film glossary


ANIMATION: The appearance or illusion of movement when a series of drawings, computer graphics, or photographs of objects (such as puppets or models) are viewed in sequence.

CAMERA ANGLE: The position of the camera in relation to the action of the scene, such as a high angle or low angle.

  • High Angle: Looking down from above. This can make things appear smaller.
  • Low Angle: Looking up from below. This can make things appear bigger.
  • Straight-on Eye Level: On the same level.

CHARACTER: A person (may be an animal or anthropomorphic object) in a story.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: The art and technique of making motion pictures. This includes how the film uses light, shadow, color, movement, and composition within the frame.

CROSS-FADE: Making a picture appear or sound be heard gradually as another disappears or becomes silent.

CUT: The most common editing transition in films: When two shots are juxtaposed without dissolve, fade, or effect.

B-ROLL: Supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot.

DIRECTOR: The person in control of all creative aspects of the film. They are the primary person responsible for the storytelling, creative decisions and acting of the film.

DOCUMENTARY: A type of film that attempts to explain reality.

EDITING: The selection, manipulation, and combination of shots to create structure and story.

FEATURE FILM: A standard-length film.

FRAME: A single, still image of a film or video.

GENRE: A category marked by similar subject matter, style, and form. Examples of film and literary genres include horror, fantasy, comedy, and science fiction.

LIVE ACTION: A type of film featuring cinematography made using a camera to capture real environments and subjects.

PAN: To move the camera from one side to the other in a fixed position (camera angle).

POINT OF VIEW: Often referred to in terms of (camera) shot which shows the scene from the specfic point of view of one of the characters.

PLOT: Basic layout or path of the story.

SCRIPT/SCREENPLAY: A written story including dialogue.

SETTING: Place and time at which film is represented as happening.

SHORT FILM: This type of film usually only last a few minutes, but it can still tell a full story.

SHOT: A single uninterrupted section of footage. Shots can be described by how close or far they are from the subject, or by the perspective it shows the audience. Samples of shot types:

  • Close-Up Shot
  • Establishing Shot
  • Medium Shot
  • Long Shot
  • Point of View Shot

SILENT FILM: A film that does not have synchronized recorded sound or any talking. In the heyday of silent film, live musicians in the theater would provide the soundtrack to compliment the movie.

SOUND FILM: (a.k.a. Talkies) Movies with synchronized sound.

SOUND: Music, dialogue, or other noises heard or not heard.

SYNCHRONIZED SOUND: Sound recorded at the same time the action is filmed so image track and soundtrack fit seamlessly together.

TAKE: A version of a single shot to select from in post-production.

TRANSITION: An editing technique that connects one shot to the next. There are many types of transitions such as wipe, fade, jump, and dissolve.

VÉRITÉ FOOTAGE: Documentary footage of characters going about their everyday lives as if the camera isn’t there.