Basic Film Production Terminology and Definitions
Contrary to popular belief, the first feature film in the world is not the famous "Arrival of the Train at La Ciotat Station" of 1896 but "The Waterer Watered," which premiered 9 days earlier. Since then, interest in cinema has not faded away, and the premiere of some films and series is eagerly awaited by millions of people in all corners of the planet. However, the world of cinema is no less interesting from the inside. So, let's take a look at this film production terminology.
Filmmaking terms: the crew
The key component is the film crew. And if everything is done right and there is enough money for everything, then all the actors will be in their places and ready to act. Learn this glossary of film terms:
Producer/Main producer/General producer - a professional who defines the idea of the film, budget, choice of director, screenwriter, actors, technical means, advertising campaign, positioning in the film market, etc.; participates in the production of films at all stages and leads the project from launch to release.
Executive producer/EP - a professional who is primarily concerned with administrative and financial matters related to the film project, including the procedure for financing, use of funds, contracts with staff, etc.
Line producer - a professional dealing with organizational, technical issues and ongoing production.
Co-producer - this person is involved in various aspects of film production and providing financing.
Gaffer is a team leader who quickly, clearly, and accurately understands what, where, and when to illuminate in the frame.
Best boy - technically savvy people who are responsible for the equipment. They are attached to the cameras. Basically, they carry them, install them, set them up.
Focus puller - a person responsible for the focus in the image.
Makeup artist - a specialist in changing the images of actors using makeup, and having skills in the field of makeup, special effects, etc.
Assistant stuntman coordinator – due to video production terms, this is a specialist involved in the technical support of stunt scenes, as well as assisting and insuring during the performance of the stunt.
Star/Film star/Movie star/Cinema star - a film actor (actress) with a special status due to the increased interest of the public, media popularity, and demand in the profession.
Basic film terminology: equipment and devices
What may be needed in the film industry besides the camera? Here is the list of the most necessary and useful equipment on the set:
Film stock - dense elastic perforated tape made of photosensitive material.
Optical filter - an optical device made of plastic or glass, located in front of the lens to suppress, isolate, or convert part of the spectrum of the light flux; used for various color and lighting effects, including changing the color gamut of the captured image.
Ultra-wide angle lens - a lens that allows achieving an image that covers a larger space than a wide-angle lens, and creates strong perspective distortion.
Steadicam - auxiliary camera equipment designed to stabilize the camera and, accordingly, the image during manual shooting.
Fish-eye lens – an ultra-wide-angle lens, allowing to maximize the field of view.
Zoom - a zoom lens that allows for zoom in and zoom out simulation without changing the position of the camera.
Clapper/Clapboard/Slate board/Sync slate - a tool in the form of a tablet with a movable upper bar, used to systematize the footage and synchronize sound and image.
Vehicular stunts – due to filmmaking terms, these are various types of stunts performed with the help of transport, primarily cars or motorcycles.
Animatronics - a robotic device disguised as an object (character, part of the body, etc.) and simulating its movement.
Wind machine - a special installation that allows creating the effect of wind, storm, hurricane, etc.
Set construction/Film set - a specially constructed conditional space that imitates the real one, meets artistic tasks, and also allows placing the necessary equipment.
Rain machine - a special installation used to spray water and simulate rain.
Fog generator/Fog machine/Smoke machine/Haze machine - a special setting for creating the effect of fog, smoke, smog, steam, etc. in the frame.
Special effects/SP-EFX/SPFX/SFX/FX - various technological techniques in the cinema, used to create scenes, actions, and images that either don’t exist in reality or can’t be captured for various reasons.
Video production terms: lights
Lighting is an integral part of camera work and, in combination, is one of the few areas of film production, in which there are countless schemes. There are many terms in lighting:
Butterfly lighting - a lighting scheme, in which the source of the drawing light is located above eye level and behind the camera.
Lens hood - a device for the lens or part of it necessary for correcting excess lighting and eliminating glare.
Blink/Highlight/Glare - reflected light spot arising on a brightly lit surface.
Grip - a set of equipment necessary to create artificial lighting.
Natural light – the light of natural origin, for example, the sun, moon, stars, candles, etc.
Hard light – the light, at which a sharp transition is formed from the bright areas of the object to the shadow.
Fill light – a type of lighting uniformly extending to the object.
Contre-jour – a type of lighting when the light source is behind the subject.
Low-key lighting - a kind of lighting that creates a strong contrast between light and dark areas.
Directional light - lighting with directivity and, as a rule, unevenly illuminating the object.
On-camera light - a lighting device mounted directly on the camera.
Loop - a lighting scheme, in which the light source is located slightly higher than the object and 30-45 ° away from the camera.
Split light – according to the dictionary of film terms, this is a lighting scheme, in which an object seems to be divided by light into two parts – brightly lit and in shadow.
Video terms: shots and videography
The concept of videography is not only the direct recording of a particular video material onto the camera. First of all, this is a creative but quite serious process, which requires an understanding of the basic film terms and definitions:
Shot - image size; remoteness of the location of the object relative to the camera lens.
Dolly out – the movement of the camera in the direction of removal from the subject.
Foreground - the degree of distance from the lens, at which objects are located in close proximity to the camera.
Overcranking/Slow motion/Slo-mo/High-speed photography - shooting with a frame rate of more than 24 frames per second.
Hand-held camera/Shaky camera - a shooting method in which the movement of the lens and, accordingly, the images correspond to the dynamics of the movement of the human body.
Aspect ratio - screen image format, the ratio of the width and height of the frame.
Medium shot - a cinematic plan, in which a person is seen almost entirely.
Middle-ground - the degree of distance from the lens, at which the objects are located at a certain distance from the camera, behind the objects of the foreground.
Subjective camera/Point of view shot/POV shot - a method of shooting, implying that the camera reproduces the movement of the gaze of the hero.
View point - the location of the camera in relation to the subject.
Camera angle - according to the film production terms, this is the angle of the camera relative to the subject.
Focal length - the distance from the optical center of the camera lens to the focus point where the sharpest image of the object is formed.
Time-lapse - shooting with a frame rate of fewer than 24 frames per second.
Viewfinder – an element of the filming apparatus, which helps determine the boundaries of the shooting space and shooting parameters.
Background - the degree of remoteness from the lens, at which objects and space located at a distance from the camera and serve as a background for objects in the foreground and background.
Cache - a shutter in the form of some geometric figure (often a circle), installed in front of the lens and covering part of the space being shot.
Picture composition - construction of elements of a screen image, which allows realizing the idea of the authors, including determining the angle, plan, type of camera movement, the position of objects and figures, as well as their relationship to each other, etc.
Frame depth - the principle of organization of the frame, following the rules of linear perspective and allowing to perceive the image on a flat surface three-dimensional. This is what filmmaking lingo says.
Exposure - is a physical quantity that indicates the total amount of light when creating a frame.
Long take/Extended take - is a frame that is not interrupted by editing transitions.
Perspective – due to video terms, this is the so-called tilt of the optical axis when shooting, to show the subject from different points of view.
180-degree rule - this rule is used when shooting two heroes (for example, during a conversation). According to the rule, the camera can change the angle, but at the same time, one character should always remain on the right and the other on the left.
Model shot/Miniature work/Miniature effect - a shooting method in which mock-ups simulate real objects.
Close-up - this is the name of a large image of a fairly small object or part of the face/arm of the hero.
Dutch angle/Dutch tilt - is a way to build a frame when the camera is tilted relative to the horizon and/or bottom of the frame.
High-angle shot - the shooting point, at which the camera is directed from top to bottom, and the lens is located above the line of the eyes.
Low-angle shot/Ground angle shot - the shooting point, at which shooting is conducted from the bottom up, and the lens is located as low as possible to the subject.
Aerial shot/Bird’s eye view – according to professional film terms, this is a high shooting point to cover a wide area.
Panning/Arc shot - camera rotation around its horizontal or vertical axis.
Tracking shot - a complex type of camera movement, involving a combination of different types.
Deep focus shot – a complex frame construction, in which the foreground and background are equally important.
Film production terminology: slang and weird words
Work on the set can be intimidating, but at the same time, exciting. Look at this video production terms definitions and filming words that filmmakers use, regardless of specialization.
Day Player - is a member of the crew who is hired for a period of one to several days.
10-100 - means that the speaker needs to go to the restroom.
Abby Singer - this eponym is most often used in a shortened version that sounds just like “Abby.” This is the penultimate take before the end of filming.
Golden time - producers who are unable to end the shots on a specific location at the scheduled time often have no choice but to extend the working day, but these extra hours cost a lot of money and called the “golden time.”
That’s a wrap! - any shootings will come to an end sooner or later, and then the director who has shot the last take should loudly announce: That’s a wrap!
Bromance – This film terminology is formed by the merger of the words bro (the word “brother”) and romance. The term describes a plot of a film where the story is mostly about strong male friendships, brotherhood, spiritual proximity of strong guys.
Cut to the chase! - means “Get to the point,” “Let’s move on to the main thing,”
A-lister – this movie terminology means a celebrity of the highest level: actor, actress, musician.
Martini - the last frame of the shooting day.
Cameo - is an episodic role played by a famous actor.
Filmmaking is a huge industry with many years of tradition and professional vocabulary. There is the feeling that filmmakers are encrypted from the rest of the world, inventing their own language. So, to become a professional in this matter, you need to know at least the basic film terminology.