Glossary

Film, like most industries, has a language all its own. This brief glossary includes terms you're likely to hear around a film set or in a production office. These aren't all of them, and many change from set to set, but this should give you enough information to understand what everyone is talking about.

77 or Super 77 3M brand spray adhesive.

Above-the-line talent The top creative talent: actors, writers, directors, and producers.

AC Assistant camera operator.

ACE American Cinematic Editors (professional editors' association).

AD Assistant director.

ADR Additional dialogue replacement, a process whereby an actor's voice is manipulated to match the visual of the lips moving.

AFTRA American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Apple box A small wooden box about the size of an old apple crate, used for just about anything from stepladders to stools to bases for props. They come in four sizes: full, half, quarter, and eighth (pancakes).

Arri Company that makes the Arriflex Camera System.

ASC American Society of Cinematographers.

Audition The process of trying an actor out for a particular role.

Barn doors Four hinged flaps placed in front of the light, used to direct it or cut it off from certain areas.

Below-the-line talent The production professionals and crew members who make a film happen—everyone except the actors, screenwriters, producers, and directors.

BG Background; also animators who specialize in drawing backgrounds.

B-roll Behind-the-scenes footage of the working set. Usually sent out as part of an electronic press kit (see EPK).

BSC British Society of Cinematographers.

C-47s Clothes pins.

Call sheet A listing of all the shots to be done during the day. It includes which actors, props, and costumes are needed as well as any special requirements, such as effects or explosions. It is distributed the day before and lists individual and department call times (the time you must be on set).

CGI Computer-generated images.

Cheaters Cue cards.

Check the gates Checking the camera's aperture for dust or hair to ensure a clean shot.

Clapboard A small slate with black-and-white sticks at the top, used to signal the beginning or end of a take.

Claymation Stop-motion animation using posable clay figures.

Color sheets New script pages. After the first draft, which is white, every time a scene is rewritten, it is given a new color. This is where you get pages in pink, blue, green, and so forth.

Cookie cutter See Gobo.

Copies provided Your payment, usually on student productions, is a copy of the finished product.

Crate See Apple box.

Credits The lists at the front (beginning) and tail (end) of the film naming the people involved with the film and what jobs they did. Also, all the jobs you've done in the past.

CSA Casting Society of America.

Cue cards Cards with dialogue written on them, placed out of camera view but where the actor can see them.

Cut A command issued by the director to tell the camera, sound, and action to stop.

Dailies The footage shot the day before, shown to the director, usually without sound sweetening or color correction.

Deal memo The contract you sign when you're hired, which states your title and salary.

Deferred pay Instead of being paid up front, you get paid only if the film makes money.

DGA Directors Guild of America.

Digitizing The process of inputting footage into a computer editing or effects system.

DP Director of photography. Known as a DOP in England.

DV Digital video.

DVE Digital video effect.

EDL Edit decision list. A list of film frame numbers given to the negative cutter by the editor or to an online editor from an offline system.

EPK Electronic press kit. Information sent on videotape to a visual media outlet (a TV show) for use when putting together a story.

Equity Actors' Equity Association, the union for stage actors.

Flat A thin wall used to represent an actual wall. For film, flats are usually made of quarter-inch plywood sheets. In the theater, they are made of half-inch planks covered by muslin.

Foley stage A large, soundproof room designed to re-create real-world sounds.

FPS Frames per second.

Gaffer Chief lighting technician.

Gel A thin piece of colored plastic that can change the color of the light.

Gobo A cutout shape placed in front of a light that causes the light to project the shape. In theater, gobos are used to represent things like trees or clouds; in film, they also help break up the light.

Grip A person who moves and helps set up equipment on the set.

Grip tape A strong, heavy-duty tape, usually fibrous, used to hold things together on a set.

Hollywood Blu-Book A directory listing the various production people and services in the Los Angeles area published by the Hollywood Reporter. See also Hollywood creative directories and LA 411.

Hollywood creative directories A series of books listing names, credits, and contact information for writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, and below-the-line talent. See also Hollywood Blu-Book and LA 411.

Hot head A camera and mount combination that can rotate in a complete circle, 360 degrees.

Hot set A set that is still being used, so nothing is to be touched. Usually it's taped off if a day ended without everything on it being shot.

IATSE International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, the alliance of unions that comprises most of the Hollywood below-the-line unions.

In the can Finished product.

Insert A close-up of an item added in during editing. Can be filmed away from the main action on a specialized "insert stage."

Intern Person (usually student) who works without pay in a chosen job. Working for the experience usually leads to a paying job.

Ivy A trendy Los Angeles restaurant where famous people eat.

Junket A press event where the media are invited to meet the stars and above-the-line talent for a film. Used for promotional purposes.

Key The head of a particular section or department.

LA 411 A directory listing the various production people and services in the Los Angeles area published by Variety. See also Hollywood Blu-Book and Hollywood creative directories.

Lamp Lightbulb.

Makita A tool company that makes cordless power tools, primarily a reversible drill that is indispensable on a set where things are constantly being screwed and unscrewed.

Masking Hiding something from the camera's view.

MOS A sound term meaning to shoot picture without corresponding audio. Popular myth says the initials stand for either "Mit Out Sound," attributed to a German director, or "Minus Optical Sound."

Nagra A type of location audio recorder popular on feature films.

NTSC American video standard, shoots at thirty frames per second.

One sheet The standard size of a movie poster in a theater lobby.

PA Production assistant.

PAL European video standard, shoots at twenty-five frames per second.

Panavision Company that makes the Panaflex camera system.

Pancake Flat apple box.

Panning A side-to-side movement of a camera, or writing a bad review of a film.

Post Postproduction.

PR Public relations or publicity.

Principal photography The bulk of the filming with the main actors present.

Reel A roll of film or a video resume of clips of your work.

Reset Putting the set back together for another take. This involves making everything the way it was before the take started. Also known as putting things "back to one."

Resume A written list of your credits.

Room tone The ambient noise in any location, recorded by the sound mixer.

Rushes See Dailies.

SAE Self-addressed envelope.

SAG Screen Actors Guild.

Sandbags Bags filled with sand used to weigh things down.

SASE Self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Save the light Turn the light off to extend the life of the lamp.

Screen test Auditioning an actor on camera to see how well he or she photographs.

Screening A viewing of the final film for the cast and crew.

Scrim A piece of fabric that lets light pass through it from one side and is used to cause a varying amount of diffusion.

SECAM Asian video standard, shoots at twenty-eight frames per second.

Second unit A backup team that films inserts and any specialized shots, such as aerial photography, establishing shots, or stunts.

Servility A three-prong plug with the ground removed or broken off.

Sides The script pages for a particular scene (rather than the whole script) given to an actor to rehearse for a scene or audition.

Slate See Clapboard.

SMPTE A standard form of time code.

Spec Speculation, doing something on your own in the hopes someone will eventually pay you for it. Most common among writers who write spec scripts.

Speed When said by the sound mixer, this term means the audiotape has synchronized with the camera and is now ready to record.

Spike mark A mark made on the floor, usually with tape, to signify where something is supposed to be. It could be for the actor as a place to stand, where a set piece needs to be returned to during a reset, or to tell the dolly where to stop. To place one, the request "spike this" is usually given.

Squibs Miniature explosives used in effects. Usually, they are attached to an actor's body to simulate bullet hits.

Standee A large promotional display placed in the lobby of a theater.

Steadicam A device used to make camera movements extremely fluid.

Sticks Tripod or clapboard.

Stinger Extension cord.

Stop motion Animation technique in which the animator poses a creature, shoots a single frame of film, moves the creature slightly, shoots another frame, and so on to create an illusion of fluid movement in the finished film.

Strip board Little strips the assistant director uses to organize the shooting schedule. Each strip has one scene and is designed to be rearranged easily.

Sweetening Tightening up the sound (and video) in postproduction to get rid of hiss or any other unnecessary glitches. To make the sound and images all match.

Take Each time the camera rolls film for a particular scene.

Three-camera shoot A television show shot with three cameras all going at the same time. The technique was created for the "I Love Lucy" show. Also four-camera shoot.

Tilting An up-and-down movement of the camera.

Time code A referencing system that ensures that all components are running at the same speed and match exactly frame by frame.

Trailer The preview of coming attractions (new films) seen before the feature presentation at the theater.

Walkaround A self-contained costume suit worn by a person playing a cartoon character or mascot.

WGA Writers Guild of America.

Working If a prop, costume, or set is being used that day, it's considered working.

Wrap With one exception, this is yelled by the assistant director to signify the end of the day. When said by the director, "wrap" signifies the end of production.

Wrap beer Alcohol broken out at the end of the shooting day or week.

Wrap party A party held at the end of production.

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