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Basic Film terms and history

Diegetic Sound

A sound whose source is visible on the screen.

Examples of Diegetic Sound

Voices of actors speaking, Sounds made by objects in the story, Music coming from visible instruments

Non-Diegetic Sound

Sounds whose source is NOT visible on the screen.

Examples of Non-Diegetic Sound

Voice Over (VO), Sound Effects, Soundtrack

Sound Mixer

The on-set/location sound engineer responsible for the recording of production sound and any sync-related on-set sound mixing and playback.

Boom Operator

Works under the supervision of the sound mixer in the recording of production sound, holding mic booms, placing mics, holding cables, and operating various recording devices.

Sound Designer

Working in conjunction with the director, the sound designer supervises the mix of music, dialogue, ADR, foley, and sound effects.


Writes original music to be heard in the film, both diegetic and non-diegetic

Music Supervisor

Selects songs for the film in partnership with the Director and arranges for proper release for any music used.

Sound Effects

An audio recording that is presented in a film to make a specific creative point and to enhance story.

ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)

the process in which voices are recorded in post production, replacing voices recorded during principle photography.

Room Tone

The recording of a location's ambient tones in order to allow for naturalistic sound after dubbing dialogue or sound effects in post-production.

Wild Sound:

ONLY audio recording during principle photography, intended for use as sound effects


The creation of everyday sound effects that are recorded in a foley studio to compliment or replace existing sounds.

Examples of Foley

Footsteps, Squeaking Doors, Thunder


Sounds that are used to create a particular environment.

Examples of Soundscape

Waves at the beach, Owl hooting at Night

Final Mixing

In post production, various elements of different sound tracks are brought together to best support, enhance and express the meaning of the film.

Shotgun Microphone

The most typical 'directional' microphone used for capturing audio in film productions.

Boom Pole

A long pole that allows precise positioning of the microphone above or below the actors, just out of the camera's frame.

XLR Cable

The most common wired connection for audio recording devices.

Field Mixer

Or 'microphone mixer', allows you to take inputs from various audio sources, combine and control them, and then output the signal to a recorder.

Analog Recording Device

Records audio directly to a tape; nearly obsolete.

Digital Recording Device

Records audio digitally; usually to a device with an internal hard drive or memory cards.

Audio Monitoring

The act of monitoring the live audio recordings by listening and observing peak levels.

dBFS (Decibels Relative to Full Scale)

The measurement of audio peak levels.

Mono Recording

Or 'Monophonic', describes a system where all audio is recorded through a single channel.


Or 'Stereophonic', describes a system where all audio is recorded through two independent channels; the left and right channels.


The art and science of motion-picture photography.

Director of Photography

The DP, or cinematographer, is the camera and lighting supervisor on the production

Duties of Director of Photography

Operation of cameras, Coordination of lighting, Create shot lists for each day of production in coordination with the Director

1st Assistant Camera

assists the DP in camera operation and maintenance and works in coordination with the script supervisor in naming, slating, and logging shots and reels/tapes.

Duties of 1st AC

Slating, loading of film or digital storage and logging, Focus marking and pulling, camera maintenance


AKA the lighting designer, the gaffer is the chief electrician who supervises set lighting in accordance with the requirements of the DP.

Duties of Gaffer

Lighting of sets and locations, Maintenance of lighting equipment, Generator operation

Key Grip

Works with the gaffer in setting and cutting lights, creating shadow effects for the set lighting and supervises camera movements according to the DP.

Duties of Key Grip

Shapes lighting, Supervises camera movements

Best-Boy Electric

The chief assistant to the gaffer in the lighting of sets and the operation of electrical systems.

Best-Boy Grip

The chief assistant to the key grip, aiding him/her in rigging, cutting light, and carrying out camera movements.

The 'Shot'

Considered the most basic unit of film grammar, the shot is the actual filming or recording of a scene.

A 'Take'

The number of times a scene is shot.


A tool used before 'action' takes place to record the scene information as well as to sync audio. AKA Clapperboard

Close Up

A close distanced shot.

Medium Shot

A medium distanced shot.

Long Shot

A long distanced shot.

High Angle Shot

Location of camera above subject eye line.

Low Angle Shot

Location of camera below subject eye line.

Neutral Angle Shot

Location of camera at subjects eye line.

Point of View (POV) Shot

Location of camera from talents perspective.


Horizontal movement of a camera in a fixed position.


The movement of the camera closer or further away from a subject.


The movement of the camera from left to right, or right to left of a subject.


The movement of the camera up and down in height, typically on a crane. AKA a Jib Shot.


Content is recorded through a digital image sensor.

Formats of Digital

4K, HD, SD


RED & Alexa Cameras (4096 x 3112)


High Definition (1920 x 1080)


Standard Definition (720 x 480)


Content is recorded through actual film exposure.

Formats of Film

35mm, 16mm

35 mm

Hollywood Film Standard

16 mm

Independent Filmmaking

Digital Resolution

The detail an image holds, typically measured in pixels Ex./ 1920 x 1080

Frames per Second (FPS)

The rate at which frames are recorded/displayed.

Standard FPS

24 fps

Aspect Ratio

The image ratio of width and height. X:Y Relationship

SD Digital

4 : 3

HD Digital

16 : 9

Movie Theater Projection

2.39 :1 and 1.85 :1

Camera Lens

An optical lens attached to either a digital or film camera body that captures imagery by exposing the film/digital sensor to a specified amount of light.

Image Plane

Consists of foreground, middle ground and background.


Refers to the overall sharpness of the 'point of interest' in an image.

In Focus

Sharper point of interest

Out of Focus

Less Sharp point of interest

Depth of Field (DoF)

The area on the image plane that is 'in focus'.

Shallow DoF

Less 'in focus'

Deep DoF

More 'in focus'

F-Stop AKA Aperture

Using the iris of the lens, F-Stop measures how much light is entering the camera.

Higher F-Stop

less light exposure = deep DoF

Lower F-Stop

more light exposure = shallow DoF


A fixed focal length lens, -typically a 'faster' lens (lower F-Stop)


A lens with the ability to change focal lengths , provides more versatility.

Key Light

Main, hard light on object

Fill Light

Soft light that fills in shadows

Back Light

Creates a more 3 Dimensional look

3 Point lighting system

comprised of Key Light, Fill Light, Back Light

Color Temperature

Refers to the color hue , created by certain lighting conditions.


measurement unit for color temperature

Film Editing

The art and process of piecing together various shots into scene sequences which ultimately, when combined, creates a finished film.


works under the supervision of the director and producer to assemble the film.

Duties of the Editor

The assembly of the footage into successive cuts until a final cut is reached, Assist the DP with color correction and other post-production effects, The output of the final cut to several formats.

Assistant Editor

Works as an assistant to the editor, by logging and capturing footage and organizing/managing media.

Duties of Assistant Editor

Maintaining a system of backups, Assisting with multi-format output , Logging, capturing and organizing media.

Continuity Editing

The 'Classical Hollywood' style of editing; intended to establish a logical coherence of time and space between shots, suggesting that everything in the scene is physically continuous.

Types of Continuity Editing

Temporal Continuity and Spatial Continuity

Temporal Continuity

All of the stories action and dialogue happen in one continuous linear sequence.

Examples of Temporal Continuity

Use of continuous diegetic sound, Matching of actions from shot to shot.

Spatial Continuity

Continuity of space. The addition of cutting different location shots together in order to maintain logical coherence.

Example of Spatial Continuity

Use of Establishing Shots.


A series of short shots edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information Disregards spatial and temporal continuity editing

Filmmaker famous for use of Montages

Lev Kuleshov

Assembly Edit

The first 'cut' of the motion picture created by the Editor; Also referred to as the 'Rough Cut'.

Director's Cut

The Director, working in collaboration with the Editor, makes changes to the Assembly Edit to best reflect the Director's vision.

Final Cut

Typically the editor works in collaboration with the Director and Producers of the film to reach 'picture lock'.

Picture Lock

When all editing of the motion picture has been completed and approved.Once picture locked, the film then moves into the sound design, special effects and color correction processes of post production.

Film Editing Before Digital Software

A film negative was literally cut and pasted together to 'edit' the motion picture.

Non-Linear Editing System

Digital editing software designed to allow direct access to any video frame and allows for non-destructive 'cutting' of footage.

Master Shot

The recording of a full scene, from start to finish, that has all of the talent and action in one framed sequence.


A shot edited into a scene that differs from the master shot, but emphasizes certain aspects of the same action in the master shot to keep continuity.

Cross Cutting

The editing of sequences to establish action occurring at the same time, but in two different locations.

Jump Cut

Two shots of the same subject, but in different locations, are cut together, making the subject seem to 'jump' in a discontinuous way.

Smash Cut

An abrupt cut from one image to another with no transition, typically used to startle the audience.

Cut Away

The interruption of a continuous sequence by cutting in a view of something else, then typically cutting back to the original sequence.


A transition where one shot replaces another by traveling from one side of the frame to another, or by a special image.


The gradual fading transition from one image to another.

Fade In/Out

A dissolve transition from a blank image.

Fast Cutting

A technique of editing shots with short durations together, rarely having the same image on screen for long periods of time. Creates a fast pace (Action Films)

Slow Cutting

A technique that edits shots with long durations together, sparingly using cuts to another image. Creates a slow pace (Romantic Films)

Production Design

shapes reality to fictional ends

Members of the Art Department

Production Designer ,Art Director ,Prop Master, Set Decorator,Key Makeup Artist, Key Hair Dresser, Costume/Wardrobe Designer, Set Costumer

Production Designer

Working under the supervision of the director and in coordination with the art director, the production designer develops, coordinates, facilitates, and oversees the design of the sets, whether on stage or practical locations.

Duties of Production Designer

Determine the visual look of all the visual elements in each shot Participation in location scouting, Design of sets, Supervision of set construction and dressing Coordination, via the art director, with the make up, wardrobe, and camera departments

Art Director

Working under the supervision of the production designer, the art director develops, coordinates, facilitates, and oversees the overall design of the production.

Duties of the Art Director

Co-ordinate the work of the builders and strike art crew ,Co-ordinate with the on set dresser (the stand-by member of the art dept on set during production), Coordinate the work of the costume designer, production designer, and compositors with the DP and the director.

Prop Master

The prop master works in coordination with the art director, production designer, and DP to gather, maintain, and manage all the props for a production.

Duties of Prop Master

Seeking and obtaining props, Maintenance and management of props, continuity of props in conjunction with script supervisor

Set Decorator

The set decorator works closely with the art director, production designer and DP to dress the sets.

Duties of Set Decorator

Painting, draping, furniture placement, arranging the set dressing on the sets ,Striking the set dressing from the sets and returning/disposing of it properly, Set Dressers, dress and maintain continuity of set dressing during principle photography.

Key Makeup Artist:

applies and maintains the cast's makeup.

Duties of Key Makeup Artist

Meeting actors during prep and consulting with director and production designer on character make-up design, Applying makeup to cast members, Maintaining actor's makeup during shooting, in coordination with the script supervisor

Key Hair Dresser

The key hairdresser dresses and maintains the cast's hair.

Duties of Key hair dresser

Meeting actors during prep and consulting with director and production designer on character hair design ,Dressing cast members hair ,Maintaining actor's hair during shooting, in coordination with the script supervisor

Costume/Wardrobe Designer

works under the supervision of the director and the art director to design, obtain, assemble, and maintain the costumes for a production.

Duties of Costume Designer

The development of costuming concepts and design of costumes, Coordination with the art director, production designer, and Director of Photography (DP), Obtaining all costume components, The final assembly of all costumes, Maintenance of all costumes

Set Costumer

The set costumer works as an assistant to the costume designer, helping to assemble and maintain the costumes, and also managing and facilitating the use of the costumes during production.

Duties of Ser Costumer

Assist the costume designer in design, obtaining, and assembly of costumes, Organization, maintenance, security and management of costumes, Helping the actors change, cleaning of all costumes

Prop (Property)

An object used by actors in the story

Set Design

The design and creation of a particular location

Set Dressing

Draping, Furniture, Decor, etc. that dresses the set


The carefully designed clothing worn by actors

Screenplays describe

Dialogue, action and location


what is said


what is done


what is seen

Frances Marion

highest paid screenwriter in the United States until the mid-1930s, and served as the Vice President of the Writer's Guild of America for years.

Two kinds of screenplays

Original and Adaptation


created from the mind of the writer.


inspiration taken expressly from another work

Things that have been adapted into screenplays

Comicbooks , Novels, Short Stories, Poems, Video Games, Twitter feeds, Board Games, Stage plays, Other movies

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