Glossary of Film Terms

AUTEUR: Director as the film "author" or main creator

CAMERA ANGLE: Viewpoint from which the camera photographs the subject. Angles may be high, low, or sideways.

CLOSE-UP: Camera shot where the subject fills the screen

CONTINUITY: Coherent flow of scenes. Since most films are shot out of order and at different times, the continuity person records the details of the filmed scenes to help the editor assemble properly the complete film.

CROSS CUTTING: Editing back and forth between two or more scenes to create drama or suspense

DEEP FOCUS: Camera technique wherein both foreground and background objects are brought into equal focus. Orson Welles's Citizen Kane is noted for its use of deep focus.

DISSOLVE: Camera technique which creates gradual transition from scene to scene through superimposition (the second shot gradually appearing while the first shot begins disappearing at the same time)

DOLLY: Wheeled vehicle which lets the cinematographer move the camera smoothly while filming

DUBBING: Recording of dialogue, music, and sound effects onto a film where the sounds recorded do not come from the picture (narration, off-camera dialogue, film score)

EDITING: Selecting and assembling scenes and camera shots in an order that results in the completed film

FRAME: Single unit on a strip of film, a still photograph. At normal sound projection speed twenty-four frames are shown.

FREEZING: Film printing device whereby the action seem to "freeze" into a still. This is done by printing a single frame over and over.

JUMP CUT: Cutting abruptly from one scene to another to create a dramatic effect, usually done by removing part of the center of a shot or by juxtaposing two unrelated shots

LEITMOTIV: Musical term originating from Wagnerian opera. It is associated with all program music or music which depicts a particular image, scene, story, etc. The leitmotiv is abundant in film music. It is simply a recurring theme or musical idea which is consistently associated with a character, a place, or a situation in the film. Classic examples are the leitmotiv for Cathy in Wuthering Heights and the pulsating, rhythmic leitmotiv for the shark in Jaws.

MONTAGE: Series of dissolves and superimpositions producing a generalized effect and giving information such as the passing of time, background information concerning characters of the film's plot, etc. "Montage" also means the entire art of editing and assembling scenes in a film.

PAN: Camera shot in which the camera rotates horizontally

PULLBACK: Drawing back the camera from a particular shot to reveal a wider angle

REACTION SHOT: Shot (a close-up usually) of a character showing his or her emotional response to another character's behavior or some other action

SCENE: Single episode, shot from the film script

SHOOTING SCRIPT: Final version of the script used by the director and his technicians in shooting the film. The shooting script is different from a screenplay, which is concerned with dialogue for the film) in that it includes camera directions.

SHOT: Scene filmed without break in time or space

SOFT FOCUS: Filming a subject slightly out of focus to produce a romantic or eerie effect or to cover up age lines on an actor

TAKE: Single recording of several shots or a scene in the making of a film. Few scenes are filmed in one take.

TILT: Perpendicular movement of the camera--a type of panning shot--up and down

TRACKING: Camera shot in which the camera moves with the subject; it "tracks" the subject, moving away from, toward, or perpendicular with the subject. This is closely related to the "dolly" shot.

TRAVELING MATTE SHOT: Method for blending actors in the studio with location or painted scenes. The actor is photographed against a non-reflective background, and this shot is then superimposed with the desired background.

WIPE: Optical shift in which the camera moves from one scene to another. The first scene seems to peel off or fade away as the second scene appears (much like a "dissolve").

ZOOM SHOT: (1) Zoom in--a shot where the zoom lens of the camera moves from a long shot to a close-up in one continuous movement. (2) Zoom out--the opposite effect of the "zoom in" where the zoom lens moves from a close-up to a long shot. The camera itself does not move.

Gregory Campbell

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