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Newschool - Glossary of Film Terms
Category: Film and Animation > Film
Date & country: 13/09/2008, USA
Words: 338

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

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

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)

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 n...

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 print...

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).

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.

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

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)

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

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.

A type of tape splicer which uses unperforated splicing tape

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.

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.

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

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...

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...

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.

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.)

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 interlock...

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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 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 ...

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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 ...

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...

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 remai...

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

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, co...

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.

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

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

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.)

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

Perforations. The sprocket holes in a piece of film

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

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

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.)

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

The workprint, to distinguish it from the mag tracks

An abbreviation for Picture used on the leader.

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...

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 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.

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...

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
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 ...