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Glossary

FILMMAKING TERMS


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  • 3-D
    A film that has a three-dimensional, stereoscopic form or appearance, giving the life-like illusion of depth; often achieved by viewers donning special red/blue (or green) or polarized lens glasses; when 3-D images are made interactive so that users feel involved with the scene, the experience is called virtual reality; 3-D experienced a heyday in the early 1950s; aka 3D, three-D, Stereoscopic 3D, Natural Vision 3D, or three-dimensional.
  • 30 degree system
    The 30-degree rule is a basic film editing guideline that states the camera should move at least 30 degrees relative to the subject between successive shots of the same subject. If the camera moves less than 30 degrees, the transition between shots can look like a jump cut—which could jar the audience and take them out of the story. The audience might focus on the film technique rather than the narrative itself.
  • 90-degree rule
    The camera may never be placed 90 degrees facing the subject, but rather set off the center to give an illusion of depth.  
  • 180-degree system
    The 180-degree rule is a cinematography guideline that states that two characters in a scene should maintain the same left/right relationship to one another. When the camera passes over the invisible axis connecting the two subjects, it is called crossing the line and the shot becomes what is called a reverse angle.
  • 360-degree pan
    Also known as a Circular Pan, a circular pan is a shot in which the camera rotates 360 degrees around a fixed axis.
  • A & B Rolls
    The negative of an edited film that is cut to correspond to picture, and is built into two rolls (A and B).
  • A.D.R
    The technical term for 'dubbing', which is an addition or substitute to the existing location sound. A.D.R stands for Automated Dialog Recording.
  • Above The Line
    Usually refers to that part of a film's budget that covers the costs associated with major creative talent: the stars, the director, the producer(s) and the writer(s), although films with expensive special effects (and few stars) have more 'above the line' budget costs for technical aspects; the term's opposite is below the line.
  • Abstract Film
    A subgenre of experimental film. It is non-narrative visual/sound experiences with no story and no acting. They rely on the unique qualities of motion, rhythm, light and composition inherent in the technical medium of cinema to create emotional experiences.
  • Accompaniment
    Accompaniment is the effects and/or music that is an accessory to the projection of a silent film.
  • Act
    A main division within the plot of a film; a film is often divided by 'plot points' (places of dramatic change) rather than acts; long films are divided mid-way with an intermission.
  • Action
    Any movement or series of events (usually rehearsed) that take place before the camera and propel the story forward toward its conclusion; the word called out (by a megaphone) at the start of the current take during filming to alert actors to begin performing; also refers to the main component of action films - that often contain significant amounts of violence.
  • Action Sketch
    A rough sketch/drawing that implies the series or sequence of an action, mainly utilized during animated productions.
  • Actor
    A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television.
  • Actual Sound
    Using the sound of actual events or actions that are displayed on screen.
  • Actuality
    The recording of actual events without using actors or any other external effects.
  • Aerial Shot
    An aerial shot is any shot taken from a device that is capable of flying. This can be an aeroplane, a helicopter, a kite, etc. Lighter and smaller cameras can also be carried by a variety of model aircrafts. The manoeuvrability of a camera attached to some kind of flying device depends on the size and movability of the device in question. Although in rare cases an aerial shot may be static (e.g. from a helicopter “hovering in a fixed position in the air”), it is more commonly identified with dynamic movement. Aerial shots are often used with an extreme long shot framing to provide an overview of outside scenery.
  • Aerial Shot:
    An aerial shot is any shot taken from a device that is capable of flying. This can be an aeroplane, a helicopter, a kite, etc. Lighter and smaller cameras can also be carried by a variety of model aircrafts. The manoeuvrability of a camera attached to some kind of flying device depends on the size and movability of the device in question. Although in rare cases an aerial shot may be static (i.e. from a helicopter “hovering in a fixed position in the air”), it is more commonly identified with dynamic movement. Aerial shots are often used with an extreme long shot framing to provide an overview of outside scenery.
  • Allusion
    An expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
  • Ambiance
    The feeling or mood of a particular scene or setting.
  • Ambient sound
    (AKA ambient audio, ambience, atmosphere, atmos or background noise) means the background sounds which are present in a scene or location. Common ambient sounds include wind, water, birds, crowd
  • Ambiguity
    A situation, story-line, scene, or character, etc. in which there are apparent contradictions; an event (and its outcome) is deliberately left unclear, and there may exist more than one meaning or interpretation; can be either intentional or unintentional, to deliberately provoke imaginative thinking or confusion.
  • Ambiguous Space
    In order to create the idea of depth, you usually have to relate it to something. Ambiguous space is the removal of those cues so the viewer doesn't know what they're looking at. A normal place at an odd angle or a close up of a part of an object are 2 examples.
  • Amplifier
    Equipment utilized to largely boost the power of electric signals from a small sound apparatus, like a tape recorder so that it can be played on a higher sound apparatus, like a loudspeaker.
  • Anachronism
    An element or artifact in a film that belongs to another time or place; often anachronistic elements are called film flubs.
  • Analogous Color
    Any one of a group of related colors that are near each other on the color wheel, a circular chart that shows gradations of color - Red, orange, and yellow are analogous colors.
  • Anamorphic Lenses
    Are lenses which affect how images get projected onto the camera sensor. They were primarily created so that a wider range of aspect ratios could fit within a standard film frame, but since then, cinematographers have become accustomed to their unique look. Related to different optical imaging effects; refers to a method of intentionally distorting and creating a wide screen image with standard film, using a conversion process or a special lens on the camera and projector to produce different magnifications in the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the picture; an anamorphic image usually appears "squished" horizontally, while retaining its full vertical resolution; see also aspect ratio and the trade name CinemaScope. Many studios produced anamorphic lenses, using other trade names such as Panavision, Technovision, and Technirama.
  • Anchor Spikes/Ford Axle/Bull Prick
    This tool is for securing overhead frames in wind, for securing scaffolding towers, etc. This is essential for driving into the ground and tying equipment off. 
  • Animated Viewer
    Equipment that offers a larger moving picture than a normal projector, which enables easier examination of a film while editing.
  • Animation
    A form or process of filmmaking in which inanimate, static objects or individual drawings (hand-drawn or CGI) are filmed "frame by frame" or one frame at a time (opposed to being shot "live"), each one differing slightly from the previous frame, to create the illusion of motion in a sequence, as opposed to filming naturally-occurring action or live objects at a regular frame rate. Often used as a synonym for cartoons(or toons for short), although animation includes other media such as claymation, computer animation; see also CGI, claymation, stop-motion, time lapse.
  • Animation Board
    A board used to display photographs or drawings quickly one after the other when making an animation film.
  • Anime
    A distinctive style of animated film that has its roots in Japanese comic books (known as manga), yet covers a wide range of genres, such as romance, action/adventure, drama, gothic, historical, horror, mystery, erotica (hentai), children's stories, although most notably sci-fi and fantasy themes; originally called 'Japanimation' but this term is not used anymore; anime is found in a wide variety of story lines and settings, but usually recognizable and often characterized by heavily-stylized backgrounds, colorful images and graphics, highly exaggerated facial expressions with limited facial movement, simulation of motion through varying the background behind a static character or other foreground element and frequently, big-headed characters with child-like, large eyes.
  • Answer Print
    Corrected print made from the A & B Rolls that contains both picture and sound together.
  • Antagonist
    The main character, person, group, society, nature, force, spirit world, bad guy, or villain of a film or script who is in adversarial conflict with the film's hero, lead character or protagonist; also sometimes termed the heavy.
  • Anthology Film
    A multi-part or multi-segmented film with a collection or series of various tales or short stories sometimes linked together by some theme or by a 'wrap-around' tale; often the stories are directed by different directors or scripted by various screenwriters, and are in the horror film genre; also known as an episode film or omnibus film; this term may also refer to a full-length, compilation-documentary film of excerpted segments or clips from other films.
  • Anti-Gravity Rig
    This is a device created to support the handheld gimbal system.  It uses a nylon based vest and 24 different pulleys that attach to arms that fly over your head to then suspend the gimbal.  This system is the GOLD STANDARD for gimbal movement.  It also takes all of your steps out, you can run in place and the gimbal will not move.
  • Aperture
    A small opening in the camera lens which controls the amount of light that passes through. The aperture size regulates the film’s degree of exposure to light. Reducing the aperture size increases the depth of field; increasing it respectively results in a decrease in the depth of field.
  • Apple Box
    This is a box that comes in 4 sizes. Pancake which is 1” tall, ¼  apple box which is 2 inches high, half apple box which is 4 inches tall, then the full apple box that is 8” tall.  These are the staple for a grip crew. Using them to build risers, slide under seats to boost people up, add to an actors coverage to give them extra height to make the over the shoulder coverage more cinematic. You can screw them together, they are made out of wood, so they float.
  • Arc shot
    An arc shot is a camera move around the subject, somewhat like a tracking shot. In mathematics, an arc is a segment of the circumference of a circle. A camera arc is similar — the camera moves in a rough semi-circle around the subject. Some definitions of the arc shot describe it as being tracking and dollying at the same time, i.e. simultaneous side-to-side and in-and-out movement.
  • Archetype
    A character, place, or thing, that is repeatedly presented in films with a particular style or characterization; an archetype usually applies to a specific genre or type classification.
  • Arret
    French word meaning 'halt' or 'stop'; refers to the in-camera trick technique of stopping the camera, then removing or inserting an object, then restarting the camera to have an object magically disappear or appear; one of the earliest techniques of silent film.
  • Arri M Series HMI’s Par Light
    Par light source that is daylight balanced HMI’s, these lights have a dimpled reflector that spots and floods.  The light is not good for hard shadows, these lights are amazing for bouncing lights or projecting them through diffusion frames.  Great for hot spots in the background, amazing for room tone into ceilings.
  • Art Director
    Refers to the individual responsible for the design, look, and feel of a film's set, including the number and type of props, furniture, windows, floors, ceilings dressings, and all other set materials; a member of the film's art department (responsible for set construction, interior design, and prop placement).
  • Art House Film
    An art house film is typically independently-produced, outside of the major film studio system. Major studios are reluctant to pour money into projects which are unlikely to return a profit due to the limited – often niche market – appeal of the material.
  • Aside
    Occurs when a character in a film breaks the 'fourth wall' and directly addresses the audience with a comment.
  • Aspect Ratio
    This describes the width and height of a cinema or television screen, or the size in which a film has been shot and should be projected. The size is not standard, so an aspect ratio may be defined in centimetres, inches or yards, etc.
  • Assembly
    The first stage of editing, in which all the shots are arranged in script order.
  • Atmosphere
    (Atmo) refers to any concrete or nebulous quality or feeling that contributes a dimensional tone to a film's action.
  • Attached Shadow
    Shadow that is connected to its source.
  • Audience
    Refers to spectators, viewers, participants - those who serve as a measure of a film's success; although usually audiences are viewed in universal terms, they can also be segmented or categorized (i.e., 'art-film' audiences, 'chick film' audiences, etc.).
  • Audio Bridge
     Refers to an outgoing sound (either dialogue or sound effects) in one scene that continues over into a new image or shot - in this case, the soundtrack, not a visual image, connects the two shots or scenes; aka lightning mix.
  • Auteur Theory
    Literally the French word for "author"; in film criticism, used in the terms auteurism or auteur theory, denoting a critical theory (originally known as la politique des auteurs or "the policy of authors") popular in France in the late 1940's and early 1950's that was introduced by Francois Truffaut and the editors (including legendary film critic and theorist Andre Bazin) of the celebrated French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma (literally 'cinema notebooks'), arguably the most influential film magazine in film history; their ideas were subsequently enlarged upon in the 1960's by American critic Andrew Sarris, among others; the theory ascribed overall responsibility for the creation of a film and its personal vision, identifiable style, thematic aspects and techniques to its filmmaker or director, rather than to the collaborative efforts of all involved (actors, producer, production designer, special effects supervisor, etc); the theory posited that directors should be considered(...)
  • Available Light
    In photography and cinematography, available light or ambient light refers to any source of light that is not explicitly supplied by the photographer for the purpose of taking photos.
  • Avant-garde film
    Also known as Experimental film, experimental cinema or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms and alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working.
  • Average Shot Length (ASL)
    ASL (Average Shot Length) indicates the average duration of a shot between cuts in a film (total film run time divided by number of shots). It's data used to compare films from their editing style : how often do they cut, how long do the shots last. A long ASL means the film uses, on average, longer shots and fewer cuts.
  • Average Shot Length of Selected Films
      Film Year Director ASL Babel 2006 Iñárritu, Alejandro González 3,3 Lady in the Water 2006 Shyamalan, M. Night 12,1 Broken Flowers 2005 Jarmusch, Jim 7,5 Don’t come knocking 2005 Wenders, Wim 7,3 Bourne Supremacy, The 2004 Greengrass, Paul 2,4 Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind 2004 Gondry, Michel 4,7 Lost in Translation 2003 Coppola, Sofia 6,6 Dead Man 199 5 Jarmusch, Jim 7,4 Pulp Fiction 1994 Tarantino, Quentin 7,9 Paris, Texas 1984 Wenders, Wim 12,6 Shining, The 1980 Kubrick, Stanley 12,9 1900 1976 Bertolucci, Bernardo 8 Barry Lyndon 1975 Kubrick, Stanley 13,3 Don’t look now 1973 Roeg, Nicolas 5,8 Godfather 1972 Coppola, Francis Ford 8,4 Clockwork Orange 1971 Kubrick, Stanley 11,6 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 Kubrick, Stanley 13 Blowup 1966 Antonioni, Michelangelo 11 8 ½ 1963 Fellini,(...)
  • Axial Cut
    A type of jump cut, where the camera suddenly moves closer to or further away from its subject, along an invisible line drawn straight between the camera and the subject. While a plain jump cut typically involves a temporal discontinuity (an apparent jump in time), an axial cut is a way of maintaining the illusion of continuity. Axial cuts are used rarely in contemporary cinema, but were fairly common in the cinema of the 1910's and 1920's.
  • Axis Of Action
    Commonly referred to as the "180° line," is an imaginary line which defines the spatial relations of all the elements of a scene, correlating them to the right or left. The camera is not supposed to cross the axis at a cut, as that would reverse those specific spatial relations.
  • Baby and Jr. C-Clamps
    These are essential rigging for grips. On location these clamps are able to clamp onto wooden, steel, beams to rig lights, secure flags, etc.  They enable us to clamp lights on set walls and even have channels to secure onto metal and aluminum pipe. Remember when clamping onto wood make sure you put 1 x 3 cribbing in between the clamp and the wood so you do not damage your location.
  • Baby Legs
    These are tripod legs that start at around 18” high and can go up to 4’.  They can either have a mitchell mount or a ball receiver.
  • Baby/Jr. Nail On
    This is a baby or Jr. pin welded to a steel plate. Use these for Beaver boards/skid plates.  Which is a Pancake apple box that you screw the baby nail on to which you then use for architectural lighting on columns, etc.You can also use these in rigging soft boxes, screw onto set walls to hang lights and rig flags.
  • Baby/Jr. Offset
    This is a baby or Jr. pin that is offset 12” away from the stand. This enables you to under sling lights so you can tilt them down more extreme than if they were on a normal stand.  It enables you to rig monitors on your carts so that they can be offset, as well as reaching out from the top of a set wall to get the perfect angle on a light.
  • Baby/Jr. Triple Header
    This enables you to rig 3 lights in a row.  Used for TV and Fire EFX’s gags. It is great for headlight gags as well. It is also is perfect for rigging onto your monitor carts to rig Wireless video transmitters and receivers.
  • Back Lot
    An area, on studio property, in an open-air, outdoor space away from the studio stages, where real-life situations with backgrounds are filmed; contrasted to on-location shoots that are more expensive; various studios in the Los Angeles area offer backlot tours.
  • Back Projection
    A photographic technique whereby live action is filmed in front of a transparent screen onto which background action is projected. Back projection was often used to provide the special effect of motion in vehicles during dialogue scenes, but has become outmoded and replaced by bluescreen (or greenscreen) processing and traveling mattes; also known as rear projection or process photography (or shot); contrast to matte shot.
  • Backdrop
    Refers to a large photographic backing or painting for the background of a scene (i.e., a view seen outside a window, a landscape scene, mountains, etc.), usually painted on flats(composed of plywood or cloth); a large curved backdrop (often representing the sky) is known as a cyclorama; backdrops were more commonly used before the current trend toward on-location shooting and the use of bluescreens.
  • Backlight or Rim Light
    The backlight (also called rimlight) is one part of the basic lighting arrangement known as three-point lighting. It is placed behind the subject opposite the camera, though high above it, so that none of the light glares directly into the camera. Its main function is to help to set the subject off from the background by highlighting the edges of it. A backlight with a comparatively high intensity also creates the particularly striking effect of a halo around the object. For related information, read the entries concerning three-point lighting, key light and fill light. 
  • Backward Take
    Shooting a scene with the camera held upside down, or the camera recording in reverse to display normal motion as reversed.
  • Backwind
    Rewinding the film in the camera itself.
  • Balance
    Within a film's visual frame, refers to the composition, aesthetic quality, or working together of the figures, light, sound, and movement.
  • Ballast
    This is a piece of gear that is used with HMI’s, LED’s and Fluorescents that convert power so that the light has the correct current or acts to convert voltage from AC to DC as well.
  • Balloon Lights
    These lights come in many shapes and sizes.  They can be inflated with helium or air.  Helium if you want to suspend them over a set with wires, not great in most conditions because of wind.  To save on the budget, fill them with air and suspend them with a condor so that they can be clamped into the condor with a net.  They come in LED, Tungsten for HMI color temps.  They come with side flaps that can help control their light.  Favorites are the tube shaped balloon lights because of the light control options and the size.
  • Barn Doors
    These are metal flaps that extend out past the light source to help control the light from spilling everywhere. You can spin them to deliver horizontal, vertical or diagonal light control patterns. Never fly barn doors on 18K’s or 20K’s, they become a sail very fast and are heavy and can fall out easily. 
  • Barney
    A kind of blanket used to cover up the camera in order to avoid or reduce noise made by the camera.
  • Beat
     Refers to an actor's term for how long to wait before doing an action; a beat is usually about one second.
  • Below Angle
    A shot taken from an extremely low angle or directly from the bottom, in rare cases also directly from below the subject. This type of angle exaggerates the volume and importance of the shown object or subject and reduces the importance of the surroundings almost entirely. Typically, this angle is used to emphasize the subject’s power and dominance, in some cases even to an unnatural extent, which is why the worm’s-eye view, if emphasized to the extreme, can have an abstract or highly expressive effect. 
  • Best-boy
    In a film crew there are two kinds of best boy: best boy electric and best boy grip. They are assistants to their department heads, the gaffer and the key grip, respectively. In short, the best boy acts as the foreman for his department; a gender-neutral term that came from whaling.
  • Beta
    1/2 inch videotape that was originally called Betamax.
  • Bird’s eye view
    An elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird, often used in the making of blueprints, floor plans, and maps. It can be an aerial photograph, but also a drawing.
  • Bit-part
    A small acting role (usually only one scene, such as a waiter) with very few lines or acting; contrast to a cameo, extra, or walk-on role.
  • Black and White
    Simply means without color; before the invention of color film stock, all films were black and white; monochrome (literally meaning "one color") usually refers to a film shot in black and white, although it can refer to a film shot in shades of one color; grainy B&W is often used to convey authenticity; abbreviated as BW, B/W, and B&W; contrast to color.
  • Bleached & Unbleached Muslin
    This is a fabric that has been around since the silent film days. It is a favorite bounce source.  It is softer but can get dirty quick and brown which then changes the color temp, so you want to make sure they are clean.  Unbleached is a warmer tone bounce about 500 deg Kelvin warmer than Bleached.  You can also push light through these fabrics and they are super soft.
  • Blimp
    A fiberglass case for holding a camera.
  • Blind Shot
     Shot of sound effects taken in a manner that excludes portraying the source of those sounds.
  • Block Battery
    This is a very large battery that will supply your camera with many hours of operation. This usually sits on the dolly.
  • Blocking
    The process of figuring out where the camera goes, how the lights will be arranged, and what the actors' positions and movements - moment by moment - are for each shot or take; often, the specific staging of a film's movements are worked out by the director, often with stand-ins and the lighting crew before actual shooting.
  • Blooper
    An actual error or mistake (misplaced action, or mis-spoken dialogue by performer), usually embarrassing or humorous, made by a performer during filming; also known as a goof.
  • Blow Up
    An optical process - the enlargement of a photographic image or film frame; often used to create 70mm release prints from original 35mm films.
  • Blue Screen
    A special-effects process whereby actors work in front of an evenly-lit, monochromatic (usually blue or green) background or screen. The background is then replaced (or matted) in post-production by chroma-keying or optical printer, allowing other footage or computer-generated images to form the image; since 1992, most films use a green-screen.
  • BNC Cable
    This is the cable that has become the industry standard for connecting your camera to your monitoring system.  
  • Body Double
    A performer who takes the place of an actor in scenes that require a close-up of body parts without the face visible, often for nude scenes requiring exposed close-ups (considered distasteful by some actors), or scenes requiring physical fitness; not to be confused with stunt double or stand-in.
  • Bokeh
    In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light".
  • Bollywood
    Refers to the burgeoning film industry of India, the world's biggest film industry, centered in Bombay (now Mumbai); the etymology of the word: from Bo(mbay) + (Ho)llywood; unlike Hollywood, however, Bollywood is a non-existent place.
  • Bookends
    A term denoting scenes at the beginning and end of a film that complement each other and help tie a film together; aka framing device.
  • Boom
    A traveling or moveable counter-balanced pole (also called fishpole or fishing rod), arm, or telescoped extension device upon which a microphone, light or camera can be suspended overhead above a scene and outside the frame during filming (by a boom operator or boom man); for example, a microphone (mike) boom, a camera boom, or a light boom; the most common film mistake is the appearance of the boom mike (or its shadow) in the frame; a mechanical boom mike is known as a 'giraffe.'
  • Boom Shot
    A continuous single shot made from a moving boom, assembled like a montage, and incorporating any number of camera levels and angles.
  • Boom Up/Down
     A technical term that describes the changing of the camera’s height above ground. The increase of the camera’s height is called a boom up and the decrease a boom down. Boom up and boom down are similar to panning and tilting, but in contrast to those movements, booming does not change the camera angle.
  • Bounce
    This can be a piece of fabric like muslin, it can be white showcard, brown butcher paper to match warm tungsten lights.  Most bounces are either fomecore, bead board, showcard or muslin.  You can learn all about bounces, quality and quantity: https://www.hurlbutacademy.com/courses/how-to-use-bounce-light/
  • Bracketing
    Taking one shot from several angles for the desired effect.
  • Bridging Shot
     A transitional type of shot used to cover or 'bridge' a jump in time or place or other discontinuity; see also audio bridge and match-cut.
  • Building A Scene
    Using dramatic devices such as increased tempo, volume, and emphasis to bring a scene to a climax.
  • Bump In/Out
    The immediate appearance and disappearance of a subject or an object in a film, for special effect.
  • Buzz Track
    A soundtrack of natural, atmospheric, on-location background noise that is added to the re-recorded (or looped) track of actors' dialogue and other sound effects recordings to create a more realistic sound; aka referred to as room tone ormatching ambient sound; a wild track or sound refers to a soundtrack without any synchronized picture accompanying it (i.e., the sounds of a playground).
  • C-Stand
    This is the most powerful tool for grips. It is called a Century stand because there are a 100 things this stand can perform.  It is the foundation of all grip work. It holds flags to shape light, it can rig lights, it can be used to rig fire and flame bars. You can learn the insides and outsides of this tool here: https://www.hurlbutacademy.com/topic/c-stands-basics-powered-by-matthews-studio-equipment/.
  • Cable Cart
    This is a cart that has 4 large rubber tires to navigate all types of terrain and to load and disperse cable to the set.
  • Call
    Calling sequence used by the director of a film before beginning with the filming of a particular scene. Generally, the Call is somewhat like "Roll Sound!" "Rolling!" "Roll Camera!" "Rolling!" "ACTION!" with the director ordering each department to begin their work, and they answering in the affirmative.
  • Call Sheet
    A type of schedule given out periodically during a film's production to let every department know when they are supposed to arrive and where they are to report.
  • Cameo
     Originally meaning "a small piece of artwork," refers to a bit part (usually a brief, non-speaking or walk-on role that is uncredited or unbilled) or special screen appearance by a famous actor, director, or prominent person who would ordinarily not take such a small part; contrast to a bit part; also refers to a type of camera shot in which the subject is filmed against a black or neutral background. 
  • Camera
    The basic machine involved in film-making, from a hand-held version to portables, to heavy studio cameras; some of the parts of a camera include the aperture, lens, film magazine (for storage), viewfinder, etc; the positioning of the camera by the camera operator is known as the setup.
  • Camera Angle
    The angle at which the camera is held/set up for a take.
  • Camera Distance
    The focal length of a camera lens determines the distance that the camera can "see". A Zoom lens allows the focal length to be changed gradually. With a Zoom, the frame may transition from a wide shot to a close-up without moving the camera.
  • Camera Height
    An important variable in effective camera placement, yet it is a variable that is frequently neglected by the budding film director. Too often camera height is determined by the position that is most comfortable for the camera operator or the position that provides an interesting composition.
  • Camera Log
    This is a small book that 2nd AC’s keep in their tool belts to write down lens information, camera height, camera distances, settings and scene numbers so that if you need to go back and match you have all the essential information to get you in the right pocket.
  • Camera Movement
    The use of the camera to obtain various camera angles and perspectives. (See motion picture camera shots below, including the pan, tilt, track, and zoom; also boom/crane shots, Steadicam, or hand-held).
  • Camera Operator
    The individual who is responsible for operating the camera, under the direction of the film's director and director of photography (or cinematography).
  • Camera Roll
     Rolls used while filming. These are usually numbered according to scene to avoid confusion.
  • Can light
    Refers to the round metal/plastic container that holds or stores film (reels) for transport or for long-term storage; a film that has been completed is known colloquially as "in the can".
  • Candle Sticks
    These are steel pipes that have a Jr. receiver that you mount in condors with chain vise grips to hold the large lights. 
  • Candlelight
    Refers to lighting that is provided by candlelight, to provide a warm hue or tone, and imply intimacy, romance, and harmony.
  • Canted Angle
    A camera angle which is deliberately slanted to one side, sometimes used for dramatic effect to help portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc.
  • Cast
     A collective term for all of the actors/performers (or talent) appearing in a particular film: usually broken down into two parts: the leads with speaking roles, and the seconds or supporting characters, background players or extras, and bit players.
  • Cast Shadow
    A subject that partially blocks out the light and casts a shadow on another object or subject. For instance, a character who is lit from the front and whose silhouette is then cast on the wall behind or light that shines through the slits of venetian blinds thus casting shadows on any objects or the subject on the other side. For related information, read the entry concerning attached shadow.
  • Catchlight
    A photographic term that describes the reflection of a light source in a subject’s eye. A close examination of the catchlight can provide information about the lighting setting and the number of light sources.
  • Ceiling Clip/Scissor Clip
    This is a corporate video shooters rig kit. This slides onto the rails of false ceilings in office spaces with a baby pin attached to its scissor clips and enables you to rig lights on a kind of grid set up. You will be amazed at how much weight they can hold. Also used to assist in cable rigging as well, they sometimes come with cable clips wrapped to the baby pin.
  • Cell
    Refers to each of the thousands of hand-drawn sheets (of clear, transparent material, either celluloid or Mylar) representing a single animation frame to allow several layers of composition. Cels consist of character cels (containing only the foreground characters or objects - those things that move from frame to frame) and background cels, (static drawings of scenery that remain the same). The character cells are placed against the background cells and filmed or shot one frame (or picture) at a time to produce the effect of motion. Celluloid also refers to the thin strip of transparent plastic coating that forms the film's highly-flammable, light sensitive base layer (such as nitrate base or acetate base); also used as an adjective related to some aspect of cinema (i.e., "the celluloid hero"); the light-sensitive substance coating on one side of the film base is termed emulsion; celluloid is also a slang word for a movie.
  • Cello Cucoloris
    This is a device that comes in 4’ x 4’, 24” x 36” and 18” x 24”.  It is a Cello screen that has been melted and burned to create different shaped shadows.  It is an amazing tool to use for moonlight on sheers, it breaks it up when you might not have tree branches hanging around.
  • CGI: Computer-Generated Imagery (or Images)
     A term referring to the use of 3D computer graphics and technology (digital computers and specialized software) in film-making to create filmed images, special effects and the illusion of motion; often used to cut down on the cost of hiring extras.
  • Chain Vise Grip
     This is one of the most powerful rigging tools a grip has. It can wrap around almost anything and secure it. We use this for scaffolding, for rigging lights in condors and lifts.
  • Change-over cue
    The small dot, oval or mark on the top-right corner of a film frame that signaled to the projectionist to change over from one projector (or film reel) to another (about every 15-20 minutes); nowadays, most film theatres have only one projector - the reels are spliced together into one giant roll and fed into a single projector from a horizontal revolving turntable called a platter.
  • Character Study
     A film that uses strong characterizations, interactions and the personalities of its characters to tell a story, with plot and narrative almost secondary to them.
  • Charlie Bar
    These are varying widths of wood sticks that have a flag pin so that you can rig it into a C-stand.  They come in 1”,2”,3”,4”,5”, and 6” widths and are usually 40” in lengths.  I use these to create patterns in shafts of light, to create shadows on walls as well as on actors.
  • Cheat Cut
     In the continuity editing system a cut which presents continuous time from shot to shot but which mismatches the positions of figures or objects.
  • Chiaroscuro
    Especially strong contrasts between lit and shady areas are referred to as chiaroscuro (Italian for “light-dark”). The term derives from a painting style popular in the Baroque that had the same name. For related information, read the entries concerning low-key lighting and film noir.
  • China Balls
     A soft circular light that has been used for decades. The French cinematographer, Phillip Rousselot brought them to the forefront in the motion picture industry. Many makers like Chimera have made their version more robust than paper lanterns that are not flame retardant.  It is perfect for soft top light, eye lights, lighting large party environments. You can add many different globes in the socket depending on what color temp and quality you prefer.
  • Cine Mags
    These are the small drives that we record on during filming on a digital camera.
  • Cinema Noir
    Style of filmmaking characterized by such elements as cynical heroes, stark lighting effects, frequent use of flashbacks, intricate plots, and an underlying existentialist philosophy. The genre was prevalent mostly in American crime dramas of the post-World War II era.
  • Cinema Verite
    A French word that literally means "true cinema" or "cinema truth"; a method or style of documentary movie-making with long takes, no narration and little or no directorial or editing control exerted over the finished product; usually made without actors, and often with a minimum of film equipment, a small film crew (camera and sound), impromptu interview techniques, and a hand-held camera and portable sound equipment; sometimes used to loosely refer to a documentary style film or minimalist cinema; popularized in the 1950s French New Wave movement; now widely used (often inappropriately) to refer to the popular, artsy trend of using hand-held camera techniques; also termed free cinema(UK) or direct cinema (UK).
  • CinemaScope
     The term commonly refers to widescreen processes or anamorphic techniques, that use different magnifications in the horizontal and the vertical to fill the screen; it is also the specific trademark name for 20th Century Fox's commercially successful widescreen process which uses an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (originally it could be as wide as 2:66:1) - to compete with Cinerama and 3-D processes in the 1950’s.
  • Cinematographer
    Specifically refers to the art and technique of film photography, the capture of images, and lighting effects, or to the person expert in and responsible for capturing or recording-photographing images for a film, through the selection of visual recording devices, camera angles, film stock, lenses, framing, and arrangement of lighting; the chief cinematographer responsible for a movie is called the director of photography (or D.P.), or first cameraman; one of the earliest movie-picture machines, patented by the Lumiere brothers in 1895, was termed a Cinematographe.
  • Cinematography
    The art and process of movie photography. An example of cinematography are the decisions made about lighting, camera filters and lenses when shooting a movie scene.
  • Cinerama
    A wide-screen filming process that first used three cameras and three projectors to achieve an encompassing view of the subject matter, and was projected on a curved screen of about 160 degrees; it was the first commercially-successful multiple-camera/multiple-screen process.
  • Cinevator/Road Runner
    These are large for HMI and Tungsten light stands that come with large rubber wheels that can navigate all sorts of terrain.  They crank up to 12.5’ in height.
  • Circle Bounce
    This is a bounce that is cut into a circle shape so that it reflects a round shape in your actor’s eyes instead of a square. I use these in different sizes with all different bounce fabrics.  4’dia, 3’dia, 2’dia, and 1’dia.
  • Circle Shot
     A shot where the camera circles its subject. Similar to an arc shot. In an arc shot, the subject is typically still and the camera provides the motion, tracking around the subject in at least a semi-circle of movement.
  • Clapper Board
    A small black or white board or slate with a hinged stick on top that displays identifying information for each shot in a movie, and is filmed at the beginning of a take. The board typically contains the working title of the movie, the names of the director, the editor, and the director of photography, the scene and take numbers, the date, and the time. On the top of the clapboard is a hinged wooden stick (called a clapstick or clapper) which is often clapped to provide audio/visual synchronization of the sound with the picture during editing; electronic clappers and synchronization are currently in use instead of the old-fashioned clapboard.
  • Classical Hollywood Cinema
     This term describes American mainstream cinema as practised by the big Hollywood film production studios (roughly ranging from the early 20th century until the late 1960s). The main purpose of a classical Hollywood film was to tell the viewer a certain kind of story, in which one or more of the characters (usually played by big-name Hollywood stars) was/were facing a succession of problems while trying to reach their goals. Usually, the problems in such films were resolved in a way that emphasized formal closure – the so-called “Happy End”. The classical Hollywood style (often shortened to “classical style”) also did its best to hide the mechanisms of filmmaking by making the underlying filmic techniques as unobtrusive as possible (this is sometimes called “Invisible storytelling”). It was against this backdrop that the so-called style of continuity editing was developed and refined.
  • Claycoat
    Is an ultra bounce fabric that is 10% gray.  It takes the edge off of a large white source by using gray.  It is excellent for night work and black skin tones.
  • Close Up
    A shot that shows a small detail of the subject clearly, such as the face, in order to bring attention to the lightest and mildest of expressions i.e., a person's head from the shoulders or neck up is a commonly filmed close-up; a tight shot makes the subject fill almost the entire frame; also extreme close-up (ECU or XCU) is a shot of a part of a character (i.e., face, head, hands) to emphasize detail; also known as detail shot or close on; contrast to longshot (LS).
  • Closure
    An ending which makes a story largely complete. A film that has closure leaves the viewers with no major unanswered questions regarding the main storyline elements and the characters. A happy ending is a form of closure in which almost everything turns out for the best for the hero or heroine.
  • Color
    A phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects caused by differing qualities of the light reflected or emitted; contrast to black and white.
  • Color Brightness
    Lightening or darkening a colour by adding black or white is related to a modification of the colour’s brightness. Adding black is referred to as shading a colour, while admixing white is termed as tinting a colour. Shaded hues of red and orange change their appearance towards brown; yellow moves towards a greenish tinge, while hues of green and blue simply appear darker. The tints of a colour can also be referred to as pastel colours. For related information, read the entry concerning light-dark contrast.   
  • Color Contrasts
     Johannes Itten distinguished between seven colour contrasts based on the colours of his colour wheel that describe varying subjective effects that different colour contrasts and combinations have on the viewer. A systematical analysis of an excerpt regarding its colour contrasts can be very useful for an artistic analysis of the colour composition. The color contrasts that are particularly relevant for film analysis are the contrast of pure hue, the complementary contrast, the light-dark contrast, the cool-warm contrast and the contrast of saturation. 
  • Color Design/Color Palette
    Purposeful color choice to emphasize things. Color can be used to create harmony or tension within a scene, or to bring attention to a key visual theme. Limited Palette: using a few colors in the same range. Monochromatic: extensive use of one color. 
  • Color Film
    Color film has been a possibility since the beginning of cinema. Technical problems and economic circumstances early on meant that it was not until the 1950s that color was viable in the film industry.
  • Color Temperature
    Measuring the color of light in order to make it sensitive enough, and appropriate for the film.
  • Color Wheel
     A circular arrangement of colours. The colour wheel used in this software follows the approach of Johannes Itten and consists of three orders of colours. The first order encompasses the so-called primary colours – yellow, red and blue – that all other colours can be mixed from. The second order is made up of the secondary colours, i.e. those that are mixed from the primaries and includes orange, purple and green. The third order, the tertiary colours, are those that are mixed from one primary and one secondary colour and include yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green. Together with his colour theory, Itten developed a group of seven colour contrasts based on the colours of his colour wheel that describe varying subjective effects that different colour contrasts and combinations have on the viewer. A systematical analysis of an excerpt regarding its colour contrasts can be very useful for an artistic analysis of the colour composition. The(...)
  • Colorization
    The film-altering process whereby a black and white film is digitally changed to include color; popularized but controversial in the 1980’s.
  • Commentary
    Words accompanying a scene that does not require/contain dialogs.
  • Compilation Film
     A film made up of shots, scenes, or sequences from other films.
  • Complementary Contrast
    Colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel are called complementary colours. When mixed together, each complementary reduces the saturation of the other towards grey; in other words, they desaturate each other. The term desaturation thus refers to the loss of luminosity as a result of the admixture of the complementary colour. In contrast, when placed side by side, complementary colours make each other appear brighter. The contrast between them is one of the strongest and is marked by a sense of oppositeness as well as unity. 
  • Composition
    Refers to the arrangement of different elements (i.e., colors, shapes, figures, lines, movement, and lighting) within a frame and in a scene.
  • Continuity
    Refers to action moving through multiple locations without interruptions; it usually refers to the degree to which a film is self-consistent without errors, jump cuts, or mismatched shots and details; the final edited structure of a completed film includes events or scenes/sequences arranged as if they had occurred continuously, when, in fact, they were shot out of sequence; a system of editing was developed in the early 20th century to provide a continuous and clear movement of events/images in a film; a continuity cut refers to a editing cut that takes the viewer seamlessly, unobtrusively, and logically from one sequence or scene to another, to propel the narrative along; a blooper or flub is a continuity error.
  • Continuity Editing
    Through the use of continuity editing, the action seems to flow smoothly and clearly from shot to shot. Continuity editing maintains the illusion of the continuity of time, space, action and completeness, even though the shots have typically been filmed in a completely different order. The cuts between shots do not interrupt the scene, but instead create the illusion of ongoing action. The viewer is never distracted by awkward jumps between shots or by any confusion about the spatial and temporal layout of the scene.  Some of the continuity editing conventions used to achieve this include: the 180° system, the 30° system, establishing shots, cutting on action, shot/reverse shot, eyeline matches.
  • Continuity Errors
    Most narrative films strive to maintain the illusion of the continuity of time, space, action and completeness with the help of continuity editing. Continuity errors are mistakes in the narrative, visual or sound continuity of a film that occur during shooting or that arise as part of the post production process (see editing). Continuity errors occur relatively frequently due to the fact that films are rarely shot in the order in which they are presented. Most continuity errors are subtle, such as changes in the level of drink in a character’s glass or the length of a cigarette, while others can be more noticeable, such as sudden and drastic changes in the outer appearance of a character (i.e. a change of clothing from one shot to another without explanation). It goes without saying that errors in continuity are highly problematic since they can significantly disturb the illusion of film as an ongoing continuous action. Nevertheless, they can provide a fun pastime for film(...)
  • Contract Player
    An actor (both stars and bit players) who has a contractual commitment or agreement to a studio/producer/company.
  • Contrast
    Refers to the difference between light and shadow, or between maximum and minimum amounts of light, in a particular film image; can be either high contrast (with a sharp delineation between the bright and dark areas) or its opposite low contrast; color can also be contrasted; see also chiaroscuro.
  • Contrast of Pure Hue
    Contrast of hue is illustrated by undiluted colors in their most intense luminosity. Just as black-white represents the extreme of light-dark contrast, so yellow/red/blue is the extreme instance of contrast of hue.
  • Contrast of Saturation
    The contrast between colors of a high saturation (or in more precise terms of pure hue with strong luminosity) and desaturated colors with less luminosity, is one that is popularly used in filmmaking. Recall that desaturation is achieved by adding the complementary color to pure hue of high luminosity or saturation. Often, a background is designed in desaturated, and therefore unobtrusive colors, while essential objects are set off from that background through the use of striking strong colors. In this way, the signal effect that colors of pure hue already have in themselves can be additionally strengthened.
  • Conventions
    The expected elements in a type of film, without question, thought, or judgment.
  • Cookie
    A board with sporadic holes used for creating various shadow effects when placed in front of a source of light.
  • Cool-Warm Contrast
    The colour wheel can be divided in two halves based on the effects of the colours in each half on the viewer’s feeling of warmth and coldness. The warm half ranges from yellow to red-purple; the cold half ranges from yellow-green to purple. The contrast between cold and warm colours relates first and foremost to our overall feeling about the coldness or warmth of an image, but on a second level also to effects on the viewer’s feeling of depth. When placed in front of warm colours, cold colours seem to merge into the background of an image, while the other way round, warm colours in front of a cool-coloured background seem to move into the foreground. The strongest depth effect of this type is achieved between the complementaries red-orange and blue-green. 
  • Costume/Costume Design
     Refers to the garments or clothing worn by actors/performers in a film; a costume (or wardrobe) designer researches, designs, and selects the costumes to be appropriate to the film's time period, the characters, their location, and their occupations, whereas the costumer (or stylist) is responsible for acquiring, selecting, manufacturing, and/or handling the clothing and accessories; a costume drama is a film set in a particular historical time period, often with elaborate costuming.
  • Coverage
    Refers to all the shots, including closeups and reverse angles, that a director takes in addition to the master shot, to make up the final product; to have proper coverage means having all the proper scenes, angles, lightings, close-ups, and directions.
  • Crane Shot
     Achieved by a camera mounted on a platform, which is connected to a mechanical arm that can lift the platform up, bring it down, or move it laterally across space.
  • Crew
    Refers to those involved in the technical production of a film who are not actual performers.
  • Cross-Cutting (Cross-Cut)
    Cross-cutting is a technique of cutting back and forth between different lines of action occurring at two or more different locations but taking place at the same time. This often creates suspense and increases the pace within a sequence, as generally the viewer expects a resolution of both events in one space. A related technique is parallel editing.
  • Cup Blocks
    These are 4” x 4” blocks that have a ¼ round circle cut out of the center of it so that it can secure rolling stands from not moving or office chairs.  They also can be used to raise up foreground elements you are shooting through.
  • Cut
    Joining of two different shots together, as well as the continuous transition from one shot to the next.
  • Cutaway (shot)
    A brief shot that interrupts the action by briefly inserting another related action, object, or person, followed by a cutback to the original shot (or a slightly different shot showing the same subject, object or scene). Cutaways show action not covered by the master shot. Cutaways are often used in a sequence to hide discontinuity, to emphasize something or to show simultaneous events. However, cutaways may also serve purely aesthetic aims. Reaction shots are also usually cutaways.
  • Cutter
    These flags come in many sizes and they are usually used to put top cuts and bottom cuts on light sources.  
  • Cutting on Action (cut on action)
     A film-editing technique in which the editor cuts from one view in one shot to another view in another shot that matches the action and energy of the first shot. Although the two shots may have actually been shot hours apart from each other and in completely different shooting locations (i.e. set vs. location), the convention of cutting on action helps to convey the impression of continuous time and space when watching the edited film. By having a subject begin an action in one shot and continue or complete it in the next, the editor creates a kind of visual bridge, which distracts the viewer’s attention from the cut or from noticing any slight continuity errors between the two shots.
  • Cutting on Sound (cut on sound)
    A film editing technique in which an unexpected or loud sound or noise motivates or hides a cut.  
  • Dance Floor
    This is either ¼” luan wood or ¼” ABS plastic that is laid down on surfaces that are not smooth enough for a dolly to roll on.  They are cut in many different sizes so that you can overlap seams to create a smooth surface for dollies to move around effortlessly for wide moving masters and complex coverage.  
  • Day-for-Night Shooting
    A historical cinematographic technique used in the past for simulating night scenes by using special filters that allowed shooting during daytime. Also known as nuit américaine (“American night”).
  • Daylight Spool
    A container made to hold the camera film in order to avoid it from being completely exposed while changing during an outdoor shoot.
  • Deep Focus
    A technique that allows both objects that are very near as well as objects that are very far away to stay in focus at the same time.
  • Deep Space (deep staging)
    A cinematic style in which several significant elements of an image are positioned at various points both near to and distant from the camera. This means that the characters in the shot have a large spatial scope so that they sometimes even seem to disappear within the wide area. Deep space can be achieved by establishing a very long z-axis that opens the available stage. More often than not, deep space is combined with deep focus, which requires that elements placed along very different depth planes of the image (i.e. foreground, middle ground and background) be in focus at the same time. However, for deep staging, these objects do not necessarily have to be in focus. Staging in deep space is the opposite of staging in flat space.
  • Depth of Field
    The distance in front of a camera in which all elements are in sharp focus. Bright light and a narrow lens aperture tend to produce a larger depth of field, as does using a wide-angle lens rather than a lens with a long focal length (telephoto lens). Depth of field is directly connected, but not to be confused with, “focus”, which refers to the quality (i.e. the “sharpness”) of an object in the image, whereas depth of field refers to the extent to which the space that is presented is in focus. For related information, see the entries on shallow focus and deep focus.
  • Desaturated Color
    This refers to colours of less luminosity and vividness. Desaturated colors have a reduced amount of the initial colour (hue) due to the addition of their complementary color. Complementary colors are colors that face each other on the color wheel. When mixed with each other, two complementaries reduce each other’s saturation towards grey; in other words, they desaturate each other. For related information, read the entry concerning contrast of saturation. 
  • Diegetic
    Refers to everything belonging to the fictional world of a film that the characters themselves experience and encounter. The implied world of the story, including its settings, events, sounds, spaces and the characters that inhabit these, as well as many other things, actions, and attitudes that are not explicitly shown in the film but are inferred by the audience as belonging to it are known as the diegesis. In keeping with this, any sound (voice, music or sound effect) that is presented as originating from a source within the film’s world is referred to as diegetic sound. In contrast, background music, a narrator’s commentary or sound effects that do not seem to originate from within the film’s world, is considered to be non-diegetic sound. The audience constructs a diegetic world from the material presented in a narrative film, and all elements that exist outside this diegesis are then labelled as non-diegetic.
  • Diffuser
     A special effect camera filter or lens that softens the appearance of subjects and generates a kind of dreamy haze.
  • Diffusion Gel
    Opaque plastic sheet used as a filter that diffuses and changes the quality of the light source.
  • Direct Cinema
    Direct cinema is a form of mainly documentary-style filmmaking, combining naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and cinematography, which was developed in the United States in the 1960s. The direct cinema filmmakers made use of newly-developed, unobtrusive lightweight equipment for filming on location. A similar movement arose in France at approximately the same time under the label of cinéma vérité (French for “truthful cinema”). However, direct cinema aimed to be more observational and to avoid influencing the recorded event. Aspects of direct cinema and cinéma vérité later also influenced the work of fictional filmmakers.
  • Direct Sound Recording
    Dialogs recorded as they are spoken during a scene.
  • Directionality
    Given that every object within the frame that is not static has a certain directional property, directionality is obviously a very important element within the language of visual design, which often has a dramatic value in itself or carries a certain message. Directionality describes movements of subjects or objects (or the camera itself) within the frame and can be implemented in accordance with the different axes and vectors within a frame such as: vertical directions, horizontal directions, diagonal directions or directions along the z-axis.
  • Dissolve
    When one shot fades out, and the next shot fades in immediately.
  • Dogme 95
    A Danish film movement and style that was started in 1995 by the Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg with the signing of the Dogme 95 Manifesto and the so-called “Vow of Chastity”. Above all, the Dogme directors rejected the expensive filmmaking techniques used in most commercial films (especially those from Hollywood), genre conventions, spectacular special effects and too much editing. Instead, their aim was to place emphasis on the actual story and on the actors’ performances and to strive for more “truthful”, “non-Hollywood” cinematic storytelling.
  • Dolly Shot
    Shot taken from a camera placed on equipment with wheels, used mainly for moving shots.
  • Dolly Zoom
    A dolly zoom combines a track in or track out movement with the apparent movement of a zoom in the opposite direction. Depending on whether it is a dolly out/zoom in, or a dolly in/zoom out, either the background shifts towards the foreground or away from it. The respective zooming direction and additional perspective changes caused by the camera movement produce either a special dizzying or oppressive effect. A dolly zoom is also variously known as “dolly counter zoom”, “reverse tracking shot”, the “Hitchcock zoom”, the “Vertigo effect”, or the “Trombone effect”.
  • Dope Sheet
    A list of all the shots taken during a specified time period.
  • Dovetail
    This is the universal camera plate that all cameras mount to. The camera mounting system slides onto the Dovetail which secures it with a locking mechanism.
  • Dub (dubbing)
    Process of adding or replacing sound after the film has been shot (i.e. in the post production stage). Most typically, the term refers to the substitution of the voices of the actors shown on the screen by those of different performers, who may be speaking a different language, since many films are dubbed into the local language of a foreign market. Music is also usually dubbed into a film after editing is completed.
  • Dubateen
    This is a black fabric that is fireproof.  It is a grip essential for rigging skirts to go around soft boxes to control light, to create bottom cuts on lights, to hide cables in the background, use for negative fill, throw down on floors to increase contrast and help shape light sources.
  • Dutch Angle
    Camera that is tilted at an angle for a slanted shot.  This was used in the Batman TV series and caught on.  I have used it in many music videos back in the 90’s.
  • Easy Rig
    This is a Camera rig system developed for hand held work.  It suspends the camera from a centralized arm that is mounted to a waist belt for support.  
  • Editing
    Assembling and cutting final shots to the required length in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Elliptical Cut
    A cut between two shots which omits parts of an event, thus causing an ellipsis in the plot and story duration. Often, an elliptical cut is used to create the impression that time has elapsed. The respective editing technique is called elliptical editing. A jump cut is a special type of elliptical cut.
  • Establishing Shot
    A long shot used to portray a new scene, a new subject, or new object that is important to the film for the first time.
  • EVF
    This is an electronic viewfinder that attaches to your digital camera so that you can see the frame.
  • Exposition
    The conveying of important background information for the events of a story (i.e. details about the characters, setting, initial problem, theme, etc.) via the dialogue and/or the action, or in simpler terms, the setting up of a film's story.
  • Exposure Index
     Sensitivity of light to a specific film, used to measure film speed.
  • Extenders
    These are devices that clamp onto your lens that gives it extra magnification to extend its focal range;  Most used are 1.4X and 2X extenders.  The 1.4X only magnifies it half the focal length.  If you put it on a 50mm, it would turn it into a 75mm.  The 2X doubles the focal length.
  • Exterior Light
    Additional non-diegetic light sources which reinforce the available light sources in the mise en scène. Exterior light sources ensure better control of the lighting conditions and have no importance for the content of a shot or scene. In some cases, they can be seen as extra light sources in contrast to the available light. For related information, see the entries concerning available light, diegetic and non-diegetic.
  • Extreme Close-Up (ECU)
    Zooming in completely on only one detail so as to have it fill the entire screen.  On a face it is described as the frame lines and should be just above the eyebrows and holding the chin.
  • Extreme Long Shot (ELS)
    May serve as an establishing shot, and is taken from quite some distance.  This can create a voyeuristic feel, like someone is watching, spying, observing.
  • Eye Level Shot
    Shot that portrays a subject's view of another subject or object in the film, taken at the subject's eye level.
  • Eyeline Match
    A cinematic editing practice aimed at ensuring the inherent logic of a look or gaze. An eyeline match basically shows what a character is looking at. Most commonly, they are used when a character looks at something offscreen (gaze shot), and the next shot then shows what is being looked at (typically a point-of-view shot). Eyeline matches help to establish and stabilize spatial continuity, as successive shots correspond to the spatial layout of characters and objects established in earlier shots. The corresponding editing practice of the eyeline match also obeys the 180° rule. A point-of-view shot is a special type of eyeline match, in which the audience is shown exactly what a character is seeing.
  • Fade-In
    Starting from a plain-coloured state, the screen gradually regains full contrast and luminosity. In continuity editing, fade-ins and fade-outs are mainly used to flag a temporal discontinuity (i.e.. the passage of time).
  • Fade-Out
    The screen gradually loses contrast and luminosity until it is completely black, or in rare cases, another colour. In continuity editing, fade-outs and fade-ins are mainly used to flag a temporal discontinuity (i.e. the passage of time).
  • Fade-out, Fade-in
    A transition in which the first shot gradually fades out to a black, or in rare cases, a white screen; this is then often followed by a short pause showing the monocoloured screen, before the second shot gradually fades in.
  • Fading Solution
    Liquid solution used for fading on film.
  • Fast Cutting
    The process of cutting together several shots of brief duration. Fast cutting is an effective way to convey a lot of information in a brief time. It is often used to add urgency or energy, to intensify suspense, lead to a climax or to indicate a character’s loss of control. The opposite of fast cutting is slow cutting.
  • Fast Motion
    Technique that allows shooting at a slow speed and yet producing extremely fast motion.
  • Fill Light
    The fill light is one part of the basic lighting arrangement known as three-point lighting. The fill light is used to fill in, soften or eliminate the strongest shadows caused by the key light, and for this reason, is placed on the opposite side to it. For related information, read the entries concerning three-point lighting, key light and backlight.
  • Film Cement
     A solution used for joining two pieces of film together.
  • Film Horse
    Frame used during editing to hang separate shots in a decided order.
  • Film Noir
    French for "black film". Having adopted many of the stylistic devices used in films of the German Expressionism movement of the 1920s and 1930s, the films of this genre formed a gloomy counterbalance to the almost exclusively optimistic world of musicals and films of the same time. In particular, the film noir genre was a reflection of the growing critical discussion about the constrained optimism relating to the American Dream during the time after World War II. In keeping with some of the sombre detective novels published at this time, the settings of these films are especially gloomy and pessimistic: the story is often set in an urban moloch, featuring an anti-hero, struggling with his inner conflicts.
  • Film Stock
    The light-sensitive ( = photographic) film strip on which films are shot and reproduced.
  • Filter
    Tinted sheet of glass placed in front of/behind the lens to change the color of the shot, diffuse the shot or add Neutral density to decrease your depth of field for aesthetic purposes.
  • Final Cut
    The final version of an edited film, which is usually the version that is screened in cinemas or distributed in the form of a storage medium such as DVD-Video or Blu-ray Disc.
  • Fisheye Lens
    An extreme wide-angle lens that is capable of showing an angle of view close to 180°. Shots taken with a fisheye lens are always considerably distorted, thus producing images that appear obviously artificial. In some films, fisheye lenses (or reflective decoration elements and props that produce a similar effect) are part of the mise en scène, i.e. door peepholes, curved mirrors, etc.
  • Flash-Forward
    A shot, or a series of shots, that breaks the normal chronological order by shifting directly to an event representing the future. The flash-forward is less frequently used than its opposite, the flashback.
  • Flat Space
    This term describes a certain form of mise en scène, which severely limits the available space within the frame in a striking way, resulting in a very small spatial scope for the characters within it. For creating this effect, limitation along the z-axis is most effective. For example, this can be achieved by filming a character standing in front of a wall. The opposite of flat space is deep space.
  • Flicker
    Uneven brightness in the film, sometimes deliberately created for effects.
  • Floppy Flags
    These flags come in many sizes, the most common is the 4’x4’ floppy flag. It flops down and creates a 4’x8’ flag.  These are used to control light sources, create negative fill, create shadows, etc.  You can learn a lot about shaping light here: https://www.hurlbutacademy.com/topic/shaping-and-controlling-light/
  • Fluid Head
    A device that enables the camera operator/DP to pan and tilt to capture the shot.  This head has different tensions within the head to adjust depending on your operation preferences.  It also has locks so you secure the camera.
  • Flyswater
     Is a term for a Condor or Pettibone forklift that you rig a 12 x 20 or 20 x 20 to control and diffuse sunlight or to bounce light into at night.  
  • Focal Length
    Length of the view provided by a particular kind of lens.
  • Focus
    (1) The term “focus” refers to the degree of sharpness or distinctness of a particular area in an image (such as a person, object, etc.). If something is “in focus”, it appears sharp and clear. In contrast, if an object or an area is “out of focus”, it appears blurred and indistinct. This area is also referred to as bokeh. Technical terms related to “focus” include deep focus, shallow focus (very common in close-ups), soft focus, and rack focus. (2) Focusing is the act of adjusting a lens system in such a way as to achieve a sharp image along the focal plane.
  • Following Shot
    A shot in which the camera itself follows behind or alongside a moving subject and thus actually accompanies the movement of the subject during the shot. The following movement can be achieved by tracking, dollying or shooting with a handheld camera, although in many cases, a Steadicam is the most practical option. In such shots, the following distance is usually kept more or less constant.
  • Footage
    Length of the film running through the camera- a shot or a series of shots, measured in feet.
  • Four by Four Cart
    This is a grip cart that includes channels to hold 4 x 4 Flags, diffusion and gel frames, bounces, showcard, etc.
  • Fragmented Framing (or partial framing)
    A kind of framing in which important objects or subjects are only partially shown for a significant length of time (i.e. a character's body is shown without the head). Fragmented framing often evokes an uneasy feeling since the audience is used to classical Hollywood cinema storytelling conventions that normally direct their attention to the important parts of a subject or a scene. Fragmented framing can also be used to let shots appear experimental, documentary-style or amateurish.
  • Frame
    (1) Refers to a single image captured by the camera on a strip of film and represents the smallest compositional unit of a film’s structure. Several frames make up a shot, and a series of frames juxtaposed and shown in rapid succession make up a motion (or moving) picture. (2) Refers to the rectangular area within which the film image is composed by the filmmaker, or in simpler terms – what we see within the area of the screen.
  • Frame Enlargement
     A magnification of a single frame of film usually to illustrate certain features and aspects of cinematography or the mise en scène within the context of film studies and film analysis. Also often referred to as motion still (although this is not necessarily enlarged).
  • Framing
    The selection and composition of the onscreen contents of a shot with respect to the edges of the screen (see the entry on the frame). Important cinematographic aspects of framing include the choice of camera distance, camera angle and lens type. An unusual form of framing is the so-called fragmented framing, in which important objects or subjects are only partially shown for a significant length of time (i.e. a character’s body is shown without the head).
  • Freeze Frame
    A special effect in a shot, which creates the impression of a pause in the action or a still photograph. This effect is accomplished by reprinting one frame many times, usually with an optical printer or by means of digital editing. As such, it differs from the “freeze frame” or still frame option found on DVD players to individually pause the playback of a film. A freeze frame in a film is often used in combination with voice-over narration to situate the plot in time or to comment on a character’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Furniture Pad
    These are also called sound blankets because the sound dept. always steals them for dampening sound.  For a grip they are a powerful tool to rise actors up in chairs, in cars, they are great for throwing down on the ground for the camera crew to sit on when operating camera, as well as rolled up in what we call a Burrito wrap for hand held work inside cars where finding that great shot means you will be uncomfortable and you will need that Burrito wrap to keep your hand held at its very best.
  • Gaffer
    The chief or head electrician or supervisory lighting technician in the film/photography crew on a movie set, responsible for the design and execution of a production's lighting plan on the set; the gaffer's right-hand assistant is known as the best boy; gaffer tape refers to multi-purpose, sticky and wide black cloth tape, used to mark studio floors, to hold things together, etc.
  • Gag-Based Comedies
    These are comedy films that are often nonsensical and literally filled with multiple gags (i.e., jokes, one-liners, pratfalls, slapstick, etc.), are designed to produce laughter in any way possible, and often with comic or spoofing references to other films.
  • Gate
     An opening behind the lens of a camera or projector for exposing/projecting a single frame.
  • Gauge
    Width of the film's format.
  • Gaze Shot
    A shot showing a character staring at something or someone that is typically outside of the frame (offscreen). Gaze shots are often used in combination with a following point-of-view shot, which has the effect of putting the viewer into the position of a character for a short moment: i.e., we see a character suddenly looking up into the sky (gaze shot), and then after a cut, the next shot (point-of-view shot) shows a passing aircraft.
  • Gel
    Transparent plastic sheet used as a filter that changes the color of the light.
  • Gel Holders
    These are wire, or metal frames that hold the gel in place so that it does not touch the hot surface of the globe or the lens.
  • Gimbal
     This is a remote head that can be operated in handheld mode or mounted to a dolly or crane. It stabilizes the image, keeps the perfect horizon and enables the camera to move in ways never really achieved before. Most common Gimbals are MoVi Pro and the Ronin 2.
  • Gold Mount
    Is a Anton/Bauer proprietary mount that enables the battery to be mounted to the camera with 3 mounting posts.  This is the industry standard in the U.S.
  • Grip Clips
    These are often called spring clips. They come in 4 sizes, #.5, #1, #2 and #3.  They are an absolute essential tool for everything a grip has to do.
  • Hand-held Camera
    A shot taken from a camera that is not placed on a tripod. Often used to show a moving, shaky scenario, especially in horror movies.
  • Handline
    Is rope or synthetic climbing rope that is used to secure overhead frames, tie down rigs, hang teasers, etc.
  • Hard Light
    The term “hard” refers to the quality of the light. A hard light quality creates harsh borders (as if drawn with a ruler) between lit and shady areas. Overall, it produces a bright illumination and thus reveals many details. For this reason, people tend to look rather unflattering and less attractive because this bright and harsh light accents wrinkles and imperfections of the skin. For related information, read the entries concerning soft light and light quality.
  • Head Extension
    This works in conjunction with the ballast and usually two come with every light.  You can couple up to three 50’ head extensions together with HMI’s but not anymore then that. Sometimes two is all you can get depending on the manufacturer.  Many times when a light does not work, it is because of the head extension going bad in some way.
  • Head Room
    The room between the frame top and the top of a subject's head.
  • Hidden Cut
    This is a cut that is intended to be imperceptible. At the end of the first shot, the camera moves closer or zooms in on a plain, typically dark-coloured object that fills the whole frame, thus providing the chance to implement an unobtrusive cut. The following shot shows the camera zooming out or moving away from the previous or another similarly-coloured object. Instead of using camera movement or a zoom, this kind of cut can also be affected by a moving subject or object that temporarily covers the whole frame. In a sense, the hidden cut is a special form of a fade-out, fade-in transition, in which the fading is simply part of the shot (rather than being achieved through editing).
  • High Angle Shot
    Shot taken from above the subject.
  • High Contrast
     In photography and cinematography the term “contrast” refers to the difference in brightness between the lit and shady areas of an image. In this respect, an image in high contrast has a high amount of alternating deep dark shadows and very brightly lit areas giving a rather restless or uneasy impression. See also chiaroscuro. Opposite of low contrast. A lighting style which is characterized by high contrast lighting is called low-key lighting
  • High-Key Lighting
    One of the main lighting styles used in filmmaking and often associated with the bright overall lighting that is best known from sitcoms and ballroom scenes. High-key lighting is characterized by a small ratio between the key light and fill light. Normally, it is used in combination with soft light to create a pleasant atmosphere, which produces low contrasts between lit and shady areas. High-key lighting can also be useful for creating positive moods at night, or when used in combination with hard light sources, to create a cold and sterile atmosphere. For related information, read the entry concerning low-key lighting.
  • Hitchcock’s Rule
    The "Hitchcock’s Rule" is a cinematographic principle which was coined by Alfred Hitchcock in his famous discussions with François Truffaut. The rule states that the size of an object in the frame should equal its importance in the story at that moment.
  • HMI Fresnel Lights
    This is a daylight balanced fixture.  The Fresnel lens was developed by the French to project light for long distances.  Hence the Fresnel lens being in every Light House in the world.  This lens delivers beautiful hard shadows, it delivers a very even spread while in flood and spot.  This light gives great shafts of light, awesome for bounces and to project through diffusion frames.  A fresnel will give you less output then a Par light with the same wattage.
  • Horizon Line
    A straight line drawn across one or two vanishing points that marks the height at which the camera is positioned. Depending on the camera angle, the horizon line moves up or down within the frame, which is why it can be used to help to deduce the type of camera angle. If the horizon line slopes to one side, the camera is in a canted angle position. Changing positions of the horizon line and optical distortions, depending on different camera angles and heights.
  • Imbalance
    An aspect of the mise en scène which describes a state of compositional unevenness or disproportion. Imbalance can be achieved in various forms, i.e. asymmetrical presence of subjects/objects, colour, light, form. Opposite of balance.
  • Insert Shots
    Close up of significant as well as insignificant details of the film, usually do not include any actors. Insert shots are mainly of objects.
  • Intercutting
    Technique to show more than one event taking place at the same time.
  • Interior Shots
    Shots taken indoors.
  • Internegative
    A copy of the film made for the purpose of making a large number of prints.
  • Intertextuality
     References and interconnections between “texts” of all kinds (including films, articles, paintings, etc.). Examples of types of intertextuality in film include film adaptations of literature, homages, parodies, prequels, sequels, and remakes.
  • Inverters
    These devices convert battery DC power to AC power so you can run lights from a car battery.  I use them on driving shots where I have different lights that need to be powered while the car is driving. 
  • Iris
    An opening in the lens that controls the amount of light passing through (very similar to Aperture.)
  • Iris Shot
     An iris shot was a technique frequently used in silent films in which the black circle of the iris partly masks the frame. More often than not, the iris shot was used to signalize the passing of time, similar to a fade-out, fade-in transition. In some cases, more recent and post-silent-era films have employed (or imitated) this technique as an homage to the silent film era or to make a film sequence appear as though it might have been filmed in the silent film era.
  • ISO
    A film's sensitivity to light, and is also a number used to measure the speed of the film.
  • Joker HMI Light
    This is a daylight balanced small compact fixture that is par based, so it uses lenses to control its size of beam.  They are lightweight and can be used for bounces, projecting through diffusion frames, as well as, altered to fit in china balls, pancakes with its BUG Lite feature.  It can also be altered with a LEKO back so that it fits in the back of a theatrical leko light which turns it into a powerful HMI like that has all the features of a leko light.
  • Jr. Low Combo
     A stand that has two risers and will take up to a 18K if need be.  It has a Junior receiver.  Top height is head height.  Lowest point is 3’ off the ground.
  • Jr. Low Roller Turtle Stand
    This stand is 3” off the ground, great for moving large lights around in bounces, to hide under windows to bounce up into overheads to create day ambience.
  • Jump Cut
    A sudden cut between two unmatched shots that draws all attention to itself, and gives the effect of bad editing.
  • Kelvin
    This is a daylight balanced small compact fixture that is par based, so it uses lenses to control its size of beam.  They are lightweight and can be used for bounces, projecting through diffusion frames, as well as, altered to fit in china balls, pancakes with its BUG Lite feature.  It can also be altered with a LEKO back so that it fits in the back of a theatrical leko light which turns it into a powerful HMI like that has all the features of a leko light.
  • Key Light
    The key light is the brightest and the first light set in each shot and is the main part of the basic lighting arrangement known as three-point lighting. The key light is the most directional of the three lights, and as such, strongly directs the viewer’s attention. When used on its own, it also casts the strongest shadows. For related information, read the entries concerning three-point lighting, fill light and backlight.
  • Kitchen Sink Realism or Kitchen Sink Drama
    A term to describe a British art and film movement which deals with the domestic conditions of British working class people. The characters are often angry young people living in rented flats, particularly in the poor industrial areas in Northern England. The name “kitchen sink realism” can be traced back to a painting of a kitchen sink by John Bratby. Kitchen sink realism is a form of social realism.
  • Klassen SlingShot
    This is a device created to support the handheld gimbal system.  It uses a carbon fiber vest to mount the pulley system that flies over your head to then suspend the gimbal.
  • Kuleshov Effect
    A film editing (montage) effect or phenomenon demonstrated in an experiment by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in 1918. Kuleshov shot a single long close-up of an actor, sitting still without facial expression. He then cut away to various shots with different content such as a bowl of soup, a woman in a coffin, and a child with a toy bear. When the film was shown to an audience, it (connecting the “dots”) “marvelled at the sensitivity of the actor’s range”. Kuleshov recognized the importance of editing techniques to guide the audiences’ perceptions and enhance the emotional impact of a shot or a scene.
  • Lab Role
    A very large roll made by the lab for printing, by joining together several camera rolls.
  • Lambda/Weaver Steadman Fluid Head
    This is a head that underslungs the camera to achieve low angles and enables you to float over foreground objects.
  • Lap Dissolve
     In this type of transition, the first shot ends with a fade out, as simultaneously, the second shot fades in, thus gradually overlapping with the first shot as it fades out. The lap dissolve is thus similar to a fade-out, fade-in, with the main difference being that the middle-sequence of briefly showing a plain-coloured screen is left out so that the end of the first and the beginning of the second shot are briefly superimposed. In continuity editing, lap dissolves are mainly used to flag a temporal discontinuity (i.e. the passage of time).
  • LED Light Mats
    These are lightweight bendable fixtures that come in varying lengths and widths.  They come Bi Color and have changed the way I light with their ability to hang in places where other lights would be too heavy or too deep in size.  They can be taped to walls, hidden in corners, wrapped in a circle so the light emulates from all directions.  
  • LED Panel Lights
     Amazing technology that gives the filmmaker endless possibilities with color temps from 2000K to 10,000K.  They give you the ability to create lighting effects, match gel colors, dim down to .1.  You can put them into a dimmer board to control everything.  I use them for bounce, for pushing through diffusion frames, I use them to create room tone in a room by bouncing them into the ceiling. I use honey combs that control the light so that it does not fly all over the place.  They have changed the way I light.   
  • LED Tubes
    Amazing new technology that gives the filmmaker endless possibilities with Tube length sources with color temps from 2000K to 10,000K..  They give you the ability to create lighting effects, match gel colors, dim down to .1.  You can put them into a dimmer board to control everything or on an iPhone or Android app. They are lightweight and can be powered by an internal battery which opens up huge options.  I use them for eye lights, background bokeh, ring perimeters of buildings, etc.
  • LED Variable Contrast Filter
    This is a LED filter tray that pushes light onto a glass filter that has dots on it and when you are not able to use smoke, lowers the contrast and can push colors into the black areas of your frame.
  • Leko Theatrical Light
    This is a projection light that uses lenses to create your desired spread of your circle of light.  5 degrees will give you a very focused tight beam like a follow spot.  A 50 degree lens will give you a very wide circle of light.  Inside the light it has leaves that shape your circle of light, you can make them a sliver, or a square, etc.  You also can add an iris so you can expand and contract the size of your circle of light easily.  I use them in bars, stage productions, for bounces so I only hit the bounce exactly where I want to.  They are in every movie or commercial I shoot.  I never leave home without 6 of these Leko’s.  They make them also in LED tech so you can have the wide range of color temp, gel matching and dimming controls.  The LED’s do not have the output of a 750 Watt Tungsten fixture, around 2 stops less.
  • Lens Type
    Films are shot with three different basic types of lenses: the normal lens, the wide-angle lens and the telephoto lens. Each type of lens has its own characteristics and creates different images. The three types of lenses are usually classified by their focal length, which is the distance from the plane of the film or sensor to the lens.
  • Letterbox Format:
    Technical method that adjusts the width of a film with a widescreen aspect ratio in order to be able to show it on a narrower screen by shrinking it to the width of the replay screen. The original aspect ratio of the material is preserved at the cost of a reduced replay size and characteristic black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. An alternative method is pan and scan.
  • Light Leak
    Erratic and accidental light penetrating into the camera, creating little fog-impressions in the film.
  • Light Quality
    refers to the relative intensity of light and is most commonly used in connection with the distinction between hard and soft light. Hard light produces harsh borders between lit and shady areas, whereas soft light has a wide scattering and shows a smooth transition from the deepest shadow via partial shade to the bright areas. For related information, read the entries concerning hard light and soft light.
  • Light Vector
    A distinctive light ray that leads our eyes from one point to another in a picture or a shot. Light vectors are mainly graphic vectors but can also be motion or index vectors. 
  • Light-Dark Contrast
    The brightness of a color can be changed by adding black or white. Adding black is referred to as shading a color, while admixing white is termed tinting a color. Light-dark contrasts affect both the contrast between different shades and tints of one colour (in this case is referred to as monochromatic design), as well as the contrast between different pure hues which differ in their subjective brightness, such as the primaries yellow and blue. In any image, it is always the brightest color which is the first to attract the viewer’s attention. 
  • Lighting
    Lighting is the intentional use of light to achieve certain aesthetic and/or practical effects. A distinction is made between light sources located within the mise en scène as decorative objects (available light) and additional light sources (exterior light) which reinforce available light sources to ensure better control over lighting conditions. Lighting is also of particular importance for the creation of moods, adding further layers of meaning and for highlighting elements of the filmic space. In addition, the use of light and shade often acts as a graphic element itself or sometimes functions as a motion vector to create a harmonic or disharmonic impression or to direct the audience’s attention. For related information, read the entries concerning light quality, cast shadow, attached shadow, three-point lighting, high-key lighting and low-key lighting.
  • Lighting Ratio
    The light and shadow ratio, or the relationship between the key light and fill light.
  • Limbo
    is a type of setting consisting of an indistinct or blank background. A limbo set naturally draws the attention of the viewers to the characters since there is nothing else to look at. Also called a limbo background or limbo set.
  • Location
    A place used for filming, usually outdoors and in natural surroundings.
  • Lock It Box
    This is a box that syncs the time code signal coming from the camera to the sound recording system.  This box is essential for all RED cameras because they inherently lose sync throughout the day.
  • Locked Cut
    The final cut of the movie, after which no changes are to be made.
  • Lollipop or 4.5” Grip Head
    This is a larger version of the grip head that is on a C-stand.  It functions the same exact way just larger to hold heavier flags and rig heavier lights.  You can find them at the top of all Hi Hi Roller stands as well as Mombo Combo stands.
  • Long John Silver’s/ Black Bird’s
    These are for large HMI and Tungsten light stands that come with large rubber wheels that can navigate all sorts of terrain.  They crank up to 18’ in height.  I find that since these stands have come out I have at least 2 if not 4 on the truck, the reason is that the sun is not always at 12 feet.  You need that extra 6 feet to make the sun look realistic.
  • Long Lens
    A lens providing a magnified view of an object far away.
  • Long Shot/Head to Toe Shot
    A complete or full-body-shot of the subject along with his/her surroundings.
  • Loose Framing
    Loose framing refers to a shot in which there is plenty of visible space around the main subject(s). Loose framing emphasizes a subject’s freedom of movement, which depending on context, can be used to evoke a feeling of freedom, or alternatively, forlornness. The opposite of loose framing is tight framing.
  • Low Angle Shot
    Shot taken from below the subject.
  • Low Baby Stand
    A stand that has two risers and a baby pin for its mounting apparatus.  Top height is head height.  Lowest point is 3’ off the ground.
  • Low C-Stand
    Is only 20” high instead of the 48” high standard C-stand.  This enables you to control and rig lights while they are on the ground or on a low stand.
  • Low Contrast
    In photography and cinematography the term “contrast” refers to the difference in brightness between the lit and shady areas of an image. Low contrast images have neither very deep shadows nor strong highlights which could direct the viewer’s eye to a particular detail. Instead, shadows tend to be transparent and soft. Due to the lack of deeper shadows which could set the subjects off from another to create depth, low contrast images often look flat and pale. Opposite of high contrast. A lighting style which is characterized by low contrast lighting is called high-key lighting.
  • Low-Key Lighting
    Is one of the main lighting styles used in filmmaking and is characterized by strong contrasts between well-lit and shady areas. In low-key lighting, contrasts of this type are typically achieved by using a strong key light with accompanying hard light quality. In addition, little or no fill light is set in order to create a dramatic or mysterious effect. Low-key lighting is often associated with the film noir genre. For related information, read the entries concerning high-key lighting, chiaroscuro and film noir.
  • Macro Lens
    Lens used for filming extreme close-ups of the subject/any other object of the film, such as a flower, a butterfly, etc. This lens usually requires much more light so you want to be prepared for this.  
  • Magic Arm
    This is an arm that has two mafer clamps at each end and can be used to secure rigged cameras on camera cars, hold bounces, rig lights on camera, etc.
  • Magic Gadget
    This is a dimmer and flicker control box that can take up to three 2K sources. It delivers effects to simulate fire, candle, tv, etc.  This is my go to device for fire effect work.  You can adjust the highs and lows as well as the frequency.  
  • Manual Follow Focus
    This is a focus system that clamps onto the camera rods and it uses gears and knobs to pull focus which extend to the lens.
  • Masking
    A technique used to block out parts of an image. Masking can be achieved on the level of cinematography (i.e. masking the lens) or by means of the mise en scène (i.e. a subject or object masking the background). Masking is often used to suggest a point-of-view shot as seen through an optical device (i.e. binoculars, telescope, etc.).
  • Master Shot
    A long shot of an entire scene, generally filmed in the beginning.  I always start with the master shot so that all light motivations, color, etc. can be designed and then educates all your coverage for the scene.
  • Match
    Checking the quality of two shots for smooth and flawless transitioning of one shot to the other.
  • Match Cut
    A match cut is a transition between two shots which typically draws attention to itself because it highlights one or several elements in both connected shots that are very similar to each other. The similarities between the shots can involve the shape, colour or movement of the featured elements (graphic match) and/or a metaphorical relation between the two shots when certain highlighted elements are comparable or analogous (metaphorical match).
  • Matte Box
    Is a box that mounts to the exterior circumference of the lens to house filters, polarizers, etc.  They can have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 stages if needed.
  • Matte Shot
    A special effects shot in filmmaking that combines two or more image elements into a single, final image by masking out part of an image and superimposing another image with the rest of the original. Most typically, mattes are used to combine a foreground image (such as actors on a set) with a background image (i.e. a scenic vista). In this case, the matte is the background image of the scenic vista. Matte shooting is one of the most common techniques used in studio filmmaking, either for economical reasons (it is obviously much cheaper to shoot a picture of the Eiffel tower and use it as matte background than to travel to Paris and shoot a whole scene on location) or because it would be impossible or too dangerous to try to shoot in the real location.In more recent films, similar effects are now usually created digitally with computer-generated imagery (CGI), which is then called digital matte.
  • Maxibrute Lights
    These lights have a cluster of par lights in 4 light banks that pan horizontally.  I use these lights for moonlight ambient bounces as well as putting them in condors for moonlight backlights.  They project incredibly far and with narrow globes in the maxibrute in a condor you will get a beautifully balanced light from 30 feet from the condor’s base to your actor in the foreground of your camera.  They are incredibly efficient and have 4-12 light maxi brutes on every movie I shoot.  
  • Medium Close-Up
    A shot in which less than half of the subject fills most of the frame and seems relatively large. People are normally shown from the chest or shoulder up to their head, which corresponds to the view one would have when standing face-to-face to a person and to the half-length portrait in painting and photography.
  • Medium Long Shot
    In this type of shot, the subject is usually shown from the knees up. The subject and surroundings thus have roughly equal importance. A special form of this shot is called the “plain américain”: In Westerns, the cowboys are often shown from the thighs up, in order to show the weapons on their belts. 
  • Medium Shot:
     A shot that's somewhere in between a long shot and a close up, typically taken from the waist up.
  • Mindscreen
    A subjective shot or scene, which aims to show the viewer what a character is thinking or dreaming about. For this reason the latter variant is often referred to as a dream scene or dream sequence. The advantage of the mindscreen is that it allows the viewer to adopt the perspective of a character in the film, which is obviously not the same as his or her own visual point-of-view. Usually, a mindscreen is clearly marked with various stylistic devices such as, dissolves, fades, superimpositions, use of different colour schemes or black and white appearance, use of background music or sound effects.
  • Mise en Scène
    This term refers to everything that is visible within the frame of the film. Key aspects of the mise en scène include the representation of space within the frame, the overall composition in general, aspects of colour, lighting, set and location, decoration and props, costumes, as well as the staging and movements of actors. Mise en scène is French for “placement on stage” and originally derives from the theatre world, where it refers to the arrangement of all visual elements of a theatrical production. In filmmaking it describes how visual materials are staged, framed and captured on film. Whereas cutting, respectively editing, is mainly about the structuring of time, mise en scène is largely about the structuring of space. In line with this, the mise en scène is of particular importance in films that prefer long takes and do not use much editing. Aspects associated with the camera itself, such as camera lenses, camera movements, camera angles or camera distances are not counted(...)
  • Mix
    Fusing all soundtracks of the film into one with their appropriate volumes and after complete editing.
  • Mixer
    Equipment used to fuse all soundtracks.
  • Mole Beams
    This is a tungsten version of the Xenon light, but it does not have the dancing heat feature.  These lights started in the silent film days when we had 2 ASA Kodak film stocks and it required this super focused light to even expose the negative.   It has a flood and spot function that gives you a beautiful circle of light, but when you flood it out it gives you a donut shape pattern because of the globe being in the center of the parabolic mirror reflector.  They create the most realistic looking SUN LIGHT source on the planet.  I use them for shafts and different water effects.
  • Mombo Combo Stand
    This is a high stand that has 4 risers and extends to 25’. It does not have wheels, but you can get wheel kits that slide onto the base of the stand.  These stands are usually used to rig overhead frames and to send lights or flags higher in the air. 
  • Monochromacy
    Color scheme using only the nuances of a single colour. In many films, colour filters are used to produce a purely monochromatic look; however, more commonly, a few analogous colors and their different shades and tints can also be found in these images. It is also possible to create a monochromatic look by means of well-planned set decoration. 
  • Montage
    Montage is French for “putting together”. In general, three different definitions are associated with this term:  (1) A series of brief shots, mainly used to suggest the passing of time or the occurrence of different events. Montage sequences of this type often make use of dissolves and superimpositions as transitions.  (2) A theory and associated style and a theory of editing developed by Soviet filmmakers (particularly Sergei Eisenstein) in the 1920s. Among other things, the theory states that “each sequential element is perceived not next to the other, but on top of the other”, thus expressing the idea that meaning accumulates. In keeping with this, this kind of editing juxtaposes shots to create symbolic meaning and to build up dramatic tension. In contrast to the style of montage found in the classical Hollywood continuity system, however, Soviet montage is not concerned with creating comprehensible spatial or temporal continuity.  (3) In European cinema, montage is a far(...)
  • Motif
    Any element of a film which takes on symbolic significance through systematic repetition. Filmmakers can develop a motif out of almost any film element, for example, gestures, costumes, locations, decoration, props, music, sound effects, colour, lighting and composition. Even aspects of cinematography, i.e. camera distance, camera angle, and focus can also be used to develop motifs, or may take on a character of a motif (i.e. a character being consistently shown from a low angle).
  • Motion Still
    A photograph or screenshot produced from an original film frame. Motion stills have to be distinguished from production stills or publicity stills (both also called film stills), which are photographs taken on the set for publicity purposes, and which therefore are not part of the film. 
  • Negative
    Film used in the camera while shooting.
  • Negative Space
    Parts of the frame or an area within the frame that are/is left blank or in which objects are missing in a way that is striking. By leaving part(s) of the frame empty, other areas of the screen can be emphasized, so in this respect, even negative space has a certain weight and importance in the composition of a frame. The opposite of negative space is positive space.
  • Neutral Density Filter:
    Filter used for controlling light passing through the camera lens without affecting the color.
  • Noga/Ultralight Arm
    This is an arm that mounts on your camera cage or handle system so that you can mount monitors or other accessories needed for the operation of the camera.
  • Non-Diegetic
    Not belonging to the fictional world of the film (opposite of diegetic). For instance, background music, a narrator’s commentary or sound effects added after filming that do not seem to originate from the film’s world, are all examples of non-diegetic sound.
  • Normal Lens
    For cameras that use 35 mm film (or an equivalent digital sensor), a focal length between 35 mm and 50 mm is considered as “normal”. As indicated by its name, this kind of lens is the prime choice for cinematographers because it produces the least distortion of any type. The normal lens best approximates the way the human visual system experiences a scene, since lenses in the normal range reproduce the depth relationships of objects in a way close to human vision. Lenses with longer focal length are called telephoto lenses, whereas lenses with shorter focal length are designated as wide-angle lenses. Both types of lenses have certain characteristics regarding depth relationships, perspective distortions, depth of field and angle of view, which clearly set them apart from normal lenses.
  • Number Board
    Board held in front of the camera before every shot with the film title, scene number, and number of takes.
  • Objective Camera
    An objective camera is one that tries to avoid attracting the viewer’s attention to itself and aims to give an objective view of the action. An objective camera often remains still (see static shot) and shows characters from a certain distance in order not to manipulate the viewer’s perception of the scene. For this reason, the viewer does not get the impression of directly participating in the action.The objective camera in filmmaking corresponds with the third-person narrator in literature. Opposite of subjective camera. 
  • Offscreen
     The space which is not visible in the frame at a certain moment, but which exists in the diegetic world of a narrative film. Offscreen space becomes significant when the viewer’s attention is drawn to something in the diegesis that is not visible in the frame, i.e. someone looking offscreen at someone else, a light ray or a shadow entering the frame from offscreen, or a sound heard from offscreen. Offscreen space is often later revealed through camera movement and is commonly exploited for suspense in horror and thriller films.
  • Offscreen Sound
    A sound emitted by a source which is not visible in the frame, but which is part of the diegetic world of the film, i.e. a character shouting from offscreen, with the next shot then showing this character, or the sound of an explosion that is not (yet) visible in the frame.
  • Omniscient Camera
    A concept in which the camera (as the visual narrator) has an omniscient point of view and thus “knows” (and sees) everything occurring in a story, including character thoughts, as well as all actions, places, conversations and events. An omniscient camera often “anticipates” what is going to happen by making changes in camera distance, camera angle, camera movement or focus adjustment. The omniscient point of view stands in contrast to the subjective point of view. 
  • On Screen Sound
    A sound emitted by a source which is visible in the frame, i.e. two characters talking to each other, shown in a two shot, or the ticking of a clock shown in close-up.
  • On-Board monitors
    These are monitors that are mounted to the camera to help the operator operate the shot as well as give the 1st AC the view of the shot.
  • Onscreen
    The space which is visible in the frame at a certain moment. The space which is not visible, but nevertheless exists in the diegetic world of a narrative film, is called offscreen space.
  • Optical Effect
    A special effect achieved by optical means, i.e. an optical printer, in contrast to effects created digitally using a computer. Examples of optical effects are fade-outs and fade-ins, lap dissolves, slow motion, fast motion, matte work and freeze frames. However, it should be pointed out that, nowadays, many of what were formerly optical effects are now also achieved digitally using computers.
  • Optical Printer
    An analogue machine used to create special effects by optical means. An optical printer consists of one or more film projectors that are mechanically linked to a camera, thus allowing filmmakers to re-photograph one or more strips of film.
  • Original
    Film used in a camera when shooting.
  • Over The Shoulder
    A shot of two subjects with the camera placed/held behind one person, and facing the second person. This usually has a little shoulder or side of the face of the actor in the foreground.
  • Overhead Angle
    With this camera angle, the positioning of the camera directly or almost directly above the action or subject creates a rather abstract effect, with the subjects seeming small and insignificant like ants. If the shot is taken from directly above, often only geometric forms remain visible, which can create a disorienting or dizzying effect. In many cases, overhead angles are used to distance the viewer from the action or to give a broad overview of it.
  • Overhead Frames
    These come in all different sizes.  Most common are 6x6, 8x8, 12x12, 12x20, 20x20.  They are used to control and diffuse sunlight and movie lights.  They can have a solid, a bounce, or types of diffusion tied into them. 
  • Overlapping Action (overlapping editing)
    Also called overlapping editing. An expansion of time, which is accomplished by intercutting a series of shots, or by filming the action from different angles and editing them together. In this way, part or all of an action may be repeated from another viewpoint. Since this cinematic device strongly disrupts the audience’s sense of real time, it is commonly associated with experimental filmmaking. However, it can be used more unobtrusively to stretch time, or to exaggerate the time of a certain movement for dramatic effect. In such cases, overlapping action is then often combined with slow motion.
  • P-Tap
    This is a connector that supplies power to different accessories to your camera.  Most batteries have P-tap receptacles built into them.
  • Pan
    Horizontal movement of the camera from right to left or vice-versa while shooting.
  • Pan and Scan
    Technical method that makes it possible to show a film with a widescreen aspect ratio on a narrower screen by adjusting the height of the widescreen material to the height of the replay screen. Those parts of the widescreen image that do not fit in the replay screen are simply cut off. The advantage of this form of transferring widescreen films into 4:3 video format is that it does not leave black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. The obvious disadvantage is that the original aspect ratio and some of the original material gets lost. An alternative method for making such adjustments is letterboxing.
  • Pancake Light
    This light was taking the China Ball concept to a whole other level with light control.  The light has a half moon bottom, but a flat top.  You get a light that has side flaps that roll down to control the source.  The problem with China balls is their circular shape makes it difficult to shape and control.  The pancake which comes in small, medium and large sizes gives you all the control along with letting you add many different globes in the socket depending on what color temp and quality you prefer.
  • Parallel Action
    Different occurrences in the film being represented simultaneously by intercutting.
  • Parallel Editing
     Parallel editing is a technique of cutting back and forth between actions occurring in at least two different locations and at different times. Typically, it is used to show differences or similarities between the alternating shots in contexts in which the temporal setting is not an important factor in conveying the message. A similar technique is cross-cutting.
  • Perspective
    Perspective, in the context of film, photography, painting and human vision in general, describes how objects appear to the eye based firstly on their inherent spatial attributes (i.e. relative size and apparent distance between each other), and secondly, in relation to their distance from the viewer.
  • Playback
    Recording soundtracks in a studio for synchronizing with actions on screen later.
  • Polecat
     Is an amazing lightweight rigging tool that uses a spring loaded system to expand like a wall spreader, but cannot hold the weight of a wall spreader.  Which is usually around 50 lbs.  A Polecat is rated for 10 to 20 lbs.  They come in varying lengths.  2’ to 4’, 4’ to 8’ and 8’ to 16’.  I love using them for corners of rooms, I actually use them from the floor up to the ceiling and you can then clamp your light in a much sleeker profile than having a stand that might be in the shot.
  • Positive Space
    Parts of the frame or an area within the frame that are/is filled with objects and/or people. Positive space normally transports the essential items of the visual composition of a frame. However, its significance can be enhanced by parts of the frame that are left bare. These empty parts of the frame are referred to as negative space.
  • Post Production
    Refers to all of the work that needs to be done after the actual shooting of the film is accomplished. This includes mainly editing, but also preparing the soundtrack and the credits.
  • POV Shot
    Also known as Point Of View Shot, a shot taken in a way that implies the scene being witnessed through the eyes of a character.
  • Pre Production
    The process of preparing and/or gathering together all the elements that are to be involved in a particular film before the actual shooting starts. Key elements of pre production include putting together a film crew (and most importantly in this process, selecting a director and cinematographer), casting the actors, creating a workable screenplay, identifying potential locations, constructing sets, creating or obtaining props and costumes, and planning special effects.
  • Premie Stand
    A stand that only has one riser and a baby pin for its mounting apparatus.  Top height is 3’.  Lowest point is 1’ off the ground.
  • Print
     A copy of the film, usually ready for projection.
  • Proxemic Patterns:
    The term “proxemic patterns” refers to the distribution and relationship of people in a given space. The underlying concept of proxemic patterns was developed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, who distinguished the following four major proxemic patterns:  1. the intimate, 2. the personal, 3. the social, 4. the public distance. a) In the context of film analysis, some film scholars have adopted this concept and related it to the various camera distances: intimate distance → distance of physical involvement, reserved for lovers and members of family ~ ECU, CU personal distance → arm's length away, reserved for friends rather than lovers and family members ~ MCU, MS, MLS social distance → impersonal business and casual relationships ~ LS public distance → formal and rather detached ~ ELS Admittedly, a shot labelled with a certain camera distance does not always equate to the same literal physical space between the camera and the subject; in(...)
  • Pull Back Shot
     A shot that zooms out from the subject to display the element of a particular scene.
  • Putt Putt Generators
    These are small crystal sync generators from 1000 watt to 6500 watt.  A 2000 watt will fire a 1200 HMI watt par light, a 3000 watt fill fire a 1800 watt HMI par light, and a 6500 watt will fire a 4K HMI par light.  Always leave at least 500 to 800 watt threshold because HMI’s take more wattage when starting up.  You can learn all about portable generators: https://www.hurlbutacademy.com/topic/portable-generators/.
  • Putty Knife w/ baby pin
    This is a putty knife with a baby pin bolted to it.  You can use this to slide under crown molding, in doors, window frames, etc. to rig lights, flags, etc.
  • Quacker Clamp/Bead Board Holder/Duck Bill
    This clamp uses a vice grip clamp along with two pieces of metal that holds beadboard bounces and fomecore.
  • Quick Release
    Apparatus for fast and easy mounting and removal of a camera from a tripod.
  • Rack Focus
    Changing focus in a shot in order to shift the audience's attention from one subject (or thing) to another.
  • Rain Deflector
    This is a device that was made to be able to shoot in the pouring rain and not have it blur your image.  It comes in all sizes of spinning glass that rotates at over 7000 rpm to spin the rain off the lens before it can sit on the glass.  
  • Rain Hats
    These are metal pieces that come in varying sizes that clamp to the exterior of the light so that it can work during rain scenes or from adverse weather conditions.  
  • Re-Establishing Shot
    A shot that reminds the viewers of the spatial layout of the scene and the respective positions of the characters in relation to it. The re-establishing shot once again draws attention to the location, which was previously recognized and noted by the viewers in the establishing shot. Between several closer shots, the director will periodically provide a re-establishing shot, in order to refresh the viewers’ sense of the overall geography of the scene. In addition, re-establishing shots often appear at the end of a scene as a kind of conclusion.
  • Reaction Shot
     A shot of a subject reacting to another subject's actions or dialogs.
  • Ready Rig
    This is a device created to support the handheld gimbal system.  It uses a nylon based vest to attach arms that fly over your head to then suspend the gimbal.
  • Rear Projection
    A studio technique which involves the projection of previously-created photographs or film material onto a translucent screen (background action) with the characters acting or the action taking place in front of this screen (foreground action). The foreground action is then filmed against the background action. In a front projection, the photographs or film material are projected onto a screen from the front, with the characters acting in front of it as well.
  • Reel
    In motion picture terminology, a spool made of metal or plastic which holds the photographic film material during shooting and is later attached to the projector when showing the final film.
  • Reflectors
    These are the workhorse of the day exterior shooting environment.  They have a hard side that can be either silver or gold, then a soft side that is either silver leaf or gold leaf.  The boards have the soft leafs on one side and it confuses the beam of the sun and makes it softer than a flat silver or gold surface.  They can come in two different sizes 42” x 42” or 24” x 24”.  Mirror reflector boards are also used to reflect sunlight or other light sources.  They have a mirror on one side and hard silver on the other.  Gold boards are really good for late afternoon light as well as for dark skin tones.
  • Reframing
    A technical term for short panning or tilting movements used to adjust for movements of the subject(s) in order to keep them on screen or centered in the frame and maintain the balance of composition. Reframing is an important and generally unobtrusive technique that helps to keep the viewer’s eye fixed on the most important figures within the frame. The actions of the character(s) should absorb the viewer’s attention and take precedence over these slight camera movements in such a way that reframing mostly goes unnoticed. In contrast, a following shot entails significantly more camera movement.
  • Release Print
    A positive print of the film that is fit for distribution.
  • Remote Follow Focus System
    This is a remote focus system that uses a MDR box that mounts to the camera which has 3 different motors to control - focus, iris and zoom, sometimes called a FIZ unit.  Preston is the industry standard.  Many other manufacturers have built them, but none have the accuracy as well as the range.
  • Retake
    Repeating a take because of not having achieved the desired results.
  • Rods
    These are lens support rods that can be made of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. They support the lens, hold your follow focus system, as well as, your matte box with some rigs.
  • Rough Cut
    Usually an early complete or nearly complete edit of a film. Contrast with final cut.
  • Running Time
    The total length of viewing time that a film actually runs, usually measured in minutes. In most cases, running time differs from story time.
  • Safety Cable
    This is an aircraft cable that usually has a carabiner on one end and a loop on the other.  This is essential in keeping all your lights safe and secure from falling.
  • Safety Take
    An additional take in case a backup take is required.
  • Sandbags or Shot Bags
    These are essential for any grip truck. They provide the necessary counter weight to safety lights, overhead frames, cameras, etc.  They either come filled with sand or lead shot.  They come in sizes of 35, 25 and 15lb sand bags 25lb shot bags.  Using shot bags are the best when you are doing water work because they stay the same weight and do not absorb all the water like sand does.  
  • Saturated Color
    Colors of strong luminosity and vividness. Saturated colours are those that have not been strongly broken down by adding their complementary. The opposite of saturation is desaturation, which is achieved by adding an increasing proportion of the initial color’s complementary colour that progressively reduces the hue of the initial colour towards grey. For related information, read the entry concerning contrast of saturation. 
  • Scrims
    These are pieces of screen that are either green which takes the light down a half stop or red, which takes the light down one stop.  You can have half scrims as well that only work with Fresnel lights.  I use the half scrims to balance the light so that it delivers an even field across an area.  So if I was lighting a back wall and wanted the light to be even at the source and at the other end of the wall, you can use the half scrim to do that.  Half singles work very well this way.  I also use them in condors to put the half scrims at the bottom because this will always be brighter.
  • Selects
     Shots that are selected for use before beginning with the editing to save time.  The director will work with the script supervisor to mark those selected takes for editorial.  These educate the editor on which takes the director loves.
  • Shallow Focus (selective focus)
    A restricted depth of field, in which only one depth plane is in sharp focus, while objects in the background or close to the camera are out of focus, and thus blurry (see bokeh). The technique is typically used to direct the viewer’s attention to the objects in the plane that are in sharp focus. In addition, shallow focus is frequently used for close-ups suggesting psychological introspection, since a character thus appears to be oblivious to the world around him. The opposite of shallow focus is deep focus.
  • Shallow Water Housing
    This is a housing that can take your camera to 25’ deep.  It has knobs on the exterior to turn it on and pull focus, as well as, adjust and internal camera settings.
  • Shooting Angle
    The angle at which the camera is placed for a shot in accordance with the subject.  
  • Shooting Ratio
    Ratio of the length of the final movie to the length of the entire shooting before editing.
  • Shot
    (1) A piece of film that has been exposed without cuts or interruptions (before editing). (2) A trimmed piece of uninterrupted film which is used in the final version of a film (after editing).  In both cases, the shot is the basic element of a film, defined by its physical (including digital) existence as an unbroken entity (or its appearance as such for the viewers). A shot may be of any duration, from a fraction of a second to minutes and even hours. A lengthy shot with a duration of more than approximately 40 seconds is called a long take.
  • Shot/Reverse Shot
    An editing pattern that cuts between characters (or other objects) in alternation; often used in dialogue scenes. The second shot is taken from the reverse angle of the first shot (and so on). The shot/reverse shot pattern is fundamental to the continuity editing style. Some filmmakers prefer to use a “two shot” (this is shot showing two individuals simultaneously) in dialogue scenes, rather than dissecting the space into several “one shots” that are connected in the shot/reverse shot pattern. The shot/reverse shot pattern is often used in combination with over-the-shoulder shots.
  • Show Print
     Similar to release print.
  • Sight Line
    An imaginary axis that runs between the eyes of a person and the subject or object that is in focus. Sight lines draw the viewer’s attention to specific parts of the mise en scène (this is particularly important in long takes). In rare cases, the sight line of an actor may directly meet the lens, so that the character seems to be looking directly into the eyes of the viewer (see 90-degree-shot). Nevertheless, since this is very obtrusive and confronting, films in the tradition of continuity editing generally try to prevent such a direct addressing of the viewer. The sight lines of the various subjects in a shot can form special shapes (i.e. a triangle). For this reason, sight lines should be taken into account in the analysis of a shot’s composition.
  • SkyPan Lights
    These lights are still the most even light that you can use to light white cyc walls, green and blue screens.  They come in 2K, 5K, and 10K tungsten.  I hang them 10 feet away from the wall and usually 6 feet apart for an even spread.  I also add one at each end of the wall.  This lights design is all about overlap.  
  • Snorricam
    A SnorriCam (also called chestcam, body mount camera, bodycam) is a camera device used in filmmaking that is attached to the body of the actor or an object. The SnorriCam gets its name from the surname of the two Icelandic photographers and directors, Einar Snorri and Eiður Snorri who invented it. In most cases, the lens of the SnorriCam is facing the actor directly, so when the person walks, he or she does not appear to be moving, but everything around him or her instead. In relation to the actor (or the object) wearing the camera, the framing, the camera distance and the camera angle stay the same within a shot. A SnorriCam is a highly subjective camera, creating an unusual sense of vertigo for the viewer. The SnorriCam was largely popularized by its use in music videos.
  • Soft Focus
    An optical effect created by the use of a special lens or filter, which produces images that are deliberately blurred due to spherical aberration while retaining sharp edges. In this respect, it is thus not the same as an out of focus image, since the effect cannot be achieved simply by defocusing a sharp lens. Soft focus is also the name of the style of photography produced by such a lens. Soft focus adds a touch of softness to the image, which is generally associated with “romantic moods”.
  • Soft Light or Soft Lighting
     Soft light is a term that refers to the general quality of the light. Soft light has a wide scattering and shows a smooth transition from the deepest shadow via partial shade to the bright areas. Soft lighting makes surfaces appear smoother and softens borders, wrinkles are filled up and people look more attractive. 
  • Space
    The area within the frame which is at the filmmaker's disposal. Space is a section of mise en scène and offers a three-dimensional stage, which can be filled with objects and characters.  The space which is directly visible in the frame is called onscreen space. The space which is suggested (beyond the borders of the frame) is termed offscreen space. The configuration and the corresponding effect of space can be manipulated by certain camera distances, lighting or lens types. According to mise en scène, special uses of space are: positive space negative space ambiguous space deep space or flat space tight framing or loose framing
  • Space Lights
    These lights come in tungsten, HMI and LED.  They are used for lighting large areas of your sets.  I use them for creating day ambience outside of sets on stage.  They hang just down from the ceiling and create a very large source when grouped together.  I have used them to light green and blue screen environments.. I use them to light white cyc’s evenly.  They project the light down and out the sides of a silk skirt that dangles down 2 to 3 foot from the source.
  • Spaghetti Western (Italo-Western)
    Spaghetti Western, also known as Italo-Western, is the nickname given to an Italian film movement and sub-genre of Western films from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. The name derives from the fact that most of these films were produced and directed by Italians, usually in co-production with a Spanish partner, and in some cases, a German partner. Typically, the partners would insist that some of their stars be cast in the film for promotional purposes. The best-known and perhaps most typical films of this genre are A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), all directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood and with the musical scores of Ennio Morricone.
  • Special Effects
    Specially created illusions which are often too fantastic to be true.
  • Speedrail
    Is a term for aluminum pipe that usually comes in 1 ¼” diameter or 1 ½” diameter.  It is an essential rigging tool for car mounts, lights, overheads, goal posts, etc.  A grip truck will have all lengths varying from 6” all the way up to 20’.
  • Spherical Lenses
    A lens in which all refracting surfaces are spherical.  These lenses are the most used in narrative and commercial filmmaking.
  • Spider Grips
    These are hand held handles that have become the industry standard.  Lightweight, using rosette handles at different angles to adjust to any operators specs.
  • Splash Box
    This is a Plexiglass box that holds your camera system and protects it from water, specifically in the ocean and or lakes.  It enables you to get split level shots where your actors are bobbing in the water.
  • Splice
    The process of attaching two pieces of film (see cut).
  • Split Screen
    A technique that shows a visible division of the screen, traditionally in half, but which can also be in several simultaneous images. Each division may show independent action or the same action from different viewpoints. Split screen is usually intended to signify simultaneous action (see also cross-cutting). Split screen appears highly artificial to the viewer, significantly disturbing the illusion that the screen’s frame is a window on reality.
  • Squeezers
    Are small inline dimmers that look like household dimmers that you would have in your house, they usually take from 650 watt to 1K.  I use these for all my practical lights on set.
  • Staging Positions
    The language of film recognizes five main body positions that actors (respectively characters) can be placed and photographed in. Each of these basic positions, in which the actor faces the viewer in a different way, also have different psychological connotations. Full front: The character directly faces the camera front. This position represents the greatest intimacy as far as the relation between the camera (resp. the viewer) and the actor is concerned. By looking directly at the viewers, the actor puts them in a role of complicity. The character looking directly into the camera (resp. the viewer's eyes), can significantly disturb the illusion that the screen’s frame is a window to a separated reality (see also 90-degree shot). Quarter turn: The body is a quarter-turn from the audience. This is the favoured position of most filmmakers as it offers a high degree of intimacy on the one hand, and a lower degree of emotional involvement than the full front position on the(...)
  • Standard Aspect Ratio
    An aspect ratio of 4:3 (i.e. 1.33:1), which means that the frame width is 33 percent broader than the frame height. This was the underlying aspect ratio for the shape of TV screens until the 1950’s.
  • Standard Legs
    These are tripod legs that start at around 40” high and can go up to 6’.  They can either have a mitchell mount or a ball receiver.
  • Static Shot (static camera)
    A shot with no camera movement at all; the fixed camera remains motionless. In most cases, the camera is mounted on a tripod (or a similar support). Long static shots help the viewers to notice subtle changes of the mise en scène. Depending on the context, static shots can variously convey calmness and contemplation, or a feeling of being secure, fixed, or trapped. The frequent use of static shots can become part of a director’s signature style (i.e. directors Jim Jarmusch and Peter Greenaway).
  • Steadicam
    A lightweight stabilizing mount for a film camera, which mechanically detaches the operator’s movement from the camera, thus allowing smooth and relatively steady shots even when the camera operator is moving quickly over uneven surfaces. In this way, the Steadicam can be freely moved everywhere a camera operator can go but without the jumpiness and unstable, jerky feel of a handheld camera. The Steadicam was introduced to the industry in 1976 by its inventor – cameraman Garrett Brown. Its breakthrough movies are generally considered to be John Avildsen’s Rocky, which was filmed in that same year, and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining. Steadicam is a registered trademark of Tiffen. 
  • Still
    An unmoving shot, a normal photograph of a subject or a thing in the movie.
  • Storyboards
    A series of illustrations or images (including brief descriptions and technical aspects, i.e. regarding camera distance or camera angle), which outlines the overall scene sequence and important shots for the purpose of pre-visualizing a film.
  • Straight Cut
    A simple cut in which the last frame of the first shot is instantly followed by the first frame of the next shot. With a straight cut, no special optical transition is used. Straight cuts are the most common connections between shots.
  • Subjective Camera
    A camera that involves the viewers directly in the action, thus letting them participate more strongly in the atmosphere of a shot. A subjective camera is typically positioned near the characters so that the viewer can easily witness their perception, feelings or state of mind. In keeping with this, the camera performs a lot of movements, such as panning or tilting to simulate the eye of a directly involved person. The most subjective viewpoint a camera can have is the point-of-view shot. The opposite of this is the objective camera. 
  • Subsequent Point-of-View (shot)
    A special form of point-of-view shot, in which the viewers see something or someone within a frame without any indication that this might represent the point-of-view of another person. The subsequent cut to another shot then reveals a character observing what was in the first shot. In a certain sense, the subsequent point-of-view shot can be regarded as a reversed gaze shot. This kind of point-of-view shot often introduces an element of surprise.
  • Subtitles
    Words displayed in either a silent film, or for the purpose of translating a movie into several languages so as to reach out to a world audience.
  • Sun Umbrella
    Is a large beach umbrella that is used to shadow the camera.  It has a long shaft and a Jr. receiver so that it can go into stands.  I use it for rain work as well.
  • Superimposition
    An editing technique and special effect that blends two or more shots (of separately photographed action) on the same film strip in such a way that the images are seen simultaneously. The technique of superimposition always draws attention to itself since it breaks up the apparent continuity of time and space. During a lap dissolve, one image is momentarily superimposed on another. In contrast, however, a superimposition usually lasts longer than the blending of two shots in a lap dissolve, and unlike a lap dissolve, usually does not signify a transition from one scene to another. Superimpositions are frequently used in montage sequences.
  • Swish Pan
    An extremely rapidly-executed panning movement, which briefly causes the picture to blur (i.e. the camera moves quickly from one character to another, whom we could not see before). The swish pan usually begins and ends with the camera at rest and often functions as a transition without a cut. However, this use of a swish pan generally requires careful planning of the mise en scène. In contrast to the common transitions that are standardly used in the style of continuity editing, swish pans are always very striking and thus immediately draw attention to themselves. Sometimes a swish pan is used in combination with an adjacent cut, thereby covering this cut. This kind of usage may suggest the passage of time or a change of location.
  • T-Bone Stand
    This is another low stand that is angle iron shaped in a T with a junior receiver.
  • Taco Cart
    This is a grip cart that includes C-stands, apple boxes, rigging and flags required for location and stage work.  
  • Tail
    The end of a shot.
  • Take
     A recording of a shot.
  • Tango Head
    This is a head that clamps onto your fluid head which enables you to rotate your image on an angle.  Getting you dutch angles.  It is also used in condors for overhead high wide master shots, because of the limitations of the condor the tango enables you to correct the horizon line so that it looks correct.
  • Teaser
    This is a theatrical term for teasers that were on stage to hide rows of lights from the audience, we use them to control light. They are usually long and thin in width.  Standard size would be 5’ wide and 16’ long.
  • Telephoto Lens
    A telephoto lens (or a zoom lens operating at maximum focal length) has a narrow angle of view and makes subjects appear closer to the camera than would be the case with a normal lens. In other words, distant objects in front of the camera are magnified. Although there is no exact definition for the designation “telephoto”, a focal length higher than 60 mm is generally considered a telephoto lens (for cameras that use 35 mm film or an equivalent digital sensor). The upper limit is about 1200 mm. Because of their long focal length, telephoto lenses are sometimes called “long lenses”. Not surprisingly, long lenses have attributes opposite to those of the short lenses ( = wide-angle lenses). The effect of using a long lens is to compress the apparent depth of an image, so that elements that are relatively close or far away from the camera seem to lie at approximately the same distance. This perspective-flattening effect is sometimes called “telephoto distortion”. Telephoto lenses(...)
  • Three Riser Baby Stand
    A stand that has three risers and a baby pin for its mounting apparatus.  Top height is 16’.  Lowest point is 4.5’ off the ground.
  • Three Riser Combo Stand
    A stand that has two risers and will take up to an 18K if need be.  It has a Junior receiver.  Top height is 16’.  Lowest point is 4.5’ off the ground.
  • Three Shot
    Any shot focussing on three people is referred to as a “three shot”, regardless of how they are pictured or arranged (i.e. in terms of camera distance, camera angle, etc.).
  • Three-Point Lighting
    This constellation is the most basic form of lighting arrangement used in filmmaking and is used to present characters or subjects to their best advantage. The three light sources involved are called the key light, fill light and backlight. The strongest light source is the key light, which directs the viewer’s attention. The fill light – less bright than the key light – softens the borders between lit and shady areas, while the backlight is used to set the subject off from its background. For related information, read the entries concerning key light, fill light and backlight.
  • Tight Framing
     Tight framing refers to a shot in which there is little visible space around the main subject(s). Tight framing stresses a lack of mobility and can thus be used to evoke an oppressive feeling of confinement or a comfortable sense of safety. The opposite of tight framing is loose framing.
  • Tilting
    A movement of the fixed camera, in which the camera pivots vertically, from up to down or vice versa. Tilting a camera is a motion similar to that of someone nodding their head to indicate “yes”. See also panning.  Common functions of tilt shots are: showing an object that extends above or below the frame (reveal) introducing a location (up ► down) evoking suspense by showing a subject from the feet to the head (down ► up) concealing what is happening by tilting up to the sky (down ► up)
  • Time-Lapse Cinematography
    A film technique in which frames are shot much more slowly than their normal rate (usually at regular intervals i.e. one frame every minute, or one frame every 24 hours), thus allowing action to take place between the single frames. When the processed film is later played at normal speed, events and actions appear to be taking place much faster. In this way, the viewer can witness events that have been compressed from real time (hours or days) into a few seconds or minutes. Time-lapse cinematography is often used in filming nature, i.e. to show the blooming of a flower, a sunset, or clouds moving across the sky. Time-lapse cinematography can be regarded as an extreme form of fast motion.
  • Tint
    A colour with white added. 
  • Title Card
    Title cards or intertitles are a piece of filmed, printed text. These are then edited into the filmed action at various points, generally to supply character dialogue and thoughts (especially in the silent film era), or to provide descriptive narrative text related to the filmed events.
  • Track In
     A tracking shot in which the camera moves towards a subject or object. Opposed to track out (track back).
  • Tracking Shot
    A tracking shot is any shot in which the camera films while being smoothly moved around. In most cases, the camera is mounted on a dolly that glides on tracks (hence the name). However, a dolly or any other kind of mobile support allowing for smooth movement may also move on wheels. Tracking shots can be achieved using a great variety of different devices such as a crane, Steadicam, or a well-supported handheld camera (i.e. a handheld camera on a wheelchair). The verbs to track and to dolly are often used synonymously. A tracking shot usually moves with a character (or an object), but if the camera follows a subject over a lengthy period of time, this kind of shot is then called a following shot. With regard to possible tracking movements, there is a great variety available to cinematographers. However, the most common are: The camera moves (tracks) towards a subject or object (track in). The camera moves (tracks) away from a subject or object (track out or track(...)
  • Treatment
    A condensed literary summary or presentation of the story for a proposed film, with basic ideas, action and characters described in prose form (i.e. a first draft of a screenplay). Usually, a treatment is used to market and sell a film project or script in the preproduction phase.
  • Tree Branch Holder
    Is exactly that, a C-Clamp with a wide channel to accept tree branches to break up light going through windows, doors, etc.
  • Triadic Colors
     A harmonic combination of colors made up of three colors that are separated by 120 degrees on the color wheel. Triadic colors always belong to the same order in the color wheel. For related information, read the entry concerning color scheme and analogue colors. 
  • Tripod
    A camera support that consists of three legs (from “tri” – three and “podia” – feet) and a flexible head. A camera attached to a fixed tripod can carry out panning, tilting and rotating movements.
  • Tungsten Fresnel Lights
    This is a tungsten balanced fixture.  The Fresnel lens was developed by the French to project light for long distances.  Hence the Fresnel lens being in every Light House in the world.  This lens delivers beautiful hard shadows, it delivers a very even spread while in flood and spot.  This light gives great shafts of light, awesome for bounces and to project through diffusion frames.  A fresnel will give you less output then a Par light with the same wattage.
  • Tungsten Open Face Lights
    These lights are workhorses in the industry, like a par light, it delivers more output then its same wattage fresnel counterpart.  They are amazing for bouncing, projecting through diffusion, using them for ceiling bounces for room tone.  I use them for distant houses in the background of wide shots to give depth in windows, bounce them into the ceilings or project out of windows onto steps or driveways.  They have a flood and spot function.  They do not project good hard shadows.  Because of the bulb and reflector you usually get 3 shadows with your cut. My favorites are the Arri 750 watt HPL or the Arri 2K HPL.
  • Tungsten Par Light
    Par light source that is Tungsten balanced, these lights have different degrees of spread based on the globe type.  Very Narrow glass is clear so the beam is the tightest.  Narrow is a slight frosting on the glass, which spreads it a little more.  These globes are best for Night Exterior work in condors which give you a very even backlight field over large distances.  The medium has rectangular patterns across the glass that spreads the light and you can choose to have a horizontal beam or a vertical beam.  The wide lens has square patterns across its glass that spreads the light even more than a medium and you can alter the beam as well.   The light is not good for hard shadows, these lights are amazing for bouncing lights or projecting them through diffusion frames.  Great for hot spots in the background, amazing for moonlight ambience.
  • Two Riser Baby Stand
    A stand that has two risers and a baby pin for its mounting apparatus.  Top height is 10’.  Lowest point is 4’ off the ground.
  • Two Riser Combo Stand
     A stand that has two risers and will take up to an 18K if need be.  It has a Junior receiver.  Top height is 10’.  Lowest point is 4’ off the ground.
  • Two Shot
    A medium shot taken to include two subjects only, generally from the waist up.
  • Ultrabounce
    This is a white and black fabric that is used to control or bounce light.  It is waterproof and very strong to stand up to high winds.  It has a sheen to it so it delivers a harder light source than a bleached muslin fabric.
  • Ultrasonic Cleaner
    A cleaning machine used to clean negatives before printing.
  • Underwater Housing
    This is a housing that can take your camera to 300’ deep.  It has knobs on the exterior to turn it on and pull focus as well as adjust and internal camera settings.
  • V Mount
    Is a V-lock mount that enables the battery to be mounted to the camera by sliding it onto a V shaped bracket  This is the industry standard for most of Europe and Asia.
  • Vanishing Point
    Parallel lines in a picture which are not parallel to the visual plane of the picture appear to converge in one or more vanishing points inside or outside the borders of the image. It is useful to analyse a motion still regarding its vanishing points because they can help to determine the height of the camera and the camera angle. If a motion still has only one vanishing point, it is possible to draw a horizontal line across it and get the so-called “horizon line”, which marks the height of the camera at the moment the frame was taken. If there is more than one vanishing point, it is necessary to find two opposite vanishing points, which are mostly located offscreen, and draw a line from one vanishing point to the other to get the horizon line. If a horizon line slopes in one direction, it shows that the camera was canted to one side.
  • Variac
    This is an instrument that limits the voltage that goes to tungsten lights.  It dims them down. It is not electronic. They come in 1K, 2K & 5K versions.
  • Vault Box
    Box created to hold rolls.
  • Vector
    Vectors are directional forces that lead our eyes from one point to another in a picture or a shot. Basically, there are three main different types of vectors: Index vectors are the most obvious type, as they take the form of something in the shot that is clearly pointing somewhere, such as a one-way sign. Motion vectors are created by elements in the shot that are moving in a certain direction, such as a bus driving left to right across the shot. Graphic vectors take the form of aspects in a scene that have a directional element, such as skyscrapers in a city or a sidewalk cutting through the shot.
  • Voice Over
    An unseen narrator's voice in the movie.
  • Wedges
    These are workhorse building blocks for many rigs, leveling dolly track, pounding them into tires that do not have locks, etc.
  • Wheels
    This is an operating system that uses wheels to control the pan and tilt of the camera. These are essential for operating remote heads. Back in the day, the wheels were necessary to move the very heavy camera.  They are the benchmark for an operator in the film industry.
  • Wide-Angle Lens
    A wide-angle lens (or a zoom lens operating at minimum focal length) has a wider angle of view than a normal lens. Wide-angle lenses tend to magnify the distance between objects while allowing greater depth of field. For cameras that use 35 mm film or an equivalent digital sensor, a lens of focal length 35 mm or less is considered wide-angle. Extreme wide-angle lenses with a focal length of 16 mm or less are called fisheye lenses. Because of their short focal length, wide-angle lenses are sometimes called “short lenses”. They have attributes opposite to those of the long lenses (telephoto lenses). The effect of using a short lens is to make spatial distances more obvious. A person in the distance is shown as much smaller, while someone in the foreground will loom large. The shorter the focal length of a lens is, the more obvious its distortion of perspective becomes. Wide-angle lenses have a large depth of field, which makes them suitable for deep focus cinematography. Movement(...)
  • Widescreen
    A film that has a width-to-height aspect ratio greater than the standard aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (i.e. 4:3). From the 1960s onwards, most films had a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and nowadays, most films have an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Widescreen film formats have specific visual characteristics that allow for a different use of space than the standard 1.33:1 format.
  • Wild Soundtrack
    Sound recorded independent of the film and added later.
  • Wipe
    A transition between two shots in which the first shot seems to be wiped away by the second shot, which moves as a whole into the screen from a certain direction until the second shot fills the screen. In the process, the new shot gradually overlaps the first shot.
  • Wood Cucoloris
    This is a device that comes in 4’ x 4’, 24” x 36” and 18” x 24”.  It is a wood painted black with different shapes and sizes that create unique shadows.  It is an amazing tool to use for moonlight on sheers. It breaks it up when you might not have tree branches hanging around.
  • Work Print
     A copy of a positive film print used for editing purposes.
  • Wrap
    Term used to indicate the ending of shooting.
  • Xenon Light
    This light was developed by Dick Hall for the film Blade Runner.  Jordan Crowenweth's inspiration for Blade Runner was moving lights that were tracked in every interior space.  It is daylight balanced at 5600K.  It has a flood and spot function that gives you a beautiful circle of light, but when you flood it out it gives you a donut shape pattern because of the globe being in the center of the parabolic mirror reflector.  They create the most realistic looking SUN LIGHT source on the planet.  I use them for shafts and different water effects.  The head has a very noisy fan so you cannot use them for much sound work that is near the camera, but further away doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Because of the intense heat that the globe emits, the light dances when it is pointed down.  So if tilting down, I aim them into mirrors then pan and tilt the mirror.  BUT realize that these lights project heat and they will explode your mirror if it is spotted in.  I’ve done that way too many(...)
  • Zolly Shot
     Is a shot that Steven Spielberg made famous in “Jaws,” where you dolly in towards your subject and you zoom out at the same speed creating a unique effect of fear, excitement or peril.
  • Zoom
    The adjustment of focal length during a shot, which changes the apparent distance from a subject. From a technical perspective, zooms are accomplished by using special zoom lenses. Sometimes a zoom is used instead of a tracking shot, but in contrast to the latter, the camera in a zoom shot normally remains stationary. In both types of shots there is a similar change in apparent distance from the subject. However, there are notable differences in the relationship between the subject and the background. In zoom shots, the relative positions and sizes of the elements in the frame stay the same, whereas in a tracking shot, the relationship between these elements changes. In other words, a zoom doesn’t cause changes in perspective whereas a tracking shot does. In addition, it is worth noting that a zoom has no counterpart in the human visual system, whereas a tracking shot is analogous to the perspective changes associated with natural human movement. A zoom has two possible(...)

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