Glossary of Film and Electronic Media Terms
PA Production Assistant
PA system Public address (loudspeaker) system. Often used as part of a studio talkback system.
package news package A completed news segment containing all needed audio and video components, ready for insertion (rolling into) a news production.
packing the tape Completely fast-forwarding a videotape to the end and then rewinding it. It is recommended that this is done to equalize tension, dislodge loose tape oxide and reduce recording problems before videotapes are used for the first time.
paint pots Controls that adjust video color.
paint program A computer program designed create and modify graphics.
PAL (phase alternate line) The TV color standard used in most of western Europe and other parts of the world, including Australia, India, China, Argentina, Brazil and most of Africa.
palette The total number of colors a computer graphic system is capable of creating.
pan The movement of the camera horizontally from the pan head.
pan handle The handle attached to the pan head of a camera that enables the cameraperson to pan or tilt the camera.
pan head Device connecting the camera to the camera mount which allows the camera head to be tilted vertically and to be panned horizontally.
pan pot An attenuator-based device which can "place" a sound to varying degrees in a left or right stereo channel by raising or lowering the volume of the sound.
pan stick A grease-based foundation makeup commonly used to cover a beard or skin blemishes.
pan-and-scan A type of aspect ratio conversion where the smaller area of a new display is electronically moved left and right across the original source's wider area aspect ratio in order to follow action occurring at the sides of the original picture.
Panaglide A brand-name for a body camera mount which uses a system of counterbalanced springs to keep a camera reasonably steady, even when the camera operator is walking or running.
pancake A type makeup base. Pancake makeup is usually water based and applied with a sponge.
panning Moving the camera left or right on the pan head.
pantograph Expandable device for hanging lighting instruments and TV monitors from a studio lighting grid.
paper and pencil editing Logging time codes by hand on an editing log as opposed to entering the decisions directly in a videotape editing system.
parabolic microphone A highly directional microphone assembly that uses a reflector in the shape of a parabola to focus sound into a microphone.
parallel action See intercutting.
parallel cutting The alternate intercutting of two related stories so that each is regularly updated and both reach a conclusion at about the same time. The stories are generally related in some way.
parallel port Typically, a computer interface (connection) that sends and receives information eight bits at a time. PCs have parallel and serial ports.
parallel stories See parallel cutting.
parity A simple form of data error detection based on adding an extra bit to each digital word. This extra bit is derived by a counting of the zeros or ones in a word. Data losses during transmission can thereby be detected.
patch cord The cord on a patch panel used to complete a connection between various audio or video sources and desired pieces of equipment. See patch panel.
patch panel Patch bay. Traditionally, a master controlling device in which patch cords were used to route various audio and video sources to appropriate pieces of production equipment. Today, patch panels rely on solid-state or computer-based switching.
patch Using cables or electronic circuits to interconnect video and audio equipment.
path The trail along which a computer-graphics object travels.
pattern projector An ellipsoidal-type spotlight which includes a cookie (cucalorus) insert. Used to create a wide variety of designs on a background.
PC / personal computer Normally refers to a computer using the IBM operating standard.
PCI bus Peripheral Component Interchange bus which can send data between computer components at high speed.
PCM Pulse code modulation. Method of recording high quality, digital sound on 8mm and Hi8 tapes.
ped down To lower the height of a camera through the action of the camera pedestal.
ped up To use the camera pedestal to raise the camera vertically.
pedestal 1) An adjustable camera dolly or support with wheels. Pedding the camera up or down refers to raising or lowing the camera on the pedestal. 2) The black level of a television picture as shown on a waveform monitor.
pels Picture elements. The smallest dots that can be transmitted for any given bandwidth and scanning system.
perambulator boom Large mic boom extending 30 or so feet, normally mounted on a dolly, that permits rapid and quiet relocation of a mic anywhere on a set.
performance continuity See continuity.
performer On-camera talent. A person who appears on camera in non-dramatic productions.
performing rights license General permission, normally by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated), to play copyrighted music. Such licenses only cover general music-centered programming and not commercials, public service announcements and productions.
periaktos A triangular piece of scenery.
peripherals Accessories and auxiliary computer attachments that expand a computer's capabilities.
persistence of vision Tendency of human vision to retain images for a fraction of a second. Discrete images presented at a rate of about 16 or more per second--even when change takes place between them--blend together, creating the illusion of motion in TV and film.
personal mic A small, individual microphone, generally attached to clothing with a clip.
perspective Visual phenomena in which parallel lines appear to coverage as camera-to-subject distance increases.
phantom power supply Power which comes from a mixer that is used to operate a condenser mic.
phase Timing relationship between two signals.
phase cancellation Interference resulting in reduced audio levels caused by a sound source being picked by two microphones.
phase distortion Changes in desired picture color caused by shifts in chroma phase.
phi phenomenon A physiological effect that, along with persistence of vision, creates the illusion of motion when consecutive images are presented in a rapid sequence.
phosphor aging Reduction in the amount of light emitted by phosphors due to deterioration with use.
phosphor Material that glows within a CRT when struck by the electron beam Phosphor composition determines the maximum range of colors that can be displayed on a screen.
photoemission The process of converting light--generally as focused on a camera target--into electrical energy.
photoflood lamp A lamp that resembles a normal light bulb except that it produces a much higher light output. Photoflood lamps normally last only about six hours.
pickup pattern Polar pattern. Area of sound sensitivity surrounding a microphone.
pickup shots Scenes that are shot after the main taping that will later be edited into the production.
pie chart A graphic interpretation of data where categories resemble pieces of a whole pie.
pilot signal A signal from a satellite transponder used by ground stations to align up-link dishes.
pinning Narrowing down and concentrating a light beam from an adjustable spotlight.
pirate To illegally copy or broadcast a copyrighted production without permission.
pitch The highness or lowness (frequency) of a sound.
pixel Acronym for picture element. The smallest part of a picture element that a computer can address or recognize.
pixillation A technique consisting of jerky, speeded-up animation resulting in an exaggerated "silent movie" effect. To achieve this effect, video frames are omitted at regular intervals throughout the sequence.
PL / private line / phone line, production line Wired or wireless headset intercommunication link between production personnel.
playback head The device on a audio or video tape machine responsible for detecting prerecorded material.
plug and play Ability of computer operating system to automatically detect and adapt to a new component.
plot The basic story line of a dramatic production.
polar pattern Pickup pattern. The range of sensitivity surrounding a microphone as plotted in a two- or three-dimensional drawing.
polarity reversal In video, the reversal of the gray scale tones (white becomes black, etc.) or colors (colors turn into their complements). In audio, a reversal of wires resulting in a positive charge becoming negative and the negative becoming positive.
polarity The positive or negative characteristics of an image or electrical signal.
polarizing filter A filter (often adjustable) that reduces or eliminates reflections from glass, water and shiny surfaces. Also used to dramatically intensify contrast between the sky and clouds.
pole cat A pole with spring-loaded, telescoping sections placed between the floor and grid pipes and used to attach scenery and set pieces.
pool-hall lighting Lighting from a single source, usually hanging in the middle of the set and visible in the scene.
pop filter A screen placed over a microphone that reduces the effect of speech plosives and wind.
ports Openings in a microphone case designed to achieve a specific pickup pattern and frequency response. Also, connections on a computer used for plugging in accessories.
positioner A video effects control which can move an inserted key source to any position in background video.
possible future impact A measures of newsworthiness relating to the possible consequences to an audience of events outlined in a story.
post Short for postproduction.
postproduction switcher A video switcher which is capable of interfacing with two or more videotape machines and designed to meet the specific needs of editing.
post-recording Any audio work done after the main taping has been completed.
postproduction Any production work done after all the main taping has been completed. The term typically refers to editing.
pot A potentiometer. A control which uses a variable resistance to altering the intensity of audio and video signals.
POV Point of view. A shot from an angle that approximates what a designated actor is seeing at a particular moment.
power zoom A lens with a servo motor that makes possible electrically controlled zooms.
PPM Peak program level meter. A meter that monitors audio levels and, unlike a normal VU meter, is able to accurately respond to rapid transient peaks (changes) in volume.
practical A prop that will actually be used in a scene, as opposed to those that are meant to be seen only. For example, a light that can be switched on or off by an actor.
premium channel Cable channel that is available only for an extra fee.
preroll The time needed between the start of a videotape and when it stabilizes.
preamp; preamplifier The initial electronic device used to increase the strength of signals from microphones and other audio equipment.
preproduction The planning stage of a production.
presence The subjective feeling of special "closeness" a listener has to a performer, typically as achieved through a specific balance of frequencies within a reproduced audio signal.
preset monitor / PST Preview monitor. A video display allowing sources to be previewing and adjusted before use.
pressure zone microphone PZM Microphone mounted on a reflecting surface. Sound waves build up a pressure zone within the mic housing before being transferred to the microphone. Often used for group discussions around a table.
preview bus A switcher bus, generally connected to a preview monitor, used for setting up and checking video sources before use.
preview monitor A video monitor that can be used to check any camera or video effect before use.
prime lens A fixed-focal-length lens.
principal photography Scenes that include the major actors.
print-through The undesirable transfer of an audio or video signal from one layer of tape to another on a tape reel.
prism block See beam splitter.
prism lens A special-effects device that attaches to the front of the camera lens and breaks up the primary image into multiple images.
privacy An individual's--especially a private citizen's--legal right to be left alone and not badgered by newspeople. Privacy includes intrusion on seclusion, the public disclosure of private facts, false light and commercial appropriation.
private television Institutional television. Non-commercial television that includes corporate, educational, medical and religious television production.
privilege; privileged A legal term relating to a degree of freedom that certain types of communication have from libel or slander actions. Certain political and legislative communication can be broadcast without being actionable under slander or libel.
proc amp Processing Amplifier. Electronic device designed to correct levels of a video signal, and to replace or reshape sync pulses with new pulses.
producer The creator and organizer of television shows, usually in charge of financial matters.
production assistant An assistant to a producer or director can be assigned responsibilities for a wide variety of production details, including script changes, personnel issues, talent coordination, logistical arrangements, etc.
production breakdown The division of the script into individual scenes and shots so that an efficient shooting schedule can be planned.
production manager The individual under the producer and director who supervises and coordinates all of the business and technical aspects of production.
production schedule A written agenda showing time periods of various activities during a production day.
production switcher As opposed to a editing switcher or a master control switcher, a switcher designed to work in conjunction with productions originating form a control room or remote van. professional video equipment A term which covers industrial and broadcast-quality equipment.
program Computer software. A sequence of instructions given to the computer to perform specific functions or tasks.
program audio Final audio mix intended for recording, broadcast or distribution.
program bus The master bus on a video switcher which determines the output signal of the switcher.
program proposal A written outline or summary of a proposed production. In dramatic productions they are usually referred to as treatments. (See module on Production Outlines and Treatments for a complete discussion.)
progressive scanning Sequential scanning, or non-interlaced video scanning. A television scanning system in which each scanning line follows its predecessor in a progressive fashion, rather than skipping intermediate lines to be filled in by the next field.
projection television An optical and electronic system for creating a large-screen video display.
prominence A measures of newsworthiness relating to how important or well known the people, places or things in the story are to an audience.
prompter TelePrompTer. An electrical device for displaying a script that can be read by talent during a production.
prop Property. Something that is handled or used within a set by talent during a production.
prosumer video equipment A combination term denoting equipment which lies between professional and consumer-quality video equipment.
protection A backup copy of a recording made in case the primary recording has problems.
proximity effect The exaggeration of low-frequency response associated with most microphones when they are used at very close distances. Some microphones have built-in adjustments that can compensate for proximity effect.
PSA / public service announcement A non-commercial announcement broadcast by a television station.
pseudo 3-D system An a computer-based electronic graphics system capable of being used to do drawings which, rather than appearing flat, seem to have three dimensions.
public access programming Cable channels or CATV programs designed to serve the interests of the community.
public domain / PD A creative work that can be used without charge because it is not copyrighted or because the copyright has expired.
public property Property, generally owned by a government, which does not have the legal access limitations inherent in private property. Property which can be freely used by news reporters and photographers.
pull focus Shifting focus from one part of a scene to another to redirect viewer attention.
pulse count system Control track editing. A system of editing in which the machine counts the control track pulses on a videotape to establish edit points and pre-roll times. Accuracy problems result with very slow or very fast shuttle speeds.
pure metal tape A recording tape capable of a high signal-to-noise ratio, high-frequency response and excellent record-playback efficiency.
push-off wipe An electronic video effect in which one image replaces another by appearing to push it off the screen.
pylon Triangular set piece resembling a pillar.
pyrotechnics Special effects involving explosions.
© 1996-2004, R. Whittaker