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Cinematography Terms Explained

Updated on January 3, 2017

Like any specialized industry, the film industry has its own set of jargon to describe processes, procedures and plant.

If you want to break into the industry, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with these terms.

Photo by Jannes Glas
Photo by Jannes Glas


Music and/or effects (often recorded on gramophone discs) which accompany the projection of a silent film and are not rigidly synchronized with the picture.
Action Sketch
Rough drawing indicating a stage or series of stages of an action, used in the production of animated cartoons.
Film record of actual events, made without use of actors and without reconstructing or interfering with the action in any way.
Actual Sound
Sound effects the origin of which is visible on the screen or present in the scene (dialogue, traffic noises in a street scene)- as distinct from commentatiye sound.
Apparatus for increasing the strength of electrical impulses, i.e: to step up the signals from the play-back head of a tape recorder or the exciter lamp in a sound projector to a level where they can be reproduced in a loudspeaker. Similarly, an amplifier can amplify signals from a microphone to operate recording equipment. The amplifier is an essential part of tape recorders, sound projectors, as well as, of course, of wireless and television receivers and transmitters. The amplifier may employ circuits with valves or with transistors.
Animated Viewer
Apparatus for the convenient inspection of film during editing; it provides a slightly enlarged moving picture and is more simple to operate than a normal projector. The speed of film travel is easily variable.
Apparent movement of inanimate objects or drawings on the cinema screen. The word is also used for the art of creating such movement.
Animation Board
Adjustable board for holding animation drawings in position while they are being photographed, e.g., in cartooning.
Answer Print
The first projection print of a newly completed film delivered by the processing laboratory. Also known as an approval print. It is submitted by the laboratory for the approval of the producer and director who may call for changes in the grading (lightness or darkness) or color balance in the scenes as printed by the laboratory.
Method of arranging disc recordings so that the continuation of one side of a record is made on a second disc. An automatic record changer will then play the continuations in correct sequence.


Backward Take
Recording of a scene with the camera running in reverse (or held upside down), commonly used for trick effects and in animation. Normal motion then appears in reverse on the complete film.
Balancing Stripe
Second stripe applied to the opposite margin of a striped film to ensure even spooling. A stripe is a magnetic coating applied to the margin of a film and used to record sound.
Beater (or Dog) Movement
One means of producing intermittent film motion in the camera or projector. An arm at the bottom of the gate digs at the lower film loop and lengthens it, thus pulling the film down through the gate. This arm sometimes has locating pins made in it to register in the film perforations.
Big Close-up
Very close shot, taking in only a small area such as part of the human face to draw attention to minute details. Bin. Large receptacle into which film is allowed to fall while assembling shots or when running film through a viewer or projector. It takes the place of a take-up spool.
Bin Stick
Wooden strip with pegs or clips on which pieces of film may be hung when editing, laid across the top of a film bin.
Case enclosing camera (or projector) to reduce mechanical noise. Mostly used for professional motion picture cameras if sound is to be recorded live during a shot. The blimp then prevents the microphone from picking up the camera noise. Projectors only need a blimp if they are in the same room as recording gear for recording a post-synchronized sound track.
Blind Shots
Shots used at the beginning or end of a sound effect in which the origin of the sound is not seen.
Opaque, oblique line painted across a sound-track to obscure a splice or defect.
Blooping Ink
Black, opaque ink which is quick drying. It is used for blacking out areas on film and particularly for painting over splices in an optical sound track to render them inaudible.
To move the head from side to side through a field of light. A device by which an actor can discover the position in which he is most strongly lit (felt when the light is hottest on the face.)
Analysis of the film script in terms of scenes with the same locations, sets, properties, etc. In this way it is possible to estimate production costs and determine the most practical order in which the scenes should be filmed.
Bridging Shot
A shot used to cover a break in continuity between successive scenes. A cutaway may be used for this purpose to avoid a jump-cut. Also, a close-up of holiday leaflets may bridge a sequence of holiday preparations with shots of the resort.
Bump In or Out
Instantaneous appearance or disappearance of a person or object during a shot. A common effect in animated cartoons.
Incidental action in a film (e.g., lighting a cigarette or cleaning spectacles) which is not strictly necessary from a storytelling point of view and is often introduced during rehearsals by the director or one of the actors.


Written summons to attend a rendezvous for filming issued to actors and technicians.
Camera Operator
Person responsible for the operation of the movie camera, as distinct from the lighting side of photography. In professional units and some amateur ones the operator works under the supervision of the lighting cameraman.
Drum or roller pulling wire or tape through a magnetic recorder.
Any excess (generally unwanted) of a particular color in a color picture. Collectively also the actors in a film feature.
Cell Flash
Bright patch on film caused by reflection of light from uneven surface of a cell into the lens.
Centrifugal Governor
Device using centrifugal force to keep the motor speed of the projector constant.
Transparent sheets on which animation drawings are traced for cartooning. Cellulose acetate or colorless plastic is generally used.
Switching smoothly from one projector to another at the end of a reel so that there is no interruption in the picture on the screen. Certain frames near the end of every reel carry a spot or other mark near the top right-hand corner, the so-called change-over cue. This warns the projectionist to start the second projector.
Clapper Board
Type of take-board for sound films. A bulged flap is banged down on the clapper board to make a synchronizing mark on the sound-track. It is operated by a junior assistant known as the clapper boy.
Shot in which the camera is, or appears to be, very close to the subject. If the subject is a human figure a close-up would include head and shoulders only.
Claw Movement
One means of producing intermittent film motion in the camera or projector. The claw is a metal arm with teeth at one end; the other end is attached to a rotating disc which pulls the claw down while a link attached to the arm pulls the teeth into the film perforations and withdraws them as required.
Descriptive spoken words accompanying a film, but not comprising dialogue of the action in the film.
Commentative Sound
Sound which is not directly identified with the action it accompanies in the film, such as music or commentary. Continuity. Easy transition from one shot to the next and from one sequence to the next without awkward breaks or discrepancies.
Continuity Girl
Member of the production team who notes all the details of each take during shooting (the set, lighting, costumes, position of actors) to ensure that no discrepancies or errors of continuity occur between consecutive shots when the material is assembled.
Continuity Shot
Shot takes after a film is completed, for insertion where required to maintain continuity. It may be a bridging shot taken from the stock library, or a shot inserted in the script afterwards.
Continuity Title
Sub-title designed to tell part of the story, not shown pictonally, other that by direct quotation of speech. For example, "Fifteen years later", or the classic, "Came the dawn".
Reproduction of a reversal or color film duplicated from the original.
Use of sound to present an aspect of the story different from, but complementary to, that shown by the picture.
Credit Titles
Printed list of the cast and technical unit responsible for a film. It appears at the beginning, or less commonly at the end, of a film.
Difference between the tape speed and capstan speed in a magnetic recorder, due to the effects of tension and elasticity.
Alternation from one scene to another in editing so that two or more events are represented as taking place simultaneously.
Crystal Pick-up
up. Type of pick-up producing electrical impulses from a mineral crystal instead of a magnet and coil. It has an extremely high resistance.
Instantaneous transition from one shot to another. Also the act of trimming and joining film shots together.
Shot that temporarily draws the spectator's attention from the main action; e.g., a close-up showing the reaction of a bystander to a street fight.
Person engaged in film editing. Usually an assistant who carries out the mechanical part of the operation.
Cutting Copy, Cutting Print
Reversal or color copy or a positive print used solely for editing purposes. The original or negative is cut to match it when editing is completed and is never projected, but carefully maintained as a source of subsequent prints.


Direct Sound Recording
Recording of dialogue as it is spoken during shooting
Person who is responsible for the creative side of production; he translates the script into a film and is in charge of the actual shooting.
Disc Recording
Sound recorded as a spiral, wavy groove on a disc; the ordinary gramophone record.
Gradual transition from one shot to another, the second being superimposed on the first at the point of transition.
Non-fiction film, often stating a point of view on some current topic.
Dog (or Beater) Movement
One means of producing intermittent film motion.
Wheeled platform or vehicle to carry the camera for movement while shooting. A shot taken in this way is also known as a dolly shot.
Dope Sheet
List of shots taken, made out by the cameraman or his assistant.
Double Frame
One animation drawing photographed for two frames instead of one. This either halves the speed of a movement or the number of drawings required for an action of a certain time.
Re-recording of sound, e.g., from disc on to tape or film. Also a term describing the technique of replacing a sound track in one language with one in another language, whilst still retaining perfect lip synchronization.
Dupe Negative
Picture negative prepared from a positive picture original and used for the production of married prints.
Duping Print
Positive print made from a negative specifically for the purpose of making a dupe negative.


Edge Numbering
Numbers printed at every foot along the edge of a negative film to facilitate cutting of the negative to match the edited cutting print.
Process of assembling the component shots of a film into their final order and then cutting them to their final length.
Effects Box
Bellows or box-like attachment to fit in front of the camera lens. It acts as a lens hood and also holds masks (mattes) at various distances in front of the lens for special effects. Alternatively known as matte box.
Effects Track
Sound-track carrying sound other than music or speech.
Erase Head
Magnet or electro-magnet used to remove the varying magnetization representing sound recorded on magnetic tape, wire or stripe.
Establishing Shot
Shot used to present for the first time a new scene, to establish relationship of details to be shown in subsequent shots. The establishing shot is thus usually a long shot.
Exciter Lamp
Lamp used to scan the sound track in a sound projector; it excites the photo cell.
Scene filmed out of doors. Fade. Gradual darkening of a shot on the screen to complete blackness (fade-out) or the reverse effect (fade-in).


Fading Glass
Strip of glass transparent at one end, gradually increasing in opacity towards the other. Passed across the lens while filming, it produces a fade.
Fading Solution
Dye solution for making fades on positive, reversal or color film.
Device driven by motor to cool the lamp-house and film in the projector.
Fast Motion
Special technique which produces abnormally fast motion by filming at a slow speed, e.g: eight frames per second, and projecting at a normal speed, e.g: sixteen frames per second.
Film Bin
Large receptacle into which film is allowed to fall while assembling shots or when running film through a viewer or projector. It takes the place of a take-up spool.
Film Horse
Frame on which separate shots are hung in numerical order during editing.
Change in the title seen on the screen, effected by turning a card rapidly so that the reverse side is shown whilst the camera is running.
Transition from present to past tense in film narrative, often conveyed in the form of a character's recollections. The whole of that portion of the narrative which is related in the past tense is also known as a flashback.
Movement of the camera quickly away from the subject at the end of a shot so that a quick pan appears to lead straight into the next shot, no cut being apparent.
Flash Frame
First frame or frames of a shot that are over-exposed due to the time lag in the camera motor reaching the correct speed.
Failure of persistent vision; the picture is not evenly bright all the time.
Effect produced by very quick variations in the speed of a sound recording medium. Similar to wow, but occurring as much faster irregularities.
Length of film in feet; usually applied to the amount of film run through the camera for a shot or a sequence of shots.
Frame Glass
Sheet of glass used in the production of animated cartoons to press down upon the cells and keep them flat during filming.
Frame One
Narrow line or area between two frames on a length of cine film.
Adjustment of the gate mask on a projector to obscure the film perforations; also the positioning of the film in the gate to avoid the frame line showing.
Full Stripe
Magnetic stripe occupying the full width of the unperforated edge of a single-perforated 16 mm. film (0.1 inches wide).


Component in camera and projector which holds each frame flat and momentarily still behind the lens.
Gate Float
Unsteadiness in the moving picture due to irregular positioning of the frame in the gate.
Gate Mask
Aperture defining the area of the film depicted on the screen.
Governed Motor
Motor which runs at a speed determined by a mechanical governor.
Estimating the printing exposure for each individual shot in a master negative of a film to produce a correctly exposed print. In a motion picture laboratory this operation is carried out by a grader. Grading also refers to the color correction required in color printing. Modern printing apparatus usually controls the exposure from scene to scene automatically by photo-electric measurement.


Half Track
Magnetic coating, ts in. wide, applied to a 16 mm. sound film to cover half the optical sound-track. Optical and magnetic sound-tracks can thus be used alternately. The term is also applied to recordings on magnetic tape which occupy only half the width of the tape; in this way the other half of the tape can be used by turning it upside down.
Photography of one animation drawing on several frames so that it appears still on the screen; also used in scripts to indicate that the camera should continue to film a scene even though the action may have ceased.
Unwanted low note produced when an A.C. mains supply or other low parasitic frequency enters the amplifier used for recording or reproduction. It can be caused by induction in insufficiently screened leads carrying the signal from the recording or reproduction unit to the amplifier.
Device for introducing moisture into the cooling air in a projector. Also a moistened pad in film cans to prevent the film from becoming too brittle.


Movement of film or magnetic tape sometimes in jumps, an inch or two at a time. It is usually done by manual operation of the projector or recorder so that a particular part of the film or tape can be quickly found or precisely located.
Induction Motor
Electric motor which runs at a speed largely but not entirely determined by the mains supply frequency.
Electrical impulses or voltage supplied to an apparatus.
Shots, sometimes unscripted, such as close-ups of letters, newspaper headlines, clocks, etc., in which no actors appear. By their nature it is unnecessary for them to be taken in conjunction with other shots in the same sequence.
Alternation from one scene to another in editing so that two or more events are represented as taking place simultaneously.
Shot taken indoors.
Film transport mechanism which advances the film one frame at a time, e.g: at 16 or 24 times a second. There are several types of intermittence- claw, dog (or beater) and Maltese Cross.
Negative made for the purpose of making release prints- for example from the master negative via a duping print. Also intermediate color negative made from a reversal master positive, for example in 16 mm. color filming for making color release prints. The inter-negative is also made as one stage in making opticals (mixes, fades, superimpositions, etc.).


Uncontrolled movement in an animated cartoon. It is caused by faulty animation, tracing or camerawork.
A cut which breaks continuity of time by jumping forward from one part of an action to another obviously separated from the first by an interval of time. Also a cut between two similar views of a scene but at different distances from the camera, so that the picture appears to jump forward on the screen.


Key Line
Line of dialogue which reveals the heart of a story situation.
Animation drawings of the principal positions in a movement. Keys are made of positions where any part df the figure stops, starts or changes direction.
Key stoning
Distortion of the screen image (widening at top or bottom) when the projector axis is not at right angles to the screen. When the projector is tilted upwards, the screen image appears narrower at the top; when the projector tilts downwards from a high level, the screen image is wider at the top.


Gradual transition from one shot to another, the second being superimposed on the first at the point of transition.
Strip of film at the beginning of a spool used for loading or threading into the camera or projector.
Level Synchronization
Placing of synchronizing marks so that the record of a sound appears immediately opposite the corresponding picture. (As opposed to printing synchronization.)
Collection of stock shots which may be useful for cutting into future films. A stock shot used in a film for which it is not taken is also known as a library shot.
Light Box
Animation desk with glass drawing surface illuminated from below.
Lighting Cameraman
Person responsible for the photography of a film. In some units an assistant operates the camera.
Light Valve
Device for converting electrical impulses into corresponding fluctuations of a beam of light.
Line Test
Sequence of pencilled animation drawings photographed and projected, usually in negative, to check the quality of the animation, before proceeding with finished work.
Synchronization of sound with film, accurate to a fraction of a second, so that speech can be reproduced in synchronism with an actor's lip movements.
Live Recording
Recording of dialogue and other sound made while a scene is actually being filmed.
Natural setting, usually out of doors and away from the studio, where shots for a film are taken.
Long Shot
Shot in which the camera is, or appears to be, at a considerable distance from the subject. If the subject is a human figure it would occupy less than one-third of the height of the picture.
Short length of film joined at its ends so that it can be projected continuously or repetitively. Used by actors to rehearse the timing for post-synchronized dialogue. Sound films carrying continuous sounds such as wind, sea, crowd noises, etc. may also be made up into a loop for mixing in with other sound effects at different points of the film.


Magnetic Film
35 mm or 16 mm film stock carrying a magnetic layer over its whole surface in place of a photographic emulsion. A number of magnetic tracks may be recorded on the film side by side in the course of extensive mixing operations.
Magnetic Recording
Sound recorded as variations in magnetization of a wire, or of particles in a coating on film or tape.
Main Title
Opening title bearing the name of the film.
Maltese Cross
One type of mechanism for producing an intermittent film movement. The cross which is mounted on the same shaft as a film sprocket serves to move the sprocket round by the space of one picture at a time.
Married Print
Print of a sound film incorporating both picture and sound track; i.e., a normal print of a sound film for projection.
Film from which release copies are printed and which is not itself used for projection.
Master Recording
Complete sound record, usually made on magnetic tape or film, from which the final optical or magnetic recording is later prepared.
Master Shot
Shot covering the action of a long scene which is afterwards broken up by the insertion of close-ups, etc.
Checking of two shots to make sure that one will lead smoothly into the next.
Mask placed in front of the lens to blank out part of the scene. Mattes are available in various standard shapes, a common one being that which simulates the effect of looking through a pair of binoculars. For more complex effects the masked area can later be exposed, using a different subject, while the originally exposed area is masked.
Matte Box
Lens attachment in the form of bellows or a box with a frame to take masks (mattes) for split-screen and similar trick effects. Also known as effects box.
Medium Shot
Shot which in effect is about midway between a close-up and a long shot.
Microphone Howl
Noise produced when a microphone is top near the associated loudspeaker, resulting in acoustical feedback.
Shot which in effect is about midway between a close-up and a long shot.
Gradual transition from one shot to another, the second being superimposed on the first at the point of transition.
Electrical combination of sounds or recordings so that they can be reproduced simultaneously through the one reproducing system.
Variation in an electric current induced by suitable equipment, e.g: a microphone.
Monitor Speaker
Loudspeaker (usually small) indicating the volume and balance of sound being recorded or reproduced in another room.
Process of creative editing. The term is also used to signify a series of dissolved shots, suggesting a passage of time, journey, etc.
Mood Music
Music written in various moods and styles for use in films, radio and television, but not for a specific production. Such prerecorded music may be classified by type and filed in music libraries on disc or tape.
A picture negative or positive of a sound film without its sound-track. The term implies the separate existence of a sound-track for the film, whereas "silent" refers to a film for which no sound-track has been recorded.


Commentary spoken by one of the characters in a film, but not synchronized with the picture.
Narrow Gauge
Films and apparatus not of the standard 36 mm. type, e.g: 16 mm, 9.5 mm, 8mm.
Neutral Density Filter
Neutral grey filter used to reduce the light passing through a lens without affecting its color. With the relatively long shutter speeds used in cinematography, this is sometimes necessary to avoid over-exposure.
Noise Level
Unavoidable noise produced by projector mechanism or by hum and other sources in the sound equipment. Reproduced sound must have a volume level considerably higher than the noise level for satisfactory quality.
Recording reproduced without provision for precise synchronization with the film.
Notched Titles
Titles printed only on two or three frames and preceded by a notch in the edge of the film. On some obsolete projectors the notch trips a mechanism which arrests the film motion while the title is being read.
Number Board
Also known as take board. Board held briefly in front of the camera and photographed at the beginning of a take. It records the title of the film, the number of the scene and the number of the take, to enable the editor to identify every shot. In sound film production the number board incorporates the clapper and is then known as the clapper board.


Optical Printer
Printing machine for producing positive copies from a negative (or vice versa) by re-photographing the negative image on to the positive film through a lens system (the alternative way of printing is with a contact printer). Optical printers are used for special effects and trick work, and for making reduction prints, e.g: 16 mm. prints from a 35 mm. original.
Dissolves, fades, etc., made by the processing laboratories on an optical printing machine after the scenes have been photographed normally.
Optical Centering
Method of centering the film in the gate by moving the optical system instead of the gate mask. In this way the projector need not be constantly re-aligned with the screen.
Optical Effects
Dissolves, fades, etc., made by the processing laboratories on an optical printing machine after the scenes have been photographed normally.
Optical Recording
Recording of sound photographically on a sound track along one margin of a film. This track modulates the light passing through it from a special lamp, and the light impulses are electrically converted into sound.
Electrical impulses or voltage delivered by an apparatus.
Double thickness of film at a splice.Double thickness of film at a splice.
Transparent sheet on which part of the design for a title is drawn or painted.


Movement of the camera from left to right or from right to left while taking a shot.
Pan Blur
Movement of the camera quickly away from the subject so that a quick pan appears to read straight into the next shot, no cut being apparent.
Parallel Action
Common form of film narrative in which events are represented as taking place simultaneously in different places by cutting from one to another.
Participation Shot
Shot in which the spectator associates the camera eye with the eyes of a character in the story.
Persistence of Vision
Inability of the human eye to separate individual images in rapid succession. This makes the illusion of movement possible in motion pictures.
Instrument using a needle or stylus to follow the waviness in the groove of a gramophone record and so generate corresponding electrical impulses.
Pilot Commentary
Shot by shot description of a film, recorded during screening as a timing guide for subsequent recording of commentary free from projector noise.
Pinch Roller
Roller holding wire or tape in firm contact with the capstan of a magnetic recorder.
Reproduction of a sound track in a studio during shooting to enable additional sound or action (or both) to be synchronized with it.
Recording of dialogue and other sound after production so that it matches the already existing lip movements and actions in the film.
Electrical resistance with provision for drawing of a variable proportion of the voltage applied to its ends. Usually takes the form of a circular casing with a projecting spindle. Rotation of the spindle moves a contact connected to the middle one of three connexions and so selects more or less of the voltage between the other two connexions. It is commonly used for volume and tone controls.
Illusion of sound which, although coming from the screen, gives the impression of reality.
Pressure Plate/Pad
Device to enable background and cells for an animated cartoon to be photographed flat at even over-all pressure. It consists of a sheet of plate glass in a wood or metal frame hinged to the animation board. Beneath it is a pad of felt or several thicknesses of cloth, blotting paper, or sponge rubber. It is also a camera component holding the film accurately in the focal plane in the camera.
Positive copy of a film, usually intended for projection.
Printing Synchronization
Placing of synchronizing marks so that the sound is in advance of the picture, as required for printing and projection. The interval between the sound and the picture is 20 frames for 35 mm. sound film, 26 frames for 16 mm. optical sound film, 28 frames for 16 mm. magnetic sound films, and 56 frames for 8 mm. magnetic sound films.
Any portable articles appearing in a film, for example furniture, flowers, fountain pens and fishing rods.
Surround to a stage or screen. It is often illuminated by concealed and colored lighting.


Quick Motion
Trick of filming with the camera running abnormally slow, so that when the film is projected at normal speed, the action is quicker than it was in reality. The opposite of slow motion.


Alignment of the film in the camera or projector gate so that the frame line is correctly placed in relation to the sprocket holes or gate aperture. Incorrect racking when projecting causes the frame line to appear on the screen.
Record-Playback Head
Electro magnet which serves either to produce or detect local magnetization of the wire, tape or stripe in a magnetic recorder.
Recording Level Indicator
Instrument showing when the recording impulses approach the intensity that would produce overloading, e.g: in a magnetic recorder.
Reduction Gear
Mechanical means of reducing motor speed.
Spool of film as used on the projector. A reel is also a measure of length, corresponding to about 16 minutes at silent speed of projection or 11 minutes at sound speed (400 feet of 16 mm. or 9.5 mm., 200 feet of 8 mm.).
Correct position of animated drawings in relation to one another and to the camera. Also the accurate superimposition of the separate images used in some types of cine film printing, e.g: color.
Register Pegs
Pegs fitted to a metal bar, designed to keep images on separate supports in correct register. The support has punched holes which correspond to the pegs.
Register Pins
Device in camera gate to ensure that each frame of film is in exactly the same position as the preceding and following frames. This ensures good picture steadiness.
Relational Editing
Editing of shots, which have no literal connexion with one another, in such a way as to suggest an association of ideas, as in a simile or metaphor.
Release Print
Positive print of a film intended for distribution, i.e: projection in cinemas, etc.
Repetition of a scene or take.
Reverse Action
Recording of a scene with the camera running in reverse (or held upside down) commonly used for trick effects and in animation. When projected, the film then shows events in reverse motion.
Reverse Shot
Shot in which the camera's viewpoint is almost exactly opposite to that of the previous shot. For example; a shot of A looking at B following a shot of B looking at A.
Apparatus for winding film on to its spool ready for projection.
Apparatus used in the production of animated cartoons, giving rigid support to the camera and animation board so that they do not alter position relative to each other in an uncontrolled way.
Rough Cut
Preliminary re-arrangement of shots in editing before their lengths are accurately adjusted.
Running Title
Long title which gradually moves up the screen so that the first lines of the title disappear from the top as others appear at the bottom.
Run Out
In animation, to cause a line or shape to grow from a point.
Lengths of processed film which are usually viewed before editing by the director and unit immediately the film is returned from the processing laboratories.


Condition of a magnetic recording material in which an increase in recording impulse no longer produces a proportional increase in iragnetization.
Part of the action recorded on film with the camera running, or appearing to run, continuously. The term scene is sometimes used in a more general sense to describe any piece of action which appears to be continuous (i.e., is not divided by a lapse of time).
Story of the film in its final form from which the director works during production. It usually contains a detailed description of the action, shot by shot, together with settings and camera positions. Sometimes also known as a shooting script.
Portion of a splicer which scrapes off the emulsion leaving the film base ready for the application of the cement.
Story of the film in its final form from which the director works during production. It usually contains a detailed description of the action, shot by shot, together with settings and camera positions.
Script Scene
Part of the action which, according to the script, may be recorded in a single shot although the director may often break it down into several. The word "scene" by itself is sometimes used in a more general sense to describe any piece of action which appears to be continuous (i.e., is not divided by a lapse of time).
Phase in the development of the film story, roughly equivalent to the chapter in a novel.
Artificially constructed setting used in a film.
Shooting Script
Story of the film in its final form from which the director works during productjon. It usually contains a detailed description of the action, shot by shot, together with settings and camera positions.
Part of the action recorded on film with the camera running, or appearing to run, continuously.
Show Print
Alternative term for release print, i.e. projection print of a finished film for distribution and showing.
Single 8
Film stock 8 mm in width as distinct from double run 8 mm. film which, before cutting, is 16 mm. wide. Single 8 mm film is nowadays virtually obsolete as camera stock, since practically all cameras take the film in the double 8 mm. form.
Single Frame Exposure
Exposure of one frame at a time instead of running the camera continuously ; a method used in animation.
Single-system Sound Camera
Camera in which picture and sound are recorded simultaneously on a single film.
Slipping Clutch
Device which allows automatic adjustment of the relative revolving speed of spools.
Slow Motion
Trick of filming with the camera running abnormally fast so that when the film is projected at normal speed, the action appears slower than it was in reality.
Special Effect
Illusion either realistic (e.g., a snowstorm) or fantastic (e.g., a character rendered invisible) introduced into a film by means of technical trick work. Splice. Join between two pieces of film, or the process of joining film.
Apparatus for joining film.
Split Track Recording
Method of independently recording several sounds side by side in the width of one normal track on magnetic tape or stripe so that the recordings are reproduced simultaneously.
Spoken Title
Dialogue rendered in the form of a sub-title.
Toothed drum driving the film by engagement with the perforations or sprocket holes.
Sprocket Holes
Holes in cine film by which the film is driven through the camera and projector. They are placed on the edges of 35, 16 and 8 mm film, and between the frames in the centre of 9.5 mm film.
Sprocket Modulation
Throbbing of the reproduced sound due to the presence of sprocket holes close to the sound-track.
Sound Drum
Comparatively large roller carrying the film in a projector at the point where the sound-track is scanned.
Sound Head
Components in a sound projector or tape recorder that actually converts the recording into electrical impulses.
Photographic record of sound on film.
Standard Film
Cine film 35 mm in width.
Start Marks
Marks on a film and a disc or tape so that the picture can be started in close synchronization with the sound.
Stereophonic Sound
Reproduction of sound so that it seems to have depth and direction, even when the original source is moving- e.g., the sound of an actor's voice actually moving across the screen with the image. In principle it is very similar to stereoscopic photography.
Photograph of a scene from a film or a scene in the making; a normal photograph as distinct from a cinematograph shot.
Cine film before exposure.
Stock Shot
Shot used in a film, but not taken specially for it; shot taken from a film or library source outside the unit producing the film. Alternative name for library shot.
Stop Action
Exposure of one frame at a time instead of running the camera continuously; a method used in animation.
Story Board
Board to display the action and layout sketches of an animated cartoon in sequence.
Straight Cut
Normal transition by cut as distinct from a dissolve or fade.
Magnetic coating applied to one or both margins of a film and used for recording sound.
Stroboscopic Disc
Rotating arrangement of dark and light radial lines which appear stationary when illuminated by light flickering at a related frequency.
Sub-Standard Film
Cine film less than 35 mm. in width, e.g: 16, 9-5 and 8 mm. Nowadays usually known as narrow-gauge.
Explanatory wording commonly incorporated in a silent film either to replace dialogue or to bridge a gap in the story. Supersonic Bias. High frequency impulses mixed with the impulses to be recorded. This reduces the distortion of a magnetic recording system.
Accurate co-ordination between sound and its relevant picture.
Usually two-way or four-way. Apparatus through which two or more lengths of film, either picture or sound track, can be drawn in step with one another for editing or track laying purposes.
Synchronizing Mark
Reference mark enabling separate picture and sound record to be brought into step.
Synchronous Motor
Electric motor which runs at a speed determined solely by the mains supply frequency.


One recording of a shot. One shot is often filmed several times and the best take selected.
Board on which scene numbers, take numbers, etc., are recorded and filmed before each take. This information is of great use to the editor when subsequently identifying and assembling the scenes. In a sound film production the take board incorporates the clapper and is then frequently known as the clapper board.
Reel or core winding up the film after it leaves the gate of the camera or projector.
Narrow plastic or paper ribbon coated with magnetic oxide and used for magnetic recordings.
Impression of pace in a film created by the relative length of each shot within a sequence and by the speed of the action within a shot.
Distance from the projector to the screen.
Up or down movement of the camera whilst taking a shot.
Lettering of any kind, either explanatory or in the form of dialogue in silent films.
Title Card
Card on which the lettering is arranged or inscribed.
Title Frame
Surround to ensure accurate alignment and centering of a title in filming.
Tracking Shot
Shot from a camera that is travelling forwards, sideways or backwards. Often used to follow moving subjects. A zoom shot, which is much simpler to take since the camera is stationary, is sometimes substituted for a tracking shot.
Blank film at the end of a reel after the last shot; also short film of extracts used to advertise a forthcoming attraction.
Travelling Matte
System used to combine selectively images on separate films so that they appear to have been taken on only one film at one time and place, e.g., an actor agajnst a jungle background. It is normally achieved by making a series of silhouette masks from the original films and interposing them during the printing stage.
Story of a film in its preliminary form, visualized in pictorial terms but not yet worked out in technical details. The shooting script is compiled from the treatment.
Trip Gear
Apparatus which enables single frames of film or a succession of single frames to be exposed at constant speed.
Turret (Head)
Rotating mount fitted to the front of a cine camera, which carries two, three or four lenses and possibly their associated viewfinders. The desired lens can be quickly brought into position by rotating the turret.
Two-core Loading
Method of loading chargers which enables the film to be attached to the core in light.
Twin-track Recorder
Magnetic tape recorder in which less than half the width of the tape is used at once so that interchange of the spools enables a second recording to be made on the same length of tape.
Medium close-up taken so as to include two people only, head and shoulders.
Brief term for two-way synchronizer. Apparatus consisting of duplicate sprockets mounted on a single spindle for running two lengths of film (picture or sound-track) in step with one another.


Personnel engaged in making a film. Variable Area Recording. Optical sound recording in which the track consists of clear and opaque areas, the complementary widths of which vary from point to point along the track.


Variable Density Recording
Optical sound recording in which the light absorption of a constant width track varies from point to point.


Wild Track
Sound-track recorded independently of a picture and intended to be cut into the main track later.
Transition from shot to shot in which a line appears to pass across the screen pushing off the first shot and revealing the second shot.
Work Print
Reversal or color copy or a positive print used solely for editing purposes. The original or negative is cut to match it when editing is completed and is never protected, but carefully maintained as a source of subsequent prints.
Slow wailing effect produced by uneven movement of the recording medium during sound recording or reproduction. Often caused by uneven transmission in the motor drive.


Change in apparent distance between camera and subject, effected by a variable focus lens, during actual filming.


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    • SproketHole7 profile image


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Great resource!


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