Movie Glossary

aspect ratio
The width-to-height ratio of a movie frame and screen. Standard aspect ratio is 1.33 to 1; CinemaScope uses 2.35 to 1.
auteur
A filmmaker, usually a director, with a recognizable, strong personal style.
best boy
The chief assistant to the gaffer on a set.
boom
A movable arm that holds a microphone over actors' heads during filming.
cineaste
A film or movie enthusiast.
CinemaScope
The trademark used for an anamorphic wide-screen process.
cinéma vérité
A style of filmmaking that stresses unbiased realism and often contains unedited sequences.
coverage
The shots, including closeups and reverse angles, that a director takes in addition to the master shot.
cut
1. The instruction to stop the camera and the action in front of the camera.
2. The process of editing a film or shortening a scene.
cutaway
A brief shot that interrupts the continuity of the main action of a film, often used to depict related matter or indicate concurrent action.
day for night
A shot filmed during the day, which appears on the screen as a night scene.
diffusion
The reduction of the harshness or intensity of light achieved by using a screen, glass filter or smoke.
director of photography
The movie photographer responsible for camera technique and lighting during production. Also called cinematographer.
dissolve
The gradual transformation of one scene to the next by overlapping a fade-out with a fade-in.
dolly shot
A moving shot that uses a wheeled camera platform known as a dolly.
editor
The person often responsible for the final structure of a film.
fade-in
A gradual transition from complete black to full exposure.
fade-out
A gradual transition from full exposure to complete black.
frame
An individual unit of movie film. The American standard film speed is 24 frames per second; there are 16 frames per foot of 35mm film.
freeze-frame
A still picture during a movie, made by running a series of identical frames.
gaffer
The main electrician and supervisor of lighting on a set.
grip
The crew member who adjusts scenery, flags lights and often operates the camera cranes and dollies.
jump cut
A cut made in the middle of a continuous shot rather than between shots, creating discontinuity in time and drawing attention to the film itself instead of its content.
key grip
The head grip who supervises the grip crew and receives orders from the gaffer or the head lighting technician.
Klieglight
A powerful carbon-arc lamp producing an intense light that is commonly used in filmmaking. It is sometimes used outside Hollywood theaters to promote premieres. Named after John H. Kliegl (1869—1959) and his brother Anton T. Kliegl (1872-1927, German-born American lighting experts.
master shot
A continuous take that covers the entire set or all of the action in a scene.
matte shot
A partially opaque shot in the frame area. The shot can be printed with another frame, hiding unwanted content and permitting the addition of another scene on a reverse matte.
outtake
A shot or scene that is shot but not used in the final print of the film.
pan
A horizontal movement of the camera from a fixed point.
point of view
A shot that depicts the outlook or position of a character.
postproduction
A final stage in the production of a film or a television program, typically involving editing and the addition of soundtracks. Also called post.
preproduction
The planning stage of a film or television program involving budgeting, scheduling, casting, design and location selection.
prescreen
To see a movie before it is released for the public.
rush
The print of the camera footage from one day's shooting. Also called daily.
scene
A succession of shots that conveys a unified element of a movie's story.
sequence
A succession of scenes that comprises a dramatic unit of the film.
shooting script
The final version of a script with the scenes arranged in proper sequence.
shot
The basic building block of film narrative—the single unedited piece of film.
slate
The digital board that is held in front of the camera and identifies shot number, director, cameraperson, studio and title. The data was originally written with chalk on a piece of slate. This footage is used in the laboratory and editing room to identify the shot.
sound stage
A soundproof room or studio used in movie production.
SteadiCam
A hydraulically-balanced apparatus that harnesses a camera to an operator's body providing smooth tracking shots without using a track.
storyboard
The rough sketches depicting plot, action and characters in the sequential scenes of a film, television show or advertisement.
take
The filming of a shot in a particular camera setup. The director usually films several takes before approving the shot.
tilt
A vertical camera movement from a fixed position.
tracking shot
A shot that moves in one plane by moving the camera dolly along fixed tracks.
trailer
A short filmed preview or advertisement for a movie.
treatment
A detailed synopsis of a movie's story, with action and character rendered in prose form.
voiceover
The voice of an unseen narrator or of an onscreen character not seen speaking in a movie.

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