglas or some other shatter-proof glass directly in front of the camera, and moving it with the camera. May 5, 2017 at 21:15
  • Yeah, that a pretty short/wide lens - though that will accentuate the apparent speed the debris flies towards you.
    – Tetsujin
    May 11, 2023 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


Same way you'd shoot underwater footage: a protective housing is used, and, if need be, protective gear is worn by the camera operator.

Depending on the image, telephoto lenses can place the camera away from debris and such while allowing for a close-up detail shot. Also, protective "glass" (like Flexan) can be put in between the camera and the action, and filters can be used to minimize reflections in the glass.

In the case of the example you show, a protective housing or lens cover might be used to allow the use of wider angle lenses and a closer proximity between camera and action.

Having shot news in the field, I can attest that production cameras can and do take a lot of abuse. The footage above doesn't look to me like it would have warranted much protection. The degree of protection will also be relative to the production budget, insurance and such arrangements.

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