Glossary of Motion Picture Terms
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Glossary of Motion Picture Terms

This glossary of motion picture terms is a list of definitions of terms and concepts related to motion pictures, filmmaking, cinematography, and the film industry in general.


180-degree rule
A basic guideline regarding the on-screen spatial relationship between a character and another character or object within a scene. By keeping the camera on one side of an imaginary axis between two characters, the first character is always frame right of the second character. Moving the camera over the axis is called jumping the line or crossing the line; breaking the 180-degree rule by shooting on all sides is known as shooting in the round.[1]
30-degree rule
A basic film editing guideline that states the camera should move at least 30 degrees relative to the subject between successive shots of the same subject. If the camera moves less than 30 degrees, the transition between shots may look like a jump cut, which could jar the audience and take them out of the story by causing them to focus on the film technique rather than the narrative itself.[2]
3D film
A type of motion picture that utilizes special filming techniques to create the illusion of depth perception, hence adding a third dimension.[3]


A roll
The list of individuals who guide and influence the creative direction, process, and voice of a given narrative in a film and related expenditures. These roles include but are not limited to the screenwriter, producer, director, and actors. Contrast below-the-line.[4]
accelerated montage
accent light
Sound that is heard without an originating cause being seen.
action axis
Any person, male or female, who portrays a character in a performance.[5]
aerial perspective
aerial shot
alternate ending
ambient light
Any source of light that is not explicitly supplied by the cinematographer. The term usually refers to sources of light that are already "available" naturally (e.g. the Sun, Moon, lightning) or artificial light that is already being used (e.g. to light a room).[6]
American night
American shot
A translation of a phrase from French film criticism, plan américain, which refers to a medium-long ("knee") film shot of a group of characters, who are arranged so that all are visible to the camera. The usual arrangement is for the actors to stand in an irregular line from one side of the screen to the other, with the actors at the end coming forward a little and standing more in profile than the others. The purpose of the composition is to allow complex dialogue scenes to be played out without changes in camera position.[7]
anamorphic format
anamorphic widescreen
angle of light
angle of view
angle plus angle
angular resolution
answer print
The first version of a given motion picture that is printed to film after color correction on an interpositive. It is also the first version of the movie printed to film with the sound properly synced to the picture.[8]
apple box
art department
artificial light
ASA speed rating
aspect ratio
automatic dialogue replacement
The process of re-recording dialogue by the original actor after the filming process to improve audio quality or reflect dialogue changes.[9][10] In India the process is simply known as "dubbing", while in the UK, it is also called "post-synchronisation" or "post-sync". The insertion of voice acting performances for animation, such as computer generated imagery or animated cartoons, is often referred to as ADR, although it generally does not replace existing dialogue.
available light
See ambient light.
axial cut
A type of jump cut, where the camera suddenly moves closer to or further away from its subject along an invisible line drawn straight between the camera and the subject.[11] While a plain jump cut typically involves a temporal discontinuity (an apparent jump in time), an axial cut is a way of maintaining the illusion of continuity.[12] Axial cuts are used rarely in contemporary cinema but were fairly common in the cinema of the 1910s and 1920s.[13]


B movie
baby plates
background actor
See extra.
background lighting
balloon light
barn doors
A term derived from the top sheet of a film budget for motion pictures, television programs, industrial films, independent films, student films and documentaries as well as commercials. The "line" in "below-the-line" refers to the separation of production costs between script and story writers, producers, directors, actors and casting (collectively referred to as "above-the-line") and the rest of the film crew or production team.[14]
best boy
In a film crew, an assistant to either of two department heads: the gaffer or the key grip (with the assistant sometimes referred to as the best boy electric or best boy grip, respectively).[15] The best boy acts as the foreman for his department.[16]
bird's eye shot
The precise staging of actors in a way that facilitates the performance in a film.[17]
boom shot
bounce board
breaking down the script
bridging shot
brightness (lighting)
broad light
broadside (lighting)
bullet time


Callier effect
cameo appearance
cameo lighting
A type of lighting whereby a spotlight accentuates a single character or other subject and sometimes a few props in a scene, so that the focus of the scene is on the subject and not its surrounding environment. It is often used to create an "angelic" shot, such as one where a light used to represent God or heaven shines down onto the character. Cameo lighting derives its name from the art form in which a light relief figure is set against a darker background. It is often achieved by using barn-doored spotlights. A problem with cameo lighting is that it can lead to color distortion and noise in the darkest areas.[18]
camera angle
The specific location and position from which a movie camera or video camera is oriented to take a shot. A single scene may be shot from several camera angles simultaneously.[19]
camera boom
camera crane
camera coverage
camera dolly
camera operator
camera stabilizer
camera tracking
candles per square foot
casting director
Century stand
A metal stand primarily used to position light modifiers such as silks, nets, or flags in front of light sources.
character actor
character animation
choker shot
chroma keying
chromatic aberration
The science or art of motion-picture photography by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.[20]
clock wipe
close shot
closing credits
cold open
color conversion filter
color corrected fluorescent light
color correction
color gel
color grading
color rendering index
color reversal internegative
color temperature
color timer
continuity editing
Cooke Triplet
cost report
craft services
crane shot
creative geography
creature suit
cross lighting
cut in
cut out
cutting on action
A film editing and video editing technique where the editor cuts from one shot to another that matches the first shot's action.[21]


daily call sheet
The schedule crafted by the assistant director, using the director's shot list. It is issued to the cast and crew of a film production to inform them of when and where they should report for a particular day of filming.[22] The production schedule is usually listed by call time, the time when people are expected to start work on a film set.
daily editor log
daily production report
daily progress report
daily rushes
day for night
Day Out of Days
A chart used by filmmakers to tally the number of paid days for each cast member.
day player
deadspot (lighting)
deep focus
delayed release
depth of field
depth of focus
dialect coach
dialogue editor
dichroic lens
diegetic sound
digital audio
digital cinema
digital cinematography
digital compositing
digital film
digital image processing
digital intermediate
digital negative
Digital Picture Exchange
digital projection
dimmer (lighting)
direct lighting
DMX (lighting)
documentary film
A type of non-fiction motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record.[23]
dolly grip
dolly shot
dolly zoom
double-system recording
douser (lighting)
drawn on film animation
Dutch angle
A type of camera shot where the camera is set at an angle on its roll axis so that the shot is composed with vertical lines at an angle to the side of the frame, or so that the horizon line of the shot is not parallel with the bottom of the camera frame. This produces a viewpoint akin to tilting one's head to the side.[24] In cinematography, the Dutch angle is one of many cinematic techniques used to portray psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed.
dynamic composition


edit decision list
effects light
ellipsoidal reflector spot light
establishing shot
Any shot which sets up or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects.[21] It is often a long or extreme long shot at the beginning of a scene indicating where, and sometimes when, the remainder of the scene takes place.[25][26][27][28]
executive producer
external rhythm
extreme close-up
extreme long shot
eye-level camera angle
eyeline match


fast cutting
fast motion
feature film
feature length
field of view
fill light
film budgeting
film crew
The collective term for a group of people hired by a film production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. The crew is distinguished from the cast, which is generally understood to consist solely of the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film, as well as from the producers, who own at least a portion of the production company or the film's intellectual property rights.
film criticism
film finance
film frame
film gate
film genre
film inventory report
film modification
film plane
film production
film recorder
film release
film scanner
film score
film speed
film stock
film theory
film transition
film treatment
The process of making a film or motion picture, generally in the sense of a film intended for extensive theatrical exhibition. Filmmaking typically involves a large number of people and takes from a few months to several years to complete.
fine cut
fisheye lens
flicker fusion threshold
focal length
focus puller
Foley artist
follow focus
follow shot
followspot light
forced perspective
fourth wall
frame composition
frame rate
freeze frame shot
Fresnel lens
full frame
full shot


go motion
Godspot effect


hanging miniature
hard light
head-on shot
head shot
heart wipe
high-angle shot
Is a cinematic technique where the camera looks down on the subject from a high angle and the point of focus often gets "swallowed up."[29] High-angle shots can make the subject seem vulnerable or powerless when applied with the correct mood, setting, and effects.[30] In film, they can make the scene more dramatic. If there is a person at high elevation who is talking to someone below them, this shot is often used.[31]
high concept
high-intensity discharge lamp
high-key lighting
hip hop montage
Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodide lamp


independent film
internal rhythm
iris in
iris out
Italian shot


J cut
jump cut


key grip
key light
key lighting
Kuleshov effect


L cut
leading actor
lens flare
limited release
long shot
long take
low-angle shot
low-key lighting


Martini Shot
A term used in Hollywood for the final shot set-up of the day. The Martini Shot was so named because "the next shot is out of a glass", referring to a post-wrap drink.[32]
master shot
match cut
match moving
medium close-up
medium shot
MIDI timecode
money shot
Morris the Explainer
A term referring to a fictional character (by whatever name) whose job it is to explain the plot or parts of a plot to other characters and the audience.
mood lighting
motion picture
motion picture content rating system
movement mechanism
movie camera
multiple-camera setup
multiple exposure


negative cost
negative cutting
non-diegetic sound


one shot
one liner schedule
opening credits
(for a film)
opening shot
(for a scene)
over cranking
over the shoulder shot (OTS)


pan and scan
persistence of vision
plot device
point of view shot
POV shot
point of view
The part of the filmmaking process that includes all stages of production occurring after shooting or recording the film's various scenes, sound effects, voice-overs, and/or other segments.
principal photography
production board
production report
production schedule
production strip


racking focus
reaction shot
Rembrandt lighting
reverse angle shot
roadshow theatrical release


screen direction
script breakdown
script supervisor
sequence shot
shot reverse shot
shooting in the round
shooting schedule
shooting script
single-camera setup
slow cutting
slow motion
smash cut
SMPTE timecode
soft light
sound design
sound designer
sound editor
sound effect
sound report
spec script
split edit
split screen
special effect
special effects supervisor
stage lighting
stalker vision
A popular brand of camera-stabilizing mounts for film cameras invented by Garrett Brown and introduced in 1975 by Cinema Products Corporation. These mounts mechanically isolate the operator's movement, allowing for a smooth shot even when the camera moves over an irregular surface.
step outline
stop motion
storyboard artist
stunt double
stunt performer
substitution splice
supporting actor


test screening
Is a cinematographic technique in which the camera stays in a fixed position but rotates up/down in a vertical plane.[33] Tilting the camera results in a motion similar to someone raising or lowering their head to look up or down. It is distinguished from panning in which the camera is horizontally pivoted left or right. Pan and tilt can be used simultaneously.[34] In some situations the lens itself may be tilted with respect to the fixed camera body in order to generate greater depth of focus.[35][36]
A sequence of numeric codes generated at regular intervals by a timing synchronization system and commonly used in video production and other applications which require temporal coordination or logging of recordings or actions.
title sequence
tracking shot
trunk shot
two shot


video production
visual effects
visual effects supervisor
voice acting
voice actor
voice artist


walk and talk
whip pan
wide release
Is a motion picture that is playing nationally. This is contrast to a film that is having premiere showings at a few cinemas, or is in limited release at selected cinemas in larger cities around the country. In the American film industry, a movie is considered by some to be a wide release when it plays in 600 cinemas or more in the United States and Canada.[37]
worm's eye view


X rating


One of several animation devices predating modern film techniques that produces the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion.

See also


  1. ^ Proferes, Nicholas T. (2005). Film Directing Fundamentals (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Focal Press. pp. 5-7. ISBN 978-0-240-80562-7.
  2. ^ "30 Degree Rule - Hollywood Lexicon".
  3. ^ Cohen, 508-831-6665David S. (September 15, 2009). "Filmmakers like S3D's emotional wallop". Variety.
  4. ^ "Film & TV Production Roles and Departments" (PDF). Retrieved 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "The dramatic world can be extended to include the 'author', the 'audience' and even the 'theatre'; but these remain 'possible' surrogates, not the 'actual' referents as such" (Elam 1980, 110).
  6. ^ online definition
  7. ^ "Elements of Cinematography: Camera". University of Texas at Dallas. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ Answer Print at Encyclopædia Britannica
  9. ^ Cowdog (2009). "ADR: Hollywood Dialogue Recording Secrets". Creative COW Magazine. Creative COW. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ Masters, Kim (31 January 2008). "The Dark Knight Without Heath Ledger: How will Warner Bros. sell a summer blockbuster marked by tragedy?". Slate. The Slate Group, LLC. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ "Common editing terms explained". Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ "Continuity Editing in Hitchcock's Rear Window". Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ "Observations on cinema". David Bordwell. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  14. ^ "What does 'below the line' mean in movie production?". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2017.
  15. ^ Taub, Eric (1994). Gaffers, Grips, and Best Boys. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-312-11276-9.
  16. ^ Being Human end credits, for example.
  17. ^ Novak, Elaine Adams; Novak, Deborah (1996). Staging Musical Theatre. Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books. ISBN 978-1-55870-407-7. OCLC 34651521.
  18. ^ Television Production Handbook, Zettl, pg. 173.
  19. ^ Ascher, Steven; Pincus, Edward (1999). The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age. New York: Plume. p. 214. ISBN 9781573221320.
  20. ^ Spencer, D A (1973). The Focal Dictionary of Photographic Technologies. Focal Press. p. 454. ISBN 978-0133227192.
  21. ^ a b "Part 4: Editing". Film Analysis. Yale University. 27 August 2002. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010.
  22. ^ "Call sheet". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2012.
  23. ^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". Archived from the original on 25 April 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "Dutch angle - Hollywood Lexicon". Hollywood Lexicon. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "Videography Glossary". Calgary board of education. Archived from the original on 31 July 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  26. ^ "Shot types". MEDIA Retrieved 2010.
  27. ^ "Terms Used by Narratology and Film Theory". Purdue University. Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ "Glossary". The Art of the Guillotine. Retrieved 2010.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ Bruce Mamer (30 May 2013). Film Production Technique: Creating the Accomplished Image. Cengage Learning. pp. 8-. ISBN 978-1-285-71256-7.
  30. ^ Jennifer Van Sijll; Van Sijll Jennifer (1 August 2005). Cinematic Storytelling. Michael Wiese Productions. pp. 160-. ISBN 978-1-61593-002-9.
  31. ^ Popular Photography - ND. December 1949. pp. 131-.
  32. ^ Strike the Baby and Kill the Blonde: An Insider's Guide to Film Slang, Dave Knox, Random House, 2005
  33. ^ Howett, Dicky (2006). Television Innovations: 50 Technological Developments : a Personal Selection. Kelly Publications. p. 76. ISBN 9781903053225.
  34. ^ Irving, David K.; Rea, Peter W. (2013-03-20). Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video. CRC Press. p. 175. ISBN 9781136048340.
  35. ^ Huda, Anwar (2004). The Art and Science of Cinema. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 141. ISBN 9788126903481.
  36. ^ Stone, Jim (2015-10-16). A User's Guide to the View Camera: Third Edition. CRC Press. pp. 50-54. ISBN 9781317422693.
  37. ^ About Movie Box Office Tracking and Terms. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-08-28.

External links

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