Film / Editing Terms


The way certain terms are used varies from one place to another, particularly with regard to the "aesthetic" terms (i.e., one man's close-up may be another's medium close-up). Be sure that you are comparing "apples to apples" in your specific situation.
Academy leader - a leader placed at the head of release prints containing information for the projectionist and featuring numbers which are black on a clear background, counting from 11 to 3 at 16 frame intervals (see SMPTE leader).

Big Close-up - (abbr. BCU) a shot taken very close to the subject (closer than would be necessary for a close-up), revealing extreme detail. (i.e., part of the human face)

Bridging shot - a shot (cut) used to cover a break in time, or other break in continuity.

Clapper - the sticks that are slapped together in view of the camera for the purpose of synchronizing film sound. These are usually, but not always, attached to the slate and appear at the head or tail of a sync sound take.

Close-up - (abbr. CU) a shot taken very close to the subject ( or with the subject of the shot very large in the frame), revealing a detail only. (i.e., the human face, or hands).

Coding - once the workprint and sound stock (mag) have been placed in sync, the rolls are coded with matching yellow edge numbers so they can be matched up later once they have been cut up into pieces.

Conforming - the cutting of the OCN to match the final cut of a film.

Contact print - a print made in a contact printer where the original element and duplicate element actually are pressed together at the point of expose (no lens involved). Workprints and "dirty dupes" are made this way.

Continuity of motion - the flow of action from one shot to the next as it is placed on the screen at the cut point. Placing the significant action at the end of a shot in the same area of the screen where the significant action will begin in the next shot.

Cross-cut - the intercutting of shots from two or more scenes so the fragments of each scene will be presented to the viewers attention alternately. - see parallel action

Cut - in editing, a single unbroken strip of film

Dissolve - a gradual merging of the end of one shot and beginning of another produced by the superimposition of a fade-out onto a fade-in of equal length.

Dolly shot - a shot taken while the camera is in motion on a dolly.

Dupe negative - a negative element printed from a positive print (an inter-positive). Release prints are printed from a dupe negative.

Establishing shot - a shot used near the beginning of a scene to establish the inter-relationship of details to be shown subsequently in closer shots.

Fade-in - 1.(n.) a shot which begins in total darkness and gradually lightens to full brightness. 2. (v.) To gradually bring sound from inaudibility to required volume.

Fade-out - the opposite of a fade-in.

Inter-positive print (IP) - a fine grain print made from the conformed original negative which retains the orange cast of the OCN. The IP is used to produce subsequent dupe negatives.

Jump cut - A cut which breaks the continuity of time by jumping forward from one part of an action to another.

KeyKode - an extension of the latent edge numbers whereby each frame is given a number. These numbers are recorded as a barcode on the negative and can be read by a special reader in the lab or transfer house.

Lab roll - rolls of OCN compiled by the lab for printing which may consist of several camera rolls.

Latent edge numbers - numbers that are printed onto the edge of the negative by the manufacturer. These numbers print through onto the workprint and are used by the negative matchers (conformers) to match the OCN to the final cut of the picture.

Legal effects - the lengths for fades and dissolves which can be executed by most printers (16, 24, 32, 48, 64 and 96 frames).

Library shot - a shot used in a film, but not originally taken for that film.

Long shot (abbr. LS) - a shot taken from a considerable distance. Often the LS serves as an establishing shot. (i.e., a human figure taken so it is shorter than the height of the screen)

Low-Con print - a print that is made on a print stock which has been flashed evenly white light prior to the image being exposed on it. This yields a lower contrast print (brings up the black levels) which in turn yields a more attractive video transfer.

Mag stock - magnetic sound recording stock which has edge perforations that match those perfs. on the picture stock, thereby allowing it to be pulled along with the picture at the same speed and relative position.

Master shot - a shot which covers an entire piece of dramatic action (usually a long shot, or wide shot).

Medium close-up (abbr. MCU) - a shot between a MS and a CU. (i.e., a human figure taken from the chest up)

Medium shot (abbr. MS) - a shot between a LS and a MCU (i.e.,. a human figure taken from the waist up)

Married print - a positive print which carries both picture and sound on it. (sometimes called a composite print).

Mute print - a positive print which carries the picture only (silent print).

Montage - 1) the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated shots or scenes which, when combined, achieve meaning (as in, shot A and shot B together give rise to an third idea, which is then supported by shot C, and so on), or 2) a series of related shots which lead the viewer to a desired conclusion (as in, shot A leads to shot B leads to shot C... leads to shot X; shot X being the outcome of the sequence).

Optical - any device carried out by the optical department of a lab using an optical printer. (i.e.,. dissolves, wipes, double exposure effects).

Optical printer - used in printing the image from one piece of film onto another by means of a lens.

Original camera negative (OCN) - the negative film originally passed through the camera.

Pan - to rotate the camera about on its vertical axis.

Parallel action - a device of narrative construction in which the development of two pieces of action are presented simultaneously.

Pitch (film stock) - the spacing between perforations.

Relational editing - editing of shots to suggest association of ideas between them.

Rough cut - first assembly of a film which the editor prepares from selected takes, in script order, leaving the finer points of timing and editing to a later stage.

Rushes - prints made immediately after a day's shooting so they can be viewed the following day. (a.k.a. dailies)

Scene - action that occurs in one location at one time.

Sequence - a series of shots or scenes which has a beginning, middle and end (like a chapter in a book).

Slate - a board upon which key information about a shot is displayed (i.e.,. scene and take numbers, title of the show, whether it is day or night, sync or MOS...). This board is held in view of the camera either at the head or tail of a shot to identify it to the lab and to the editor. If it appears at the tail of a shot, it will be held upside-down.

Shot - a recording of a single take.

SMPTE leader - a leader placed at the head of release prints containing information for the projectionist and featuring numbers which are black on a medium density background. These numbers count down from 8 to 2 at 24 frame intervals ending at the first frame of the "2" followed by 47 frames of black.

Sync pop - a single frame tone placed on the sound track so as to correspond with the "2" frame on the SMPTE leader.

Synchronize (sync) - to place sound and picture in their proper relationship.

Take - a recording of a single shot.

Tilt - to turn or rotate the camera up or down in shooting.

Timing - the process of adjusting the color balance for the printing of each scene once the negative has been conformed. (also called grading)


Link to Avid Technology, Inc. for more technical info regarding Avid products.
Link to Filmmaker's Home Page/ Editing.
Link to Zerocut main page.
e-mail Alan Stewart.