Glossary of Film and Electronic Media Terms

C-band The original and most widely-used band of frequencies used by satellite transponders. Compared to the Ku-band, the C-band has both advantages and disadvantages.

C-clamp A screw-down clamp used to mount lights to studio grid pipes and lighting stands.

C-mount A common type of camera lens mount used on 16mm motion picture cameras and on some video cameras.

cable guards Metal shields or "skirts" on a camera pedestal that sweep cables out of the way so the camera doesn't roll over them.

cable modem Device which converts computer data to a high-speed signal that be carried by cable TV system.

cable ready TV or VCR with a tuner able to pick up the added cable TV channels without the need of a converter box.

cable television Non-broadcast, point-to-point transmission of television programming by coaxial or fiber optic cable. Used for programming intended for a more limited audience than over-the-air broadcast television.

CAD; Computer-aided design or Computer-assisted design

cam head A type of pan head for a camera mount. Commonly associated with studio cameras. Pan and tilt actions are controlled by variable drag adjustments.

camel's-hair brush Brush made of soft camel's hair, often used for removing dust from lenses.

camcorder An all-in-one camera and recorder.

cameo background A totally black background.

cameo lighting The use of special lighting with a dark background so that subjects appear as if they are being photographed against a totally black background.

camera blocking Working out camera and talent positions and movements prior to the taping of a show.

camera car A car or truck with a camera mount, used for the taping of scenes while the vehicle is in motion.

camera cards Graphic cards designed to be picked up by a camera.

camera chain A complete camera system: camera, cables, video controls and power supply.

camera control unit; CCU An device containing electronics and controls used for setting up and adjusting the video from one or more cameras.

camera cue light Tally light. A red light on the camera that indicates when it is or-the-air or being recorded.

camera head The actual television camera which is at the "head" of a chain of camera-related electronics.

camera jib Remotely-operated, crane-like camera mount which can typically move a camera from floor or ground level to a height of 10 or more feet.

camera left and right Directions given from the camera's point of view. The reverse of "stage left" and "stage right," used in theater.

camera light A light normally mounted on the top of a camera to provide added illumination

camera of record Videotaping an event as it happens, generally without effects or production embellishments. Intended only as a "raw record" of the event.

camera operator Person who is responsible for operating a camera, generally under the command of a director.

camera prompter An electrical device for displaying a script that can be read by talent during a production. Also called TelePrompTer.

camera rehearsal Rehearsal using cameras, designed to make final checks before a production.

camera tube The primary light-sensitive glass tube in a tube-based video camera that converts the light image from the camera lens into an electrical signal.

canon connector A shielded, three-pin audio connector. Generally used with professional microphones. More commonly called an XLR connector.

canted camera Camera angle achieved by turning the camera slightly to one side causing the subject matter to run up or down hill. Result is also referred to as Dutch angle.

canvas drop A canvas background that can be lowered into place from the studio grid.

cap up To cover the lens of a camera.

capacitor Electronic device that can store an electric charge. A central part of a condenser microphone.

capstan A motor-driver roller and rotating shaft in the VTR that pulls the tape over the heads.

captioning service Organization that encodes open or closed captions (text) into TV video--often for display and reading by hearing impaired.

capture Digitizing segments of analog video for editing on a non-linear editing system. Sometimes relates to acquiring or displaying the beginning and ending frames of scenes for on-screen reference.

cardioid pattern A microphone with a heart-shaped pattern of sensitivity.

carrier wave An electromagnetic wave modulated with audio or video information used to broadcast radio and television signals.

cart cartridge A plastic container with audio or videotape that threads automatically when inserted into a record or playback machine. In contrast to a cassette, the tape is commonly in a continuous loop.

cascading The flow of a signal through a sequence of electronic stages, each stage adding an additional effect.

cassette A plastic container with a supply and take-up reel of audio or videotape that threads automatically when placed in a record or playback machine. Unlike the cartridge, the tape is not in a continuous loop and must be rewound.

catadiatropic lens; cat lens A telescopic lens that uses an internal mirror to reduce the physical length of the lens.

catchlight A small, concentrated reflection from a major light source which appears in a subject's eyes.

cathode ray tube (CRT) Any video screen employing an electron gun used for displaying information. TV sets, computer monitors and vectorscopes all have CRT's.

CATV A system of distributing TV signals over a geographic area via coaxial cable or fiber optics. See community antenna television.

causality The arrangement of scenes in editing to suggest cause and effect relationships.

C-band  Satellite transponder range of microwave frequencies between 4 and 8GHz. There are C-band and Ku-band frequency ranges.

CCD (charge coupled device) A solid-state camera imaging device that has a number of advantages over camera tubes.

C-clamp C-shaped clamp with tightening set screw that's used to hang lighting instruments from the ceiling grid of TV studio.

CCTV (closed circuit television) Any wired system for television distribution.

CCU (camera control unit electronic) controls for a camera where color correction, luminance, etc., are adjusted. CCUs for studio cameras are generally found in the video control room.

CD (compact disc) An audio recording and playback medium that uses digitally encoded information on a laserdisc. The sound is decoded by optical laser for high-quality audio playback.

CD-ROM (compact disk read only memory) An computer information storage system centering on compact disks. A CD-R is a recordable CD.

cel A transparent sheet for use in animation on which individual drawings appear. Multiple cels (cel sandwiches) may be overlaid to build scenes and to eliminate the need to redraw areas.

cel animation Animating portions of an image through the use of multiple layers (cels) of transparent acetate sheets. Specific types of content are confined to specific cell layers.

center spot filter A diffusion filter with a clear central area. Gives a clear central area and slightly diffuses surrounding areas.

CGA (color graphics adapter) A relatively low-resolution color display system for PC-type computers.

channel A band or frequency assigned to a broadcast station.

CG (character generator) A device that electrically creates letters and symbols for TV titles and other graphic displays.

CGMS Copy Generation Management System  Copyright protection method of making it impossible for most people to copy a DVD.

chapter / chapter stop A code, embedded in a videodisc that indicates where segments begin. While scanning, the player will sense these, which speeds the process of locating segments.

character make-up Make-up (generally accompanied by hair pieces, etc.) designed to change an actor's appearance into that of the character being played.

charge back Charging studio costs to another division of the same company.

charger An electrical, AC-to-DC device which replenishes (recharges) battery power.

cheat To arrange talent or props so that an optimum camera angle is achieved, often without regard to how realistic it may be for actors.

chip camera A camera that uses one or more CCD's. See CCD.

chip chart A test chart consisting of shades of gray from TV white to TV black used for setting up cameras.

chroma channels The separate light-sensitive pickup devices or color circuits in a TV camera. Typically there are three channels: red, green and blue.

chroma Color.

chroma crawl An undesirable moving color artifact or pattern in an NTSC picture. Generally caused by a television set decoding color information as high-detailed luminance information.

chroma gain Camera control that controls the amounts of color in a picture.

chroma key blue A deep shade of blue commonly used in backgrounds which is intended to be keyed out and replaced with other video. See chroma key.

chroma processor A computer program associated with desktop editing programs that can subtly or drastically alter colors and color balance in sources of video.

chroma resolution As distinct from luminance detail, the amount of detail in color channels.

chromakey An electronic matting effect that keys out or removes a portion of video of a specific color. Another video source is then substituted for the removed area. Generally, a deep, saturated blue is used as a keying color.

chromatic aberration Color fringing or other color abnormalities caused by imperfections in a camera lens.

chrominance Color. TV camera color channel.

cinemascope The first modern wide screen movie format. It achieved a 2.35:1 aspect ratio by using a 2:1 anamorphic lens.

circuit breaker An electronic "fuse" that can be reset after it is overloaded.

clean edit An edit with no accompanying electronic noise, distortion or other disruption.

clear / in-the-clear Non-scrambled satellite TV programming.

clearance The process of getting permission from a copyright holder to use copyrighted material.

clip To cut off video levels above a certain point in order to stay within a set contrast ratio. A problem that commonly results in "chalky whites."

clip art Professionally made drawings, generally available on CDs, that can be used in newsletters and various media.

clip bin  Editing screen display in a window that shows video clips that have been digitized and ready of use.

cliplink  Sony DVCAM approach for marking in/out points of raw footage while it's in the camera. Resulting thumbnail images and time code numbers can then be downloaded to the non-linear editor as a guide in digitizing only the selected shots.

clip-on mike A small personal microphone that can be attached to clothing.

clipper gain knob A knob on a video effects unit used to set the threshold level for color or luminance keying.

clipping Cutting of the peaks of a signal. In video this generally affects the while level.

clock speed The speed in MHz at which the computer's central processing unit operates.

clone A computer that simulates the functions of a more expensive model. Typically refers to a computer which uses the IBM standard.

closed captioned Printed words and dialogue intended for hearing-impaired viewers broadcast along with a TV signal. The term "closed" means that a special electronic device must be used to decode and display the information.

closed circuit Non-broadcast programming. Television that goes to an audience by a direct, point-to-point distribution system.

closed set A television studio that is closed to all but specific crew and talent involved in the scene.

close-up lens attachment A lens element that fits over camera lens, allowing it to focus closer than normal.

co-channel interference Interference caused by two or more stations using the same channel (frequency).

coated lens Lenses and lens elements having a magnesium-fluoride coating designed to reduce light reflections.

coaxial cable / coax An electrical cable designed to carry video signals. It has a central wire core surrounded by an insulator and a braided wire shield.

codec coder-decoder.  An electronic circuit for compressing and decompressing video, generally for transmission by telephone lines.

coherence A descriptive dimension of light that characterizes its hardness or softness. The harder a light source is, the more coherence it is said to have. Professional photographers refer to coherence as light quality.

color balance To adjust the chroma channels in a video camera so that whites in a scene will be reproduced as true white.

color bars A series of colored bars of established properties used as an electronic standard for adjusting brightness, contrast, color intensity, and color balance.

color bar generator  Device that create color bar test signal.

color burst The color timing information contained in the TV signal. A 3.58 MHz subcarrier frequency timed to a quarter millionth of a second is used to synchronize color information to the luminance signal.

color compatibility The ability of different color subject matter to translate into a black and white picture and maintain adequate tonal contrast and separation.

color conversion filter A camera filter used to convert light from indoor to outdoor color temperature.

color correction Adjustments that alter and correct the tonal and color qualities of video.

color LCD A flat, liquid-quartz-type display which can reproduce a full color image.

color media See gel.

color phase As shown on a vectorscope, the electronic phase difference in degrees between the color standard and specific colors reproduced by video equipment.

color resolution The degree to which the combined color channels in a system can reproduce fine details.

color standard A color criterion or reference used to setup color video equipment.

color temperature The dominant color of a light source measured in degrees Kelvin.

color temperature meter A measuring device that indicates color temperature in degrees Kelvin.

color under Heterodyne-type color process used in most videocassette recorders. To facilitate recording (with some loss of quality) the basic 3.58MHz color frequency is converted to a lower frequency.

color-subcarrier A sub-channel of a broadcast signal designed to add color information to a basic black-and-white video signal.

colored filter A glass or plastic material placed either in back or in front of a camera lens to subtract certain colors of light. Used to alter the colors in a scene.

colorimetry Characteristics of color reproduction. In TV, the range of colors that a system can reproduce.

colorization Adding or modifying the color in a video image.

colorizer An electronic circuit that generates color which is added to or made to modify an image.

colorizing control A knob which can move through the entire range of colors. Used to select colors for electronic effects.

comet tail A smear or black trailing image in video cameras used under certain conditions. Caused by subject matter in motion.

commercial appropriation A legal aspect of invasion of privacy relating to the unauthorized used of the name or likeness of a well-known individual for the personal or economic gain of a third party.

CATV / Community Antenna Television The use of a master antenna to pick up on-air stations for distribution to homes via coaxial or fiber optic cable. Although originally used to solve reception problems in fringe TV areas, now CATV systems include their own free and pay programming.

companding Compression-expanding technique used by audio devices such as wireless microphones to increase dynamic range.

C-mount  One type of standardized screw-in mount for TV camera lenses.

compatibility The ability of the elements in a color television picture to be reproduced on a black and white receiver with adequate tonal contrast and subject matter separation.

compilation editing Commonly used editing style in documentaries. Continuity can jump around and not adhere to any logical or time-based sequence. In compilation editing continuity is usually provided by narration.

complementary colors Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

complexity editing Assembling shots with a primary regard to building story or dramatic effect rather than following a logical or temporal sequence.

component recording Videotape recording in which the color information is recorded separately from the luminance and synchronization information.

component Refers to the use of independent, individually controlled audio or video elements in a single television or audio system. A TV system having a separate monitor, tuner, and audio system would be an example.

component signals In contrast to a composite signal, non-encoded video signals. Typically, refers to separate luminance and chromanance signals.

component television Home television systems that consist of a separate video monitor, tuner, audio amplifier and speakers.

composite master Final, end product of an editing session including all program elements and special effects.

composite signal A video signal that contains all of the necessary synchronizing pulses. A video signal in which the luminance and chrominance information have been combined using a standard such as NTSC, PAL or SECAM. The composite video format is also used for consumer video recording systems.

compositing The process of combining multiple layers of special digital video effects to achieve complex special effects.

composition The controlled ordering of elements in a scene designed to provide the strongest artistic arrangement and the most effective communication of a central idea. See also dynamic composition and static composition.

compression The reduction of the amplitude of a video or audio signal to keep it within specific limits.

computer assisted instruction / CAI  Interactive lessons presented by computer.

computer graphics The creation of still and animated video through the use of computer-type equipment.

computer network Two or more computers linked together with the ability to interact and exchange data.

computer platform A basic desktop computer. Many editing and special effects hardware and software products use a computer as the basis of their systems.

condenser microphone A microphone that detects sound by amplifying changes in electrical capacitance between two, closely-spaced plates.

confidence heads VCR audio and video playback heads that immediately play back signals after they are recorded. In this way signals can be monitored for quality as recordings are being made.

conflict A basic psychological ingredient in news and dramatic productions which has the power to capture and hold audience attention.

consortium A partnership of a number of TV stations or productions facilities that exchange programming or services. They are generally linked by satellites.

consumer equipment Relatively inexpensive audio and video equipment intended for "home" or non-professional use.

contact A person who knows about an event and its location and can assist the production team during a telecast.

contingency fund A percentage added to the cost of a production budget to take care of delays and production problems.

continuous white balance Automatic camera white balance mode that makes moment-by-moment adjustments in response to changing light conditions.

continuity cutting An editing approach based on either a temporal or logical sequence that centers on maintaining a smooth flow of events.

continuity The process of monitoring and insuring consistency in production details from shot to shot. Production details include consistency in prop positions, lighting, clothes and make-up.

contouring One of the initial steps in the application of make-up designed to emphasize or deemphasize certain facial features and dimensions.

contrast range / contrast ratio The maximum range of brightness from white to black in a scene.

contrast Ratio of light and dark on a scene.

control room A room associated with a production studio in which a director, technical director, audio engineer and others work to coordinate and control various sources of audio and video during a production.

control track The portion of a videotape signal consisting of timing pulses associated with video fields and frames. Used in editing and maintaining playback synchronization.

control track editing Equipment that uses an electronic count of control tack pulses rather than SMPTE/EBU time code numbers for its cuing and editing functions.

convergence The adjustment of the three electronic guns in a TV receiver so that the colors will reproduce accurately, without blur or fringing.

conversion filter A lens attachment designed to convert the color temperature of outdoor light to indoor color temperature or vise-versa.

converter standards converter An electronic device that changes one international broadcast television standard to another.

convertible camera A video camera that can be quickly switched between use in the studio and in the field.

cookie A small metal pattern placed in front of or inside a focusing light to project a patterned shadow on a background.

cool A television picture that has a slightly blue or green cast.

cooperatives Groups of broadcast stations and production facilities that exchange programming typically news segments.

copy protection device A system designed to foil attempts to make illegal copies of copyrighted audio or video recordings.

copy stand Device for holding flat artwork and a camera. Used for photographing artwork under controlled conditions.

coring out The process of removing video noise by converting the analog signal into a digital signal and then back again.

corner insert A square or rectangular key insert into a segment of a background picture. Generally used in news to show graphics behind a newscaster.

corrective make-up Make-up intended to significantly change appearance generally to hide certain original facial features.

cost per viewer Production costs divided by the number of viewers. cost per measured results Comparing the costs of a production with the intended results. In commercial television this could consist of comparing increased sales revenue with the costs of doing a commercial.

cost per minute Production costs divided by total production time. costing out The process of figuring out the costs of a production. count down Visual cues to talent, usually from ten seconds, to start or to the end of a production or segment.

countdown leader Similar to Academy Leader in film, a visual, (and sometime aural) second-by-second countdown from 10 to 3 seconds. Used cue the beginning of segments for playback.

cover shot An establishing wide-angle or long shot of a set used both to establish the relationships between subject matter in a scene and to momentarily cover problems with lip sync or mismatched action.

coverage In single-camera, film-style production the videotaping dialogue and action in a dramatic scene from the perspectives of the essential camera positions

CPM (cost per thousand) Dividing the cost of a production by the number of people (in thousands) who see it.

CPU (central processing unit) The heart of a computer that processes information according to the instructions received from software.

crab dolly / crab A camera mount with steering controls that can move the camera in any direction.

crabbing Moving a camera sideways or in arc on a crab dolly. Also referred to as trucking.

cradle head A heavy, cradle-shaped camera pan head consisting of two half-circle elements.

crane camera crane A camera mount capable of booming to a high vantage point.

crash edit An assemble edit made by manually switching the VTR into record. The resulting edit may not be frame-locked and may leave a slight glitch or distortion at the edit point.

crawl The movement of credits or other graphic material across the screen.

creative compromise Including and excluding elements in a production based primarily on budget concerns. An example would be eliminating a top star in favor of enhanced special effects or an exotic production location.

credits A on-screen listing of all key people involved a production.

cross back lights Using two back lights a few feet apart in such a way that when viewed from the camera position the light very slightly wraps around the sides of the subject.

cross-cut To cut back and forth from one scene to another, often to follow action happening at the same time in two different places.

cross fade The process of bringing down one audio or video source while simultaneously bringing up another.

cross light The use of two keys on opposite sides of a subject often at a 180-degree spacing.

crossing the line A 180-degree or more shift in camera position resulting in a reversal of on-screen action or audience perspective. "The line" is also referred to as the imaginary line and the action axis.

cross platform The ability for software to work on two or more computer systems, such as PC and Macintosh.

crosstalk The inadvertent induction of a second, interfering signal into a primary signal.

CRT (cathode ray tube) A TV-like monitor screen.

CU A close-up shot.

cube flip / cube spin A special effect in which pictures appear to be glued to the sides of a cube.

cucalorus (kookie) A pattern used in a focusing spotlight to create a pattern or silhouette on a background.

cue A signal to start a production event. Also, to find a desired spot on a audio or video tape.

cue cards Large white cards used by on-camera talent to help them remember dialogue. Black markers are normally used to write material in large letters.

cue channel See audition channel.

cue track A videotape audio track that can be used in several ways: to record SMPTE/EBU time code, to record the PL line conversation or in-house identification or cues, or for a second audio track.

cursor A marker such as a line or rectangle that indicates specific positions on a computer screen.

cut-in shot The use of a close-up shot of something within a scene in order to show added detail.

cut The instantaneous changing from one shot to another. The term also refers to the removal of scenes in a script or production.

cutaway The use of a shot that is not part of the primary action but which is relevant to it and occurring at the same time. In an interview a cutaway is commonly used to show the interviewer's reaction to what is being said.

cutting in the camera Shooting scenes in the desired sequence so that little or no editing is required. Often used in covering news stories where there will not be enough time for editing.

cutting on the action Changing shots at the moment some action is taking place.

cutting on the beat Editing shots in time with music. Generally cuts begin at the start of a measure of music or on any beat within a measure.

cyan Blue-green. A secondary color in the television additive process a primary color in the subtractive printing process.

cyc / cyclorama A large, curved, seamless, background generally white or light gray.


TVP Home Page

© 1996-2004, R. Whittaker
All Rights Reserved