If you’re a beginner in videography, one of the first few challenges you’d face on your journey is getting familiar with the seemingly unending industry terminologies. Even if you’re a professional videographer, there are times you’d want to define specific terms but just can’t remember their definitions.
With a comprehensive glossary of video terminology and definitions, beginners can learn the craft faster, while intermediates and professionals can use it as a refresher whenever they need to recall definitions.
That said, from the most basic to the most complex terms, here’s our glossary of video terminologies that you should know.
After Effects is software used for creating motion graphics, making 2D and 3D animations, adding visual effects to videos, and so on.
Aperture refers to the size of the small opening within your camera’s lens. The aperture regulates the amount of light that reaches your camera’s image sensor.
The aspect ratio indicates the dimension of your video, measured by expressing a ratio of the width and the height. Common aspect ratios in videography are 4:3, 1.85:1, and 16:9 aspect ratios.
Bit rate (otherwise called data rate) is the amount of data (measured in kilobits per second kbps) used per second of a video. The value can either be constant or variable.
Bokeh describes the blur affecting out-of-focus subjects in the video. The effect helps to draw attention to specific areas of the video and provides aesthetic benefits. As seen in the photo below.
Boom microphones are long, directional microphones attached to boom poles to help capture audio content more clearly when recording videos. They as well be mounted directly on cameras to capture sounds from a long distance.
B-roll is supplementary video footage that provides supporting details for complementing the main narrative of the video content. A typical example is footage used to cut away from a news report to help tell the story.
A bounce refers to any material used to reflect or bounce light onto your subject. A bounce helps to control light and comes in handy when shooting under harsh sunlight, shadows, or artificial light.
Sliders help to move cameras (cumbersome ones) smoothly when filming. The slider provides extra stability and reduces the chances of shaky footage.
A close-up refers to a shot composition where the subject’s face almost completely fills the frame because it was shot at a very close distance.
A codec is a technique a computer uses to know the amount of change between the frames of a video.
Color correction is the digital manipulation or alteration of colors in post-production to make the video look as natural as possible.
Color temperature refers to the characteristic quality of the visible light in an image or a video frame. It is the level of coolness or warmness of light and is measured in Kelvin.
Compositing refers to the process of combining multiple images into one using post-production software.
Compression is the act of reducing the amount of data in a video file. The compression process often takes time, but once done, it enables the video to upload and download much faster, thus making it easier to share.
A crane is a device that has an arm with a camera at one end and a counterweight attached to the other. It’s used to capture moving shots at a height because the device allows the camera to go high and move in any direction.
The crop factor is a number showing the ratio of a sensor’s imaging area to that of a full-frame sensor. It typically ranges from 1.3 to 2.0.
A C-stand refers to a heavy-duty tripod used by the grip department for lighting and other rigging tasks, e.g., backdrops, reflectors, etc.
Cut-ins are specific parts of a film that offer a close-up or detailed view of an object, actor, or prop, to provide a greater visual perspective.
Depth of Field
Depth of field (DOF) is the part of your video frame that is in focus. You can direct the emphasis of your video to or away from your main subject by simply changing the depth of field.
Diegetic sound is the sound that is present or recorded during the filming of the video.
Diffusion simply refers to any material used on lights to reduce harshness and alter shadows.
This is a technique of giving an impression of zooming without actually changing the optical lens. It involves enlarging the center of a video frame and cropping out its edges.
Digital Light Projection
Digital Light Projection is a projector technology method of forming moving images by using a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) and a fast-spinning color filter.
A dolly is a piece of film equipment that runs on a track to enable cameras to move smoothly and avoid unstable or shaky footage.
Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR)
DSLR is a type of camera that uses an internal mirror to reflect the light coming through the camera lens onto the viewfinder. The mirror swings aside to enable light to reach the image sensor immediately after you press the shutter button.
DVI is a port (often white) that connects a video source to a VGA or display device, enabling you to view the video.
Dynamic range refers to the range within which a camera can successfully record the lightest and darkest areas of a video frame or image without losing detail.
Exporting is the process of assembling a completed video project into a single file that can be played, shared, downloaded, or uploaded.
Exposure describes the amount of time light is allowed to hit a camera’s sensor. The longer your exposure, the brighter your video frame will be.
Exposure latitude relies on dynamic range, and it’s the extent you can alter a captured image’s exposure.
The fade refers to the dissolve transition between a video image and a black screen. When you transition from an image to black, it’s called a fade out, and when you go the other way round, it’s called a fade in.
A fauxtograph occurs when you use a camera (that has recording abilities but isn’t particularly a video camera) and tells your subject you’re taking a photo while you’re secretly taking a video.
A 5×5 is a video composed of five consecutive 5-second clips which use original sound.
Fluorescent lights help create soft and even light for video recording. They emit light using mercury vapor and phosphor.
Focal length describes the distance from the camera lens to the image focus point. When the focal length is high, the camera gives a magnified view of objects, while the scenery facing the lens appears wide when the focal length is low.
Foley is the process of reproducing and creating everyday sounds for a film.
Follow focus is a tool that enables videographers to change the focus ring of their camera lens easily.
F-stop describes the size of a camera’s aperture opening. A low F-stop number indicates a big aperture which allows more light to reach the image sensor. On the other hand, a high F-stop number indicates a small aperture which allows less light to reach the image sensor. Common f-stops include: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22.
Frame rate is measured per second, and it refers to the speed at which a sensor captures video or the rate at which a shutter opens and closes. In simpler terms, it’s the at which still images are displayed per second in a video. The most common frame rates are 24, 25, and 29.97, 30 and 50, and 60.
A fresnel is a type of lens that’s placed in front of lamps (like tungsten sources) to focus the light emanating into a controllable beam.
Gaff tape (also called gaffers tape) is a non-damaging, highly durable tape mostly used by the gaffer and grip department on film sets.
Gels are colored plastics used to change the color tone of lights that pass through them.
High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI)
HDMI is a digital connector found in electronics and modern computers and is used to carry both HD video and the audio signal to the video player (such as a TV).
High Dynamic Range
High dynamic range is the process of increasing the contrast between highlights and low-lights in an image. It’s also the compositing of two images where one properly exposes the low-lights while the other correctly exposes the highlights, thus creating a balanced image brightness, detail, and color quality.
Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Lodide
HMI lights emit light from pressurized mercury vapor and metal halides, creating a daylight-like light when filming. HMI lights’ color temperature is around 5600K.
A hot shoe is a mounting point sitting at the top of some cameras, thus allowing you to attach a microphone, flash unit, or other accessories.
Image sensors are that part of a camera that converts an optical image or light into an electric signal. The camera interprets this electric signal to produce the image we view. Popular types of sensors include APS-C, micro four-thirds, and full-frame.
Importing is the process of transferring videos from a camera onto another device, e.g., a computer or a piece of video editing software.
ISO is a camera setting in digital cameras that controls the sensitivity of sensors to light, thus determining image or video frame light conditions. High ISO means the sensor is more sensitive to light, allowing you to shoot video in low-light conditions.
A J-cut is a type of cut where the audio content or the sound of the next scene precedes the picture.
Jump cut is a quick, abrupt transition during editing which breaks up the sequence of a clip and makes the subject appear to jump without continuity from one spot to the other.
Lavalier microphone is a small clip-on microphone that’s attached to the subject’s clothing without making it obvious that they’re carrying a microphone. It’s often used on TV newscasts or sitcoms.
Liquid Crystal Display
LCD (liquid crystal display) screens comprise a thin layer of special liquid crystals sandwiched between sheets of two transparent electrodes (polarized glass or plastic). Liquid crystals don’t emit light but use a backlight or reflector to illuminate the image.
An L-cut is a type of cut where the video frame changes, but the audio continues.
Looping refers to a continuous soundtrack that repeatedly runs in playback to serve as a guide for post-production.
Lithium ion batteries are the type of battery used in high-end cameras and film equipment.
Macro is a camera lens that uses a long barrel to produce close-focus shots, especially when shooting small objects.
A matte box is a box situated on the front of a camera lens primarily for blocking and absorbing light, thus controlling the light entering the camera.
A memory bank is a video documenting specific time periods or events in a person’s life.
A memory card device stores digital information of images and videos in a camera. The two main types are Secure Digital (SD) and Compact Flash (CF).
A monopod works like a tripod but comes with only one ‘leg.’ It provides support but also mobility during filming and can be a substitute for a tripod in situations where the latter would be challenging to use
Neutral Density Filter
Neutral density filter is a piece of glass that’s placed in front of a lens to reduce the amount of light that enters the camera.
Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH)
NiMH (nickel metal hydride) batteries are the type of battery used in many lower-end cameras. They’re cheaper than lithium ion and less powerful.
A one-minute video is a video whose length is exactly one minute, contains no camera movements (panning, tilting, etc.) or editing, and uses original sound.
Optical zoom is the camera lens’ ability to change focal length without compromising quality.
Over-the-shoulder shots are frames emphasizing a particular character’s perspective. This shot is typically used in dialogue scenes to display conversations between two people.
Pans are fixed, lateral camera movements.
Pixel Aspect Ratio
A pixel aspect ratio describes the relationship between the width and height of the small pixels (thousands of little squares) that a video frame is made up of.
Polarizing filter is a piece of glass that sits at the front end of a lens, altering the way that a camera sees and treats light and cutting down on glare.
Post-production is the video editing process that takes place after footage has been filmed. This is where effects can be added, and specific changes can be made to the video content.
Point of view shot is a shooting technique that describes the perspective from which a video footage or scene is shot.
A practical is any light source that is part of the original scene and doesn’t need to be hidden from the camera.
A press kit gives background information on your video to members of the press for promotional purposes. It can contain an in-depth synopsis, reviews of the film, cast and crew bios, interesting anecdotes or a Q&A with the director, and production skills.
A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length. Prime lenses provide wide apertures and superior optical quality.
Room tone is the sound in a room where the filming is taking place. The sound is later edited to align smoothly with the dialogue content.
Resolution is a measure of the number of pixels that appear vertically and horizontally in a video. Common resolutions are 640×480 (SD), 1280×720 (HD), and 1920×1080 (HD). Sometimes these resolutions are referenced by their vertical dimension only, such as 480p, 720p, or 1080p.
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a technique for composing your shots by dividing the video frame into horizontal and vertical thirds. This offers aesthetic benefits to your video frame and can help to draw the viewer’s eye into the composition.
Screenplay (or script) is a formatted written document that carries all the details you want to capture in the film. A screenplay may include stage direction, dialogue, lighting, action, sound, and character names.
A shot list is a comprehensive log of all the shots you want your film to contain. A shot list gives your video a sense of direction and efficiency.
Shoulder rig is a device that sits on a cameraman’s shoulder and is used to stabilize a handheld camera.
Shutter speed refers to the rate of opening and closing of a camera shutter. It is the extent that each individual frame is exposed, thus impacting the duration for which light enters the image sensor.
A slate is a tool used to capture and organize sound during production. It’s a rectangular board and clapstick, which makes a sharp ‘clap’ sound.
A slider is any device that uses a track to enable smooth camera movements diagonally, laterally, and front to back.
Slow motion is the act of slowing down a pre-recorded video to a different speed.
Snorricam (or chestcam or bodymount camera) is a camera rig connected to the body of an actor to produce a dynamically moving background effect around a stationary subject.
Split screen involves viewing more than one video footage on the same screen simultaneously.
Steadicam is a camera stabilizer with an arm, vest, and sled. It’s used by cinematographers to film smooth, moving shots.
Stop motion is an animation method for making objects appear as though they were moving freely.
Storyboards are drawings that display each scene of a film, thus creating an outline or blueprint for your movie. Storyboards help to create a clear and concise visual plan for your video project.
Sync or synchronization refers to the proper aligning of audio and visual content.
Telephoto is a type of long-focus lens that uses a telephoto group to allow longer focal lengths than the lens’s physical body would normally permit. As a result, the lens can magnify images and give a narrow field of view.
Three-point lighting is a common type of lighting setup that lights a subject from three different sources in order to control shadows and balance contrast. The three lights are typically called back, key, and fill lights.
Tilts refer to when you film with your camera in a fixed position but tilt it up and down or make vertical movements with it.
Time-lapse refers to the capturing of each video frame at a much slower rate than normal. Time appears to pass quickly when the footage is played back at normal speed.
A tracking (or dolly) shot is one that changes a camera’s position or angle relative to the subject. A tracking shot is typically captured using a slider or dolly.
Tungsten lights are similar to (but larger than) everyday home lighting as they emit light via a filament of tungsten wire.
VGA is an analog connector (often blue color) found on older flat-panel TVs and computers.
Viewfinder is the area of the camera you look through when you need to see the image from your lens’ field of view.
Wide angle is any lens that shortens focal length beyond the extent that the physical body of the lens would ordinarily permit, using a grouping of glass. By doing this, the wide angle lens will be able to get a wider field of view; thus, it captures more of a subject from the same distance compared to a normal lens of the same size.
White balance is the process of adjusting the colors of a video or an image to make the shot look natural. You typically have to ensure that the white lights you capture are actually white and free from tins of other colors, such as blue or red. Many cameras today are designed with an auto white balance feature to help ensure white balance when filming.
A Zoom lens is a lens that enables a camera to zoom in and out between a specific range of focal lengths using the same lens.
A zoom shot refers to making a subject look larger or smaller by adjusting the lens elements to vary the focal lengths without moving the camera.
Conclusion-Glossary of Video Terminology
There you go! Your glossary of video terminologies to help you remember all you need as a beginner or professional videographer.
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