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Film glossary A-B

Glossary of Filmmaking Terms

A/B Roll Editing - Editing from two source VCRs to a third recording VCR. A switcher or mixer is used to provide effects such as dissolves.
A/B Story - "A" story is the main story/theme while "B" story refers to the background story.
A-Wind - Emulsion position of the film. Holding up a piece of film, if the emulsion faces you, then the image will appear correct. If its reversed (mirror image), it is considered B-Wind.
Academy Aperture - The full frame of a 35mm image that is exposed by the camera. Aspect ratio = 1.33:1.
Academy Leader - AKA "S.M.P.T.E. leader." The countdown leader used at the beginning of a film which allows the lab to line up the sound.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards - The coveted annual award, the "Oscar," which is presented to the best of the best.
Academy of Motion Picture Sound - A UK-based organization whose aims are to promote and encourage the science, technology and creative application of all aspects of motion picture sound recording and reproduction, and to promote and enhance the status and recognition of the contribution of those therein engaged.
Action - "Action" is called during filming to indicate the start of the current take.
Actor/Actress - The "talent" who plays the role of a character.
Adaptation - Rewriting of fact or fiction for film presentation, usually in the form of a completed screenplay, or a proposal treatment.

Can't find what you're looking for? A greatly expanded version of the glossary is included on the downloadable ebook version of this site.
Added scenes - Material, shots, sequences, or scenes written into a script during its principal filming or after its completion.
Additional Camera - An extra camera operator, often needed for complicated action sequences or stunts.
Additional Dialogue Recording - AKA "A.D.R." The dubbing (re-recording) of additional dialogue in a film.
Additional Photographer/ Photography - Handles the secondary shooting or reshoots.
Advance - Dual meaning: When referring to a "composite print:" the distance between a point on the soundtrack and the corresponding image. When referring to "payment:" an amount given before receipt of services.
Ad Lib - Improvised lines, phrases, or even action bits used by an actor in spontaneous reaction to the given situation of a scene.
Aerial Shot - Camera shot from the point-of-view of an airborne craft, such as an airplane or helicopter.
Agency Meeting - Gathering in which a potential client of an agency meets with the agents to discuss the agents' plan and goals for creating a career for the potential client.
Agent - Manager responsible for the professional business dealings of an actor, director, screenwriter, or other artist. An agent typically negotiates the contracts and often has some part in selecting or recommending roles for their client.
American Cinematic Editors - Union guild for film/video editors; also known as ACE
American Society of Cinematographers - Organization dedicated to advancing the art of cinematography.
Anamorphic - Optical system which creates a widescreen image from a standard image.
Ancillary Rights - Enable the screenwriter to receive a percentage of the profits generated by the film in areas such as posters, action figures, books, records, T-shirts, etc.
Angle - Relationship between the camera and the subject(s) of the shot.
Angle On - Direction in a shooting script which indicates that another camera angle is to be made of a previous shot, usually to emphasize a specific object in the shot.
Animation/Animator - Process of creating (or person responsible for) the illusion of motion by creating individual frames, as opposed to filming naturally-occurring action at a regular frame rate.
Anime - Animated movies produced in Japan.
Annotation - Comment specifying the source of each script element that is not wholly fictional, including all characters, events, settings, and segments of dialogue.
Answer Print - First completed edited-dubbed-scored, color-and-sound print of a film ready for initial scrutiny by the production team.
Antagonist - Villain of the film or script who is in conflict with the protagonist.
Anticlimax - Anything that happens in the final few moments of a film that dulls down the story crescendo and leaves the audience feeling let down and unsatisfied.
Antihero - Protagonist who has pronounced personality or character defects or eccentricities which are not usually associated with the hero archetype.
Aperture - Measure of the width of the opening allowing light to enter a camera. The apparent diameter of a lens viewed from the position of the object against a diffusely illuminated background is called the "effect aperture". The ratio of focal length of a lens to its "effective aperture" for an object located at infinity is called the "relative aperture", or "f/stop". Higher apertures allow more light to enter a camera, hence darker scenes can be recorded. Conversely, lower apertures allow less light to enter, but have the advantage of creating a large depth of field.
Arm - Metal rod (arm) which attaches to a C-Stand.
Arri - Abbreviation for the Arriflex Camera, a lightweight reflex motion-picture camera which comes in both 16mm and 35mm speeds
Art Department - Crew concerned with visual artistry of a production. Members of art dept. include: Art director, assistant art director, draftsman, leadman, production designer, production buyer, property master, set dresser, special effects supervisor, among others.
Art Director - Individual who oversees the artists and crafts people who build sets.
A.S.A. - Sensitivity to light which measures the film's speed. (Example: ASA 400.) "ASA" stands for American Standards Association.
Aspect Ratio - Measurement of the relative sizes of the horizontal and vertical components of an image.
4Filmmaking.com Assembly Edit - Edit wherein all existing signals on a tape, if any, are replaced with new signals.
Assistant Art Director - Assistant to the art director.
Assistant Cameraman - Member of the camera crew who assists the camera operator and is responsible for the maintenance and care of the camera. Also may do duties of clapper-loader and/or focus puller.
Assistant Director - Duties include tracking the progress of filming versus the production schedule and preparing the call sheets.
Assistant Film Editor - Editing room crewmember responsible for providing logistical assistance to the editor. Duties vary, depending on whether picture or sound is being edited.
Assistant Production Manager - Assistant to production co-ordinator.
Associate Producer - Producer who shares responsibility for creative and business issues.
Association of Film Commissioners International - Non-profit educational organization that assists the needs of on-location film, television and commercial production.
Association of Film, Television and Radio Artists - Association with jurisdiction over some works that can be recorded by picture or by sound.
Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers - Union guild for Film/TV producers.
Atmosphere - Tone or dimension added to the action by concrete or nebulous qualities or elements such as rain, wind, heat, cold, danger, spookiness, tranquillity.
Auction/Bidding War - Situation in which a spec script, book, or written material is presented to several studios, all wanting to buy the work.
Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR) - Re-recording of dialogue by actors in a sound studio during post-production, usually performed to playback of edited picture in order to match lip movements on screen.
Avant Garde - Experimental or highly independent film that is often the forerunner of a new artistic genre
AVID Editor - Non-linear editing system.
B Roll - Cutaway shots which are used to cover the visual part of an interview or narration.
Backdrop - Artificial background, usually painted on a cyclorama, curtain, or flats, used to achieve the effect of a natural environment such as a forest, beach, prairies, mountains, or other landscape in a shot or sequence.
Backend - Film's profit from theater ticket sales, video rentals, and ancillary markets.
Back (REAR) Projection - Photographic technique whereby live action is filmed in front of a screen which the background action is projected on.
Background Artist - Individual responsible for designing or constructing the art placed at the rear of a set.
Balance Stripe - A second stripe on 35mm mag stock to prevent warping.
Barn Doors - Hinged metal flaps attached to tops and/or sides of lighting devices in order to control the light, create desired shadows, or block unwanted shadows
Base - The clear perforated strip of a piece of film.
Beat - Directional word used to indicate a pause in an actors speech or action.
Behind the Scenes - The off-camera goings on associated with film/videomaking.
Best Boy - Chief assistant, usually of the gaffer, but more often lately used as a general term for the second in command of a group.
Betacam - The most common broadcast quality video format.
Billing - Size and placement of the order of names in the movie's title in printed publicity material or opening credits.
Biographic Picture - A filmed story of a person's life story.
Bit Part/Role - Small unimportant role, usually lasting only one scene.
Black and White - Films prior to the advent of Technicolor.
Black Comedy - Comedy in which the humor is derived from subjects which are typically considered "serious", or for which humor is usually considered as unsuitable: death, war, misery.
Blacklisting/Blackballing - List of filmmakers or actors who have either been formally or informally discriminated against, due to their personal, political, social, or religious beliefs.
Blimped Camera - Camera with internal soundproofing. Camera will say "BL."
Block/Blocking - Rehearsal to determine the position and movement of the camera, actors, and crew during a particular shot or scene.
Blockbuster - Movie which is a huge financial success; $100 million or more.
Body Double - A body which is used for "doubling" the actor's body in certain scenes; i.e.: nudity shot.
Bolex - Swiss made 16mm non-sync camera. Very popular.
Boom Microphone - Long pole with a microphone on the end.
Boom Operator - Member of the sound crew who operates the boom microphone.
Bootleg - Unofficial and illegally copied or distributed version of a movie, often of a substandard quality.
Bounce Card - Silver or white card that is used to bounce light onto a subject.
Box-Office - Measure of the total amount of money paid by movie-goers to view a movie.
Bracketing - Filming of multiple takes (of the same shot) at different f-stops.

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Breakdown Script - Detailed list of all items, people, props, etc. required for a shoot on a day-by-day basis.
Budget - Funds required to produce a film or television production, derived by combining all projected expenses for equipment, salaries, locations, travel, and all other above-the-line and below-the-line production costs.
Butterfly - Scrim which is tightened on an oval frame and used to diffuse strong sunlight on location shooting, or to reduce any excessive light on a subject

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