Hidden cameras come in many flavors. Exactly what a hidden camera is becomes less than obvious when one sees so many types. Here is our simple definition:

A hidden camera exists when a subject is being filmed while he/she has no awareness that a camera is present.

In other words, a hidden camera doesn't have to be "hidden", it just has to film someone who doesn't know they are being filmed. A camera can be hidden in plain sight. Conversely, a camera that isn't visible but which the subject knows about isn't hidden. (When we say "filmed", by the way, we usually mean recorded on videotape, to be precise.)

Because it has seemed to us both a widely pervasive activity and an oddly unexamined one, the Center for Hidden Camera Research was begun in a small corner of the UCLA Department of Film and Television. We have been quietly collecting examples of hidden camera uses from wherever we can acquire them, and subjecting them to some scrutiny. What to do about these hidden cameras? Decry their use? Urge legislation? Whatever one's feelings, we felt no meaningful discussion could take place until some study materials had been collected and a few ideas presented about how one might analyze such material and discuss its role in society. That is the modest goal of what we present here.

Any questions or comments about the Center for Hidden Camera Research may be directed to Professor Stephen Mamber at smamber@ucla.edu, though because of the large volume of correspondence and submissions we receive, we frankly can't guarantee a reply.