Glossary of Film and Electronic Media Terms

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D-1, D"-2", D-3 and D-5 formats Various videotape systems that record signals in terms of digital information, each providing a number of advantages over analog videotape systems.

DNG Digital newsgathering. Use of digital equipment for ENG (electronic newsgathering).

DTV Digital television. Any one of more than a dozen standards for broadcasting advanced television systems (ATSC). These include HDTV and the ability to transmit multiple channels of data.

data compression A technique for increasing a storage system's ability to hold information. By applying mathematical algorithms to shrink the space needed for computer data, the data can be stored in a fraction of the original space, or transmitted within a fraction of the amount of time required by non-compressed data.

dB meter A device that measures sound levels in decibels.

dB/SPL A unit of sound intensity based on sound pressure differences in air.

dBm An electrical unit of audio level used with standard VU meters which is based on a milliwatt reference level.

DBS (direct broadcast satellite) Transmission of signals directly from satellites to homes.

DC (direct current) Electrical current that maintains a steady voltage and electrical polarity.

DCC (digital compact cassette) An audio recording system which records a digitized audio signal on an audio cassette using non-rotating heads.

decibel A unit of measurement for the loudness of sounds. Equal to about the smallest difference of loudness normally detectable to the human ear.

decibels dB Unit of sound amplitude or loudness. One decibel is 1/10 of a bell. The designation dBm is used as an electrical measure of sound amplitude when a power of one milliwatt is the reference level.

decoding The process of recovering the original information in a previously coded signal.

dedicated equipment Electronic equipment designed for a specific purpose, as opposed to computer-based equipment which represents one of many possible computer applications.

defamation A legal term relating to the utterance of slanderous words, especially false and malicious words, that injure a person's reputation.

defamation, per se A legal term relating to the utterance of slanderous words, especially false and malicious words, that injure a person's reputation. As opposed to defamation per quod, statements which are deemed slanderous or libelous "on their face" i.e., without the need for information.

defamation per quod As opposed to defamation per se, statements which are deemed slanderous or libelous only when supplemental (generally, widely-known information) is considered along with the statement in question.

definition The clarity and sharpness of an image. Amount of detail in the reproduction of a television picture.

defocus transition A cross fade between scenes which includes going out of focus on one scene and come into focus on another.

degauss To completely erase an audio or videotape. Bulk erase.

delegation control Switcher control which can assign different functions to the buses.

demographics Audience characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, income, etc.

depth of focus The range of distance between the back of the camera lens and the focal plane within which a lens image will remain acceptably sharp.

depth of field The range of distance in sharp focus along the lens axis.

depth staging Arrangement of objects on a set so that foreground, middleground, and background are each clearly defined on a TV screen.

descrambler  An electronic circuit that decodes encoded TV signals.

desktop video DTV Video editing and postproduction using desktop computers generally involving low-cost video equipment.

dew light A warning light that protects a VCR by indicating moisture or condensation present inside the unit.

DGA (Directors' Guild of America) A union for directors and stage managers.

diaphragm A lens aperture or iris made of overlapping metal leaves that controls the amount of light passing through the lens.

diascope A type of internal test pattern built into a zoom lens which can be flipped into position to register and align pickup tubes.

dichroic filter An optical device which passes or reflects only certain wavelengths of light. Normally used in three-CCD color cameras to separate red, green and blue.

dichroic mirror A mirror/filter that reflects only certain wavelengths or colors and allows others to pass. A combination mirror and filter positioned behind a color TV camera lens which separates the three primary colors in a picture and directs them into three CCDs.

diffused light Soft light. Light which casts an indistinct, soft shadow.

diffuser An attachment that fits over the front of a light and softens its quality.

diffusion filter Filter that decreases image sharpness. Used for smoothing out skin blemishes and for dreamlike effects. Filter consists of polished glass with one side smooth and the other slightly rippled which causes light passing through it to be deflected slightly to decrease image sharpness.

digital audio tape / DAT A digital audio recording format. The professional digital audio format utilizes a tape cartridge containing 3.81 mm wide metal particle tape.

digital In contrast to the analog process, the encoding of electronic information in the form of discrete "on" or "off" pulses.

digital-S JVC's digital video compression and recording system which uses SVHS tape.

digital recording Method of recording that makes use of a sequence of pulses or on-off signals rather than a continuously variable or analog signal.

digital video Video information translated into in a sequence of discrete binary numbers.

digital zoom  In contrast to an optical zoom, an electronic method of enlarging a picture creating a zoom effect, generally with a resulting loss of sharpness and detail.

digitize To convert an audio or video signal from its analog form into a digital form.

digitizer An electronic device that converts a video image into a digitized computer graphic.

dimensional mergers A composition problem often caused by lighting or tonal contrast problems where objects at different distances in a scene merge together and cannot be adequately distinguished.

dimmer An adjustable electrical circuit that lowers the voltage on a light, thereby reducing its intensity and color temperature.

dipole  An antenna design with two elements.

diopter  A close-up lens attachment's strength.  Generally expressed in the following strengths: +1, +2, +3.

direct broadcast satellite / DBS  Satellite system that can broadcast TV signals directly to homes.  Most systems are digital and carry scores of TV and music channels.

directional microphone A microphone that is sensitive along a particular (generally narrow) angle of acceptance. Commonly used to attenuate unwanted off-axis sound.

director Person in charge of coordinating production elements before and during a production. Typically, the director "calls the shots" during a production.

dish antenna  A bowl-shaped antenna reflector that concentrates focuses signals toward a receiving element.  Typically used to receive satellite signals.

discharge-type lamp Any one of several types of lights which does not rely on a tungsten-type filament for illumination. Typically, a lamp which creates illumination through the interaction of a high voltage with gas.

discrepancy report A written account of any technical or operational problems or errors which affect broadcast programming.

disk drive A sealed computer storage device which utilizes a magnetic disk or, the actual mechanism that turns the disk to read and write digital information to the computer disk.

display size The actual screen area of a monitor. Generally, the diagonal distance across the screen.

dissolve / lap dissolve A cross-fade between two audio or video sources. As one source fades out the other simultaneously fades in. Often used to signify a change in time or place.

distortion An optical aberration commonly associated with an unnatural change in shape or character of an object.

distribution amplifier An audio or video device which accepts one signal and transmits multiple signals with the same characteristics. Commonly used to send one signal to multiple destinations.

dither A computer-aided process of adding dots to a picture to order to smooth the appearance of an image.

dithering Using a paint or image-processing program to blur the transition from one color to another in a computer picture.

diversity antennas A radio-frequency (RF) mic system using two or more receiving antennas in an attempt to eliminate or reduce multi-path interference.

dockable  camera-VCR feature whereby the two can work independently or can be joined into a single camcorder unit .

docudrama A dramatic production based on factual events or an actual situation.

documentary An informative, nonfictional depiction of occurrences.

documentary format A script format associated news and documentary work.

Dolby AC-3  Compressing approach to DTV and DVD five-channel audio.

Dolby system A noise-reduction method for audio which, in its most basic form, manipulates the recording and playback frequency responses. There are several Dolby approaches with different levels of sophistication.

dolly To move the camera on its mount in a straight line directly toward or away from a subject. A wheel-based camera mount.

dolly shot A shot made with a moving dolly.

DOS (disk operating system) Initially-loaded software program that makes it possible for the computer to accept commands.

dot pitch The distance between the phosphor dots in a color CRT. Directly related to resolution.

double A person who looks like the star and who substitutes for him or her, often during dangerous sequences.

double fog effect filter A combination filter which uses soft fog with a heavy low contrast filters. The results in clearer detail than the standard fog filter, while maintaining a dense fog appearance.

double headset Earphones which carry the PL (production line) audio in one ear and program audio in the another.

double re-entry A switcher which permits the output of one mix/effects bus to be reentered into another mix\effects bus for further video manipulation

double-recorded Making two recordings of a production in case one experiences a technical problem.

double system Instead of the sound and picture both being recorded on a single tape, (single system) they are recorded on separate audio and video machines. Generally used when the number of tracks available on a VCR is inadequate for recording needs.

downlink A satellite-to-ground receiver link.

download  Process of receiving data from a  large computer, digital camcorder, or VCR to a secondary machine such as a PC.

downstream keyer A device that allows titles to be keyed over a line-out signal.

dpi (dots per inch) The number of image-producing dots, to a linear inch. The unit is used to describe the resolution of computer printers.

drag Amount of friction in the camera head restricting panning and tilting movements.

drag-and-drop Method of clicking on an object on a computer screen with a mouse and moving it to a desired location.

dramatic format A script format associated with film and teleplays.

dramatic license Generally refers to embellishing a true story with elements designed to simplify its structure or increase its dramatic impact.

dress rehearsal A camera rehearsal. Final rehearsal with final facilities, sets and wardrobe. Often videotaped.

drop Backgrounds of scenery painted on canvas.

drop frame time-code A system which electronically skips frames at regular intervals to compensate for the timing difference which exists between black and white and color signals.

drop shadow Shadows, generally electronically produced, that are added around letters.

dropout A momentary loss of a picture signal during tape playback.dropout compensators An electronic device which can, on a limited basis, restore momentary loses of video information due to videotape dropouts.

driver  Software that provides an operating interface between computer devices.  For example, a driver is needed to make a particular video monitor work with a computer and computer operating system.

dry rehearsal Rehearsal without production facilities, generally done outside the studio, right after the camera blocking phase.

dry run A rehearsal of actors without equipment generally intended to establish blocking.

DTV  digital television.  Any one of several recently-adopted systems of high definition television, including HDTV.

dual-redundancy The use of two identical condenser microphones on a subject, one intended as a backup in case the primary mike goes out.

dub To duplicate an audio tape or videotape also, to re-record dialogue with lip synchronization after a production is finished. dubbing rights Legal rights--generally obtained after a copyright fees is paid--making it possible to use copyrighted works for production purposes.

dulling spray A wax-based aerosol spray used on shiny surfaces to reduce reflections.

duplication house  A company that duplicates videocassettes.

Dutch angle A canted shot. A shot in which the subject matter appears titled (normally running up or down hill) on the screen.

DV  digital video format that uses 1/4 inch tape cassettes.

DVE (digital video effects) A device for electronically creating video effects. Often a component of a video switcher.

DVC PRO Panasonic professional videocassette format based on DVC but using a wider track and faster tape speed for higher quality.

DVD / digital versatile disc (generally referred to as digital video disc) Disc system the size of an audio CD that can hold seven times the data, or a full-length feature film.

dynamic contrast control Camera circuit that increases contrast ratio beyond 30:1, allowing overly bright and very dark areas to be successfully reproduced.

dynamic composition Elements of composition related to the moving image and to the interrelationship between scenes.

dynamic editing Editing with primary regard to building an effect rather than presenting scenes in a logical, linear fashion.

dynamic limiter An audio circuit which restricts the dynamic range of audio.

dynamic microphone A rugged type of microphone with a diaphragm attached to a moving coil suspended in a magnetic field. It responds to changes in air pressure.

dynamic range The range between the weakest and loudest sounds which particular piece of equipment can effectively reproduce.

dynamic tracking VCR feature which allows the tape to be played at various speeds, including still frame, while maintaining a stable picture.


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