A B C D E F
G H I J L M O P
R S T V
- Accelerated Motion: Representing
a shot as taking place at a higher speed than it did in reality. Also
known as Fast Motion.
- Aspect Ratio: The height-to-width ratio of the projected
- Back Lighting: Lighting which comes from directly behind
the subject, placing it in silhouette.
- Camera Angle: The position of the
camera in relation to the subject determines the camera angle. High
angle means that the camera is looking down at the subject.
Low angle means that the camera is looking up at the subject.
- CinemaScope: 20th Century Fox's trade name for their
widescreen process, which uses a ratio of 1:2.35. The term is commonly
used to refer to similar widescreen processes.
- Cinema Verite: A way of filming real-life scenes without
elaborate equipment, playing down the technical means of production
(script, special lighting, etc.) and emphasizing the "reality" of the
- Close-Up: A shot in which a face or
object fills the frame. Close-ups might be achieved by setting the
camera close to the subject or by using a long focal-length lens.
- Composition: The arrangement of all the elements within
the screen image to achieve a balance of light, mass, shadow, color,
- Continuity Editing: A style of editing that maintains a
continuous and seemingly uninterrupted flow of action.
- Crane Shot: A moving shot taken on a specially constructed
crane, usually from a high perspective.
- Cross-Cutting: Jumping back and forth between two or more
locations, inviting us to find a relationship between two or more
- Noun: A transition made by editing two pieces of film
- Verb: To edit a film by selecting shots and splicing them
- Cutaway: In continuity editing, a shot that does not
include any part of the preceding shot and that bridges a jump in time
or other break in the continuous flow of action.
- Day for Night: Simulating night through use of filters and
- Decelerated Motion: Representing
a shot as taking place at a slower speed than it did in reality. Also
known as Slow Motion.
- Deep Focus: A technique in which objects in the foreground
and the distant background appear in equally sharp focus.
- Depth of Field: Distance between the nearest and furthest
points at which the screen image is in reasonably sharp focus.
- Dissolve: Editing technique in
which one shot is gradually merged into the next by the superimposition
of a fade-out or fade-in.
- Dolly Shot: A shot taken while the camera is in motion.
- Dub: To record dialogue or sound to match action in shots
- Dutch Tilt: A wildly tilted image, in which the subject
appears on the diagonal or off-balance.
- Edit: The splicing together of separate shots.
- Establishing Shot: A shot showing the location of the
scene or the arrangement of the characters. Often the opening shot of a
- Extreme Long Shot: A shot notable because of the extreme
distance between camera and subject.
- Eye-Level Shot: A shot taken at the height of normal
- Fade: An optical event used as a
transition, in which the image on screen gradually goes to black
(fade-out) or emerges from black (fade-in).
- Fast Motion: See Accelerated
- Film Noir: A detective film, usually shot in harsh light,
often at night; often in
black and white. Commonly referenced in contemporary film.
- Flat Lighting: The distribution of light within the image
so that bright and dark tones are not highly contrasted.
- Flashback: A shot or sequence that takes the action of the
story into the past.
- Flash-Forward: A shot or sequence that takes the action of
the story into the future.
- Form Cut: A cut from one scene to the next on the basis of
a similar geometrical, textural, or other compositional value.
- Noun: One single picture on a piece of motion picture film.
- Noun: The boundaries of the screen image.
- Verb: To compose a shot to include, exclude, or emphasize
- Freeze-Frame: An optical effect in which the action
appears to come to a dead stop, achieved by printing a single frame
many times in succession.
- Glass Shot: A shot in which part of the background is
painted or photographed in miniature on a glass lid and placed in front
of the camera so as to blend in with the rest of the image.
- Hand-Held Shot: A shot made with the camera held in hand,
not on a tripod or other stabilizing fixture.
- High-Angle Shot: See Camera Angle.
- High-Key Lighting: Distributing light within the image so
that the bright tones predominate.
- Iris: A decorative transition in which the image seems to
disappear within a growing or diminishing circle. Commonly used in
- Jump Cut: A cut that jumps forward within a single action,
creating a sense of discontinuity.
- Long Shot: A shot taken with the camera at a distance from
- Mask Shot: A shot in which a portion of the image is
blocked off by means of a matte over the lens, altering the shape of
- Medium Close-Up: A shot taken with the camera at a slight
distance from the subject. In relation to an actor, "medium close-up"
usually refers to a shot of the head, neck, and shoulders.
- Medium Long Shot: A shot taken with the camera at a
distance from the subject, but closer than a long shot.
- Medium Shot: A shot taken with the camera at a mid-range
point from the subject. In relation to an actor, "medium shot" usually
refers to a shot from the waist or knees, up.
- Mise-en-Scene: A term used in the theater to refer to the
staging of a scene, in relation to the setting, the arrangement of the
actors, the lighting, etc. In film, the term is used to describe the
arrangement of elements within the frame of a single shot.
- French: The joining together or splicing of shots or
sequences - in a word, editing.
- American: A rapid succession of shots assembled, usually by
means of super-impositions and/or dissolves, to convey a visual effect,
such as the passing of time.
- Russian: The foundation of film art. "The building up of film
from separate strips of raw material," or "An imagist transformation of
the dialectical principles, montage as the collision of ideas and
cinematographic conflicts." (Quoting Pudovkin and Eisenstein,
- M.O.S.: "Mit Out Sound." These initials are written on the
clapboard and are briefly filmed at the beginning of a shot to
designate shooting without synchronous sound recording.
- Opticals: Any device carried out by the film laboratory
and requiring the use of an optical printer. Dissolves,
fades, and wipes fall
under this category.
- Panning Shot: A shot in which the camera remains in place
but moves horizontally on its axis so that the subject is constantly
- Parallel Shot: When two pieces of action are presented
alternately, to suggest that they occur simultaneously.
- Process Shot: See Rear Projection.
- Reaction Shot: A shot of a person reacting to the main
action as a listener or spectator.
- Rear Projection: A trick shot in which
the subject is filmed against a background that is itself a motion
picture screen. Upon this screen another image - either moving or still
- has been projected as a backdrop. Also known as a process shot.
- Reverse-Angle Shot: A shot taken by a camera positioned
opposite from where the previous shot was taken.
- Score: Music composed for a film.
- Set: An artificially constructed environment in which
action is photographed.
- Slow Motion: See Decelerated
- Soft Focus: A strategy whereby all objects appear soft
because none are perfectly in focus. Used for romantic effect.
- Sound Track:
- A recording of the sound portion of a film.
- A narrow band along one side of a print of film in which
sound is recorded.
- Split Screen: The division of the projected film frame
into two or more sections, each containing a separate image.
- Stock Shot: A shot taken from a library of film footage,
usually of famous people, places, or events.
- Subjective Shot: A shot that represents the point of view
of a character. Often a reverse angle shot, preceded by a shot of the
character as he or she glances off-screen.
- Superimposition: A shot in which one ore more images are
printed on top of one another.
- Swish Pan: A shot in which the camera pans so rapidly that
the image is blurred.
- Telephoto Shot: A shot in which a camera lens of
longer-than-normal focal length is used so that the depth of the
projected image appears compressed.
- Three-Shot: A shot encompassing three actors.
- Tilt Shot: A shot in which the camera remains in place but
moves vertically on its access so that the subject is continually
- Titles: Credits. In silent film, "titles" include the
written commentary and dialogue spliced within the action.
- Tracking Shot: A shot in which the camera moves parallel
to its moving subject.
- Travelling Shot: A shot taken from a moving object, such
as a car or boat.
- Two-Shot: A shot encompassing two actors, often in close-up.
- Voice-Over: Commentary by an unseen character or narrator.
- Wide-Angle Shot: A shot in which a camera lens of
shorter-than-normal focal length is employed so that the depth of the
projected image seems protracted.
- Widescreen: Any aspect ratio wider than the 1:1.33 ration
which dominated sound film before the 1950s and the introduction of
CinemaScope, Techniscope, VistaVision, Panavision, and so on.
- Wipe: A transition from one shot to
another in which one shot replaces another, horizontally or vertically.
- Zoom: The simulation of camera movement toward or away
from the subject by means of a lens of variable focal length.
* This glossary was adapted from
materials distributed to film students by the Film Department at the
University of California, Santa Barbara and by Dartmouth College,