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Post-production Terminology: Editing, Visual Effects and More

One of the difficulties that some people encounter in their first steps on the road to success in the world of cinematography is the lack of understanding of all the terminology that is used in the industry. If you find it difficult to understand the learning material from time to time, then this article is just for you. Today we will talk about post-production glossary, film terms, definitions, and everything in between.

Key video editing terms

Here are some video editing terms you should remember.

The first of video editing terminologies is analytical editing. It is a type of narrative editing, in which the details of an object, a protagonist, an event, etc. are shown successively, from which a single image is then formed.

Vertical montage is the installation of various elements of the film, primarily image, and sound; Sergey Eisenstein developed such a model of vertical editing, in which the image series was precisely coordinated with the sound, which allowed visual and sound images to complement each other.

Intra-frame editing is a type of editing that is not related to the process of structuring the footage but implies the use of various shooting techniques by the cameraman (focus shift, camera rotation, camera tilt, zoom in, zoom out, and other types of camera movement).

Creative geography/Artificial landscape is an editing effect, implying the appearance of the illusion of a single place, even though alternating frames can be shot in different places.

Distance montage is a type of editing, built on the principle of "printing frames", i.e., identifying the meaning of two reference frames not at the point of their intersection but their distance from each other and interaction through a series of intermediate frames.

Fade is a type of transition, in which the first frame gradually dissolves in a monophonic, most often black background (fade out/fade to black), and the next one appears from this background (fade in); such a transition usually symbolizes a large temporal or geographical distance between the actions of two scenes; the duration of the black frame, as a rule, is 1-2 seconds.

MTV-style editing is a type of editing, characterized by the alternation of short frames that capture active movement, as a result of which a cascade of plastic images forms on the screen; MTV-style editing was especially popular in the 90-2000s, it was most common in advertising, in music videos, in cinema, etc.

L cut is a type of transition and vertical mounting technique, in which the sound of the next frame appears in the first frame or the sound of the first frame continues to sound in the second frame.

Metric montage is a type of editing that implies the alternation of fragments in the sequence specified by their duration; the length of the mounted fragments can be kept the same or changed according to a certain scheme, for example, each next frame is halved in its duration.

video editing terms

Film Splicer is a set of devices and equipment necessary for installation during work with film; it usually includes a gluing press, projection device, backlight, condenser, etc.

A cutaway shot is an element of inter-frame editing, which is a frame, usually a view, which serves to show the time gap between scenes.

30-degree rule is the basic rule for shooting and editing, according to which, in successive frames, the angle of view of the same object should change by at least 30°; the rule allows you to achieve shots different from each other to avoid an unnecessarily sharp transition.

Continuity editing is a type of editing that involves building a sequence of frames based on causal relationships, the logic of the plot, and the chronology of events.

Director’s cut – has two meanings when it comes to production terms. It is the stage of the film’s readiness, in which the editor works together with the director, making changes to the rough cut. This also means a version of the film, which the director considers more preferable than that obtained as a result of producer editing; usually published separately after the release of the production version.

Rhythmic montage is the last of video terms for today. It's a type of editing, in which the duration of the frames is determined by the specifics of their content, for example, movement in the frame, background, etc.; the longer the viewer takes time to read the frame, the longer the frame will be, and vice versa.

Let’s continue broadening our video production vocabulary.

Image and color: movie terminology

Now let’s talk about image and color. Here are some important words that you should add to your vocabulary.

Teal & Orange is a trend in color grading when the color palette is limited to a contrasting combination of complementary colors of orange and blue and their shades; it is typical primarily for the use in the summer blockbusters; it is criticized for its unnaturalness and primitiveness.

Tinting is an act of giving a black and white image any shade; the most common shades are sepia, blue, red, green, pink, yellow-orange; this technique was used in the era of silent films and served as way of expressing emotions, for example, night scenes were painted blue, battle scenes - red, love scene - pink, etc.

Complementary colors are opposite colors that reinforce each other when combined; examples of complementary colors are red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple.

Cinecolor is an early color cinema technology, which involves obtaining a color image by combining monochrome images shot through red and blue-green filters; this technology enjoyed particular popularity in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1950s.

Technicolor is an early color cinema technology, which involves obtaining a color image by combining monochrome images shot through blue, green, and red filters; this technology enjoyed huge popularity in Hollywood in the 1920-1950s.

Triads are a combination of equidistant colors in a color wheel; they allow you to achieve diversity and, at the same time, balance the palette; examples of triads are green, orange, purple, red, yellow, and blue.

Color film is a kind of cinema, in which the image conveys colors; it appeared during the first years of cinema; however, it began to prevail over black and white cinema only in the 1950-60s.

video production vocabulary

Color correction is a process of adjusting the color components of an image to change its color, correct deficiencies during shooting, reduce or increase brightness, give a common style, etc.; sometimes the concepts of “color correction” and “grading” are shared, with the first meaning the process of eliminating imperfections, and the second - the formation of style.

Black and white film is a kind of cinema in which there is no transfer to real color; with the popularization of color cinema in the 1950s and 60s, black and white image is mainly used as a technique, a special way of expressiveness.

Pleasantville effect is an effect of combining color and black and white images in a frame; the name arose thanks to the 1998 melodrama, which became one of the first films where the effect was applied.

Visual effects terminology

Now that we know some terminology from the world of editing, image, and color, let’s talk about the terminology from the world of visual effects.

Go motion animation is a type of stop motion animation, in which objects are attached to computer-controlled motors so that they move at the moment of exposure of each frame. This is done to achieve an effect of motion blur, and thus – end up with more realistic animation.

Traveling matte is a kind of combined shooting, in which objects in the frame are combined with the background using double exposure. The matte created optically is used to close part of the frame from the exposure when printing the background into the frame, into which the object captured later in another place and at another time will be imprinted. To print an object into an already printed background, they use the counter matte, the inverse of the traveling matte. A traveling matte is called this way because it moves around the frame with the captured object.

Visual effects/VFX are various optical (as well as computer) methods for creating non-existent scenes, actions, or images, and changing already captured material.

post production glossary

Motion capture is a technology that allows you to convert an actor’s image (including their movement and facial expressions) into an animated character; motion capture marker system involves the use of markers in the form of sensors or points in addition to special cameras; a markerless system based on pattern recognition technology is also used.

Clean up is a process of cleaning out unnecessary details in a frame, for example, microphones, cords, cables, a reflection of a film crew in a mirror, etc.

Compositing is the process of digitally combining several visual elements into a single image, for example, combining 3D graphics, filming material, filming, etc., as well as mixing different layers by color and several other parameters.

Motion control is a technology that allows the camera to exactly repeat the previously made or pre-programmed movement; it should be used when you want to combine several images shot in motion.

Match moving is a technology that allows you to arrange computer graphics in the captured frame by tracking the path of the camera and the location of objects in the scene.

A static mask is a type of combined shooting, in which part of the shot is closed with a mask in the form of an opaque shutter so that another image is then captured on the closed part of the frame.

Previsualization is a computer simulation of scenes of a future film that allows experimenting with stage production at the stage of pre-production, lighting, camera movement, special effects, etc.; it is commonly used to prepare complex staged episodes.

Rear projection is a kind of combined shooting, in which objects of shooting, for example, actors, are located on the background of nature frames projected onto the rear screen; it is used in cases where it was not possible to shoot the scene in nature, as well as to create a special atmosphere.

Rendering is one of the most important filmmaking terms; it is the process of image formation according to a previously created computer model; at the same time, various parameters and indicators of the image are calculated, for example, light, shadow, reflections, glare, etc.

Animation setup is a process of establishing a hierarchical relationship between elements of an object’s skeleton, for example, between parts of a character’s body; necessary for reliable transmission of the movement of the object.

Special effects/SFX are various technological techniques in the cinema, used to create scenes, actions, and images that either do not exist in reality or for various reasons cannot be captured; also used to correct material that was already shot; it is customary to distinguish visual effects (combined shooting, optical effects, editing, as well as computer) and mechanical effects (or physical) (pyrotechnics, layouts, stunt performances, makeup, etc.).

Texturing is a process of imparting certain properties of an object’s model, for example, a certain color, gloss, reflection, various qualities of a surface, relief, etc.

3D cinema is a type of shooting that creates the illusion of the depth of space arising from a binocular device of human vision; it involves simultaneous shooting with two cameras or two lenses.

Chromakey is a technology for superimposing and combining multiple images, in which the object is placed on a plain background, replaced by a post-production image; also, chromakey often means the color background itself.

Cyclorama is a background design that does not have a sharp border between the horizontal and the vertical, which creates a sense of perspective; plain cyclorama is used as a chromakey.

Sound production terms in filmmaking

Let’s continue on with film terminology. There’s yet another aspect of cinematography that involves a lot of specific terminologies - it is sound production. Most of them, of course, have to do with post-production terminology.

Amplitude - the value of the signal at a given time. The greatest deviation of a quantity that fluctuates according to a certain law from the average value or some value conventionally assumed to be zero.

Binaural recording is a two-channel (stereo) audio recording for playback through headphones (the signal of each channel is sent to the corresponding ear). Thus, the sources are perceived as if they were in their original position.

Bitrate is an important word in movie terminology when it comes to sound production. It is the number of bits used to store one second of audio in the data stream. The term is most often applied to encoded audio data.

Input gain is an input signal level. It is used to increase or decrease the level of the signal entering the device.

Pitch – it depends not only on the frequency of the fundamental tone but also some additional factors, such as volume, duration, and spectral composition of the sound.

Delay is a sound effect or a corresponding device that simulates clear fading repeats of the original signal. This occurs due to the addition to the original signal of a copy or several copies with a time delay. Delay usually means a single delay of a signal, while an echo involves repetition. By the principle of action, it is a special case of a reverb. The difference is that the delay has one delay line and a longer time interval (at least 50-60 ms), which allows you to separate the original sound from the effect on hearing.

Dithering is a technique of artificially mixing pseudo-random white noise with an audio signal. The result is quantization noise scattering over the signal spectrum. The quantization of the signal distorts the shape of the sound wave and unnecessary harmonics, and other problems can occur. They appear at a low signal level since it already lacks the resolution of the system. Dithering is used to solve these issues. With it, you can mathematically remove all distortions and replace them with constant noise.

The dynamic range is the range of the highest and lowest signal levels. The extreme dynamic range of, for example, voice is approximately 57 dB. Signals with a wide dynamic range can cause overload in the equipment. This is especially true for various recording and digitizing devices.

post-production terminology

Distortion is an effect based on the use of amplitude modulation. This is a replacement of some values ​​of the signal amplitudes with others. The sound gets a kind of hoarseness due to overpowering when the tops of the input signal are cut. The effect leads to a rather sharp distortion of the input signal (depending on the modulation depth) and, as a result, to the expansion of the spectrum.

Normalizer is a process of sound processing, leading to the establishment of the correspondence of the maximum level to a given value and a proportional change in the level of the rest of the signal. It helps to improve audio quality. In other words, the normalizer finds a peak value in the signal and raises it to 0 dB; everything else rises accordingly, but the dynamics remain the same.

Pitch shifter is a sound effect or corresponding device that adds a copy of it to the signal, separated from the main tone by any interval within two octaves up or down.

Reverberation is a process of attenuation of sound in a room after turning off the sound source. Also, this term means the effect of the apparent volumetricity and spatiality of sound, characteristic of a large hall, where each sound generates a slowly fading echo. With the help of reverb, you can “revive” a phonogram made in a muffled room.

Resonance is an acoustic phenomenon, in which, as a result of the influence of vibrations of one body, called a vibrator, in another body, called a resonator, oscillations that are similar in frequency and close in amplitude arise. Besides, it is the amplification of sound due to reflection (in large rooms).

Stereophony is a feature of the reproduction of sounds, which makes the listener experience the illusion of the spatial arrangement of sources. 

Equalizer is one of the most important words in post-production terminology. This is a device or program designed to filter the sound signal. In other words, it is a tone control. On the simplest console, the equalizer section consists of only high and low-frequency controls (“hi” and “lo”), but most mixers also have at least one mid-range control. Also, all types of equalizers provide functions of "suppression" or "gain" of a particular frequency. By using them, you can remove some parts of the audio spectrum or make them more noticeable.

Enhancer is a psychoacoustic technique that uses the middle and upper components of the input signal to generate controlled distortion. This leads to the creation of new harmonics. If these harmonics are mixed in a small amount to the unprocessed signal, this will make it brighter, louder, and clearer.

Root Mean Square is a parameter indicating the average volume of the sound of the track or its part. From a mathematical point of view, RMS is the root mean square value of the volume of all samples in a track.

Knowledge is power, and now (hopefully) you know quite a bit more about the world of cinematography. You know the most important film production terminology from the world of video editing, image, color, visual effects, and sound production.