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It can be an aerial photograph, but also a drawing. Before manned flight was common, the term "bird's eye" was used to distinguish views drawn from direct observation at high locations (for example a mountain or tower), from those constructed from an imagined (bird's) perspectives. Bird's eye views as a genre have existed since classical times. The last great flourishing of them was in the mid-to-late 19th century, when bird's eye view prints were popular in the United States and Europe.
The terms aerial view and aerial viewpoint are also sometimes used synonymously with bird's-eye view. The term aerial view can refer to any view from a great height, even at a wide angle, as for example when looking sideways from an airplane window or from a mountain top. Overhead view is fairly synonymous with bird's-eye view but tends to imply a less lofty vantage point than the latter term. For example, in computer and video games, an "overhead view" of a character or situation often places the vantage point only a few feet above human height. See top-down perspective.
Recent technological and networking developments have made satellite images more accessible. Microsoft Bing Maps offers direct overhead satellite photos of the entire planet but also offers a feature named Bird's eye view in some locations. The Bird's Eye photos are angled at 40 degrees rather than being straight down. Satellite imaging programs and photos have been described as offering a viewer the opportunity to "fly over" and observe the world from this specific angle.
In filmmaking and video production, a bird's-eye shot refers to a shot looking directly down on the subject. The perspective is very foreshortened, making the subject appear short and squat. This shot can be used to give an overall establishing shot of a scene, or to emphasise the smallness or insignificance of the subjects. These shots are normally used for battle scenes or establishing where the character is. It is shot by lifting the camera up by hands or by hanging it off something strong enough to support it. For a scene that needs a large area shot, then it will most often likely to be lifted by a crane or some other sort of machine.
Bird's-eye view drawing of Paris in 1850
See also 
|Look up bird's-eye view in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bird's-eye view|
- Aerial landscape art
- Aerial perspective (disambiguation)
- Aerial photography
- Bird's eye shot
- Camera angle
- Cinematic techniques
- Plans (drawings)
- Top-down perspective
- Video production
- Worm's-eye view
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