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Film glossary L-P

Glossary of Filmmaking Terms

Lab Roll - Group of camera rolls joined together by a lab for printing.
Latitude - Degree to which a particular film stock can tolerate without being over or under exposed. Color negative stock has a high latitude, while reversal film has a very low latitude.
Lavaliere - Small microphone that is clipped to a person's clothing.
Layback - Transferring the sweetened audio track back to the master video tape.
Layouts - Individual responsible for working out the action before filming begins, including where the characters should be, and the camera angles.
Lead Role - The most important character in a movie, often distinguished by gender.
Leadman - Member of the art department who is in charge of swing gangs and/or set dressers and reports to the set decorator.
Letterboxing - Technique of shrinking the image just enough so that its entire width appears on TV screen, with black areas above and below the image.
Light Leak - Stray light that filters into the camera causing the image to have a foggy appearance.
Lighting Crew - Group of technicians who install, operate, and maintain lighting.

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.
Line Producer - Producer who is responsible for managing every person and issue during the making of a film.
Lined Script - Copy of the shooting script which is prepared by the script supervisor during production to indicate, via notations and vertical lines drawn directly onto the script pages, exactly what coverage has been shot.
Literary Manager - Individual hired by a writer to promote his career, offer advice on the best steps to take to achieve the desired goal, and give guidance on the best people to hire to aid the writer in maximizing his potential.
Live Area - A camera's viewfinder actually shows a greater area of the scene than will appear in the final product so markings are etched in the viewfinder to indicate to the camera operator the extents of the "viewable" film.
Location Filming - Filming which occurs at a place not constructed specifically for the production.
Location Manager - Individual who manages various aspects of filming on location, such as arranging with authorities for permission to shoot in specific places.
Location Scout - Individual who looks for suitable locations for filming.
Location Sound - Sound that is recorded at a particular shoot.
Log - Paper listing of the time code addresses of shots, scenes and takes.
Long-Form TV - Also known as "MOW's," these are movies and miniseries that are aired on free or pay television.
Long Lens - In 16mm, any lens bigger than 25mm. In 35mm, any lens bigger than 50mm.
Long Shot (L.S.) - Camera cue indicating a shot taken from a distance.
Loop - The slack film that hangs below/above the film gate. The "loop" allows a smoother transition for the film as it moves from the constant motion of the spool through the intermittent motion of the gate and back to the constant motion of the take-up spool. Another type of "loop" is described below.
Looping - In recording of dialogue, the film is on a "loop" which allows the actor multiple attempts to match the lip movements that have been filmed.
Luminance - The monochrome portion of a video signal.
Macguffin - Term used by Alfred Hitchcock to refer to an item, event, or piece of knowledge that the characters in a film consider extremely important, but which the audience either doesn't know of or doesn't care about.
Macro Lens - Lens used for extreme close-ups. Used widely in nature photography where the subject (for example) might be a flower or insect.
Mag - Abbreviation for either a "Magazine" or "Mag Stock/Track."
Mag Stock (or) Mag Track - Film that has a coating of magnetic oxide emulsion which is used for sound recording.
Magazine - Light resistant chamber that is attached to the camera which can hold up to 1000ft of film.
Magnetic Soundtrack - Composite print in which the soundtrack is recorded on the attached strip of magnetic tape.
Majors - Major Hollywood movie producer/distributor studios (MGM/UA, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Universal, and Disney).
Mark - AKA "Sync Mark." The point where the clapsticks come together at the start of a shot. Another type of "mark" is simply a piece of tape on the floor telling the actor where he/she should be standing.
Master Shot - Wide shot that incorporates the entire scene from start to end.
Match Cut - A transition from one scene to another matching the same, or a similar subject within the frame
Match Frame Cut - An edit in which the source and record tapes pick up exactly where they left off.
Materials Contract - Cntract for representation by an agency with regard to the sale of a work that the writer has created on his own, in a situation where the writer was not hired to create the work.
Matte Artist - Individual who creates artwork (usually for the background of a shot) which is included in the movie either via a matte shot or optical printing.
Matte Shot - Photographic technique whereby artwork - usually on glass - from a matte artist is combined with live action.
Medium Shot (MS) - A camera angle often used to describe a shot of character from the waist up.
Method Acting - Style of acting formalized by Konstantin Stanislavsky which requires actors to draw experiences from their own personal lives that correlate to the character they are playing.
Microphone - Device which converts sound into electrical impulses, usually for recording or amplification.
Minimum Basic Agreement - Fees and basic working conditions for the employment of writers within the entertainment industry as negotiated and set forth by the Writers Guild of America.
Mini-Series - Television series with a set number of episodes which tell a complete story, usually filmed at the same time.
Mise-en-scene - Literally translated as "what's put into the scene", this is the sum total of all factors affecting the artistic "look" or "feel" of a shot or scene.
Mix - Process of blending the various soundtracks into a single track. .
Mixer - (1) Device which blends together sounds from various sources and (2) the individual(s) who controls the mixing board.
M.O.S. - Abbreviation for "Mit Out Sound" in which a sequence of film is shot without sound and then added later.
Monitor - Video display similar to a TV, but having superior visual quality and without a tuner.
Montage - A rapid succession of shots, through the use of visual editing, which creates the artistic look of a scene.
Motion Blur - Shots of objects that quickly move in the camera's frame, and/or shots with a slow shutter speed are likely to produce a smearing effect, since the object is in a range of positions during a single exposure.
Motion Capture - Animation technique in which the actions of an animated object are derived automatically from the motion of a real-world actor or object.
Motion Picture Association - Association that serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries, domestically through the MPAA and internationally through the MPA.
Motion Picture Editors Guild - Professional organization for editors.
Moviola - Company that makes editing beds of the same name.
Moviscop - Small 16mm table-top viewer used on an editing bench.
Multimedia - Creation of products, mainly software, that may involve the combination of written text, visual imagery, film, and/or music.
Music Editor - Individual who performs editing on the score of a movie.
Music Supervisor - Individual who coordinates the work of the composer, the editor, and sound mixers.
4Filmmaking.com Musical - Production whose dramatic story structure includes unrealistic episodes of musical performance and/or dancing.
NC-17: No One 17 and Under Admitted - A certificate issued by the MPAA indicating that no person aged 17 or under will be allowed to attend a screening of the movie. This category was formerly called "X", but many people's mistaken association of "X" films with XXX films caused the MPAA to change this on September 27, 1990.
N.T.S.C. (National Television Standards Committee) - Created the first international television system for use in the U.S. and other countries which produces pictures by creating 525 alternating lines across the TV screen for each frame of video.
Negative - The original film that is used in the camera from which a positive print is made for editing purposes.
Negative Cost - Cost of a movie through the production of a finished negative, not including the costs of prints, advertising, or distribution.
Negative Cutter - Individual who matches the negative of a movie and conforms (matches) it to the final version of the film as decided by the filmmakers.
Net Profits - (1) Participation based on 100 percent of net profits: The sums remaining after a full recoupment and deduction of distribution fees and costs, and after payment of deferments, but with no deduction for other net profit participants.
(2) Participation based on a percentage of the producer's net share: The sums remaining after full recoupment, payment of deferments, if any, and thereafter deducting continuing distribution costs and fees, from which another portion (as much as 50 percent) may be retained by the studio or financing entity as compensation for supplying financing and completion advances.
Non-Drop Frame - Type of SMPTE time code that continuously counts a full 30 frames per second.
Non-Linear Editing - The computer-assisted editing of a movie without the need to assemble it in linear sequence.
Non-Reflex - Camera with a viewfinder that shows the image through a secondary lens.
Non-WGA - Written work for the entertainment industry that is done for a company which has not signed (or become a signatory} to the Writers Guild of America Minimum Basic Agreement.
Normal Lens - 25mm lens (for 16mm cameras) and 50mm lens (for 35mm cameras).
Nose Room - Space between the subject's face and the edge of the frame (when the subject is in a profile position). Generally, 2/3rds in front and 1/3rd behind.
NTSC - The standard for TV/video display in the US and Canada.
Offline - Creative editing process which uses copies of the camera tapes on a typically "cuts only" inexpensive editing system.
One Hundred Eighty Degree Rule (180 Rule) - An invisible line that separates the subject and the camera. Crossing over this imaginary line creates a jump which gives the appearance that the subject has reversed directions.
One Light - A print that has not been corrected showing what the shots will look like with the same print lighting.
Online - The final technical editing process which uses the original camera tapes to repeat all decisions made in the off-line editing process.
Optical Printer - Laboratory machine for combining the images of one or more reels of film through photographic techniques.
Optical Soundtrack - Composite print in which the soundtrack is recorded via the varying width of a transparent track which runs beside the sequence of frames on a print.
Option - Agreement of renting the rights to a script for a specific period of time.
Off Screen (o.s.) - Dialogue or sounds heard while the camera is on another subject.
Out-Take - A take of a scene not used in a movie.
Overcranking - Process of speeding the frame rate of a camera up, so that when the captured pictures are played at the normal frame rate the action appears to be in slow motion.
Overexposure - Filmming a scene using more lighting than the film stock can tolerate.
Oxide - Magnetic coating on video and audio tapes that stores picture and sound information.
PAL (Phase Alternation by Line) - A standard for TV/video display popular in Europe and Australia; superior to NTSC.
Packaging - Process of putting together on the same project a writer or screenplay, director, producer, and star talent, all of whom are generally represented by the same agency, and presenting this package to a studio.
Pan - The action of rotating a camera about its vertical axis.
Pan and Scan - The technique of chopping off strips from one or both sides of a picture so it will be properly displayed on a TV screen.
Perf (or) Perforation - Sprocket holes in a piece of film which help thread it through the camera or projector.
Pickups - Movies made by one studio that have been acquired by another.
Pilottone - 60hz (50hz in Europe) reference signal, used in sync sounding, which is recorded onto the audio portion of the tape.
Pipeline - A schedule of movie projects in production.
Pitch - Meeting in which one party will attempt to interest another party in a particular work or in a version of a particular work by presenting the story of the work in such an exciting manner that the buying party will find great interest in the work and will either buy the work or pay the "pitching" party to write the work.
Pixelation - A variant of stop-motion animation where actors are the objects being filmed.
Point of View (or) POV - Camera angle in which the camera views a subjective shot from the actor's point of view.
Polish - The writing of changes in dialogue, narration, or action, but not including a rewrite.
Post-Production - Work performed on a movie after the end of principal photography.
Pre-Production - Arrangements made before the start of filming; script editing, set construction, location scouting, and casting.
Premiere - The first official public screening of a movie, marking the opening.
Premise - The basic idea for a story often taking the form of a question or a problem.
Prequel - Movie that presents the characters and/or events chronologically before the setting of a previously filmed movie.
Preroll - 5 to 7 seconds of camera running time before a shot can be used. In editing, this refers to a similar amount of automatic backspacing the edit decks perform to insure a stable edit.
Pressure Plate - Spring load plate which holds the film steady on the film plane while its being exposed.
Prime Lens - Simply, the opposite of a "zoom lens." It's a fixed focal length lens which can be normal, wide, or telephoto.
Principal Photography - The filming of major or significant components of a movie which involve lead actors.
Print - Projectable version of a movie, usually consisting of one or more reels.
Producer (Film) - The chief of a movie production in all matters save the creative efforts of the director; raising funding, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors.
Producer (TV) - Usually a current or former writer who has successfully written for a number of years as a staff member on a show and is now responsible for the creative aspects of the show.
Production Assistant - Individual responsible for various odd jobs, such as stopping traffic, acting as couriers, fetching items from craft service, etc.
Production Bonus - Cash bonus given to the writer of a screenplay who receives shared or sole "Screenplay by" or "Written by" credit when the screenplay is turned into a film.
Production Buyer - Individual who purchases supplies, equipment, and property necessary for a production.
Production Company - Company headed by a producer, director, actor/actress, or writer for the purpose of creating general entertainment products such as motion pictures, television shows, infomercials, commercials, and multimedia.
Production Date - Refers to the phase of movie making during which principal photography occurs.
Production Designer - Artist responsible for designing the overall visual appearance of a movie.
Production Illustrator - Individual responsible for drawing the storyboards and anything else that needs to be drawn during the production of the movie.
Production Manager - Individual responsible for the practical matters such as ordering equipment, getting near-location accommodations for the cast and crew, etc.
Production Schedule - Detailed plan of the timing of activities associated with the making of a movie, of particular interest to production managers.
Prompter - Individual who supplies actors with the correct lines from the script if they forget.
Prop - Object on the set used by an actor, e.g. phones, guns, cutlery, etc.
Property Master - Individual responsible for buying/acquiring any props needed for a production.
Protection Master - A high quality copy of the master tape.
Public Domain - The state in which the creator of a work loses the copyright on it through the passage of the copyright period, failure to renew the work, or problems with the original registration of the work with the copyright office.
Publicity Department - The section of a production's crew responsible for promoting a movie.




Pull Down - The transfer of sound slowed from 24fps (film) to 30fps (video) which is required to sync the sound correctly when transferring film to video.
Pulldown Claw - Mechanism within the camera that advances the film stock from one frame to the next while the shutter is closed.
Push Processing - Type of film processing when the film is developed for a longer period of time. This is called "pushing the film," so an underexposed roll (or scene) can be adjusted.

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