Treatment. One to two page description of film in narrative or story form as if the writer and/or director were envisioning the film becoming realized on screen.
Pitch. A concise verbal and sometimes visual presentation of an idea for film generally made by in the hope of attracting development finance or approval to continue the project.
Screenplay/Script. A written work that can be original or adapted from existing pieces of writing. In them the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are narrated.
Storyboard. A series of drawings illustrating plans to visualize film sequences, showing how each shot will appear. This ranges from sketches to elaborate artworks and is valuable accompaniment to script.
Shot-List. A list that indicates the sequence of scenes shot each day to include: scene number, location, description, length, list of actors and special notes to departments of what will be needed or required.
Long Shot. (LS) Shot which shows all or most of a fairly large subject (for example, a person) and usually much of the surroundings.
Establishing Shot. (ES) Opening shot or sequence, frequently an exterior ‘General View’ as an Extreme Long Shot, used to set or establish the scene.
Medium Shot. (MS) Subject or actor and its setting occupy roughly equal areas in the frame. In the case of the standing actor, the lower frame passes through the waist. There is space for hand gestures to be seen.
Close-Up. (CU) Shows a detailed, small part of the scene such as character’s face and abstracts the subject from a context. CU’s focus attention on particular part of an object detail or person’s feelings or reactions.
Angle of Shot. The direction and height from which the camera takes the scene. Eye level shot put camera and viewer at same level. High angle looks down at a character, making viewer feel more powerful or suggesting an air of detachment. Low angle shot places camera below character, exaggerating importance.
Point-of-View Shot. (POV) A shot made from a camera position close to the line of sight of a performer who is to be watching the action shown in the point-of-view shot.
180º Rule. A convention that camera can be placed in anywhere as long as it remains on one side of action.
Depth of Field. The range of a camera lens. Depth of field refers to the distance furthest away from a lens in which the objects being photographed will remain in focus approaching infinity.
Selective Focus. Rendering part of the action in sharp focus through the use of a shallow depth of field.
Mise-en-Scène. The arrangement of volumes and movements within a given space and defined by the frame including production design, set, location, actors, costumes, make-up, gesture, proxemics and blocking, extras, props, use of color, contrast and filter. Lighting is often included within mise-en-scène. Camera shot composition, framing, angle and movement are also sometimes referred to as mise-en-scene.
Composition/Framing. Arrangement of a shot by the director and cinematographer. The process includes camera angles, lighting, properties, characters, and the movement of the actors.
Rule of Thirds. A framing concept in which the frame is divided into nine imaginary symmetric sections. This creates reference points that act as guides for framing the image. Points or lines of interest should occur at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way up or across the frame, rather than in the center.
Negative Space. Empty or unfilled space in the mise en scene, often acting as a foil to the more detailed elements in a shot.
Zoom. In zooming in the camera does not move; the lens is focused down from a long shot to a close-up whilst the picture is still being shown. The subject is magnified, and attention is concentrated on details previously invisible as the shot tightens
Pan. The camera swivels to follow a moving subject. A space is left in front of the subject: the pan ‘leads’ rather than ‘trails’. A pan usually begins and ends with a few seconds of still picture to give greater impact. The speed of a pan across a subject creates a particular mood as well as establishing the viewer’s relationship with the subject.
Tilt. A vertical movement of the camera – up or down- while the camera mounting stays fixed.
Tracking or Dollying. Camera moved smoothly towards or away from the subject. Tracking in draws the viewer into a closer, more intense relationship with the subject; moving away tends to create emotional distance. Tracking back tends to divert attention to the edges of the screen and speed affects viewer’s mood.
Hand-Held Camera. Produces a jerky, bouncy, unsteady image which may create a sense of immediacy or chaos and its use is a form of subjective, point of view treatment.
Crane Shot. A shot taken from a device called a crane, which resembles a huge mechanical arm and can move the camera vertically, horizontally and tilt.
Backlighting. A romantic heroine is often backlit to create a halo effect on her hair.
High Contrast Lighting. A style of lighting emphasizing harsh shaft and dramatic streaks of lights and darks.
High-key Lighting. Lighting that results in more light areas than shadows; subjects are seen in middle grays and highlights, with little contrast.
Low-Key Lighting. Lighting that puts most of the set in shadow and uses just a few highlights to define the subject
Diegetic Sound. Sound that appears to come from a recognizable source within the narrative world of a film as indicated by what can be seen, or by sounds generated from on-screen actions and objects (e.g. footsteps, explosions), off-screen sounds belonging to world being depicted (e.g. birdsong, church bells).
Non-Diegetic Sound. Sounds that appear to come from a source unconnected to the narrative world of a text. For example music, voice-over, sound effects not generated in the filmic world but added to indicate characters’ state of mind or generate audience response.
Synchronous Sound. Sound that matches action or speech in film or television.
Foley. The construction or approximation of sound effects using sources other than those represented on screen. Examples include a knife piercing a watermelon to approximate a stabbing sound, or the use of coconut shells to approximate the sound of horses’ hooves.
Ambient Sound. Sounds natural to any film scene’s environment.
Sound Perspective. The impression of distance in sound created through the use of selective sound.
Sound Bridge. Adding to continuity through sound, by running sound (narration, dialogue or music) from one shot across a cut to another shot to seem uninterrupted.
Voice-Over. Voice heard while an image is projected but not spoken in sync with character/s appearing on screen. Used to suggest character’s thoughts, recall or to provide objective narrative or commentary.
Sound Effects. (SFX) Any sound from any source other than synchronized dialogue, narration or music. Dubbed-in sound effects can add to the illusion of reality.
Music. Music helps to establish a sense of the pace of the accompanying scene. The rhythm of music usually dictates the rhythm of the cuts, reinforcing mood of the scene.
Silence. The juxtaposition of an image and silence can frustrate expectations, provoke odd, self-conscious responses, intensify our attention or feel dissociated from reality.
Motivated Cut. Cut made just at the point where what has occurred makes the viewer immediately want to see something that is not currently visible.
Match Cut. Familiar relationship between the shots may make the change seem smooth usually made on action. Because the viewer’s eye is absorbed by the action one is unlikely to notice movement of cut itself.
Jump Cut. Abrupt switch from one shot to another that may be used deliberately to make a dramatic point. Sometimes boldly used to begin or end action.
Parallel Action/Cross-Cutting. An intercut sequence of shots cut back and forth between one scene and another. Two distinct but related events seem to be happening at approximately the same time.
Montage Editing. Juxtaposition of shots to represent action or ideas or cutting between shots to condense a series of events. May be used to convey subjective messages through juxtaposition related in composition or movement, through repetition of images, through cutting rhythm, detail or metaphor.
Cutting Rhythm. A cutting rhythm may be progressively shortened to increase tension. Cutting rhythm may create an exciting, lyrical or staccato effect in the viewer.
Flashback: An editing technique that suggests the interruption of the present by a shot or series of shots representing the past.
Cutaway. A bridging intercut shot between two shots of the same subject. It represents a secondary activity occurring at the same time as the main action.
Reaction Shot. Any shot in which a participant reacts to action that has just occurred.
Insert Shot. A bridging close-up shot inserted into the larger context, offering an essential detail of the scene or a reshooting of action with a different shot size or angle.)
Fade or Dissolve. Both fades and dissolves are gradual transitions between shots. In a fade the picture gradually appears from or disappears to blank screen. Time lapses are often suggested by a slow fade-out and fade-in. A dissolve involves fading out one picture while fading up another on top of it.
Superimposition. Two of more images placed directly over each other (e.g. and eye and a camera lens to create a visual metaphor).
Wipe. An optical effect marking a transition between two shot by wiping one off the screen.
Inset. An inset is a special visual effect whereby a reduced shot is superimposed on the main shot. Often used to reveal a close-up detail of the main shot.
Split Screen. The division of the screen into parts that can show the viewer several images at the same time
Stock Shot. Footage available and used for another purpose than the one for which it was originally filmed.
Screen Time: a period of time represented by events within a film (e.g. a day, a week).
Subjective Time. The time experienced or felt by a character in a film, as revealed through camera movement and editing
Time Ellipses. A term referring to periods of time left out of the narrative, market by an editing transition while it leaves out a section of the action most often achieved with cuts or dissolves.
Extended or Overlapping Action. Expanding time by intercutting a series of shots, or by filming the action from different angles and editing them together.
Ambiguous Time. Within the context of well-defined time-scheme sequences may occur, which is, ambiguous in time communicated through dissolves and superimpositions.
Simultaneous Time. Events in different places can be presented as occurring at the same moment, by parallel editing or crosscutting, by multiple images or split-screen.
Slow motion. Action that takes place on the screen at a slower rate than the rate at which the action took place before the camera.
Reverse motion. Reproducing action backwards, for comic or explanatory effect.
Flashback. A break in the chronology of a narrative in which events from the past are disclosed to the viewer.
Text. Titles, Credits, Captions, Subtitles used for translation or for the benefit of the understanding or hearing-impaired.
Graphics. Maps, graphs and diagrams are associated primarily with news, documentary and educational programmed.
Animation. Creating an illusion of movement, by inter-cutting stills, using graphics with movable sections, using step-by-step changes, or control wire activation.
Realism. The dominant mode implying that the media attempts to represent an external reality: a film is “realistic” because it gives the impression of accurately reproducing part of the real world.
Subjective. When viewer is treated as a participant (e.g. when the camera is addressed directly or when it imitates the viewpoint or movement of a character).
Subtext. A term used to signify the dramatic implications beneath the language. Often the sub-text concerns ideas and emotions that are independent of the language of a text.
Symbol. A literal element or object standing for an abstract idea.
Motifs. Images, patterns, or ideas repeated throughout and variations of the major theme.
Expressionism. A cinematic technique to present inner reality of a character.
Objective Treatment. Treating the viewer as an observer. A major example is the ‘privileged point of view’ that involves watching from omniscient vantage points.
Tone. The mood or atmosphere of a shot/scene (e.g. ironic, comic, nostalgic, romantic).
Formats and Features
Form. The structure or skeleton of a text and the narrative framework around which it is based. For example, a feature film commonly has a three-act structure. Some structures are determined by a genre and its corresponding codes and conventions.
Shot. A single run of the camera or the piece of film resulting from such a run.
Scene. A dramatic unit composed of a single or several shots. A scene usually takes place in a continuous time period, in the same setting, and involves the same characters.
Sequence. A dramatic unit composed of several scenes, all linked together by their emotional and narrative momentum.
Genre. Broad category of film types. Genres include: film noir, mystery, suspense, science fiction, documentary, crime, melodrama, western, fantasy or experimental. Genres tend to have identifiable codes and conventions that have developed over time and which audiences have particular expectations.