This is still a work in progress, but below is the first section of the film dictionary. Its goal was to create the most in-depth film and television dictionary the interweb has ever seen! This dictionary will always be added to and worked on. If you have a suggestion for the dictionary, get in contact with us.
Film & Television Dictionary, Letter A
Abby Singer: Known as the second-to-last shot of the day. This term comes from the name of a famous 1st Assistant Director who would warn the crew of the last two shots before moving on or ending the day. This originated from working in early Television, where the crew would constantly be on the move throughout the day. Check out Abby Singer’s credits on IMDB.
Above the Line: Costs to the production that involve the main creative elements. Example: the Writer, Producer, Director, Talent.
“A” Camera: When shooting with 2 or more cameras, the main camera is referred to as “‘A’ Camera”
Ace: A 1k or 1000 Watt light.
Action: A command for the talent, crew and/or background performers to start their performance. Example: Background action, dolly action…
A.C.T.R.A: Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Actors. Check out the ACTRA Website.
A.D. Box: Also known as a Set Box. A box used to store paperwork, walkie batteries and other Assistant Director tools that are regularly needed on set.
Ad Lib: When the actor improvises a scene or dialogue that is not in the actual script.
A.D.R.: Automated Dialogue Replacement or Additional Dialogue Replacement. Re-Recording dialogue in studio to replace or improve the audio that was recorded on the day of filming.
Aerial Shot: A shot that is taken in the air from a plane or helicopter. More recently, smaller drones have replaced planes and helicopters for many Aerial Shots. Check out some drones on Amazon.
Agent: The person who represents a performer in exchange of payment. An agent usually works on behalf of their client to promote and represent their best interests. They will usually handle the majority of all interactions between the client and the employer, production company or movie studio.
Alan Smithee: Name used when a director’s wants their name removed from the film’s credits. Check out Alan Smithee’s IMDB Credits Here.
Ambient Noise: Also known as Room Tone. This is a recording of the sound in a room to use as an underlying audio track in editing. Room Tone or Ambient Noise is generally recorded after completing a scene in a location before moving on to the next.
Animatronics: Special effects that deals with remote controlled puppetry of various things.
Aperture: The small hole made by the iris that lets light through a lens.
Apple Box: Wooden boxes that come in full, half and quarter sizes. Used by grips to elevate actors, build, rig and more. Often times, when an apple box is called for the grip is meaning a full when they just say “apple box”, if they require a size other than a full, they will say it.
ARRI: The largest manufacturer of professional motion picture equipment in the world. Check out ARRI’s official website.
Art Director: The art director is generally second in command in the art department and reports directly to the Production Designer.
A.S.C.: American Society of Cinematographers. Check out The A.S.C. website.
Aspect Ratio: The height to width ratio of a film or video image.
Assistant Director (A.D.): The right hand of the director and the person that keeps the crew moving. Learn more about what an Assistant Director does here.
Assistant Locations Manager: Also referred to as the ALM, the Assistant Locations Manager works under the Location Manager and oversees a location during the shoot. They are responsible for things like parking, garbage, delegating location PA’s and making sure that the location is restored to it’s original state before the crew leaves.
Associate Producer: The Associate Producer is sometimes hard to define but this credit is generally given to someone who has had a hand in producing an aspect of a production, but not fully considered a producer. Sometimes this credit can be given as a special thanks to a person who provided something important to the production of a film, or helped the production in some way without having a major role in the production.
Audition: An audition is essentially an interview for actors. The actor performs sides for a Casting Director and the Director in order to display their talent and skill as an actor and their understanding of the script or scene. Auditions can often result in callbacks for second and 3rd auditions as the Casting Director and Director whittle down their favorites in order to find the perfect person for the role.
Auteur: This term is used in reference to a Director that is a true author of their film. It stems from the “Auteur Theory” created by French critics in the 60s and was given to directors such as Kurosawa and Hitchcock. The theory states that a film reflects the true creative vision of a director. Modern Auteurs include directors such as, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick & Martin Scorsese.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter B
B-Cam: The name given to a second camera on a shoot, A-Cam is generally shooting the most important angle. B-Cam can also be shooting pick up shots or B-Roll at another location.
Baby: 1) A 1k or 1000 watt light.
2) A small stand or a small plate used by the grip department.
Baby Plate: A small plate that can be screwed into apple boxes or into walls for aid in rigging lights.
Backdrop: Imagery used in the background of talent and objects to set the scene in a studio setting. A backdrop can be as simple as a black or white cloth that you use when shooting a tutorial or a photo shoot or it can be elaborate scenery such as a park or skyline.
Background: 1) The area of a scene behind the main object or actors. 2) This is the non speaking talent that appears in the background of a scene to help create the atmosphere.
Back Light: A light used to help separate the talent from the background, usually adding a nice rim of light around the edge of the talents head and shoulders. These can be used to separate anything. “Hey, throw some back light on that plant”
Barn Doors: Barn doors are used on film lights to help shape the light, they can be opened or closed depending on how much light is required for the scene. Barn doors can either be attached to the lighting fixture or they can be removable on some sources.
Beat: A beat is a moment of pause taken in an actors dialogue that is open to interpretation, but can often be a moment of reflection, realization or change in emotion.
Behind-the-Scenes: Refers to the happenings on a set behind the camera, often a secondary camera crew will film behind the scenes extras that will appear on the DVD or Blu-ray. They may include how the film came together, how certain stunts and special effects were done and can include interviews with cast and crew.
Below-the-Line: Refers to the members of production that do not have creative input in the making of the film. These include the assistant directors, line producer, gaffer, key grip and many more.
Best Boy Electric: Second in command in the electric department, reports to the gaffer. Learn more about working as a best boy here.
Best Boy Grip: Second in command in the grip department, report to the key grip. Learn more about working as a best boy here.
Billing: Refers to the order of how credits are presented for creative works. Information given in billing usually consists of the companies, actors, directors, producers, and other crew members.
Bit Part (Player): A bit part is a supporting acting role with at least one line of dialogue.
Black List: Stems from a 1940s investigation into Hollywood and Communism, famously blacklisted were the Hollywood Ten. The list consisted mainly of screenwriters who were thought to have communist ties. Today to keep a blacklist is to have a list of people you no longer wish to work with, usually due to poor behavior and unfair treatment on set. The Blacklist is also a website, & podcast that rounds up the best unproduced Hollywood scripts every year. Check it out here.
Blimp: 1) A cover that fits over a film camera to avoid camera noise disrupting a take. The act of ‘Blimping’ is to take something and wrap it around the camera to reduce its noise. “Hey, can you blimp the camera with a sound blanket?” 2) A cover that fits over a shotgun microphone to reduce noises caused by wind.
Blocking: A blocking is done before a scene is shot. The director takes the actors through the scene for the heads of departments so they can see where the action plays out. Then the talent leaves the floor and it is given over to the lighting department and art department. You can learn more about Blocking here.
Blue Screen: A blue screen is used in the same vein as a green screen, most commonly used in weather maps and special effects. In post production the blue screen is removed and replaced with images or effects.
Boom Mic: A boom mic is a tool used by the sound department to capture sound on set. The boom mic is attached to a boom pole and held either above or below the talent, out of frame, to capture their dialogue. See also Shotgun Mic.
Boom Operator or Boom Op: The boom op is an assistant to the sound mixer and is the person who operates the boom mic. In smaller sets, the sound mixer will also often times operate the boom pole in addition to recording the audio
Boom Pole: An extendable pole that attaches to the boom or shotgun microphone. The boom pole is used to get the microphone above the actor’s head in order to capture clean audio.
Bounce Board: A board with a reflective surface used to bounce light onto a subject or object. Commonly used with exterior shoots to bounce the light coming from the sun. You can purchase 5-in-1 bounce boards or make them from materials such as styrofoam. You can also use 6×6, 8×8, 12×12 & 20×20 bounces.
Box Office: This term is commonly used when talking about the amount of money a film has made during its release into theaters.
Breakdown Sheet: A breakdown sheet is used to organize the elements of a script that has been broken down. It is separated into categories such as talent, props, vehicles, animals, make up, wardrobe etc. Each breakdown sheet should represent a scene in the script. Some scenes will need more than one sheet.
Bridge Shot: A shot used to cover a jump in time or place.
Budget: A budget is a financial breakdown of all costs associated with a production. A budget can start with the amount of money in total that the production has and then be broken down and allocated to certain areas of production such as above the line, below the line, pre-production and post production. It can also be built from scratch and then funding can be sourced to help create the project.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter C
C-Stand: The century stand and/or grip stand. The most versatile and useful piece of film gear in film history
Cable Puller: Also known as a cable wrangler. A Cable Puller wrangles cable during a take. This can be from a dolly or handheld. This will usually be done by the lowest level member of the camera team or a PA.
Call Back: A call back is when an actor is asked to audition for a second or third time for a part in a production. A call back usually means that the director is interested in more than one actor and would like to have them read again.
Call Sheet: A call sheet is the document sent out to all cast and crew before a shoot day that breaks down all of the information for the day. This will include the location of the shoot, the call time, crew names and positions, key phone numbers, scenes that will be shot that day, an advanced schedule for the next shoot day, lunch time, weather, and any other important information that the crew needs to know to get through the shoot day.
Call Time: The call time is the time that all crew needs to be on set by. On the call sheet there will be a grid of all crew and one for all talent. Specific call times will be listed on the grids as some people will need to arrive earlier than the general call, which is called a pre-call and some people may not have to show up until later than the general call time.
Cameo: A cameo is a brief appearance by a recognizable personality in a production such as Hugh Jackman’s appearance in X-Men: First Class.
Camera Jam: When film jams up inside the camera.
Camera Truck: The truck used by the camera department to house and transport camera equipment.
Carps: Carpenters hired by production to build the sets.
Cast: A cast is all of the talent that appears on screen in a film, TV show, play etc.
Charlie Bar: Term used for a horizontal or diagonal strip of shadow, made using a flag to block light from the actor or an area of the set. “give me a charlie bar right here”. Term can also be heard when using blinds to break up lighting, creating horizontal lines of light and shadow.
Cheat: To move the actors, set or props in a way that will make their filming easier. “Can you cheat camera right and open up to the lens?”
Check the Gate: To check the gate is a term used when shooting on film cameras, before moving on the camera department checks that there are no issues, such as dust or hair, with the film before changing scenes.
Cheese plate: A metal plate filled with holes, used to mount any number of cameras.
Chicken Coop: An overhead light that contains 6 tungsten bulbs.
Chimera: An American made lighting brand that specializes in collapsible soft boxes.
Cinema Verite: Is a kind of documentary film making that combines naturalistic techniques with stylized cinematic devices of editing and camerawork, staged set-ups, and uses the camera to provoke subjects. It is also known for taking a provocative stance toward its topics.
Clapper: The board that is held in front of the camera to mark the take and clapped for syncing audio
Clean Shot: A clean shot of something or an actor. No foreground element obstructing an area of the shot.
Closed Set: A closed set means that the set is closed off to most crew, only a few specific and necessary crew members are allowed on set during filming. The set is usually closed for nudity, sex scenes and other sensitive subject matter.
Close Up (C.U.): A close up is the type of shot used in film making that has a specific feature taking up the entire frame, generally this applies to a close shot of a face.
Cold Reading: Cold reading is when actors read or perform materials with little or no rehearsal.
Color Bars: Multicolored Bars used to calibrate monitors. These bars are shot for 30s-1min at the start of a tape so editors can calibrate their monitors.
Color Temperature: Determining the colour of light based off of its temperature using the Kelvin scale.
Common Marker: A common marker is used when multiple cameras use the same slate to mark at either the top or end of the take.
Company Move: When the whole production crew packs up and moves to a new location.
Composite: A shot made up of several other shots or elements using post production software.
Com-Tek: The radio box that allows the Director and Continuity person to clearly hear dialogue while it is being recorded on set.
Condor: A crane, often used to get large lights in hard to reach places.
Continuity: Continuity is the process of making sure that things stay consistent throughout a production. If an actor is drinking from a glass it needs to be filled to the same level and in the same hand when the camera angle changes to cover the same scene. Continuity needs to be kept for props, set dec, wardrobe, makeup, eye-lines etc. The script supervisor is in charge of continuity.
Cookie: A large, usually wooden type of flag that is put in front of a light to break up the light into some sort of pattern.
Co- Producer: A Co-producer is usually a line producer who also had a hand in a substantial portion of the creative producing. They could also be the lead producer from a second production company that is co-producing the film.
Co- Production: A co-production means that there is more than one production company producing the project.
Copy: Copy is what you say when someone gives you instructions, by saying copy you are saying that you have acknowledged what they have asked for and you are going to do it. Copy is commonly used over walkie talkie.
Costume Designer: A costume designer is the person who is responsible for designing the wardrobe that is worn in a production. In conjunction with the director the costume designer creates the costumes to be worn by the talent.
Coverage: The shots you need to cover the scenes in your film. “We need more coverage!” is something you can often hear a Director or DOP say on set.
Cowboy Shot: A shot that features an Actor from the knee up.
Craft Service: Usually referred to as craft or crafty, it is the food and snacks that are provided throughout the day on a production. Craft is not meals, meals are usually hot, catered food that is brought in. Craft generally consists of coffee, tea, fruit, muffins, bagels, granola bars, chips, chocolate, etc.
Crane Shot: A Shot that utilizes a crane for large camera movements.
Crew Call: A crew call is the general call time given to the crew of a production. Individual calls and pre-calls may also be given, but the crew call will be large at the top of the call sheet and meant for anyone who doesn’t have a specified time beside their name.
Crystal Sync: Camera speed that is true 24 frames per second.
CTB: Colour Temperature Blue. CTB is colour correction gel that can be placed on lights.
CTO: Colour Temperature Orange. CTO is colour correction gel that can be placed on lights.
C.S.C.: Canadian Society of Cinematographers
Cuculoris: The technical term for a cookie, which is a large, usually wooden type of flag that is put in front of light to break up the light into some sort of pattern.
Cue: A mark, movement, line or action that signals the start of something else to happen in a scene after the initial action is called. “Sorry, I missed my Cue”
Cue Card: A cue card is used to largely display the talents lines in case they should need reference. Cue cards are most commonly used in live shows as there isn’t an option to do multiple takes.
Cut: What a Director will often say to signal the actors and crew that they wish to stop the scene.
Cutter: A large flag used to shape light.
Cutting Room Floor: A term used for scenes that get left out of a project. Based on film that was literally spliced out of the timeline and left of the floor.
Cyclorama: Also know as a Cyc. This is usually a white wall where the floor and wall intersect smoothly, allowing the appearance of endlessness.
Cyc light: A small tungsten light, usually used to light large surfaces like a Cyclorama
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter D
Dailies: The raw footage, usually viewable the day after shooting. Viewed by the Director, Cinematographer and Producer to insure they are getting the correct images.
Dance Floor: smooth wooden flooring laid down for dollies
Day for Night: Shooting during the day, but shooting in such a way that the footage looks like night
Deal Memo: Paperwork filled out by crew member outlining payment and crew member information
Deep Focus: Focus pulled deep into a frame
Deferral: Usually refers to payment or rates. Often used in addition to a lower rate as an incentive. Often a warning sign that the production might not be up to par or that you will never get paid.
Depth of Field: The area within the frame that is seen as in focus.
D.G.A.: Directors Guild of America
D.G.C.: Directors Guild of Canada
Diffusion: White paper or cloth put in front of lights to soften light quality.
Director’s Cut: The version of a film’s edit that best shows the Directors vision for the film
Director: Main creative force behind film or project
Director of Photography (DOP): The person in charge of the overall look of the film when it comes to camera and lighting.
Dissolve: The gradual transition from one image to another.
Distribution: The process in which a film is being made available to watch.
Ditty Bag: Bag used by a department or crew member to keep and carry tools.
Diving Board: The front board of a dolly.
Dolly: A four wheeled vehicle that rides on dolly track and is used to move camera.
Doorway Dolly: A lighter dolly made of wood which has 4 tires and is narrow enough to travel through a doorway.
Dolly Grip: Grip in charge of camera movement. They set up dolly, lay track and work with DOP to create camera movement on a dolly. Key grip often times acts as dolly grip on smaller sets.
Dolly Track: The track on which a dolly sits and movies. Usually comes in 4foot, 8foot and various curves.
Donut: A ring that is placed around the lens to seal gaps between the matte box and lens.
Dot: A small round flag.
Double: A net or scrim that reduces amount of light by 1 full stop
Dress: Dressing is when the art department arranges materials on a set, such as furniture and artwork.
Dry Run: The rehearsal of a scene of shot where camera does not roll.
Dubbing: Replacing the audio on a project with a better quality sound mix. Dubbing also refers to replacing dialogue with an alternate language for international releases.
Dulling Spray: spray used to dull reflections on set.
Dutch Angle: A crooked angle often used to show tension in a scene
Duvetyne: black cloth used to block light. Cloth flags and large blacks are make of.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter E
E.C.U.: Extreme Close Up. Usually a close up that goes beyond top of head and chin.
Edge of Frame: the edge of the frame where the picture ends.
Editing: The process of sorting and assembling all of the shot footage and cutting together a final product whether it be a film, TV show or documentary.
Eighty Six: To cancel.
Electronic Press Kit (EPK): An EPK is footage shot during the production of a project including interviews with talent and crew, that can be edited together and assembled into promotional videos. A lot of footage shot for EPK’s will show up on the news, entertainment programs, and as bonus features on DVD.
E.N.G.: Electronic News Gathering
Episodic: Consisting of a series of loosely connected episodes
Establishing Shot: A shot that establishes a location. Generally a large of the location which may or may not contain signage.
Executive Producer: The executive producer or EP is traditionally the person responsible for the overall production but doesn’t have any involvement in the technical aspects. Today the EP credit may be given to a number of people, most commonly financial backers or studio reps. In television the head(s) of the production company creating the show are generally credited as EP or the person or people responsible for the original idea will be given the EP credit. The way that Ricky Gervais is an EP on the American version of The Office as he created the original British series.
EXT. : Exterior. Meaning the scene takes place outside.
Extra: A person hired to perform in the background of a scene.
Extras Holding: An area where extras can wait until they are needed on set.
Eyelight: A light used to bring out the eyes of a actor in a scene.
Eyeline: The direction an actors eyes are looking in relation to the other actors in the scene.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter F
F-Stop: the name of the number associated with the opening in a lenses aperture.
Fade In: To fade in, is to come into an image by fading from white or black.
Fade Out: To fade out is to come out of an image by fading to white or black.
Feature: A feature is a film that is release in theaters on or video. They average 90 minutes in length.
Fernie: A term used for all purpose furniture pads that protect furniture, camera and talent, also used by sound to reduce unwanted noise.
Fill Light: Light used to fill in the shadows in a scene
Film Noir: A style and genre of film marked by pessimism, fatalism and menace.
Final Touches: The final tweaks hair, makeup and wardrobe departments make to the talent before cameras roll on the scene.
Finger: A very small flag.
Fire Watch: To “fire watch” generally means to stand watch on a set and keep an eye out for any hazards or issues. This may mean standing by set while crew has lunch or watching after a vehicle filled with equipment that is parked away from set. This task is usually given to production assistants.
First Assistant Director: Also known as the 1st AD, their main responsibility is to create and keep the schedule. The 1st AD gets involved in pre-production and works with the director and producers to create the shooting schedule for a project. The 1st usually has a 2nd and 3rd AD to help them along the way. During production the 1st runs the floor during the shoot, they are the main voice on set that is telling everyone what is happening.
First Positions: When the 1st AD calls for first positions it means that everyone goes back to where they need to be at the start of a take. Actors resume their starting marks, dolly moves back to its start point, lighting cues, special effects etc. all get ready to do a take again.
First Team: The main actors. Often times the 1st Assistant Director will call for the First Team when everything is ready.
Flag: A rectangular object used to cut and shape light.
Flame Bar: A gas powered bar used to simulate fire in a scene.
Flare: A flare is when light hits the camera’s lens, causing
Flashback: A part of a film or scene which refers back to an earlier part of the story or narrative.
Flat: A 4′ x 8′ lightweight and movable wooden structure that is used as part of a wall or backdrop in a studio and/or set.
Fluid Head: A tripod head that uses internal fluid to aid is smooth camera movements.
Focal Length: The distance from the optical centre of the lense to the film plane when the lens is focused to infinity.
Focus Puller: A.K.A. First Assistant Camera – The camera Assistant that adjusts the focus of the lens while filming.
Fog Filter: A filter that is placed over the lens to create a foggy effect.
Foley: Foley is sound that is created and recorded after principal photography to add to the soundtrack of a project. This may including recording someones footsteps or any other sounds that were not recorded on the shoot days.
Foley Artist: A Foley artist is the person responsible for creating the sounds that need to be added to a soundtrack, they may use pots, pans, food or any other items required to recreate sounds.
Footage: In 35mm and 16mm film days, the amount of film used during a shoot was measured by the foot, Therefore you filmed 35mm and 16mm film was referred to as “Footage”. In modern days, and video or film images captured is generally referred to as Footage.
Foot Candle: A measurement used for the intensity of a light source.
Foreground: Anything that is in front of a camera’s field of vision and not blocked by anything else.
FPS: Frames Per Second – Sometimes pronounced as ‘FIPS’
Freeze Frame: An image that is stopped or frozen in film, segment, scene or shot.
French Flag: A small adjustable flag used for shading the camera lense from light.
French Hours: A shooting day that begins with a one-hour sit down breakfast and followed by nine hours of work with no break. Food is usually served through out the day, so the crew can snack while they work
Fresnel: A type of convex glass lense used for focusing lights. Pronounces “Fre-Nell”
Frost: A semi-opaque sheet of plastic gel used to diffuse light sources.
Fuller’s Earth: A clay based “dirt” used on movie sets as double for real dirt.
Funded Development: When a project is put into funded development, it means that the studio or network has agreed to give the production company an allotted amount of money to develop the idea further. Once the development has been presented the studio or network will decide whether or not to green light the project.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter G
Gaffer: The Chief Lighting Technician. The Lighting Technician that works directly with the Cinematographer to achieve the desired look of the project. The Gaffer runs the lighting crew with the help of his Best Boy Electric.
Gag: The film industry term for a joke, effect or contraption that is used during a shot.
Gag Reel: A gag reel is a compilation of clips and scenes put together after shooting has finished made up of funny moments and botched lines from set.
Gak: The general slang term for gear, tools, props etc. used on a film set. “clean up all the gak in the corner”
Gak Truck: A.K.A. Slush Truck – The truck/vehicle used to carry all random gear, tools, props etc.
Gaffer Tape: Strong black tape used by the grip and lighting department. Gaffer tape is almost like a stronger, better duct tape.
Gels: Coloured, clears sheets of plastic that are placed over lights to create colour.
Genny: The short form term for a generator used on a film set.
Genny Operator: The short form term for a generator operator on a film set.
Gimbal: A platform used to create movement in any type of vehicle.
Giraffe Boom: A movable microphone boom that is on a tripod amd used in studios situations as opposed to a boom pole held by a human.
Go to 2: Walkie talkie lingo used when you want the person you are communicating with to go to a private channel so that not everyone has to hear your conversation. Channel 2 is usually reserved for private or sensitive conversations.
Greeking: To “Greek” is to cover a logo that cannot appear on camera due to clearance issues, usually the art department will put tape over logos to hide them or alter them slightly to change the appearance.
Green Light: To get the Green Light on a project means that a studio or network has decided to fund your project and put you into pre-production. You may get a pilot green lit but have to wait for a green light on a full series. A green light is different from funded development.
Green Room: The room where talent waits before a performance or television appearance.
Green Screen: A bright green screen
Greens: A department that is responsible for foliage, shrubs and other “green” material that will be used in a production.
Griff / Griffolyn: A large square material (often times white on one side and black on the other) that can be mounted to a frame and used to bounces, reflect and/or absorb light.
Grip: A crew member who works in the grip department. The grip department’s tasks usually involve shaping and controlling lights, aiding the camera team with camera movement and much more.
Guerilla Filmmaking: A style of production that is done with no permits, insurance or location permission. This is usually done by very small productions, low budgets and/or student projects.
Guide Track: An audio track that is usually recorded on set that will be used as a guide in the editing or A.D.R. process.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter H
Below is the G, H & I section of our film and television dictionary. Our goal is to create the best film and television dictionary the internet has ever seen. If you have an terms you would like to see added to our section feel free to get in contact with us.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter H
Hair Light: A light whose purpose is to accentuate an actor’s hair.
Hand Crank: A camera that runs on a spring wound system instead of electric power.
Hand Held: To shoot something hand held means that the camera is free from a tripod, it is usually attached to a camera rig and mounted on the operators shoulder for better control.
Headroom: The space between the top of the actors head and the top of the frame. “Give me a little more head room”
Hero: A prop, car, or any element that is featured during shooting. For example. When using prop guns or weapons, many different may be used in wide shots, but there is usually one particular prop that will be used in close ups or inserts.
Hero Room: A room that will be used for filming in a house or location
Hiatus: A break or temporary hold in a production. “We are on hiatus for Christmas holidays”
Hi Hat: A small camera mount attached to a piece of wood for doing shots that are very low to the ground.
HMI: Hydrogen Medium Arc-Length Iodide, Halogen Metal Iodide or Hydrogen Mercury Incandescent. An HMI is a blue coloured light often used to artificially create daylight or moonlight in film and television lighting.
Hold the Roll: A term used to stop the action temporarily. “Hold the roll, we have an issue with the hair”
Honeywagon: A unit or trailer that often contains the washrooms, A.D. Box and other portable rooms.
Hot Spot: An overexposed or bright portion of the frame, image, scene or set.
Hot Set: A hot set is a set in which furniture, props and art department items have been placed and are ready for camera, the pieces are marked with tape and should not be moved for consistency.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter I
IATSE: International Alliance of Theatre and Stage Employees. Check out their site.
IBEW: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
In the Can: A finished / Completed project. “We got this picture in the can”
Insert: A.K.A. Insert Shot – A quick close up shot of an object that inserted in an edited segment or scene of a film.
Insert: Car: Vehicle used to tow the “hero car” for moving shots. Camera and lights are usually mounted on the insert car.
INT.: Interior. The short form of INT. and EXT. are uses in scripts to designate where a scene takes place.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter M
Magazine: This is a light-tight chamber designed to hold film and move the film stock through the film camera for exposure. In most film cameras the magazine is a removable piece of equipment. Opening the magazine and exposing or “flashing” it to light can potentially ruin your raw film. The technique of “flashing” can also used to create a washed out effect in your film.
Magic Arm: An adjustable arm that can be used to mount small lights and/or cameras.
Magic Hour: That “magical” time characterized by warm and soft natural light that occurs for roughly 30 minutes around sunset and sunrise.
Mark: 1. Something placed on the ground (tape, chalk, stick etc.) used to let the talent know where they should stand for the shot. 2. the name for clapping the slate to sync sound and picture.
Martini Shot: Martini refers to the final shot of the day. It comes from the idea that at the end of the day the crew would go out for drinks or shots. Also known as the Window shot.
Mask: Covering or blocking out a portion of the frame with black, white or another colour.
Match Cut: A transition where there is a cut between two shots that are matched by visual or metaphorical similarities.
Matte Box: An attachment used on the end of a lens to block light sources from preventing glare and lens flare. Most matte boxes also have slots where various filters can be inserted in order to create in camera effects.
Matte Painting: A hand or digitally painted landscape, set or location that allows the filmakers to create the illusion of a location or envirenmont that does not exist or would be too costly or impossible to build or visit.
Meal penalty: On most North American sets crews must be given a first meal break within 6 hours from call time. If this is not met there is a meal penalty amount that is paid to the crew until this is met.
Meat Axe: A large and very long flag used to cutting and/or blocking light.
Meat Flag: See above
Medium Close Up (MCU): A Medium Close Up is half way between a Medium and a Close Up. This is usually capturing some of the torso and up.
Method Acting: Based on the system evolved by Stanislavsky and brought into prominence in the US in the 1930s, method acting is a technique where the actors aspires to achieve emotional identification with a part. Method acting was extensively developed at the Actors’ Studio in New York City, by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. Some famous “Method” actors include, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Daniel Day-Lewis & Dustin Hoffman.
Mickey Rooney: 1. A famous, short actor. 2. In Dolly Grip terminology, this mean “a short creep”, basically a short and slow movement of the camera.
Miniature: Largely replaced by CGI, miniature models was a common way of creating various effects, such as explosions, floods or fires. Although almost completely replaced by CGI, there are still many modern filmmakers that still use this technique to great effect.
Mirror Shot: A cheated shot where the viewers sees the actor from the perspective of a non-existent mirror. In these shots the actor is not actually looking into a mirror and seeing themselves, they are actually looking toward the camera, but reaction as if they are seeing themselves in an imaginary mirror.
Mise en scene: The arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play.
Montage: A series of shots, usually set to music that builds toward something.
M.O.S.: No sound recorded.
Moviola: A linear editing machine used before modern, computers based, non linear editing was created.
M.O.W.: Movie of the Week – An often low budget movie made for television. Movies of the Week are sometimes based on true events or correspond with a particular time of the year, such as Christmas.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter N
NABET: National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians. A Film & TV union to technicians.
ND Filter: Neutral Density Filter – 1. Glass filters that can be placed in front of the lens to darken the image. 2. Plastic gels that can be placed in front of lighting fixtures to darken the light source,
Non Linear Editing:
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter O
One-er: A usually long and complex scene shot in 1 long take.
One Liner: A short version of a shooting schedule that usually omits information about the cast, but breaks down the scenes and pages to be shot for each day or the schedule. This is very helpful for the production staff and department heads to help keep track of what is happening during the entire schedule of the production.
On the Clock: The time in which you are officially being paid to work.
On the Move:
Over the Shoulder: (OTS) Is a shot of someone of something from the perspective of the shoulder of another person.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter S
Safe: While on set Safe can have a few meanings. The first is to “make safe” this means if everyone were to walk away from the set, everything would be left in a safe manor. This includes lowering lights, cleaning up any tripping hazards and making sure the camera is protected. Safe can also mean “safe area” this is the area that camera does not see, the safe area is usually where the boom operator will keep the boom during takes.
Safety: To safety something is to make sure that it will not fall.
Safety Chain: A chain that is used to secure objects on set. A safety chain is commonly used to help secure lights and camera.
SAG-AFTRA: The American labor union that represents film and television performers, journalists and radio personalities. Up until 2012 it was just SAG, but merged with AFTRA to become Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Sandbag: A cloth bag filled with sand used to counter weight lighting and grip stands to help secure them from falling over.
Satire: A genre of film or television which takes on a mocking or ridiculing tone. Examples of satires are Dr. Strangelove, Fight Club, The Daily Show, and The Office.
Scene: A series of shots that makes up a moment in the film or television show. A change of scene is commonly marked by a new location.
Scenery: The scenery is what you can see around and behind the performers, it can be a natural view, a set or a backdrop.
Score: The score is usually composed music that makes up a portion of a films soundtrack. The score is usually composed specifically for the film and is different from the use of popular songs.
Scout: A scout or location scout is when the key members of the crew go to the various locations that a project is going to be filmed, prior to the beginning of principal photography. On a scout different departments will take note of the things they will have to deal with on the filming days, such as where the power is coming from, where they can set up their stations, where will the camera be, etc. Also known as a survey.
Screen Direction: Screen directions, such as camera left or camera right, refer to the direction that the performers move within the frame.
Screener: A promotional tool used by studios to get DVD copies of their films out to voters during awards season.
Screening: The showing of a film, generally at a theater, before a wide release of the film.
Screenplay: A form of a script which is a written film, television series or play.
Screen Test: An on camera audition, where an actor performs a specific role.
Screenwriter: A person who writes original or adapted screenplays with the intention of being produced as films, series or plays.
Scrim: A metal mesh device used by the lighting department to play with the intensity of the light without affecting the color temperature.
Script: The written story for a film, series or play that includes dialogue, characters and settings. The script is the outline for the project that is used by all departments to understand the needs of the piece.
Script Supervisor: This is the person on set whose job is to make sure that the director and performers are getting everything that is in the script. They follow along during a take and throw lines to actors if necessary. They mark usable and unusable takes and keep a record of every thing that is filmed in a day. This role is also known as continuity.
Second Assistant Director: Also know as the 2nd AD, the 2nd reports to the 1st AD on all matters regarding the schedule. The 2nd is usually responsible for the call sheet and the talent. Working with the 1st and 3rd, the 2nd usually works away from the set in an office and coordinates over walkie talkie with the floor. They usually give timing notes, schedule changes and travel talent to and from set.
Second Meal: A second meal is offered if the crew works a certain amount of hours past their first meal. A second meal is usually necessary when going into overtime.
Second Unit: A smaller film crew tasked with getting shots that usually don’t include the main cast. They are typically filming inserts, scenery, crowds, foreign location shots, etc.
Sensitive Location: A location where the crew needs to take extra care not to damage anything. Most commonly if you are filming in someones home, you want to take the necessary precautions not to damage their property.
Set: The place that the project is being filmed, this can be a real location or a studio.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter T
Tail Slate: When the slate does not occur at the top of the camera roll you tail slate. Before the camera cuts at the end of a take, tail slate is called out and the slate comes into frame, the slate is held upside down to indicate it is the end of a take and not the beginning.
Take: A take is the moment that is captured between when the director calls action and cut. A director can ask for multiple takes of the same moment until they get what they are looking for. Takes are noted by the script supervisor and turned over to the editor so they have all of the relevant information about each take. If a take is bad it is marked NG (no good).
Talent: Talent refers to the performers in a film or series.
Teaser: A teaser is a short video of clips that teases a film or television show for an audience.
Tech Survey: A tech survey is when all department heads visit each location for a shoot and determine all of the requirements from their department on the day of filming.
Teleprompter: A monitor that feeds the dialogue to the host. Commonly used in live television events or newscasts, the intended lines for the host or anchor appear on the telepromptor and scroll up as they speak.
Third Assistant Director (3rd AD): The 3rd AD is an assistant to the 1st and 2nd. Their main job is to deal with talent. They are responsible for any talent related paperwork, getting talent into hair, makeup and wardrobe as well as escorting them to set when they are called for.
Tight: Refers to a shot, a tight shot is very close on something.
Tilt: Refers to moving the camera up or down.
Time Code: The time reference used for syncing and editing footage.
Time Lapse: Filming at a slower frame rate over a longer period of time to show a change, such as time passing.
Tracking Shot: A moving shot, the camera is mounted on a dolly and pushed along track to achieve a smooth tracking movement with the camera.
Trailer: A trailer can refer to the place that talent goes to rest, prepare for scenes, get in hair and makeup etc. or it can be the promotional video made up of clips from the project to entice the audience.
Trainee Assistant Director (TAD): The TAD’s job is to assist all assistant directors. They help with paperwork, cueing extras, distributing call sheets, making sure talent has everything they need, etc.
Transport Captain: This person supervises all transportation needs on a set.
Transport Coordinator: The transport coordinator is responsible for all the vehicles and drivers on a set, they determine when and where they need to be and make sure they get there.
Treatment: A treatment usually refers to a document that outlines the project, it is not a script. It is made up a character descriptions, scene outlines and sometimes samples of dialogue.
Tungsten: Light filament that is orange is color.
Turnaround: This is the time between the end of a work day and the start of the next. Unions stipulate the amount of time that should pass between the two, usually 8-10 hours. Non-union productions should still try to adhere to this rule to keep their crew rested and at their best.
Turn Over: Means the same as rolling. To turn over means to start rolling sound and camera.
Turtle Base: The three legged base of a C-stand.
Two Shot: A shot that has two actors in the frame.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter U
Ubangi: A mount that extends the camera away from the center of the dolly.
Umbrella light: A soft, tungsten light source. The light bounces into the white interior of an umbrella and reflects soft light onto the subject.
Uncredited: Not credited for your participation in a project. This is sometimes an oversight, but can also be requested by a performer or crew member who does not want to be credited.
Undercranking: Slowing down the frame rate during capture so that when played back at normal frame rate the image is sped up.
Underexposed: Underexposed film is film that was not exposed to light long enough to capture a proper image. If a scene is underexposed it is generally too dark and hard to make out details.
Unions: There are multiple unions across the world that represent all roles on a film set. There are unions for all performers and crew members such as SAG-AFTRA, ACTRA, DGA, WGA, IATSE, NABET, etc.
Unit Manager: If a film is large enough that it requires a second crew or the PM needs help, the UM is hired to take care of the crew and production requirements. Also referred to as a Unit Production Manager or UPM.
Upstage: This refers to the part of set that is furthest from camera. It also refers to the act of trying to take attention away from other performers and make yourself stand out.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter V
Below is the V section of our film and television dictionary. If you would like to add a term to our dictionary, please feel free to get in contact with us.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter V
Variac: Brand name for a variable transformer. It is used by the lighting/electrical department to dim lights.
Vertigo Shot: A camera technique created by Alfred Hitchcock while filming Vertigo that involves dollying backwards while zooming in at the same time, making the person or object in the center of the frame seem stationary while their surroundings change.
Video Assist: Video assist is the monitor system that is used on set for viewing what the camera sees and watching playback of takes. Commonly known as video village, this is where monitors are set up for the producer, director, script supervisor, and anyone else who may need to see what is happening on screen. The size of the video assist depends on the size of the production.
Videographer: A term that was used to distinguish digital camera operators from cinematographers who shot on film. The camera advancements of the last 10 years have increased the use of digital cameras in all filmmaking, therefore making this distinction less necessary.
View Finder: The piece on the camera that you look through to see what the camera is seeing.
Vignette: A vignette is a scene that can stand on its own. A vignette is also a mask that can be applied to an image, usually seen as a blurring of the images corners.
Visual Effects (VFX): Visual effects are the alterations made to a picture in the post-production process of a film or television show. There are visual effects that can be achieved in camera, but the most common are achieved using a computer in post.
Voice Over (VO): Dialogue that is heard from a character who is not appearing on camera.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter W
Walk On Role: A minor role in a film or television show that usually has no lines.
Walk and Talk: The walk and talk, probably made most popular by The West Wing, is a shot when two or more characters are walking and talking in the scene. It can be used to get characters to a secondary location or more commonly it can be used as a more visually interesting way to have the characters exchange information.
Walla: Walla or Walla Walla is the background noise of a crowd used in the earlier days of filmmaking. The background performers would be asked to mumble words or phrases such as Walla Walla to create the effect of crowds speaking.
Wardrobe: Wardrobe refers to the clothing/costumes that characters wear throughout a production. There is a wardrobe department that works with the director to create the look of the wardrobe. The department can consist of the wardrobe supervisor, costume supervisor, costumer, costume designer, wardrobe assistant etc.
Western Dolly: A western dolly is similar to the doorway dolly, but is larger and can handle a heavier load.
Wedges: Wooden wedges of wood that are commonly used by the grip department. Wedges can be used to level dolly track and other gear, they can also be used by set dec to level props and furniture.
Wetdown: Wetting streets and sidewalks during night night shoots to give a more reflective look in camera.
WGA: Stands for Writers Guild of America, it is the union for writers working in the United States.
WGC: Stands for Writers Guild of Canada, it is the union for writers working in Canada.
Whip Pan: A quick pan of the camera that causes motion blur.
White Balance: Removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in camera. Proper white balance has to take into account color temperature.
Widescreen: Aspect ratio where the width is great than the height, such as 16×9.
Wide Shot: A wide shot is captured with a wide angle lens, it allows for a wider range of view and greater depth of field.
Wild Line: Wild lines or wild sound, is the recording of additional dialogue or sounds after the cameras stop rolling. They are recorded separately and without an image.
Window Shot: The Window is what you call the final shot of the day. The term comes from the early days of filmmaking when the crew went to the window at the end of the day for their pay. Also known as a Martini shot.
Winnie: Winnie is a nickname for a Winnebago. Winnies are commonly used on lower budget projects as honeywagons, wardrobe trailers, production offices, etc.
Wipe: A wipe is an editorial transition used between two scenes. The use of this transition results in one scene being “wiped” away by another. Not commonly used in filmmaking today.
Wire: Another term for a lavalier mic. A wire is attached to a performer and mixed with the audio recorded from the boom mic.
Workprint: A rough version of a film or television episode, used during the editing process. The workprint usually contains the sound that was recorded on set that is later re-dubbed, stock footage as placeholders for missing shots or special effects, and animation tests or sequences.
Work Trucks: Trucks that are parked close to set and used the most often. Generally these will be the grip and lighting trucks, camera truck, props truck, etc.
Working Title: A working title is the title given to a production while it is being worked on, a different or official title may be given to the production upon release.
Wrangler: There are generally two types of wranglers; animal and vehicle. These are the people responsible for the use of these things on set, they are usually specialists in their area and are brought onto set only when animals or vehicles are required.
Wrap: This refers to the end of the filming day or the end of the production. It comes from the acronym Wind, Reel and Print, but has become the common term for the end of any part of a production, such as meetings, scouts, shoot days, etc.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter X
Xenon Lamp: Light that uses a xenon filament.
X-Rated: An X or XXX rating is reserved for content with explicit sex and intended for adults only. An X rating is different from an NC-17 or R rating.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter Z
Zeppelin: A windscreen that is mounted on the end of a boom pole to protect the microphone from wind and other elements, which improves your overall sound quality.
Zoetrope: The zoetrope is made up of a cylinder with vertical slits cut in the side and sequential images pasted on the inside. As the cylinder spins, you look through the slits at the pictures across. Scanning the slits keeps the pictures from blurring together, and you see a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.
Zoom: A type of shot in which you can zoom in or out with the camera lens.
Zoopraxiscope: A device developed in the 1870s by Eadweard Muybridge, that projected images from rotating glass disks in rapid succession to give the impression of motion. Considered by many to be the first movie projector.