Glossary of Film Terms

written and designed for the web by Joel Schlemowitz  

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The material on these pages may be printed out for personal use only. Use as course handouts only with proper acknowledgment of authorship and the New School's Film Production Department.


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A&B Rolls - The negative of an edited film, cut to correspond to picture, built into 2 rolls, A and B, to allow for invisible splices, instant changes of the timing lights and fades and dissolves without the need for opticals. The A roll will have all the odd numbered shots, with black leader in place of all the missing shots. The B roll will have all the even numbered shots, with black leader in place of all the shots on the A roll. The negative is printed in three passes through the contact printer, one for each roll and another for the soundtrack. Only after all the elements have been exposed onto the print stock is the print developed.

Academy Aperture - In 35mm this is the full frame exposed by the camera, with an aspect ratio of 1.33. When the film is projected there is a mask in the projector's gate to change the aspect ratio to 1.85 or 1.66, cropping the top and bottom of the image. Older films were not shot to be masked and should be projected without a mask. The Academy Aperture is sometimes called the Full Academy Aperture.

Academy Leader - This is standard countdown leader, counting down 8 to 3 and then with one frame of 2, at which point there is a single frame beep on the sound track. It is used at the beginning of a film for the lab to line up sound (using the beep) and later for the projectionist to know when to turn on the lamp and hopefully not miss the opening of the film. A common mistake is to count the footage from the 2, but actually frame zero is the one right before the first 8, a single frame with the words "Picture Start." Academy Leader is sometimes also known as S.M.P.T.E. leader.

A.D.R. - Automated Dialogue Recording. This is just Dubbing, done in addition to or as a substitution for Location Sound. The term A.D.R., being something of a mysterious acronym, has a certain appeal, as it obscures the fact that dubbing was involved when it appears in the credits of your film. This might have something to do with the current prevalence of the term.

Anamorphic - A method of creating a wide screen image with standard film, using a special lens on the camera and projector that compresses the width of the image that is exposed on the film and then expands it when projected.

Answer Print - This is the first corrected print made from the A&B Rolls, printed with the optical track. It is sometimes called a married print because it is the first time that picture and sound are wed together on the same piece of print stock. If you are not overly optimistic about the results of the timing, you can call this the First Answer Print. When there are further corrections in timing the next print is known as the Second Answer Print, followed by a Third Answer Print and so on.

Aperture - This is the same as the Iris.

Apple Box - This is a wooden box, often helpful on the set to raise up equipment, for the cameraperson to stand on if the tripod is up very high etc. Often you will find them used as seats by the less involved participants. There are also half apples and quarter apples, which as you might expect, are half and one quarter as thick respectively.

Arm - A metal rod that is attached to a C-Stand which can extend off to the side.

Aspect Ratio - The proportions of the frame. In 16mm and 35mm the camera photographs a slightly square image, with an aspect ratio of 1.33 to 1. Aspect Ratios are usually shorted to leave out the "- to 1," taking for granted that it will always be in relation to 1, an so "1.33 to 1" can just be called "1.33" In 35mm 1.33 is known as the Academy Aperture. In 35mm the image is usually shot with the Academy Aperture and then masked in the projector to produce a wider image: 1.85 in the U.S. and 1.66 in Europe.

A.S.A. - This is the sensitivity to light of a particular type of film. It is the specific number used to measure Film Speed. It is the same as I.E. and I.S.O. A.S.A. stands for American Standards Association, the organization that standardized the scale of measurement of film speed.

A-Wind and B-Wind - This is the emulsion position of the film. There are two possibilities, just as there are two sides to a piece of film. Camera original is B-Wind. A print struck from it will be A-Wind. This is because film is printed emulsion against emulsion.



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Backwind - Rewinding film in the camera to shoot a Double Exposure.

Balance Stripe - A second stripe found on 35mm stripe mag stock and super-8 sound film to prevent warping.

Barndoors - Handy blinders on the sides of lights that can be used to keep light from going everywhere. They can also be used to clip on a lighting gel. They get very hot when a light is on, so it is best to wear work gloves when adjusting them.

Barney - A quilted cozy that fits around a camera to reduce camera noise. Generally it is only effective on a camera that is pretty quiet to begin with. The term comes from barney blanket, a kind of horse blanket.

Base - Film has two basic elements: The base is the clear, perforated strip, and the emulsion is the thin, light-sensitive layer that is glued onto it.

Bayonet - A type of lens mount commonly used with heavier lenses, such as zoom lenses. In contrast to screw-mount lenses, bayonet lenses are attached to the camera with a locking mechanism. Bayonet lenses can typically be changed much faster than screw-mount lenses.

Best Light - Similar to a One Light, but by implication, the timer has gone through the film more thoroughly in selecting a timing light that will agree with the majority of the footage.

Bin - see Trim Bin.

Black Leader or Black Emulsion Leader - Black leader is black, opaque film, often specifially called black emulsion leader. It is what the negative cutter uses when preparing A&B rolls. It is very important that it be emulsion leader rather than plastic leader when used for A&B rolls, since plastic leader cannot be cement spliced. It also must be very opaque, not any black piece of film will do.

Blow Up - An optical enlargement of a film from one gauge to another, such as 16mm up to 35mm. The opposite of a blow up is a Reduction Print.

Blow Down - The actual term for the opposite of a blow up is a Reduction Print, but this term has been coined by Colorlab in Rockville, Maryland, for a reduction print made from super 16mm to regular 16mm, as an alternative to the much more expensive process of blowing up super 16mm to 35mm.

Blimp - A fiberglass housing used to encase a noisy camera to make it suitable for sync sound filming.

Blimped Camera or Self-Blimped Camera - The term is used not to mean a camera in a blimp, but a camera that is designed with internal soundproofing without the need for an external blimp. For instance, with an Arri BL the "BL" stands for "blipped."

Bolex - One of the more widely used 16mm non-sync cameras, it is made in Switzerland by the Paillard Company. There are many varieties, non-reflex, reflex, springwound and electric motor driven. But when someone says "Bolex," typically they mean a reflex, springwound model, such as the Rex-4.

Bounce Card - A white or silver card used for soft indirect lighting of the subject by bouncing light off the card. Can also be used to provide a gentle brightening of shadow areas. Especially out-of-doors as it does not require power.

Bracketing - The filming of several takes of the same shot at different f-stops to achieve the desired result. Usually this technique is applied to shooting titles much more than anything else. (It is a good idea to film a few frames of black in-between, since it is sometimes difficult to tell where the camera was stopped.)

B-Wind - see A-Wind.


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Cable Sync - A somewhat archaic method of sync sound shooting, where a cable runs from a Pilottone generator in the camera to the tape recorder.

The Call - This is the sequence of directions that begin a take, typically: "Roll Sound!" "Roll Camera!" "Mark it!" "And... Action!"

Camera Core - A 2 inch Core.

Camera Original - A slightly more adamant way of saying Original.

Camera Noise - The sound of the camera running. Even supposedly quiet cameras will make some noise.

Camera Reports - A form of paperwork used to log shots and takes and put down any notes either to the lab or for future organization in the editing stage. There is generally one camera report per camera roll. Camera reports can be used to communicate specific timing requests to the lab (for instance, if a shot if lit with unusual color gels, this can be noted to let the timer know not to correct the color). Camera reports are extremely helpful to analyze any problem with the footage, since they provides a written record of the coverage (the least of which is that if the slate has the wrong information written on it, which happens now and then, a note can be made in the camera reports to keep the assistant editor from getting confused about which take is which).

Camera Roll - Each roll that you shoot becomes a camera roll. It is often helpful to label them with a number in the order that they were shot. The usual way is with the abbreviation C.R. followed by a number. The lab will then assemble and print them in that order. This makes things less confusing when you first get back your footage.

Camera Stock - This is film. It is also called camera stock to distinguish it from Print Stock.

Camera Tape - Cloth tape specifically for use on film shoots, much like gaffer's tape. Camera tape is typically 1 inch wide and white so that it can be used together with a sharpie for labeling magazines with the emulsion type and camera roll number. It is valid to use the terms gaffer's tape and camera tape interchangeably (they are both really the same type of tape) depending on how the tape is being used. It is designed not to leave a sticky residue behind on the camera.

Canted Angle - see Dutch Tilt.

Cement Splice - A type of splice used primarily by negative cutters. In a cement splice the two pieces of film overlap each other and are fused together with film cement.

Changing Bag - A double chambered black bag with a zipper on one end and two elasticized arm holes on the other side, used for loading film into magazines.

Check Print - This is a print made from an internegative or an optical to verify the quality and success of an effect.

"Cheat" - When the camera is set up for a second shot at a different angle it is possible to move things around a little to improve the new composition, the difference in perspective and angle of the two shots hiding the fact that things are not exactly in the same place. Both actors and furniture on the set can be cheated. The term is often used as cheating something "into" a shot or "out of" a shot, as in telling an actor "We're going to cheat you in a little," and having them stand a little to one side so more of them is in the shot.

Cinch Marks - Not to be confused with sync marks. Cinch marks are small vertical scratches on a roll of film that are caused when the end of the film is pulled to tighten the roll, causing any dust on the film to make a small scratch. Too much drag on the supply while rewinding is one common way that cinching can occur.

Clamp Light - A type of lighting fixture designed to hold a screw-in light bulb, with a not-so-dependable spring clamp for mounting on the side of an open door, etc. Often includes an aluminum reflector dish as well.

Clapper or Clapstick - The Slate, or just the two sticks that are struck together to mark a sync sound take.

Clap Board - see The Slate.

C-Mount - A screw mount type of lens, commonly used on smaller 16mm cameras, like the Bolex.

Co-axial Magazine - A type of magazine with two chambers side by side, with the supply and take up rolls rather like wheels mounted on either end of the same axle.

Code Numbers - Inked-on edge numbers, usually added to a workprint and mag track after syncing, so that corresponding sound and picture can always be properly aligned during editing. They are also used for the general organization of the footage. Sometimes the term edge numbers are used, and although this is not incorrect, care should be taken that it is understood that you are talking about the inked-on numbers and not the Latent Edge Numbers.

Colorist - The Timer of a video transfer.

Color Temperature - It is a measurement of the color of light, and important in that film is much more sensitive to color temperature than our eyes are. Is measured on scale that takes its name from the scientist Lord Kelvin

Conformations - Progressive versions of a film in the editing stage are known as conformations, often identified by date. Conformations are only of any significance on a large production where different editing departments should be sure to be working with the latest conformation.

Conforming - The word to describe the negative cutter's matching of the original to the workprint.

Contact Printing - The method used by the lab to copy film. A contact print is made on a machine called (sensibly enough) a Contact Printer, in which the original film and unexposed print stock are sandwiched together, emulsion against emulsion, and are run at a constant speed past a light which shines through the original, exposing the print stock with the same image. All workprints, answer prints and release prints are contact prints. The only other type of printing is Optical Printing, which is usually done to add an effect or to blow up or make a reduction print.

Continuity - The seamlessness of detail from one shot to another within a scene. Continuity refers particularly to the physical elements, rather than to the choices in Coverage that can result in a lack of seamlessness. Elements of continuity include any actions of the actor, the placement of props, the lighting, the costumes, and so on.

Coocoloris - A fancier way of saying Gobo or Cookie.

Cookie - A flat board, like a flag, but full of irregular holes used for creating a pattern of shadows when put in front of a light.

Core - A plastic hub used to hold film without a reel. There are 2 inch cores (small cores) and 3 inch cores (large cores). 2 inch cores can also be called camera cores.

Corrected Print - Same as a Timed Print.

Corrections - Further changes in the timing of a print are known as corrections.

Coverage - Coverage is used to describe the architecture of breaking down a script into the shots that will allow the scene to be cut together. Although coverage addresses the bare-bones question of getting shots that will cut together smoothly, it is important not to be too distracted from bigger aesthetic question of getting the right shots for the scene to work.

C.R. - Abbreviation for Camera Roll.

Critical End! - What to label your film can when turning it in at the lab when the roll ran out during a very important shot and you want to make sure you get every last frame possible.

Cross Modulation Test - Sometimes called "cross mod" for short. This is a test the Mixing House will do in conjunction with the lab you plan to use to make sure the optical track is exposed and developed for optimal sound quality.

Cross Processing - A technique used much more by still photographers. Cross processing is the use of color reversal film stock to be developed as a negative. A positive print struck from that negative will have strange and rich colors, intense contrast and on overall yellowish hue.

Crystal Sync - Specifically, a way of recording Sync Sound where the camera runs at correct speed with a quartz crystal-governed motor, and tape recorder records its pilottone using a built-in quartz crystal pilottone generator. The crystal is much like the kind used in a quartz watch. Unlike cable sync, the camera and tape recorder are not attached.

C.T.B. - C.T.B. stands for Color Temperature Blue. This is an abbreviation for the color correction gels used in lighting to convert the color temperature from tungsten to daylight. They come in gradients: Quarter Blue, Half Blue, Full Blue.

C.T.O. - C.T.O. stands for Color Temperature Orange. This is an abbreviation for the color correction gels used in lighting to convert the color temperature from daylight to tungsten. They come in gradients: Quarter Orange, Half Orange, Full Orange.

C-Stand - A type of light stand with fixed legs that swing out, or together when not in use, usually equipped with an arm, and typically used to hold a flag.

Cue Sheets - A road map, of sorts, for the mixer to find the sounds on your tracks during the mix. It is laid out as a grid with each track forming a column and time moving ahead in rows measured in 35mm footage (even if your film is 16mm you must convert the footage to 35mm).

Cut - 1.: What the director says to end the filming of a shot. 2.: The cutting apart of 2 shots at the frameline, or the point where the shots have been cut apart. 3.: In the different stages, or at the completion of editing the edited film itself can be referred to as "the cut" or "the edit."

Cutaway - A shot, usually a closeup of some detail, or landscape, that is used break up a matching action sequence, and is often very helpful in editing to rescue you from an impossible break in continuity or coverage. A cutaway, as the name implies, is a shot that does not focus on some detail of the shot before or after it but cuts away from the action at hand, unlike an Insert Shot. However, the two terms are sometimes used vaguely or interchangeably, although this is not always a useful practice. The best cutaways are the ones that have some logic to them, that relate to the scene.


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Dailies - The workprint, before it has been edited, so called because the minority of labs will have it ready later the same day it was dropped off (if you are a client to whom they give some type of priority). Also known as Rushes.

Daylight Balanced - The color temperature of daylight which is 5,400K on the color temperature scale (it does vary during the day, being higher at noon and lower in the earlier and later parts of the day). Color film for outdoor shooting is balanced for daylight, otherwise the image would appear blue in hue. If daylight balanced film is used indoors without a correction filter the image will have a orange hue.

Daylight Spool - An aluminum spool holding 100 feet of film with solid, opaque sides, painted black, which will protect the film from becoming completely exposed when loading a camera in daylight. The name daylight spool comes from the fact that the film may be loaded without total darkness. There are also 400 foot daylight spools, but these are very rarely used as they do not always work very well in a magazine.

Depth of Field - While a lens focuses on a single plane of depth, there is usually an additional area in focus behind and in front of that plane. This is depth of field. Depth of field increases as the iris is closed. There is more depth of field the wider the lens and less the longer the lens. There is a deeper area in focus the further away a lens is focused than there is when a lens is focused close. Depth of field does not spread out evenly; the entire area is about 1/3rd in front and 2/3rds behind the plane of focus. To factor together all these variables it is best to consult a depth of field table, such as the ones found in the American Cinematographer's Manual.

Diffusion - 1.: A filter used on the camera to create a soft focus effect. 2.: A white or pearlecent sheet of material used on a movie light to soften the shadows.

Diopter - The diopter is part of the viewfinding system of a camera that can be adjusted to compensate for your own particular eyesight, allowing you to see the groundglass clearly.

Dissolve - A transition between two shots, where one shot fades away and simultaneously another shot fades in. Dissolves are done at the lab in the printing phase, but prepared by the negative cutter, who cuts in an overlap of the two shots into the A&B rolls. Labs will only do dissolves in fixed amounts, such as 24 frames, 48 frames, etc.

Dolly Shot - A dolly shot is one where the camera is placed on a dolly and is moved while filming. Also known as a tracking shot.

Double Exposure - A double exposure occurs when (prior to development) an exposed piece of film is reshot with a second image on top of the first. Several exposures can be made, but it still valid to call it a "double" exposure rather than a "triple" or "quadruple" exposure. It is perfectly alright to say "five double exposures," as numerically incongruous as it may sound.

Double Perf - 16mm film with a row of perforations running along both edges. On the film can this will be indicated by 2R appearing on the label.


Double Reel - In 35mm a double reel is 2 single reels joined together, the maximum size being 2,000 feet. Double reels are labeled 1 A/B, 2 A/B etc., to distinguish them from single reels.

Double System - The term double system refers to sound and picture as two separate elements, recorded, edited or projected in sync. 16mm and 35mm use the double system format. A camera photographs the picture and a tape recorder records the sound. In the end, the final print is Single System, combining sound and picture onto the same piece of print stock.

Double System Projector - A projector designed to project a workprint and play a mag track in sync.

Dubbing - The recording of dialogue in a sound studio, after the footage is shot, where the actors watch the film and match the lip movements.

Dupe - A dupe is a positive copy of a positive. A dupe can also be a negative copy of a negative. A dupe is a print made in the reversal process. It can sometimes be clearer to call something a dupe, because to simply say "positive print" you could just mean a positive copy of a negative, which would not be a dupe.

Dutch Tilt - A composition with the camera viewing the scene at a diagonal. Same as a canted angle. Some nice examples can be seen in Carol Reed's "The Third Man."


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E.C.N. - E.C.N. stands for Eastman Color Negative. It is simply your developed negative.

Edit - 1.: The cutting and arranging of shots. 2.: In the different stages, or at the completion of editing the edited film itself can be referred to as "the cut" or "the edit."

Editing Bench - A workbench with rewinds attached, and sometimes a built-in light table in the center.

Editing Bin - see Trim Bin.

Editorial Sync - A set of sync marks on picture and sound that line up at the same frame, as opposed to Printer's Sync, where the picture and sound are displaced. Sometimes it is usedful to label a sync mark E.S. to know that it is an Editorial Sync mark.

Edge Fog - Exposure along the edge of the film from raw light, in most cases from a lightleak, due to the camera door not being taped. Edge Fog can sometimes be visible in the frame or sometimes outside of the frame effecting the clarity of the latent edge numbers.

Edge Numbers or Latent Edge Numbers - 1.: The edge numbers are small numbers running along the edge of the film, in between the perf in 16mm, and just to the far side of them in 35mm. The are photographed onto the film in its manufacture, and are there to aid the negative cutter in lining up shots in the process of conforming the negative. They are sometimes called latent edge numbers to distinguish them from inked-on code numbers. 2.: Code Numbers are sometimes called edge numbers.

E.D.L. - E.D.L. stands for Edit Decision List. It is used by the negative cutter when you have cut digitally, in order to conform the original without the usual workprint.

E.I. - Abbreviation for Exposure Index.

Emulsion - The thin layer of silver attached to the base which, when exposed and developed, creates the film image through the areas of silver, which block light, and the clear areas which allow light to pass through.

Emulsion Batch - The emulsion batch is the series of numbers on the film can the come after the Emulsion Type. When the film is made, each batch is given a number so that you can shoot a single sequence with one particular batch. Just as a suit where the pants and jacket were cut from different bolts of fabric might be a little off, a sequence shot with different emulsion batches might also be a little off. From one sequence to the next, of course, this doesn't matter. (And the batches themselves have become more consistent in recent years, so mixing them is less of a sin nowadays.)

Emulsion Leader - Unlike plastic leader, emulsion leader can be cement spliced.

Emulsion Type - A film's emulsion type refers to the composition of its emulsion, whether it was manufactured to be fast, slow, grainy, fine-grained, colorful, pastel, black and white or color, daylight balanced, tungsten balanced, etc. The emulsion type is represented by a number. For Kodak it is a series of four numbers, such as 7219. The "72" always stands for 16mm camera stock, and the same emulsion type is found in 35mm as 5219, "52" being the designation of 35mm. Fuji uses a system where the film's emulsion type is a little more telling, such as 250D, which is daylight balanced film with an Exposure Index of 250. When picking out a stock to use the film speed, and in the case of color film, whether the film is daylight or tungsten, are the primary reasons for choosing a certain emulsion type. Allowances might also be made to achieve a certain look, as in using Kodak Vision, or Fuji film. Several different emulsion types are usually used on a project, fast for night scenes, slow for daylight scenes, etc. However, unless you are trying something novel, it is a good idea to shoot a single unbroken sequence with one emulsion type.

E.S. - Abbreviation for Editorial Sync.

Eye Line - Eye line is the direction an actor should look off-screen to match a reverse angle or a P.O.V. shot. It is best to give the actor an actual thing or spot to look at rather than a blank spot on an empty wall or an empty space in mid air.

Estar Base - a brand name for Polyester Base.

Exciter Lamp - A special lamp in the projector used for the playback of Optical Sound. The projector reads the track by passing it between the exciter lamp a light-sensitive photo-electric cell.

Exposure Index - This is the sensitivity to light of a particular type of film. It is the specific number used to measure Film Speed. Your film will list an E.I. number on the box or the film can as the film speed. It is the same as A.S.A. and I.S.O. on your light meter.

Extension Tubes - These are a handy way to turn any long lens into a macro lens for ultra-close shooting. They are hollow metal tubes that are mounted between the camera and the lens. Typically they come in a set of different lengths which can be combined. It is a good idea to open up the lens a little when using an extension tube, as a little light is lost. It should be noted that they do not work when used with wide lenses.


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Fade - A transition from a shot to black where the image gradually becomes darker is a Fade Out; or from black where the image gradually becomes brighter is a Fade In. Fades are done at the lab in the printing phase, but prepared by the negative cutter, who cuts in an overlap of black into the A&B rolls. Labs will only do fades in fixed amounts, such as 24 frames, 48 frames, etc.

Flex-Fill - A round cloth bounce card mounted on a flexible ring that can be folded up when not in use.

5,400K - is the color temperature of Daylight.

Filler, Fill or Sound Fill - Filler is scrap film, most often used to keep a sound track running the same length as the picture, even though there is just silence. When used this way in can also be called sound fill. Filler is usually a print with the emulsion scraped off the center all the way along, perhaps to prevent bootlegging, but also useful in that a mark can be seen on both sides through this wide scratch.

Film Cement - A liquid that is actually not a glue, but a chemical that melts and fuses two pieces of film together.

Film Speed - The sensitivity to light for proper exposure of a given film stock. This is primarily a result of the size of the silver halides in the emulsion, the larger the grain, the less light is needed for exposure. Film stocks are generally spoken of as being fast or slow, a fast film having large grains and needing less light, a slow film having smaller grain and needing more light.


Film Plane - The film plane is the plane of depth from the lens of the film, behind the gate, in the camera. It is also the point from where the distances on the focusing ring should be measured from, and is indicated on the outside of the camera with a little symbol that looks like the planet Saturn turned on its side.


Filter - A tinted glass or small tinted plastic sheet placed in front of the lens or behind the lens in a filter holder, used to change the color rendition of the entire shot. Filters are used to convert tungsten balanced film for use in daylight or vice versa. The can also be used for aesthetic reasons, such as a red filter to darken the sky when filming in black and white.

Fixed Focal Length Lens - see Prime Lens.

Flag - This has two meanings. 1.: It can be a large black cloth on a frame used on a shoot to keep light out of part of the composition. 2.: In the cutting room it is a small piece of tape attached to a shot in a roll and used exactly as you would use a bookmark. The flag sticks out the side of the roll, making it easy to find that shot again quickly.

Flare - This has two meanings: 1.: When using film on a daylight spool, the erratic pattern of raw light that washes out the beginning and end of the roll are known as "the flares." 2.: A flare of the other kind is a Lens Flare. It is caused when light strikes the lens and either causes the entire image to be fogged in appearance, or for a little row of polygons (the silhouette of the iris) to appear from the light hitting the surfaces of the many elements in the lens. It is solved by flagging the lens.

Flash Frame - 1.: A flash frame is a single frame that is completely clear between two shots. It occurs when the camera is stopped with the gate open, allowing for a very long exposure on that single frame. Rather than a problem, a flash frame can actually be a very helpful thing in the editing room, making it very easy to see where one shot ends and another begins. This type of flash frame usually does not occur with spring wound cameras, like the Bolex, except when the spring winds all the way down, but the second type is something with which to be more concerned. 2.: A flash frame is also used to describe the first few overexposed, brighter frames at the beginning or the end of a shot, due to the camera needing time to reach speed. These can often be hard to see while editing, but are much more noticeable in a final print.

Flatbed - An editing machine resembling a desk with a screen in the middle. The film sits flat on plates which are threaded through the center section that has transports for picture and sound.

Focal Length - Simply put, how wide or narrow a view the lens will provide, smaller numbers being wider and larger numbers being narrower.

Fog - This is when stray raw light has found a chance to expose you film.

Foley - The recording of custom sound effects during post production in the same way that dialogue is dubbed. The term comes from the name of its inventor.

Follow Focus - A shot where focus is changed while shooting to correspond with the moment of the subject (or the camera).

Footage - 1.: The amount of film one has shot. 2.: The whole of the exposed film itself.

Foot Candle - Measurement of light. One foot candle is the light of one candle, one foot away. Many light meters will use foot candles as a starting number, which then must be converted into an f-stop based on the sensitivity of the film you are using. (Because of the great variety of different film speeds it is sometimes ambiguous to talk too much about foot candles, since a given number of foot candles will not yield the same f-stop from one film speed to another.)

Frame - A single image (of a series of them) on a piece of film. There are 24 frames per second.

Frame Handles - Frame handles are extra frames at the beginning and the end of every shot, the exact number will vary from one application to the next, which are used primarily when preparing original material for optical printing, such as the Zero Cut method of blow up, or the creation of a superimposed title, etc. The purpose they serve, in the case of zero cut, is to make sure the registration pin of the printer is not grabbing a splice, which can cause the image to wobble. With opticals they are often used merely to avoid printed-in dirt, which is much more prevalent close to a splice where bits of film cement can flake off.

Frame Line - The small sliver of space between frames. This is where two shots are cut apart and joined.

French Flag - A small black metal flag attached to the camera with a positionable arm that is used to shade the lens from light in the case of a Flare (2).

F-stop - The scale used to measure the size of the opening of the iris on a lens. Opening the iris wider lets in more light, and closing it down, smaller, lets in less light. F-stops can be a little confusing, because the larger the number, the smaller the opening of the iris, and conversely the smaller the number, the larger the opening. The typical f-stop scale is 1.4 - 2 - 2.8 - 4 - 5.6 - 8 - 11 - 16 - 22. When the reading is between stops, this should be accounted for it setting the lens, however, it is much more clear, even if it sounds grammatically incorrect to the mathematically inclined, to say "One third above 5.6" rather than "5.8" because it is very hard to judge the distance in decimals between numbers like 5.6 and 8, whereas 1/3rd above 5.6 is perfectly clear.

Fullcoat - Fullcoat is Mag Stock with a layer of oxide that completely covers one side, unlike Stripe. All 16mm mag is fullcoat. 35mm is available in both fullcoat and stripe. The difference in 35mm is that fullcoat can be used for recording several tracks, and it typically used for the Mix Master. Fullcoat is also more expensive than stripe.


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Gaffer's Tape - Cloth tape specifically for use on film shoots, usually 2 inches wide in black or silver. The nice thing about gaffer's tape is that, unlike duct tape, it is designed not to leave a sticky residue behind.

Gate - The opening on a camera or a projector just behind the lens, through which a single frame is exposed (in the camera) or projected (in the projector).

Gauge - The size, specifically the width, of a film format: 16mm, 35mm, Super-8 are gauges.

Gel - A large sheet of transparent tinted plastic used as a filter for a movie light, or to cover a window. There are two basic types: ones that will covert one color temperature to another (such as C.T.O. and C.T.B.), and others that come in a wide variety of colors.

Gobo - see Cookie.

The Groundglass - A flat surface of etched glass in the viewfinding system of a camera that is the same distance from the lens as the film plane.

Guillotine - A type of tape splicer which uses unperforated splicing tape.


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Halation - Halation is the effect that occurs when the bright areas of an image appear to softly bleed around the edges of dark areas. This is caused by light going through the emulsion layer, bouncing off the base of the film and exposing the adjacent emulsion. Some film is manufactured with a black anti-halation coating on the base side.

Half Apple - see Apple Box.

Halogen - This is the gas contained in the lamp of a Quartz Light, which prolongs the life of the tungsten filament. Quartz Lights are sometimes called Halogen Lights for this reason.

Handheld - Shooting without a tripod, but with the camera held by the cameraperson.

Head - 1.: The beginning of a shot or a roll is called the head. 2.: A small round clamp, usually used in conjunction with an arm on a C-Stand. 3.: The Tripod Head

Head Room - The space between the top of a subject's head and the top of the frame. Headroom must be carefully apportioned so that there is not too much or too little, especially if shooting for transfer to video or for blowup, where the frame will be cropped in a little on the top and sides.

Hi Hat - This is a square of plywood with a bracket attached, to which a tripod head may be added (or is sometimes permanently affixed) used for filming with the camera very low to the ground. Its name is a bit of a contradiction, to its use nowadays, but it used to be that a Hi Hat was for shooting from very high up, with the plywood board being mounted up high somewhere.

HMI - This is a type of light. HMI stands for Halogen Metal Incandescence. HMIs are very bright, power efficient lights. They are balanced for the Color Temperature of Daylight, making them handy in mixed lighting situations. However, they are rather expensive, costing something in the few thousands of dollars, and are not very portable due to the large and heavy ballast that is attached. Also, and this is vitally important to keep in mind, they must be used with a Crystal Sync camera, otherwise they will flicker and throb.

Hot Splicer - A Cement splicer with an electric heater inside. The heat improves the bonding of the cement splice. Hot splicers are really not dangerously hot, just warm.

House Lights - You can request "House Lights" for a print and the lab will not time your film, but print it without any exposure or color correction. House lights are typically at the middle of the printing scale: 25 - 25 -25.

Hyperfocal Distance - The hyperfocal distance is a distance set on the focusing ring of the lens that will most efficiently use the Depth of Field present. A depth of field chart will list possible distances and graph out the area of focus at different f-stops. There does not necessarily have to be a subject to focus on at that distance.


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Incident Light Reading - An incident light reading measures the amount of light hitting the subject. You take an incident reading with a light meter equipped with a white half-sphere which acts as a stand-in for the subject. The sphere is pointed at the camera, so that the same light hitting the subject is hitting the sphere. The other type of light reading is a Reflective Light Reading.

Infinity - The furthest distance on the focusing ring of a lens.

Insert Shot - A close-up of some detail in the scene. (Sort of like a cutaway without the "-away" aspect.)

Interlocked - Two or more devices (most commonly dubbers in a mixing facility) with motors that run in sync are interlocked. It is not quite correct to say that a sync sound camera and tape recorder are interlocked, regardless of whether they use crystal of cable sync, since the tape recorder is recording pilottone and not really running with its motor interlocked with the camera motor.

Internegative - An intermediate copy of a film, made on a very fine-grained stock, and used to make a greater number of prints than it is practical to make from the A&B Rolls.

Interpositive - An intermediate copy of a film, made on a very fine-grained stock, usually required as an intermediate step to making an internegative.

Intervalometer - A device that attaches to the camera for filming single exposures, much like an animation motor, exept that an intervalometer is capable of exposing single frames automatically, as in the technique of Time Lapse photography.

Iris - Like the iris of the eye, a valve within a lens to control the amount of light that passes through. Opening the iris permits more light to pass through the lens and closing the iris less. The degree to which the iris is open or closed is measured in F-Stops, and on some lenses supplemented by T-Stops.

I.S.O. - The equivalent of A.S.A. and I.E., just with another name, it is another way of saying the same thing. This is the least frequently used of the three, but is sometimes found on the light meter. Treat it just as if it was A.S.A. I.S.O. stands for International Standards Organization.


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Jump Cut - Basically, two similar shots cut together with a jump in continuity, camera position or time.


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K - "K" has two different meanings, and both apply to movie lights, so one should be careful to differentiate one from the other. 1.: An abbreviation for Kilowatts. There are 1,000 Watts in 1 Kilowatt. It is used when talking about quartz lights or HMIs, as a way to measure their brightness based on their power consumption. A "1K" is a 1,000 Watt light, a "2K" a 2,000 Watt light, etc. 2.: An abbreviation for Kelvin, such as 3,200K for tungsten balance, 5,400K for daylight, etc.

Kelvin - This is the Color Temperature scale that takes its name from the scientist Lord Kelvin.


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Lab Roll - A large roll (usually up to 1,000 feet) made up of camera rolls joined together by the lab for printing.

Latent Edge Numbers - Precisely, the edge numbers, and not inked-on code numbers. see Edge Numbers.

Latitude - The degree to which a certain film stock can tolerate under- or overexposure. Reversal film, for all practical purposes, has a very little latitude. Color negative has a higher latitude, and particular of its latitude it is tolerant of much more overexposure than underexposure.

Lens Flare. It is caused when light strikes the lens and either causes the entire image to be fogged in appearance, or for a little row of polygons (the silhouette of the iris) to appear from the light hitting the surfaces of the many elements in the lens. It is solved by flagging the lens.

L.F.O.A. - This stands for Last Frame of Action, and basically it is just what it sounds like: the last frame of image and sound on a reel. It is important to the people who mix your film (it should be written on the cue sheet), especially if you need to do Pull Ups.

Lights - see Timing Lights.

Lightleak - Stray light that penetrates into a camera giving the film little patches of fog. Also the term for the access point itself. Typically light leaks occur around the camera door or where the magazine is joined to the camera body. Often they can be easily prevented with camera tape around the door.

Lip Sync - Another way of saying Sync Sound.

Loading Booth - A small darkroom sometimes found on a sound stage for loading film into magazines as a roomier alternative to a Changing Bag.

Location Sound - This is the sync sound, or any other sort of wild track or room tone that was recorded at the shoot. Same as Production Sound.

Locked Cut - The so-called final cut of a film when there are to be no more changes to picture.

Locked Down Shot - A shot taken with the pan and tilt releases on the tripod tightened so that the camera will not move. Often done for certain effects where camera movement would ruin the illusion, such as a cut that causes a character to magically disappear from a scene.

Long Lens - A lens with a focal length greater than 25mm in 16mm, or 50mm in 35mm, which, like binoculars, will provide a view that magnifies a small area.

Loop - 1.: Slack film above and below the gate to allow a transition from the constant motion of the supply and take up rollers to the intermittent motion that takes place at the gate. 2.: A small magnifier useful in the editing room. 3.: see Dubbing.

Looping - see Dubbing. Called looping because the film is on a loop to give the actor several tries at a line. Also called A.D.R.

Low Con Print - A low contrast print specifically for transfer to video, which favors less contrast in the transfer process.


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Macro Lens - A lens that can be used for extremely close to the subject. The focusing ring will keep going past the lowest setting (on the Switar lens a red ring will appear to let you know) all the way around again. When in macro the distances on the focusing ring no longer apply.

Mag - 1.: Short for Magazine. 2.: Short for Mag Track.

Magazine - An attachment to a camera with one or two light-proof chambers that hold 400 or 1,000 feet of film. One camera will typically have two or three magazines which can be loaded ahead of time.

Mag Stock, Mag Track or Magnetic Film - Mag track is a piece of film that is coated with an emulsion of magnetic oxide instead of silver halides. Basically, it is sound recording tape that is the same size as film, complete with perforations. For editing, all the sound, location sound and additional sound, is transferred to mag stock, where it is run on an editing machine in tandem with picture, one frame of picture equaling one frame of sound.

Mark - 1.: The clapping of the clapstick to create a Sync Mark (1.) for the shot. 2.: A piece of tape on the floor that indicates where an actor should stand.

"Mark it!" - What to say to the person with the slate to get them to clap the sticks together.

Master Shot - A single shot, usually a wide shot, that incorporates the whole scene from beginning to end. Typically a master shot will be filmed first, and then all the close-ups and other shots afterwards.

Matte Box - A square shade that goes in front of the lens, usually supported by a pair of rods that attach to the camera. A matte box often has filter holders for square glass filters. (Often helpful for doing a Matte Shot.)

Matte Shot - A double exposure that does not meld two images on top of each other, but masks off part of the frame for one exposure and the opposite area for another exposure. This is also known as a split screen. Matte shots can also be done as Opticals.

M&E - M&E stands for Music and Effects. After a mix a big production will have an M&E track made, which is used when the film is dubbed into other languages so that all the Music and Effects do not also have to be redone. An M&E track is only essential if you plan on dubbing your film into a different language.

Mix - This is the process of combining all your soundtracks into one, with all the sounds blended together at their correct volumes, together with any equalization, filtering, and effecting of the sound to give you the desired end result.

Mixer - 1.: A device for blending together sounds from multple sources with a volume control for each. 2.: The person who sits at the mixing console during the mix, who decides initially on how the sounds are to be combined (you are the one with final say), and operates the faders and other audio controls.

Mixing House - A sound studio specifically for mixing sound for film.

Mix Master - This is a copy of your sound mix on mag stock, or on DAT, which you sometimes have to request in addition to the optical track. It is always a good idea to get a copy of the mix on tape, which will be of much better quality than the optical track for transfer to video, or to save some mixing time in the event you have to remix.

M.O.S. - A shot, a sequence, or a film that is shot without sound, which is added later. M.O.S. stands for "Mit Out Sound," and derives from an old Hollywood story about a German director asking for a shot to be filmed "mit out sound," and the camera assistant complying with this request by writing "M.O.S." on the slate.

The Movement - The parts of a camera or projector that move the film intermittently: the pulldown claw, the rollers before and after the loops, and the gears connecting these parts form the movement. If there is a registration pin, this is also part of the movement. Sometimes the shutter can also be considered part of the movement.

Moviola - An Upright Moviola. Moviola is the company that makes this machine. They also make flatbeds, but when someone says "Moviola" the generally mean an upright.

Moviscop - Spelled Moviscop but pronounced "movie-scope." This is a small, 16mm table-top viewer, often used on an editing bench.


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Negative - The original film that is used in the camera, from which a positive print is made for editing. The negative is assembled to match the edited workprint, and an answer print, for projection of the completed film, is struck from the negative.

Negative Cutter - The person who cuts and assembles the original negative to match the edited workprint, which then goes to the lab for the answer print.

Negative Matcher - same as Negative Cutter.

Non-Reflex - A camera that does not have a "through the lens" viewfinding system, but gives you an image in the viewfinder through a seperate lens. Older Bolexes and Bell & Howell cameras are non-reflex.

Normal Lens - In 16mm this is the 25mm lens. In 35mm it is the 50mm lens. It is the point between the widening of the image by the wide angle lens and the magnifiying of the image by the telephoto lens.

Nose Grease - Just what it sounds like. Used in the old trick among camerapersons to lubricate the pressure plate by wiping it along the side of the nose.

Nose Room - When a subject is in profile, nose room is the space between their face and the edge of the frame, similar to Head Room. In a profile shot, nose room is considered "good" when a little extra room in front of the person's face, rather than behind their head. The general rule is that the space around the subject should be apportioned to 2/3rds in front of the subject's head, and 1/3rd behind.


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O.C.N. - O.C.N. stands for Original Color Negative. It is simply your developed negative.

180° Rule - This is the rule which states that if two people are filmed in a sequence there is an invisible line between them and the camera should only be positioned anywhere within the 180 degrees on one side of the line. Crossing the line results in a certain particular jump, where is appears that the two people suddenly switched places.

One Light - The alternative to a Timed Print, a one light is a print that has not been corrected shot by shot, but shows what all the shots look like with the same printing lights in contrast to each other. Sometimes this can be helpful to know the range of fluctuation in exposure and color. (But it is curiously common for a lab to do some timing, even on a one light print, at the change of locations, at the change of rolls, or if one shot is so drastically off from the rest and it would be practically unseeable otherwise.)

Optical Printing - Basically, rephotographying film frame by frame. this is a way to make a copy of a film with many more possibilities than contact printing, but, at least with 16mm, resulting in a little added contrast and a little loss of clarity.

Optical Sound - Optical Sound is the system used by a projector to play back sound from a film print. The sound is exposed onto the film as a clear modulating line against black. It corresponds to the moduations of the sound. The projector reads the track by passing it between the exciter lamp a light-sensitive photo-electric cell which generates a voltage that is amplified and fed into a speaker.

Optical Track - An intermediate step from going from your mix master to your final print is to have an optical track struck. An optical track is photographed onto a blank piece of special high contract stock by the facility where the mix is done, or by the lab. The optical track is a separate roll of film from the original negative and is combined with picture when a print is struck. (The track itself still remains a separate element from the A&B Rolls, it is printed in a separate pass through the contract printer.)

Opticals - Effects produced through Optical Printing, including transitions, superimposed titles, etc. Sometimes called Optical Effects. However, anything optically printed can be called an optical, so even blowing film up from 16mm to 35mm, though it does not involve an effect, is an optical.

Orange Stick - An orange stick is found at the drug store for cleaning your nails. It is the preferable way to clean the gate.

Original - Any film, negative or reversal, that was shot by a camera, as opposed to a print or intermediate copy. The term original can be used interchangeably with negative, but is as especially handy term when taking about reversal film, where it is the clearest way indicating whether something is a dupe or the original.

Outdated Stock - Film is perishable. When it starts getting stale the dyes will shift color and the grain will build up, giving you a generally fogged, muddy and desaturated effect. It is only after about 2 or 3 years that this will start to happen, provided the film is refrigerated. Faster films tend to become outdated slightly faster than slow films. Likewise, color film will become outdated a little sooner than black and white. The flip-side is that outdated stock can be gotten quite cheaply, and often for free.

Outtakes - The footage from your workprint that is not used in your edited version. Very small bits, a few frames or as little as one frame, are known as Trims.

Overcrank - To run the camera faster, producing slow motion. The term has survived from the time when you would crank a camera.

Overexposure - Filming a scene with more light than the emulsion of the film can easily tollerate. The image will be too light and there will be less depth of field than if the lens had been set correctly. If compensated for in printing, the image will appear contrasty.


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Paper Tape - A skinny roll of tape used to tape down the ends of film when editing, called paper tape to distinguish it from splicing tape. (It should not be used for raw stock.)

Pan - A horizontal camera move on an axis, from right to left or left to right. In a pan the camera is turning on an axis rather than across space, as in a dolly shot. Not to be confused with Tilt, technically it is not correct to say "pan up" or "pan down," when you really mean tilt.

Parallel Editing - The technique of intercutting between two simultaneous stories or scenes.

Perf - Perforations. The sprocket holes in a piece of film.

Pigeon - This is a heavy round disc with a lighting stud, used to position a light on the floor, much lower than a stand will go. Basically, it is a Hi Hat for lights.

Pilottone - A 60 Hz reference signal recorded onto the audio tape to allow transfer to mag precisely at sound speed, used for Sync Sound filming. (In Europe in it is 50Hz.)

Pitch - This is the distance between perforations along a roll of film. Print Stock has a slightly longer pitch than camera stock.

Picture - The workprint, to distinguish it from the mag tracks.

Pix - An abbreviation for Picture used on the leader.

Photo Flood - A photo flood is a high power screw-in light bulb that is often used in with a clamp light fixture. Photo floods are usually anywhere from 250 watts to 500 watts.

Plastic Leader - This is leader for putting at the head and tail of a print. It is, as one would guess, made out of plastic, and is more durable than Emulsion Leader and much less expensive, and so it is the better choice for a print. However, it cannot be Cement Spliced, so it should not used for your negative.

Polyester Base - Polyester base is a very durable type of film, that is virtually unrippable. Some people claim that it is harder to splice, but that is more a matter of getting used to the technique. Significantly, it cannot be Cement Spliced, making it impractical as original material (also, its durability could spell disaster for the delicate mechanism of a camera in the event of a jam). However, its durability makes it very advantageous for release prints.

P.O.V. Shot - Point of View Shot. A shot from the perspective of one of the characters, as if the audience were seeing the scene from their eyes. It is often important to get a Reaction Shot to establish that any given shot really is a P.O.V.

Practical - A practical is any photo flood-type of bulb, used within the shot, in a household lamp or otherwise visible. The term practical is sometimes used interchangeably with photo flood, even though it specifically refers to a light used in the shot.

Preroll - Preroll is extra time at the beginning of a sound take to accommodate the slow lock-up time of some post production time code devices.

Pressure Plate - Part of the internal workings of a camera, the pressure plate is located on the other side of the film from the gate. It is a smooth, spring-loaded plate that holds the film on the film plane and acts as a brake, helping to hold the film steady while it is exposed.

Prime Lens - A prime lens is one with a single focal length, wide, normal or telephoto, as opposed to a Zoom Lens, which has a variable focal length. They often come in a set of different focal lengths. Prime lenses tend to be sharper, faster and will often focus closer than zoom lenses.

Print - 1.: A copy of another piece of film, typically made by Contact Printing. 2.: As a verb, to make a print.

Print Stock - Film used by the lab for making copies (prints). It is usually of a longer pitch than camera stock so as to be smoothly sandwiched against the camera stock on the printing machine. It is also much slower (with an A.S.A. of about 12) than camera stock, as light is less of a problem in printing than it is when it is being focused through a lens in a camera.

Printer's Sync - This is the offsetting of sound 26 frames earlier than picture, corresponding to the distance between the sound reader and the gate of the projector. To be in sync on a projector all prints are lined up in printer's sync. Usually the lab lines up the sound and picture in printer's sync, putting the beep on the track 26 frames earlier than the "2" in the Academy Leader. This is known as pulling up the sound. If there was some reason for you to line up the sound yourself, it is very important to label the sync mark "printer's sync" so that the sound is not accidentally pulled up twice.

Production Sound - This is the sync sound, or any other sort of wild track or room tone that was recorded at the shoot. The term is used in sound editing to distinguish between added backgrounds and effects and those from the shoot.

Projection Sync - Same as Printer's Sync.

Pull Down - A transfer of sound slowed down from film speed, 24 film frames per second, to video speed, 29.97 video frames per second, which is the equivalent of 23.98 film frames per second. This must be done to line it up with a video transfer of picture when transferring sync sound to video.

Pulldown Claw - The pulldown claw is part of the camera movement, which advances the film from the exposed frame to the next unexposed frame while the camera's shutter is closed.

Pull Processing - Pull processing is a special type of processing where the film is developed for a shorter time than normal, usually to make up for intended overexposure.

Pull Up - This term can be a little confusing since it has three meanings that both apply to sound. 1.: The process of offsetting the sound 26 frames ahead of picture when making a print (see Printer's Sync). 2.: Pull Ups, as a noun, are transfers of the first 26 frames of sound from a reel that are spliced onto the outgoing sound of the previous reel so that sound is not lost when the film is printed with the sound pulled up, since 26 frames of sound are cut off when reels are joined. 3.: A transfer of the sound from a video, sped up from video speed, 29.97 video frames per second, which is the equivalent of 23.98 film frames per second, to film speed, 24 film frames per second. This must be done when the optical track is made after having mixed in video.

Push Processing - Push processing is a special type of processing where the film is developed for a longer time than normal, usually to make up for intended underexposure. It should be noted that only entire rolls can be pushed, not individual scenes. Pushing film will add some contrast and graininess.


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Quarter Apple - see Apple Box.

Quartz Light - Can also be called halogen light or tungsten light. A quartz light is a very bright type of light that uses a tungsten filament that is contained in a quartz envelope. The color temperature will be a fairly consistent 3,200K. They can get very hot when in use. It is also very important never to touch the bulb with your bare hands at any time. Oil from your hands will cause the bulb to blister and explode.

Quick Release - A latching device for quickly mounting and removing the camera from the tripod.

Quick Release Shoe - The part of the quick release that attaches to the camera is called the quick release shoe, and is inevitably worth double-checking, as they frequently stray away the tripod when left behind on the camera.


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Rack Focus - A shot where focus is changed while shooting. Unlike a Follow Focus shot, a rack focus shot is usually done not from the necessity of keeping someone in focus but to shift attention from one thing to another.

Rank - A respectable and commonly used brand of Telecine machines. The word is sometimes used interchangeably with telecine in much the same way as "Steenbeck" is used in place of "flatbed."

Raw Stock - Unexposed film.

Reaction Shot - 1.: A shot of someone looking off screen. Used either to lead into a P.O.V. Shot (and let the viewer know that it is a P.O.V. shot), or to show a reaction right after a P.O.V. shot. 2.: A reaction shot can also be a shot of someone in a conversation where they are not given a line of dialogue but are just listening to the other person speak.

Recans - Leftover film that was loaded into a magazine but (unlike a Shortend) not even partially shot, and then loaded back in the film can. Basically, it is a roll a film that has been opened, but not used.

Reduction Print - An optical reduction of a film from one gauge to another, such as 35mm to 16mm.

Reel - 1.: A metal or plastic spool for holding film, either for projection or editing. 2.: In 35mm a reel is 1,000 feet of film (or usually a little less). Also known as a Single Reel.

Reflective Light Reading - A reflective light reading measures the amount of light bouncing off the subject. You take a reflective reading with a light meter equipped with a honey-comb or lensed grid. The meter is pointed at the subject, so as to read only the light bouncing off the subject. The other type of light reading is an Incident Light Reading.

Reflector Board or Reflector Card - see Bounce Card.

Reflex - A viewfinding system in a camera where the image you see in the viewfinder is viewed through the same lens that is used to photograph the image on film.

Registration - The degree to which one frame lines up with the next is registration. A camera with poor registration will create an image that will gently bobble when projected. Projectors too can have good or poor registration (sometimes making it difficult to tell if it was the camera). Good registration is most important for certain types of special effects shots where images are layered and will call attention to themselves if they are gently bobbling out of sync with each other.

Registration Pin - A registration pin is found in the movement certain cameras, such as the Arriflex and the Eclair, and acts to steady the image during exposure.

Release Print - This is a print made after the answer print has been approved. It is not retimed, but struck using the same timing as the final answer print. Because it is not retimed it is generally much cheaper than an answer print. On a big production, these are the prints released to movie theaters, hence the name.

Resolver - A device that governs the speed of a tape recorder during the transfer to mag, insuring the sound will be in sync with picture. The resolver uses the pilottone as a reference for adjusting the playback speed, hence something can only be resolved if it has been recorded with a properly equipped tape recorder. The Nagra IV has a built-in resolver.

Reversal - A type of film and method of processing that yields a positive original. This is the movie-film equivalent of slide film and processing, in still photography.

Reverse Shot - A shot from the other side of the previous shot (though preferably on the same side of the 180° Line), such as cutting between two characters talking, a person exiting and entering though a doorway, a reaction shot and P.O.V. shot, etc.

Rewinds - A simple device for winding film, consisting of a crank and a spindle for mounting one or more reels, typically found mounted on either side of an editing bench.

Rivas - A type of tape splicer which uses perforated splicing tape. Two models exist: One for straight cuts used for picture, and one for slanted cuts used for sound.

Room Tone - A recording of the "silence" of a room or any location, to be used to fill in gaps when editing the sound. The silence of a location is really not very silent at all, and the room tone of one location is not a substitute for another, so a sync sound shoot will usually end with the sound recordist asking everyone to be quiet for the recording of 30 seconds of room tone.

Rough Cut - The edited film, between the stages of being an assembly and a fine cut.

Rushes - The workprint, when it is just back from the lab, unedited, called the rushes because of the rush to see that everything came out alright. Also known as Dailies, in honor of the minority of labs that will have it later that day.


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"Safety" - An additional take, done after a successful one, as a backup.

Sandbag - A cloth bag with two chambers filled with sand, used as a weight on the legs of a light stand for additional stability.

Scene - A scene is really just a single shot. But often scene is used to mean several shots, which is more to do with the word's origin in theater. It is sometimes clearer to say "sequence" for several shots, so as not to confuse the filmic and theatrical meanings of the word.

Scratch - Damage to a film in the form of a long gouge of either the emulsion or the base. A scratch on the emulsion is pretty much unfixable, since part of the image itself is missing. A scratch on the base can be alleviated with Wet Gate printing. Scratches on your workprint don't really matter at all, since you will go back to the pristine camera original for your final print.

Scratch Mix - A mix with little correction of the sound, that is usually done before the final mix in order to screen the film with all the sounds in place, to determine if there are any changes to be made. Typically this is not done on lower budget productions, as the added cost would be self-defeating.

Scratch Test - A scratch test is done before shooting, by running either a foot or two of the beginning of a roll of film, or a dummy roll of film, and checking for scratches, to insure that neither the camera nor the magazines are scratching the film.

Scratch Track - A sync recording made under conditions that make the sound useless, except for reference to the sound editor or to the actors for dubbing.

"Second Sticks!" - If the clapper on the slate was not visible when the shot was being marked the camera person might call out "second sticks!" to tell the person with the slate to mark it a second time.

Selects - Sometimes it is useful to separate out all the shots you are going to use before beginning to edit. These are known as selects.

Sharpie - A permanent felt-tipped marker useful for labeling the cans of exposed rolls out on a shoot and in the editing room for labeling your leader. Sharpie is a brand-name of the most common of these markers.

Shooting Ratio - The ratio of how much film shot compared to running time of the finished film. For instance a 5 minute film for which you shot 30 minutes of footage would have a shooting ratio of 6 to 1.

Shortends - The unexposed remainder of a roll of film in a magazine that is clipped and placed back into a can for use later. Unlike recans a shotend is something less than 400 feet.

Shot - A shot is the film exposed from the time the camera is started to the time it is stopped. Shot and Scene are interchangeable terms.

Silent Camera - This term is often a little confusing because it does not mean a camera that is itself silent, and therefore usable for sync sound, but it means a noisy, unsilent camera, usable only for shooting silent, M.O.S. scenes.

Silent Speed - 18 frames per second. A slightly archaic notion left over from the time when 16mm was used exclusively for home movies. It is not always that easy to find a projector that will project at 18 frames per second and so films shot at silent speed will often be speeded up slightly, whether the filmmaker intended this of not.

Single Perf - 16mm film with a row of perforations along one edge. On the film can this will be indicated by 1R appearing on the label.

Single Reel - In 35mm a reel is 1,000 feet of film (or usually a little less).

Single System - Single System refers to recording, editing or projecting sound and picture together on the same piece of film. Cameras used for tv news would record the sound on a magnetic stripe as well as photograph the picture. Also super-8 sound. Single system has some distinct editorial disadvantages, hence the more common use of Double System for shooting and editing.

The Slate - A board with two hinged sticks attached. The slate is used to record a scene number and sync point (via the clapstick) at the beginning of a shot.

Slop Print - An untimed black and white dupe print of your workprint, used for projection in a sound mix. A slop print is used because splices can jump and cause the film to go out of sync, and a slop print will have no splices.

Slug - A rather unattractive sounding name for Filler.

S.M.P.T.E. Leader - Another term for Academy Leader.

Soft Light - A type of light with a built-in surface to act as a bounce card, providing soft, indirect light on the subject.

Sound Blanket - Basically just a quilted mover's blanket. Often it is thrown over the camera (and the camera operator) to cut down on camera noise, as a sort of improvised Barney.

Sound Fill - see Filler.

Sound Reader - A playback head for reading mag stock, mounted on a bracket that snaps onto a synchronizer. It is pugged into the squawk box.

Sound Speed - 24 frames per second. The normal speed for filming and projecting.

Sound Slug - see Filler.

Spacer - A metal cylinder with a flat plate at one end and a hole through the center, used between reels on the spindle of a rewind to space out the reels the same distance as the gangs of a synchronizer. Although it is a little shorter, in a pinch you can use cores as spacers.

Specifics - In sound editing, these are any effects that directly relate to the picture, where we see a thing happen and hear it too. Backgrounds, ambiance and speech are not specifics.

"Speed!" - This is what the cameraperson or sound recordist will call out to acknowledge that they are rolling. It comes from the days when it took a few seconds for certain equipment to reach proper speed.

Split Screen - see Matte Shot. Typically a split screen is a matte shot divided down the center of the shot.

Spider - Another, less commonly used, term for Spreader.

Spikes - Spikes are a term that comes from theater. They are little pieces of tape placed around the legs of furniture, or the tripod legs, before they are moved, making it easy to return things to their original position.

Splice - A method of joining two peices of film so they can be projected as one continuous piece. There are three methods: the Tape Splice (usually used for editing), the Cement Splice (used for original material), and the far less common Ultra-Sonic Splice (used for Polyester Base film).

Splicing Tape - A special type of clear tape, not interchangeable with scotch tape, used to splice film. It comes in perforated (for use with a Rivas) and unperforated (for use with a Guillotine). Transparent splicing tape is used for picture and white splicing tape for sound.

Split Reel - A very handy reel, the two halves of which may be unscrewed and film on a core placed between. Once screwed back together (but not too tight, or it will never open) your film on a core has quickly been converted into film on a reel.

Spool Down - Winding an unexposed 400 foot roll down onto four 100 foot daylight spools for use in a camera that will only take 100 feet of film. Spooling down can only be done in complete darkness. 42 turns on a rewind per daylight spool will divide a 400 foot roll pretty evenly. Also, it is vitally important that the film be wound all the way through once and then spooled down, otherwise the edge numbers will be on the wrong side, and not printed onto the workprint.

Spot Meter - A type of meter for taking a Reflective Light Reading with a short telescopic sight that enables you to take a very specific reflective reading of a small, well-defined area.

Spreader - A piece of gear consisting of three arms on a central hub attached to the bottom of a tripod to keep the legs from collapsing outwards.

Spring Lock - A round spring-loaded clamp that goes on the end of a rewind to allow several reels to turn together.

Sprocket - The teeth on a roller designed to engage with the perforations in film. Sometimes sprocket holes are referred to as sprockets too.

Sprocket Holes - The same as Perf.

Spun - Spun glass diffusion material. see Diffusion.

Squawk Box - A small amplified speaker used on an editing bench and receiving sound from the Sound Reader.

Streamer - A grease pencil mark on the workprint indicating either a fade or a dissolve, called so because when projected it resembles a streamer trailing across the screen.

Steenbeck - A popular brand of flatbed. The word is sometimes used interchangeably with flatbed.

The Sticks - 1.: The tripod or the tripod legs. 2.: The clapper on the slate.

Stinger - an endearing term, used by electricians, for an extension cord. Not a very commonly used term on the whole.

Stripe - 35mm mag stock that contains a stripe of magnetic tape rather than the complete coating found on Fullcoat. Stripe mag will also have a balance stripe to prevent warping.

Super 16 - A format using single perf 16mm film on which a wider image is exposed than is the case with regular 16mm, using the area that would normally have the soundtrack. Super 16mm was conceived specifically for blow up to 35mm, and is typically rather inconvenient for anything else.

Super Speed - Just a fancy way for Zeiss to describe a fast prime lens, typically with a T-stop of 1.3.

Superimposition - The same as Double Exposure, but often used expressly to describe a double exposure done through optical printing, as in superimposed titles, etc.

Sync - The degree to which sound and picture are lined up, in-sync being lined up exactly, and out-of-sync not so exactly. It can be applied to any specific sound and picture relationship, not just voices and not just sync-sound, but any type of specific effect too.

Syncing - The actual lining up of sound and picture before editing a sync sound film. This also involves cutting the excess sound between takes, and adding filler, so that the picture and sound are now in sync for beginning to end.

Sync Mark - 1.: The point at which the clapsticks come together at the beginning of a shot, and the accompanying sound on the sound track. 2.: An "X" mark on a single frame at the beginning of a reel of picture that lined up with a second sync mark on a roll of sound (May also be used anywhere where needed). Sync marks are also used at the beginning of A&B rolls.

Synchronizer - A very helpful tool of the editing room, a synchronzier is a device with a center axle and several sprocketed wheels attached to it. The wheels are called gangs. Film may be clamped into the gang, so that it can be measured with a footage counter on the front of the synchronizer. One revolution of the synchronizer equals one foot of film. Several elements, such as film and sound, A&B rolls, can be run in tandem can easily cut to the same length. It is used by the negative cutter for the assembly of A&B rolls, as well as for logging, measuring footage, syncing, and checking sync in the editing room.

Sync Sound - Sync sound is sound recorded while shooting picture. Usually it involves footage of people speaking, and is thus sometimes called lip sync. It must be recorded with either crystal or cable sync to line up and not drift out of sync.


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Tachometer - A gauge on a camera measuring the film speed when the camera is running.

Tail - The end of a shot or a roll is called the tail.

Tail Slate - Sometimes it is necessary to mark a shot at the end rather than at the beginning. When this is done it is called a tail slate. It is customary to call "Tail Slate!" just before clapping the slate, so that the person syncing the film does not get confused. To easily distinguish a tail slate, the slate is held upside down when marking the shot.

Take - Multiple versions of the same shot are called takes.

Take Up Reel - An empty reel, used on a projector to gather up the film after it has passed through the movement.

Take Up Spool - An empty spool in a camera used to gather up the film after it has passed through the movement.

The Taking Lens - On a turret, the lens that is actually in front of the gate, producing an image on the film.

Tape Splice - A method of joining two pieces of film so they can be projected as one continuous piece. Tape splices are used in the editing stage. To cut the negative Cement Splices are used.

Telecine - A machine for transferring film to video.

Telephoto - Used as an equivalent to Long Lens, but for those who wish to be overly exact, a telephoto lens is a long lens that is physically shorter than its focal length.

3,200K - 3,200K is the color temperature of Tungsten.

Tie-In Kit - A device for bypassing the fuse box and electrical wiring of a location by tapping power directly from the mains.

Tight Wind - A handy attachment sometimes found on an editing bench on the right rewind, used to wind film onto a core and giving it a very smooth edge. It can be quicker than opening and tightening split reels if you are just rewinding an entire roll.

Tight Wind Hub - A tight wind is useless without it. This is the hub that holds a core on the spindle of a rewind.

Tilt - A vertical camera move on an axis, up or down. Not to be used interchangeably with pan. It is not really correct to say "pan up" or "pan down," when you really mean tilt.

Time Lapse - Time lapse is when single frame shooting is used to dramatically speed up the action over the course of a long period of time. Typically it is a process where a single frame is shot after a consistent pause. It could be one frame every ten seconds, or one frame every hour, and such.

Timed Print - Unlike a One Light Print, this is a print where the timer has gone through and timed every shot.

Timer - The person at the lab who goes through your film, shot by shot and selects the printing lights.

Timing - The lab's process of selecting printing lights to for the proper redition of exposure and color when making a print. The term is a little confusing, as it has nothing at all to do with "time" as in "running time" or such.

Timing Lights or Printing Lights - These are the lamps of the contact printer at the lab. Their brightness can be controlled, which is measured in a scale of 1 to 50, 1 being the darkest and 50 the brightest. In color there are three lights used together: Red - Green - Blue. When working with negative it is worth remembering that the values are reversed: the brighter the light, the darker the print will be.

Timing Report - A list of the timing lights and corresponding footages the lab used in making your print. The timing report can be very helpful for analyzing the footage and judging the possibilities of further corrections. Any serious problems with the footage (out of focus, scratches, edge fog, etc.) are usually also noted on the timing report.

Tone - 1.: A 1,000 Hz sine wave used at the beginning of a tape to provide consistent volume when transferring sound. 2.: Room Tone.

Tracking Shot - A tracking shot is one where the camera is placed on a dolly and is moved while filming. Also known as a dolly shot.

Trims - Trims are outtakes of a few frames, usually a foot or less. To keep them from getting lost they are usually stored separately from longer outtakes, either in their own vault box or in a trim book.

Trim Bin or Editing Bin or Bin - A trim bin is a bin on wheels lined with a fabric bag and topped off with a frame with a row pins on which to hang film while editing. Oddly enough, a trim bin is not used for trims, which are small, but for selects and outtakes. Not to be confused with a waste basket!

Tripod Head - The part of the tripod with the pan and tilt mechanism to which the camera is attached.

T-Stop - Similar to an F-Stop, some lenses, particularly zoom lenses, will have f-stops on one side of the aperture ring and t-stops on the other. To differentiate the two, the t-stops will be red and the f-stops white. T-stops are used in place of f-stops for setting exposure. Lenses with a lot of glass elements will often lose a little bit of light. The t-stops are calibrated to the actual amount of light that is hitting the film, rather than arrived at mathematically, as is the case with f-stops. However, the f-stops are still relevant, because while the t-stop should be used to set the exposure, the resulting f-stop will indicate how much Depth of Field you have.

Tungsten - The color temperature of artificial light which is 3,200K on the color temperature scale. Quartz Lights use a tungsten filament, which burns at 3,200K, and gives us this term. Color film for indoor shooting is balanced for tungsten light, otherwise the image would appear orange in hue. If tungsten balanced film is used out-of-doors without a correction filter the image will have a washed-out blue hue.

Turret - A rotating lens mount allowing for the mounting of three or sometimes four lenses on a camera, allowing for the quick change from one lens to another. Only one is in use at any given time, and this is known as the taking lens.


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Ultra-Sonic Cleaner - A sophisticated cleaning machine found at labs to clean negatives prior to printing or transfer to video. It uses sound waves to shake loose dust.

Ultra-Sonic Splicer - An expensive and sophisticated splicing machine used for splicing Polyester Base stock.

Undercrank - To run the camera slower, producing fast motion. The term has survived from the time when you would crank a camera.

Underexposure - Filming a scene with less light than the emulsion of the film needs for a correct exposure. The image will be too dark. If compensated for in printing, the image will appear grainy, and very muddy.

"Unprofessional" - An insult hurled at someone during a crisis when they have broken some unwritten rule of professional conduct. Commonly the term is used with the most frequency by people to whom it would just as easily apply.

Upright Moviola or Upright - An editing machine with arms in back to hold the take up and supply reels. The film moves up and around to a screen on the front. Foot petals control motors for sound speed and variable speed viewing.


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Vari Speed - A motor or the control for a motor which will run a camera or an editing machine at speed faster or slower than sound speed.

Vault Box - A white, flat, square cardboard box designed to hold 1,000 feet of 35mm or two 1,000 foot rolls of 16mm.


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Wet Gate - A contact printing method, made on a specially equipped printing machine, where the film is in a liquid that temporarily fills in any scratches on the base, preventing them from refracting light and showing up in the print. Commonly, answer prints are printed with a wet gate. Labs often charge a little extra for wet gate printing.

Wide Lens - A lens with a focal length smaller than 25mm in 16mm, or 50mm in 35mm, which, like looking into the wrong end of a pair of binoculars, provides an extended view of a large area.

Wild - Not sync. A wild motor is one that runs close to 24 frames per second, but not close enough for sync sound. Also applies in a few other cases, such as, if you are filming a rear screen projection scene and the projector and camera are not Interlocked they can be said to be running wild.

Wild Sound - Non-sync sound, recorded without the camera running, usually recorded to supplement the sync takes.

Workprint - A positive copy of the original negative that is cut during the editing process. At the end of editing the original negative is then cut by the negative cutter to match the workprint shot for shot, and an answer print struck from the cut negative. A workprint can also be made from reversal original.

A Wrap or "It's a Wrap!" - What to say when you are done shooting, either for the day, at that particular set, or on the entire film. Usually if it's not the final shoot you would say you are just going to "wrap for the day."


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Xenon - A very bright, daylight balanced projection lamp, or a projector with a xenon lamp. A xenon lamp is not interchangeable with a tungsten lamp or arch lamp, but requires a different lamp housing on the projector. Because xenon lamps are daylight balanced it is sometimes advisable with color film to have the lab make a print that is balanced for xenon. This is sometimes called a 5,400K print, the color temperature of daylight.


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Zero Cut - A method of negative cutting specifically for blow up, where every shot is given Frame Handles so that the registration pin of the printer is never engaging with a splice, which can cause the image to wobble at the cut. It is most commonly used when you are blowing up from 16mm to 35mm. Zero cut should be done only if really necessary, because the lab can only print the film as an optical, which is far more expensive than a contact print. Zero cutting is a little more complicated than standard A&B rolls, so the negative cutter also charges more for it.

Zoom Lens - A variable focal length lens. A zoom lens will have a third ring, besides ones controlling focus and iris, that will allow you to change the focal length within a range of wide to long.




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