Filmmaking Glossary

There are hundreds of unique filmmaking terms that you will need to know and understand.  We have compiled a pretty exhaustive list of them for you and made them dynamic throughout the Lot.

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  • a
  • Above The Line
    Refers to the creative elements of a production such as the writer, producer, director and actors. Literally, these are the elements which appeared above a bold line which divided standard production budget sheets.

  • AC
    Alternating Current. An electric current with periodically changing polarity (i.e. 60 times a second for 60Hz power).

  • Accent Light
    A light unit that emphasizes one subject. This might be a key light, a kicker, or a backlight.

  • Acoustics
    The science of the transmission of sound waves. Generally refers to the characteristics of auditoriums, theatres and studios with respect to their design.

  • Action Cutting
    The cutting of film from one shot to another in a way yielding the impression that action is continuous and uninterrupted.

  • ADR
    Automated Dialog Replacement. Also known as looping. A process of re-recording dialog in the studio in synchronization with the picture.

  • Aerial Shot
    An extremely high angle view of a subject usually taken from a crane or a high stationary camera position, but may also refer to a shot taken from an actual airplane or helicopter.

  • Ambient Light
    General, nondirectional, room light.

  • Amplitude
    The strength of an electronic signal as measure by its waveform height.

  • Analog
    An electrical signal that continuously varies in strength as related to some form of input.

  • Animorphic
    An optical system having different magnifications in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the image.

  • Apple Box
    A box build of a strong wood or plywood which is capable of supporting weight. These may be of various sizes, the smallest of which is also known as a 'pancake' because it is nearly flat.

  • Assistant Camera
    Alternating Current. An electric current with periodically changing polarity (i.e. 60 times a second for 60Hz power).

  • Associate Producer
    This is normally the person who acts as the liason between a production company and the various personnel involved in the post production process.

  • Automated Dialogue Replacement
    Automated Dialog Replacement. Also known as looping. A process of re-recording dialog in the studio in synchronization with the picture.

  • b
  • Baby
    Usually a reference to a 1K light unit. It is also used to describe any light unit which is smaller than a standard size unit of comparable intensity (i.e. baby 1K, baby 2K, baby 5K, etc.). For grips, it refers to anything with a 5/8 inch stud (i.e. baby plate)

  • Baby Legs
    A short tripod.

  • Baby Plate
    A steel plate with a baby pin (5/8 inch pin) welded on to it. These plates are used for mounting lights or grip heads on a wall, box, or other surface.

  • Background
    This is a term with a broad range of meanings, depending upon the context. In production, it has the same connotation as 'atmosphere', meaning extras who are staged to supply detail in the form of normal human traffic in a scene. In sound, it can mean the same as 'ambience' or it may refer to(...)

  • Backing Track
    Prerecorded accompaniment for a singer or voiceover actor who then listens through headphones to a replay as he/she performs. Generally, the two signals are ultimately mixed to produce the final recording.

  • Backlight
    A light which is generally mounted behind a subject to light the subject's hair and shoulders without illuminating a subject's front.

  • Balance
    An audio circuit with 3 wires, two which carry signal, and a third which is contected to a ground (grounded).

  • Barndoors
    Folding doors which are mounted on to the front of a light unit in order to control illumination.

  • Bazooka
    Similar to a 2K stand, but without support legs. It has a junior hole at one end and a junior stud at the other, and it usually has a sliding riser.

  • Beat
    A periodic variation of amplitude resulting from the addition of two slightly different frequencies.

  • Beaver Board
    A 2K pigeon on an apple box.

  • Bed
    Background music used underneath a narrator or foreground dialog. Primarily applied to commercial radio or television spots.

  • Beef
    The output of a light.

  • Beefy Baby
    A heavy duty 2K stand without wheels.

  • Beep
    A short duration sound track tone aligned to a point on the film for precise reference in synchronization in the editing and printing processes.

  • Below the Line
    Refers to the technical elements of the production staff. Literally, these are the budget elements that appeared below a bold line on a standard production budget form.

  • Best Boy
    The assistant chief lighting technician or the assistant to the key grip.

  • Bin
    A reference to a storage container lined with a cloth bag, into which cut film or sound stock may be arranged and hung. In digital audio and video terms, this can be related to a film and/or directory from which stored shots or sound segments are selected for use.

  • Blackwrap
    Black Aluminum foil which is used for wrapping lights, to control light spill, and for making small flags.

  • Blocking
    Plotting actor, camera and microphone placement and movement in a production or scene.

  • Blonde
    An open face 2K lighting unit, also known as a 'mighty'.

  • Bobbinet
    Black mesh cloth which is used for grip scrims. It also is available in rolls for darkening windows.

  • Boom
    A telescoping arm for a camera or microphone which might be available in a variety of sizes from the very small handheld types to the very large, which might be transported as an integral part of a motor vehicle.

  • Box Rental
    A fee or allowance paid to a crewmember for providing his/her own equipment or other specialized apparatus for use in a production.

  • Branch Holder
    Production caption="A pipe-like unit with a locking nut which is used to hold branches"

  • Breakdown (Editing)
    The separation of a roll of camera original negative (or in some cases a workprint) into it's individual takes or scenes.

  • Breakdown (Script)
    It is also a very common term which refers to a preproduction function where discrete elements of a script are isolated and noted.

  • Breast Line
    A guide line attached to anything being hauled up on a crane or by a pulley.

  • Broad
    A rectangular open-faced light which is used for general fill or for cyc illumination.

  • Brute
    A brute arc light, usually 225 amps DC powered.

  • Burn In Timecode
    A videotape in which a 'window' displaying the time code count on the tape is superimposed over part of the picture.

  • Bus
    A mixing network that combines the output of two or more channels.

  • Butterfly Kit
    Assorted nets, silks, solids, and griffions which are used for light control; usually 5' x 5', or 6' x 6' frame size. Commonly a 12' x 12' or 20' x 20' is called a butterfly kit, however, it they should be called an overhead kit.

  • c
  • C-47
    Ordinary wooden clothespins which are used to secure gels to barndoors. They are also known as a #1 wood clamp.

  • C-Stand
    A general purpose grip stand, also known as a century stand.

  • California Scrim Set
    A scrim set with two doubles.

  • Call Sheet
    A form which refers to all of the scenes to be filmed and all of the personnel and equipment required for shooting on a particular day.

  • Camera Angle
    The view point chosen from which to photograph a subject.

  • Camera Blocking
    The process of notating the changing position of the camera, lens size, and focus during a particular scene.

  • Camera Log
    A record sheet giving details of the scenes or shots photographed on a particular roll of negative.

  • Camera Wedges
    Small wooden wedges, usually 4 inches long by 1/2 wide at the thickest end.

  • Candela
    A unit of light intensity, a standard candle.

  • Canted Frame
    Often described as a 'Dutch Angle' or 'Dutching'. This is a device or process whereby the camera is angled so that the horizontal frame line is not parallel to the horizon.

  • Capacitance
    An electrical component's ability to store electrical charges.

  • CC Filters
    Color compensating filters made in precise density values of the primary and secondary colors.

  • Celo
    A type of cookie which is made from wire mesh coated with plastic.

  • Chain Vice Grip
    A vise grip with a chain that is used for its clamping capability.

  • China Ball
    A paper-covered wire frame globe into which a socket and bulb may be placed.

  • Cinemascope
    A trade name for a system of anamorphic widescreen projection.

  • Cinex Strip
    A short test print in which each frame has been printed at a different exposure level.

  • Click Track
    A prerecorded track of electronic metronomic clicks used to ensure proper timing of music to be recorded. Essential in music scoring sessions.

  • Combo Box
    A six pocket stage box that can be converted from three-phase four-wire to single phase three-wire operation.

  • Combo Stand
    A heavy duty 2K stand without wheels. It is called a combo because it can be used for both reflectors and lights.

  • Completion Bond
    An insurance guarantee that principal photography on a given film will be completed. It indemnifies a production against the unforeseen costs of any type, whether or not they result from problems which are covered by other types of insurance.

  • Compression
    The reduction of a span of amplitudes done for the purpose of limiting the reproduction of those amplitudes.

  • Condenser Microphone
    The simplest type of microphone in which the capacitance (electrical charge) is varied by sound, causing movement in one plate (diaphragm) in relation to a fixed backplate.

  • Contingency
    A designated amount of a budget which is added in anticipation of potential cost overruns.

  • Cookie
    A perforated material which is used to break up light or create a shadow pattern. Also known as a cucoloris.

  • Core
    A plastic cylinder on which film is wound for transport or storage.

  • Cover Set
    A location which is kept in reserve to serve as an alternate shooting site in case the chosen shooting site is unusable. It is most commonly used in the context of shooting planned for an out of doors location.

  • Coverage
    An indeterminate number of more detailed shots which are intended to be intercut with a master shot or scene.

  • CP
    Ordinary wooden clothespins which are used to secure gels to barndoors. They are also known as a #1 wood clamp.

  • Cribbing
    Short pieces of lumber which are used for various grip purposes.

  • Cross Fade
    The gradual mix of sound sources accomplished by the simultaneous manipulation of two or more mix console faders.

  • Cross Talk
    In stereo, this is the breakthrough between channels measured as separation (in decibels) between the wanted sounds of the desired channel and the unwanted sounds from the second channel.

  • Cucaloris
    A perforate material used to break up light or create a shadow pattern. Also known as a cookie.

  • Cueing
    Any system used by a second person to signal 'talent' that recording should begin.

  • Cueing Voice Over
    The marking of the cue point in a way which will permit a signal to be given to the 'talent' to begin each element of work at the appropriate time.

  • Cup Blocks
    Wooden blocks with a dish or indentation in the center which are used to keep the wheels of light stands from moving.

  • Cutting
    The selection and assembly of the various shots or sequences for a reel of film.

  • CYC Lights
    Row lights for evenly illuminating a cyclorama or other background.

  • Cyclorama
    Permanent background built in a studio which is nearly always coved or curved at the floor line to create a shadowless, unending backdrop. This is usually shortened to simply, 'Cyc'.

  • d
  • Dailies
    The first positive prints made by the laboratory from the negative photographed on the previous day. It also now refers to video which is transferred from that original negative.

  • DAT
    Two-channel digital audio has become increasingly common as a professional master reference and for use in field recording.

  • DAW
    A computer-based recording and editing machine used for manipulating sounds.

  • Day out of Days
    A form designating the workdays for various cast or crewmembers of a given production.

  • Dead Spot
    A place in which a sound waves are canceled by reflections arriving out of phase with the wanted signal thus creating an area of silence or poor audibility.

  • Deal Memo
    A form which lists the pertinent details of salary, guaranteed conditions, and other essentials of a work agreement negotiated between a member of the cast or crew and a production company.

  • Deep Focus
    A style of cinematography and staging that uses relatively wide angle lenses and small lens apertures by maintaining objects in the extreme background and foreground simultaneously focused.

  • Density
    A factor which indicates the light-stopping power of a photographic image.

  • Depth of Field
    The amount of space within lens view which will maintain acceptable focus at given settings (i.e. camera speed, film speed, lens aperture).

  • Developing
    The chemical process which converts a photographic exposure into a visible image.

  • DGA - Directors Guild of America
    Director's Guild of America. A union which represents directors, assistant directors, production managers, and various video personnel.

  • Dialogue Track
    A sound track which carries lip sync speech.

  • Digital
    A reference to a system whereby a continuously variable analog signal is reduced and encoded into discrete binary bits that establish a mathematical model of an original signal or other information.

  • Digital Audio Tap
    Two-channel digital audio has become increasingly common as a professional master reference and for use in field recording.

  • Digital Audio Workstation
    A computer-based recording and editing machine used for manipulating sounds.

  • Dimmer
    A device for varying power to the lights.

  • Dingle
    Branches which are placed in front of a light as a cookie would to cut the light and provide a shadow pattern.

  • Directional Characteristics
    The variation in response or perception for different angles of sound incidence.

  • Dissolve
    A transition between two scenes where the first merges imperceptibly into the second.

  • Distortion
    A modification of the original signal appearing in the output of audio equipment which had not been present in the input.

  • Dolby Digital
    This is a 5.1 channel digital film format that if optically recorded on to a film release print in the blocks of space located between the film's sprocket holes.

  • Dolby SR
    Spectral Recording. An encoding/decoding noise reduction system developed by Dolby Laboratories and used increasingly in film sound.

  • Dolly Shot
    Any shot made from a moving dolly. These may also be called tracking or traveling shots.

  • Doorway Dolly
    A plywood dolly with four soft tires which is narrow enough to fit through a doorway. It is used to carry a camera on a tripod or for transporting other heavy items.

  • Dots
    Small nets and flags used to control light.

  • Drop Frame
    American system of time code generation that adjusts the generated data every minute to compensate for the spread of the NTSC television system running at 29.97 frames per second.

  • Drop Out
    Loss of a portion of a signal, usually due to a loss of a tape's oxide coating or due to dirt or grease covering a portion of a tape.

  • DTS
    This is a film sound system which utilizes a CD-ROM disc which is synchronized to film by means of timecode which is optically encoded into the exhibition film print.

  • Dub
    To make a taped copy of any program source record, CD, tape. Also, the copy itself. Sometimes used to refer to the ADR process.

  • Dub Stage
    Term generally used in California but to refer to the room where the final audio mix is made for a program or film. It might also be known as a mix stage.

  • Dubber
    A high quality sound reproducer which is mixed with outputs from other dubbers that are generally loaded with sprocketed magnetic film.

  • Dubbing
    An actor's voice synchronization with lip movements which are not the originally recorded sound. This is used to replace unusable dialogue or recordings, and also used to prepare foreign films for new markets.

  • Duce
    A 2K fresnel lighting unit.

  • Dupe
    A copy of a negative. Short for duplicate negative.

  • Dutch Angle
    This is the process where a camera is angled so that the horizontal frame line is not parallel to the horizon.

  • Duvatyne
    A heavy black cloth, treated with fire proofing material, which is used for blacking out windows, making teasers, hiding cables, and hundreds of other uses.

  • Dynamic Range
    The difference in decibels between the loudest and quietest portions of audio.

  • e
  • Ear
    To put a flag up on the side of a lighting unit to block light. Better known as a 'sider'.

  • EBU
    This generally identifies a 25 FPS time code standard.

  • Echo
    A sound wave that has been reflected and returned with sufficient magnitude and delay to be perceived as a wave distinct from that which was initially transmitted.

  • Edge Track
    A standard position for the placement of the audio on a single perforation magnetic film.

  • Edison Plug
    An ordinary household plug with two flat blades and a ground pin.

  • Edit Decision List
    The list of SMPTE codes, in footage and frames, and including instructions for fades, dissolves and other special effects which corresponds to all the segments that the editor of a film or videotape production has decided to use in the final cut.

  • Edit Master
    Video industry term for the tape containing the finished (edited) program.

  • Edit Points
    Also known as 'edit in' and 'edit out.' The beginning and end points of an edit when a video program or soundtrack is being assembled.

  • EDL
    The list of SMPTE codes, in footage and frames, and including instructions for fades, dissolves and other special effects which corresponds to all the segments that the editor of a film or videotape production has decided to use in the final cut.

  • Effective Output Level
    The microphone sensitivity rating defined as the ratio in dB of the power available relative to sound pressure.

  • Envelope
    The shape of the graph as amplitude is plotted against time. A sound's envelope includes its attack, decay, sustain and release (ADSR).

  • Equialent Noise
    A microphone in a completely silent room still generates some residual noise. This noise can be measured and can be computed. That computation is the 'Equivalent Noise'.

  • Establishing Shot
    Usually a long shot at the beginning of a scene which is intended to inform the audience about a changed locale or time for the scene which follows.

  • European Broadcasting Union
    This generally identifies a 25 FPS time code standard.

  • Exciter Lamp
    An incandescent lamp used to supply nonvarying luminous energy to a photoresponsive cell. Used in film projectors to illuminate the optical sound track.

  • f
  • Fade
    An optical effect in which the image of a scene is gradually replaced by a uniform dark area or vice versa.

  • Fast
    The camera assistant's motto. Everything he/she must do before each shot (Focus, Aperture, Shutter, Tach).

  • Fay
    A 650 watt PAR light with daylight balance dichroic fliter.

  • Feather
    Moving a 'flag' closer to or further away from a light source that it is in front of will feather (soften/harden) the shadow on the surface upon which the light falls.

  • Feed Lines
    Lines of dialogue which are read outside camera range for the benefit of an 'on camera' or 'on microphone' actor or voice over artist.

  • Filter
    A transparent material having the ability to absorb certain wavelengths of light and transmit others.

  • Flat
    Usually an agreement to perform work or provide a service for a fixed fee or wage which will not be affected by overtime restrictions of unexpected costs. Also used in terms of sets and set construction elements which are generally used to create walls.

  • Flat Bed
    A modern film or sound editing system where reels are laid horizontally on 'plates' on a mechanized table with sound and picture heads. Most Films are cut using a computer but a few filmmakers do still continue to use a flatbed.

  • Flood
    The widest beam spread on a lensed light.

  • Flop-Over
    An optical effect in which the picture is shown reversed from left to right.

  • Flux
    An amount of light which is present as measured in lumens.

  • Foamcore
    Polystyrene which is sandwiched between paper. It is used to relectors, soft boxes, and other items because it is stable and easily cut.

  • Focus Pull
    The refocusing of a lens during a shot to keep a moving subject in focus or to change the person or object of attention.

  • Foley
    Creating sound effects by watching picture and mimicking the action, often with props that do not exactly match the action.

  • Format
    The size or aspect ratio of a motion picture frame.

  • Frame
    The individual picture image on a strip of motion picture film. Also, one complete screen on videotape.

  • Frame Rate
    The frequency at which film or video frames run (i.e. 24 fps; 29.97 Hz in NTSC; 25 Hz in PAL European format).

  • Freeze Frame
    An optical printing effect in which a single frame image is repeated so as to appead stationary when it is projected.

  • Fresnel
    A stepped convex lens. It is most commonly used to descripe tungsten-incandescent lamps.

  • g
  • Gaffer
    The chief lighting technician for a production who is in charge of the electrical department.

  • Gain
    The ratio of the signal level at the output of an audio device to the signal level at its input. Expressed in decibels (db).

  • Gamma
    The degree of contrast in a negative or print.

  • Gate
    The aperture assembly at which the film is exposed in a camera, printer, or projector.

  • Gigabyte
    A unit for measuring computer memory capacity, equivalent to 1,000 megabytes (MB).

  • Gobo
    A grip head or 'C' stand head used as a clamping device for holding other equipment.

  • Griffion
    A durable material made of three ply high density rubber. The material is attached within a frame and used as either a soft reflector of sunlight or cut or soften direct sun. It generally comes in three sizes: 6' X 6', 12' x 12', and 20' x 20'.

  • Grip Tape
    This is Duct tape style tape, also known as gaffer's tape or cloth tape.

  • h
  • Hard Disk
    A data storage and retrieval device consisting of a disk drive and one or more permanently installed disks. Increasingly common for storing sound effects and archiving for future use.

  • Harmonic Distortion
    Acoustic distortion characterized by unwanted changes between input and output at a given frequency.

  • Hertz
    Unit for measuring frequency of a signal; formerly called 'cycles per second.'

  • Hi-Con
    Generally a high contrast film print which provides the maximum contrast between the light and dark elements.

  • High Key
    An overall brightly lit scene with realtively few shadows.

  • High-Pass Filter
    An electronic filter used in various audio circuits to attenuate all frequencies below a chosen frequency.

  • Highboy
    A heavy-duty rolling stand, usually with a combo head, that has a junior receiver and a large grip head. Also called Overhead Stands.

  • Hiss
    Asperity Noise. Noise caused by minute imperfections in the recording medium.

  • HMI
    An enclosed, AC mercury arc lamp.

  • Hollywood Box
    A stage plug-type box without fuses.

  • i
  • Incoming Scene
    The second scene to appear in a dissolve or wipe effect.

  • Inkie
    A small (250 watt) fresnel type light.

  • Insert Editing
    Used in videotape or digital audio editing to describe the process of replacing a segment located between two specific and previously dubbed segments.

  • Intercutting
    An editing method whereby related shots are inserted into a series of other shots for the purpose of contrast or for some other effect.

  • Interlock
    A term that generically refers to two or more machines running in sychronization; often shortened to 'locked.'

  • Interlock Projector
    A projector used to reproduce the picture while synchronized sound is played back on an accompanying machine or other linked sound device.

  • Invisible Cut
    A cut made during the movement of a performer which is achieved by overlapping the action or by using two cameras, then matching the action during editing.

  • Iris
    A variable aperture that controls exposure or the amount of light which is released from a lighting unit.

  • Iris Wipe
    A wipe effect in the form of an expanding or diminishing circle.

  • j
  • Japanese Lantern
    A paper-covered wire frame globe into which a socket and bulb may be placed.

  • Jib Arm
    A mechanical are which is supported on a dolly, tripod, or other device, which is counterweighted to hold a camera for an increased range of motion.

  • Juicer
    An electrician.

  • Jump Cut
    An editorial device where the action is noticeably advanced in time, either accidentally or for the purpose of creating an effect on the viewer.

  • Junior
    A 2K fresnel light unit. It may also mean any 1 1/8 inch spud or mounting pin or any 1 1/8 inch female receiver.

  • k
  • Kelvin
    Kelvin, the unit of measurement used for absolute temperatures and color temperatures.

  • Key Grip
    The chief grip who works directly with the gaffer in creating shadow effects for set lighting and who supervises camera cranes, dollies and other platforms or supporting structures according to the requirements of the director of photography.

  • Key Light
    The main light on a subject.

  • Kick
    An object with a shine or reflection on it from another object.

  • Kiss
    A light that gently brushes a subject.

  • l
  • Lamp
    A reference to the bulb inside a lighting unit, but may sometimes be used to refer to the entire lighting unit.

  • Lavalier Mic
    A small microphone that can be easily hidden on a piece of clothing so as not to be seen by the camera.

  • Layback
    Transfer of the finished audio mix back onto the video edit master.

  • Layover
    Transfer of audio onto multitrack tape or hard disk. Also referred to as 'layup.'

  • LCRS - Left, Center, Right, Surround
    The four playback channels used in 35mm motion pictures, now available on home hi-fi systems. L, C and R speakers are located behind the screen. The S channel surrounds the audience and may be mono or encoded stereo.

  • Leader
    A length of nonimage film which is used for threading, identification, or fill-in purposes.

  • Leko
    An ellipsoidal reflector spot light. Usually used for theatrical purposes.

  • Level
    The ratio of an acoustic quantity to a reference quantity. A measurement of amplitude in decibels.

  • Lexan
    A plastic sheeting material, available in varying widths, that is optically clear and used to protect camera personnel from explosions or the results of other action.

  • Library Shot
    Stock footage shot or other footage which is germane to a given visual presentation but which was not generated for that specific film or television presentation.

  • Lip Sync
    The relationship of sound and picture that exists when the movements of speech are perceived to coincide with the sounds of speech.

  • Looping
    A continuous sound track that runs repeatedly in playback as a guide for re recording.

  • Low Boy
    A heavy duty rolling stand, usually with a combo head, but without the height of a 'highboy'.

  • Low Key
    A high contrast lighting style with lost of shadows and large areas of darkness.

  • m
  • Masking
    A phenomenon whereby one or more sound 'trick' the ear into not hearing other, weaker, sound that are also present.

  • Master
    A positive print made specifically for duplicating purposes.

  • Match Cut
    A cut made on action or movement between two shots in which the action has been overlapped either by repetition of the action or by the use of more than one camera.

  • Match Dissolve
    A dissolve linking images which have similar content.

  • Match Image Cut
    A cut from one shot to another shot having an image of the same general shape as the one in the prior shot.

  • Matching Action
    The process of aligning or overlapping the shots of a film sequence in order to achieve a smooth transition from the action in one shot to the action of the succeeding shot.

  • Mater
    A small adjustable clamp with a baby stud which can be interchanged with a variety of accessories.

  • Maxi-Brute
    A 9 light unit with (9) 1000 watt PAR 64 lights.

  • MB
    The acronym for megabytes which is a measure of computer storage capability; the equivalent of 1,000 bytes.

  • ME Track
    This refers to the music and effects tracks which are combined into one (or a stereo pair) for use with foreign language re recording of a film or video program.

  • Meat Axe
    An grip arm-like accessory which is designed to clamp onto the hand rail of a studio overhead catwalk, or other suitable surface, and has a gobo head at the end of the arm.

  • Mercer Clip
    A trade name for a small plastic clip which is used to hold film ends together during film assembly.

  • Mickey
    An open faced 1K lighting unit. Also known as a 'Redhead'.

  • Microphone Impedance
    The nominal load impedance for a microphone indicates the optimum matching load which utilizes the mike's characteristics to the fullest extent. Impedance is a combination of DC resistance, inductance and capacitance, which act as resistances in AC circuits. An inductive impedance increases(...)

  • Mid Side
    A stereo microphone technique where two microphones are incorporated into a special configuration for recording.

  • MIDI
    Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A machine protocol that allows synthesizers, computers, drum machines and other processors to communicate with and/or control one another.

  • Mix
    Electrically combining the signals from microphones, tape, and/or reproducers and other sources.

  • Mix Cue Sheet
    A sheet having several columns for notations of footage, fades. volume levels, and equalizations which are used in mixing sound tracks where each column usually represents one track.

  • Montage
    The assembly of shots and the portrayal of action or ideas through the use of many short shots.

  • MOS
    Silent filming. Traditionally explained as Motion Omit Sound.

  • Motivated Lighting
    A lighting style in which the light sources imitate existing sources, such as lamps or windows.

  • MS
    A stereo microphone technique where two microphones are incorporated into a special configuration for recording.

  • Musical Instrument Digital Interface
    Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A machine protocol that allows synthesizers, computers, drum machines and other processors to communicate with and/or control one another.

  • n
  • Nets
    A bobbinet on a frame used to cut lighting intensity by either a half stop or full stop.

  • Neutral Density (ND)
    Colorless filters that reduce the amount of light in controlled degrees.

  • Noir
    Usually refers to the classic black and white film noir style used in detective mysteries, typically employing hard lighting and dark, low key lighting.

  • Noise
    In audio systems, noise is the electrical interference or other unwanted sound introduced into the system (i.e. hiss, hum, rumble, crosstalk, etc).

  • NTSC
    National Television Standards Committee. The organization that sets the American broadcast and videotape format standards for the FCC. Color television is currently set at 525 lines per frame, 29.97 frames per second.

  • o
  • Obie
    An eyelight mounted on the camera.

  • Octave
    The interval between two sounds having a basic frequency ratio of 2 to 1.

  • Offline
    The videotape editing process whereby the final edit list is compiled, usually in a more inexpensive edit room, in preparation for the on-line edit.

  • Online
    The videotape editing process that creates the final video edit master, including effects, from the offline edit list.

  • Opacity
    The ratio of the amount of light falling on a surface to the amount of light which is transmitted.

  • Out-Take
    A take of a scene which is not used for printing or for the final assembly of a film.

  • Outgoing Scene
    The first scene of a dissolve or wipe effect which changes into the second, or incoming scene.

  • Overlapping and Matching Action
    Repeating part of the action in one shot at the beginning of the next shot, or covering the action with two or more cameras, then matching the overlaps on the editing table for the purpose of making a smooth cut on action.

  • p
  • Packaging
    A combination of several creative elements such as a script, actor/s, and director which is used to attract interest in a production for the purposes of obtaining financing or distribution.

  • Pan
    A horizontal movement of a camera on a fixed axis.

  • Parallels
    Temporary Scaffolding, used as a platform for the camera, lighting, or other rigging.

  • Pay or Play
    A contract provision which commits the production company to compensate a cast or crew member for a project whether or not that project ever goes into production.

  • Phantom Power
    A method of remotely powering the preamplifier or impedance converter which is buitlt into many microphones by sending a voltage along the audio cable.

  • Phase
    The timing relationship between two signals.

  • Phase Alternating Line (PAL)
    The European color television standard that specifies a 25Hz frame rate and 625 lines per frame.

  • Phase Distortion
    This is a shifting of output voltage relative to input by an amount which is disproportional to frequency. This will not detectable until it an amplifier.

  • Phase Shift
    The displacement of a waveform in time. Some electrical components introduce phase shift into a signal. When various frequencies are displaced differently, distortion occurs. Electrical cancellation may occur when two equal signals are out of phase. However, this may also be used are a(...)

  • Pick-Up Shot
    Reshooting a portion of a scene, the rest of which was acceptably filmed in a previous take.

  • Pilot Tone
    A sine wave signal, recorded by various field audio recorders at a known frequency, which is used to resolve the tape speed on playback to retain sync with film camera footage.

  • Pink Noise
    A sound signal that has an equal amount of energy per octave or fraction of an octave.

  • Pitch
    The distance between two successive perforations along a strip of film. The frequency of audible sound.

  • Plate
    A background for any type of process shot.

  • Playback
    A technique of filming music action first, the playing the music through loudspeakers while performers dance, sing, etc.

  • Postproduction
    The period in a project's development that takes place after the picture is delivered, or 'after the production.' This term might also be applied to video/film editing or refer to audio post-production.

  • Practical
    Any light that appears in the scene.

  • Pre-Blacked
    A video tape which has already had a control track, usually with SMPTE encoded time code, but without any picture or sound. This is done to facilitate the video editing or assembly process.

  • Preamplifier
    An electronic device that boosts extremely weak signal voltages, such as those from microphones or mag heads, to a level that is usable by power amplifiers.

  • Prescoring
    Recording of music or other sound prior to the shooting of the picture which is to accompany it. The most common usage is in animated film.

  • Principal Photography
    The main photography of a film and the time period during which it takes place.

  • Prints and Ads (P&A)
    A term used to descibe distribution budget of a film.

  • Process Shot
    A shot that will be composited from two other shots. The background part of this process is called a 'plate'.

  • Production Assistant - PA
    Personnel who may work in the office (Office PA) or on set (Set PA) who assist the production team in an effort to keep the project running quickly and smoothly.

  • Production Sound
    Recording and/or mixing sound on location during the film or video shoot. Typically this has been recorded to an analog Nagra reel-to-reel machine, though DAT recorders and other digital formats are now making significant inroads.

  • q
  • Quarter Inch
    A reference to the standard width magnetic audio tape which is used to record film production sound.

  • Quicktime
    A plugin for computers, which allow them to view films from various sources.

  • r
  • Rack Focus
    To shift focal points from one object to another withing a single take.

  • Reaction Shot
    A shot of a player listening while another player's voice continues on the sound track.

  • Readhead
    An open faced 1K lighting unit. Also known as a 'Mickey'.

  • Relational Editing
    Editing of shots for the purposes of comparison or for the contrast of content.

  • Release
    The general distribution of a film for public exhibition.

  • Rerecording
    The process of mixing all edited music, effects and dialog tracks of a film or video production to mono, stereo, multichannel or whatever audio format is desired for the final print master.

  • Reverberation
    The presence or persistence of sound due to repeated reflections.

  • Reverse Angle
    An optical effect in which the action appears backwards from its chronological sequence.

  • Rim
    A hard backlight, is generally on the same level as the subject, that casts more light than the key light.

  • Riser
    (1) A cylindrical metal device placed betwen the dolly head and the camera base to raise the camera. (2) A prebuilt platform used to raise the set, camera, or lights.

  • Room Tone
    The 'noise' of a room, set or location where dialog is recorded during Production. Used by film and dialog editors as a 'bed' to form a continuous tone through a particular scene. This is often confused with ambience, which might be sound effects and/or reverberation added when the dialog is mixed.

  • Root-Mean-Square
    Effective sound pressure.

  • Rough Cut
    A preliminary trial stage in the process of editing a film. Shots are laid out in approximate relationship to an end product without detailed attention to the individual cutting points.

  • Ru of the Picture
    A cast member whose work may be required any of the days scheduled for principal photography without incurring liability for additional compensation.

  • Rushes
    This refers to daily prints of a film used for evaluation purposes.

  • s
  • Score
    The original-music composition for a motion picture or television production which is generally recorded after the picture has been edited.

  • Scrim
    A metal 'window screen' that can be placed in front of a lighting unit to decrease the lighting intensity by a predetermined amount.

  • Scrub
    Moving a piece of tape or magnetic film back and forth over a sound head to locate a specific cue or word.

  • SDDS
    A film sound format which encodes eight tracks of digital audio outside of the sprocket holes on both edges of a film print.

  • Second Unit
    A photographic team that shoots scenes which do not involve the principal cast, such as stunts, car chases, or establishing shots.

  • Senior
    A 5K fresnel lighting unit.

  • Senior Stand
    A braced junior stand sufficiently rugged for large lights such as a 5K, 10K, or 'Big Eye'.

  • Sensitivity
    An indication of recording or playback efficiency as might be measure of a microphone or audio tape recorder.

  • Sequencer
    The hardware or software based brain of a MIDI studio. It receives, stores and plays back MIDI information in a desired sequence.

  • Set Dressing
    Items of decoration which are not designated in the script or by the director as part of specific action.

  • Set Up
    Each discrete position of the camera, excluding those in which a dolly or crane is used to move the camera during filming.

  • Shiny Board
    A grip reflector used for reaiming sunlight to provide a key or fill light.

  • Shotgun Mic
    A highly directional microphone, usually with a long, tubular body; used by the production sound mixer on location or on the set for film and television productions.

  • Show Card
    A white artists' cardboard which is used as a reflector or for making other special rigs. It is easily cut and formed.

  • Siamese
    A splitter that divides a power line into two parts.

  • Sider
    A device which cuts the light from the side of a lighting unit, usually a flag or a cutter.

  • Sight Line
    An imaginary line that is drawn between a subject and the object that he/she is looking at.

  • Signal to Noise Ratio
    This is the ratio of the desired signal to the unwanted noise in an audio or video record/playback system.

  • Silk
    A lighting diffusion or reflective material, formerly real silk.

  • Simbilance
    An exaggerated hissing in voice patterns.

  • Single
    (1) A shot with only one subject in the frame. (2) A type of scrim that can be placed in a light cut the light down by 1 'F' stop.

  • Slate
    The identifier placed in front of the camera at beginning of a take.

    a professional membership association of technical geniuses who make it possible for everyone to experience the advancement of entertainment technology.

  • SMPTE Timecode
    Also known as Longitudinal Time Code. A high frequency signal that allows the accurate 'locking' of film audio and video equipment. Locator information is displayed as numbers.

  • Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
    a professional membership association of technical geniuses who make it possible for everyone to experience the advancement of entertainment technology.

  • Sony Dynamic Digital Sound System
    A film sound format which encodes eight tracks of digital audio outside of the sprocket holes on both edges of a film print.

  • Sound Designer
    A film sound specialist responsible for the development and augmentation of all soundtrack material, or a significant portion thereof, and is ultimately in charge of the entire sound production. Occasionally, it is used to refer to a person who is responsible for creating unique sounds or(...)

  • Sound Effects
    A recorded or electronically produced sound that matches the visual action taking place onscreen.

  • Sound Mixer
    The person responsible for capturing sound as it plays out live, determining microphone types and placement.

  • Soundtrack
    Generically refers to the music contained in a film, though it literally means the entire audio portion of a film, video or television production, including effects and dialog.

  • Specular
    A term used to describe highly directional, focused light. This is often perceived as a very 'hard' light.

  • Speed of Sound
    The velocity of sound in air is 770 mi/hr. This speed however, is influenced by temperature and air pressure.

  • Spill
    Light that is escaping from the sides of a lighting unit, or any light that is falling where it is not wanted.

  • Splice
    The act of joining two pieces of film by any of several methods.

  • Split Screen
    An optical or special effects shot in which two separate images are combined on each frame.

  • Spot
    On a lensed light, the smallest beam spread.

  • Spotting
    Used in scoring and sound effects editing to identify the specific scenes or points where music cues or effects cues will take place. Usually, this will include information on length and style.

  • Stage Box
    A distribution box with six pockets for stage plug connectors.

  • Stinger
    A single extension cord. Most often referred to a single 'hot' extension that is left lying around for occassional use.

  • Striking
    The breakdown process of a camera position, location, or set.

  • Suicide
    A term for a distribution wiring connector with male plugs at both ends.

  • Surround Sound
    Sound that is reproduced through speakers above or behind the audience.

  • t
  • T-Stop
    A true f/stop as opposed to one dereived mathematically. It is the actual light transmission of a lens as measured on an optical bench.

  • Take Down
    Reducing the light on an object by means of nets, scrims, dimmers or wasting light.

  • Telecine
    A machine that transfers film to a video signal. This also generically refers to the process of film-to-tape transfers.

  • Temp Dub
    A preliminary mixing of dialogue, music, and sound effects, usually so that a first cut may be viewed with all of these elements incorporated.

  • Tenner
    A standard studio 10K lighting unit, as opposed to a baby 10 or a Big Eye, which are also 10K lighting units.

  • THX
    A theatrical film exhibition sound system which maintains a consistent sound standard from theatre to theatre. Generally, this system uses Dolby Stereo Surround as the basis of the exhibition standard, although a number of other systems have also now qualified.

  • Tie In
    A power feed obtained by temporarily clipping on to the main service of a location. This methodology is illegal in many areas.

  • Timecode
    Also known as Longitudinal Time Code. A high frequency signal that allows the accurate 'locking' of film audio and video equipment.

  • Trailer
    A short publicty film which advertises a film or forthcoming presentations.

  • Traveling Matte
    A process shot in which foreground action is superimposed on a separately photographed background by an optical printer.

  • Trims
    Portions of a scene left over after the selected section has been used in final cutting.

  • Trombone
    A tubular, extending device which is generally used for suspending lights from set walls.

  • Turttle
    A flat, on the floor mount, for large lights with a junior receiver.

  • TV Safe
    The area of a filmed image which will normally appear on a home television set after a film has been transferred in a telecine and then transmitted.

  • Tweco
    A device similar to a slip pin connector, which is used on a feeder cable, and which has a positive twist connection.

  • u
  • Underscore
    Music that provides emotional or atmospheric background to the primary dialog or narration onscreen.

  • Unsqueezed
    A print in which the distorted image of an anamorphic negative has been corrected for normal projection.

  • v
  • Variac
    A dimmer that reduces the voltage. It stands for VARIable AC.

  • Video Assist
    The process of simultaneously recording filmed picture onto video tape by means of the same lens system in order to immediately evaluate a take as soon as it is completed.

  • Voice Over
    A true f/stop as opposed to one dereived mathematically. It is the actual light transmission of a lens as measured on an optical bench.

  • VU Meter
    A meter designed to measure audio level in volume units which generally correspond to perceived loudness.

  • w
  • Walla
    Background ambience or noises added to create the illusion of sound taking place outside of the main action in a picture.

  • Waste
    Shining a light on an object, then slowing turning the light away so that some of the light will miss or fall off the object.

  • Wave
    A regular variation in electrical signal level or sound pressure level.

  • Wedges
    Wood wedges cut from 2x4 lumber which is used for leveling and stablizing.

  • Western Dollly
    A plywood dolly, with four large soft tires, which is used as a camera dolly on smooth floors or on plywood. It is also used to transport other equipment.

  • Whip
    A section of feeder cable siamesed off the main line to a secondary location.

  • White Noise
    A signal having an equal amount of energy per hertz.

  • Widescreen
    A general term for film presentation in which a film is shown in an aspect ratio of greater than 1.33 to 1. In today's terms, this now means in an aspect ratio of greater than 1.85 to 1.

  • Wild Line
    A line of dialoge, recorded either on set or at a looping stage, without any picture running.

  • Wipe
    An optical transition effect in which one image is replaced by another with a boundry edge that moves in a selected pattern across the frame.

  • Workstation
    This term generally refers to a disk-based audio recording and editing system.

  • Wow
    Repetitive but slow variations in recording or playback tape speed.

  • Wow and Flutter
    The deviation of frequency resulting from irregular motion in the recording or from deformation of the recording medium.

  • Wrap
    The span of the tape path along which the tape and head are in contact. (Audio/Video) More often, this refers to securing equipment at the end of the day or when work is completed at a particular set or location.

  • x
  • X Y Pattern
    A pair of cardioid microphones or elements aimed in crossed directions which feed two channels for stereo pickup.

  • Xenon
    A high intensity light, with a polished parabolic reflector.

  • XLR
    One of several varieties of sound connectors having three or more conductors plus an outer shell which shields the connectors and locks the connectors into place.

  • z
  • Zero Cut
    A method of preparing A and B rolls for printing in which the original shots overlap several frames or more. The change from one roll to another to match the edited workprint is done automatically by the printer.

  • Zoom
    An optical effect in which the image rapidly grows larger or smaller as though the camera is moving closer or away from its subject.