Film Glossary

aerial shot
An overhead shot, usually taken from a helicopter or airplane. 

American montage
A style of editing, typical of many Hollywood films, which condenses time or summarizes many events in a few shots. Also called Hollywood montage. 

anamorphic lens
A lens that allows a wider image to be photographed on a standard-sized frame. See also aspect ratio and Cinemascope. 

angle
See camera angle. 

animation
A film in which inanimate objects or individual drawings are photographed frame by frame in order to create an illusion of movement on the screen when the film is projected at the standard speed of 24 frames per second (fps). By manipulating the objects or drawings minutely for each frame the filmmaker can make objects or characters in the film appear to move as if they are "animated." Also called animated film. 

aperture
An adjustable opening that limits the amount of light passing through a camera lens. Also called the lens aperture. 

arc light
A high-intensity studio lamp using a carbon arc discharge as the source of illumination. 

archive footage
See stock footage. 

area lighting
Lighting that illuminates specific areas of a film set rather than the entire set, usually with spotlights rather than floodlights. 

aspect ratio
The ratio between the width and the height of the frame. The standard aspect ratio for motion picture film is 1.33:1. Using an anamorphic lens on the camera and projector can produce an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, where the projected image is 2.35 time wider than it is high. See also Cinemascope. 

asynchronous sound
Film sound which is not synchronized with the screen image. See also nonsynchronous sound and synchronous sound. 

auteur theory
A theory popularized by French film critics in the 1950s which argues that the director is the "author" of a film, with artistic control and the power to imbue the work with his or her personal vision. 

available lighting
The illumination that actually exists on location during filming, either natural (sunlight) or artificial (lamps, fires, etc.). 

avant-garde film
See underground film. 

baby spot
A spotlight with 500 to 1000 Watts of illuminating power. 

back lighting
A style of film lighting in which light comes from behind objects or people being photographed, producing halo-like highlights around the subject (as in portraits by Rembrandt van Rijn) or, when the light is especially intense, showing the subject in silhouette. Also called Rembrandt lighting. 

background light
Light which illuminates background areas of a film set and adds depth to the shot. 

background music
Music, usually on the sound track, that accompanies a film, the source of which is not apparent in the film scene. See foreground music. 

bird's eye view
A view of a scene photographed from directly overhead; an overhead shot. 

blimp
A soundproof camera housing which prevents the noise of the camera's motor from being recorded on the sound track. 

boom
A pole used to extend a microphone above a film set, permitting synchronous sound recording without interfering with actors. Also called a boom microphone. 

camera angle
The position of the camera in relation to the subject during filming. It may be straight (eye-level shot), tilted up at the subject (low-angle shot), tilted down at the subject (high-angle shot), or tilted off the vertical axis to either side (Dutch-angle shot). 

camera movement
Any movement of the camera during a shot, such as panning, tilting, dollying, tracking, craning. 

camera speed
The rate at which film is run through a motion picture camera in frames per second (fps) or feet or meters per minute. The normal speed for sound film is 24 fps; for silent film 18 fps. See also overcrank and undercrank. 

cels
Transparent plastic sheets on which animators draw or letter images to be photographed frame by frame for an animated film or to be superimposed over live action. Animation done from such drawings is called cel animation. 

cinema verite
In French, literally, "cinema truth." A style of documentary filmmaking in which the filmmaker interferes as little as possible with events being filmed. Cinema verite, also called direct cinema, is characterized by direct and spontaneous use of the camera (usually hand-held), long takes, naturalistic sound recording, and in-camera editing. 

Cinemascope
The trade name for wide-screen films photographed and projected with anamorphic lenses on the camera and the projector. 

cinematographer
A film's director of photography, responsible for the lighting and often for the actual shooting of film scenes. Also called a lighting cameraman. 

Cinerama
A wide-screen motion picture process that employs three cameras and three projectors, a wide curved screen, and stereophonic sound. Three separate images are projected simultaneously onto the curved screen, widening the picture into the viewer's peripheral vision. 

close-up, (CU)
A close view of an actor or an object which features details isolated from their surroundings. A close-up of an actor typically shows only his head. 

compilation film
A film composed largely of stock footage or clips from other films. 

contextual criticism
A form of criticism that evaluates a film within the context in which it was created and/or screened. 

continuity
The appearance of a continuous temporal flow of events in a film. Editing for continuity means to cut smoothly and unobtrusively between shots that condense time. 

crane shot
A shot taken from a studio crane, a large mechanical arm that can move the camera and its operator smoothly and noiselessly in any direction. 

cross-cutting
Editing together shots of two or more actions occurring simultaneously. Also called parallel editing or parallel action. 

cut-away shot
A shot of an image or an action in a film scene which is not part of the main action; sometimes used to cover breaks in a scene's continuity. 

cutting
See editing. 

cutting on action
Editing two shots at a point where a gesture or movement in the first one is not yet completed and where a gesture or movement in the second one has already begun. 

dadaism
An avant-garde movement in the arts during the 1920s which, like surrealism, stressed the unconscious and the irrational in human experience, incongruity, spontaneity, and irreverent wit. 

deep-focus photography
A cinematographic technique which keeps objects in a shot clearly focused from close-up range to infinity. Also called pan-focus photography. 

depth of field
The distance in front of the camera lens within which objects appear in sharp focus. 

diagonal
A shot where the camera pivots both horizontally and vertically; a combination of panning and tilting. 

dialogue
Lip-synchronous speech between two or more characters in a film with the speaker usually, but not always, visible. See monologue. 

direct cinema
See cinéma vérité. 

dissolve
A transition between two shots during which one shot fades out at the same time that a second shot fades in. Also called lap dissolve. 

documentary
A non-fiction film, usually photographed on location, using actual people rather than actors and actual events rather than scripted stories. 

Dolby sound
The trade name for a system to reduce the noise level of a tape or optical recording and thus to achieve better sound fidelity. :dolly shot See traveling shot. 

double exposure
The superimposition of two (or more) images on a single film strip. Also called multiple exposure. 

dubbing
Adding sound to a film after shots have been photographed and edited. Also, to insert dialogue, sometimes foreign, into a film after it has been shot. 

Dutch angle
A tilted camera angle that shows images obliquely slanted to the frame's vertical axis. Also called oblique angle. 

dynamic montage
Editing intended to evoke strong emotional reactions. See Russian montage. 

editing
The process of connecting one shot to another. Also called cutting. See montage. 

emulsion
The chemical coating on film stock which contains light-sensitive particles of metallic silver. 

epic
A film genre characterized by sweeping historical themes, heroic action, spectacular settings, period costumes, and a large cast of characters. 

establishing shot
A camera shot, usually at long range, which identifies, or "establishes," the location of a scene. 

ethnographic film
An anthropological film that records and perhaps comments on an ethnic group and its culture. 

experimental film
See underground film. 

expose
An investigative documentary that reveals, often in shocking ways, discreditable information or events. 

expressionism
A style of filmmaking which distorts physical reality in some way in order to "express" strong feelings about it. Typical expressionistic techniques include the use of distorting lenses, extreme camera angles, bizarre lighting and sound effects, and fragmented editing. See realism. 

extreme close-up, (XCU)
A very close view of an actor or an object which features minute details. An extreme close-up of an actor typically shows only his eyes or his mouth. 

extreme long shot, (XLS)
A panoramic view of a film scene, photographed from a great distance. 

eyeline match
Editing shots that are aligned, or "matched," to suggest that two characters in separate shots are looking at each other. 

fade
An optical effect in which the screen gradually brightens as a shot appears (fade-in) or gradually darkens as a shot goes to black or another blank color (fade-out). Sound also fades in or out when the sound track gradually changes from silence to sound, or vice versa. 

fast film
Film stock that is highly sensitive to light, usually with an exposure index of 100 or higher. Also called fast-speed film. See slow film. 

fast motion
Shots photographed slower than the standard speed of 24 frames per second (fps) so that the action on the screen appears faster than normal when projected at standard speed. See slow motion. 

feature film
A full-length motion picture produced for commercial distribution. 

feminist criticism
Film analysis and criticism from a feminist perspective, concerned primarily with the social and political implications of how women are depicted in films. 

femme fatale
In French, literally, "fatal woman." An irresistibly attractive woman who leads men to destruction. 

fiction film
Any film that employs invented plot or characters; usually called narrative film. 

fill light
Illumination for a camera shot which opposes and softens shadows thrown by the key light. 

film criticism
The analysis and evaluation of films, often according to specific aesthetic or philosophical theories. 

film noir
In French, literally, "black film." A type of film, mainly produced in Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, which depicts "dark" themes, like crime and corruption in urban settings, in a visual style that features night scenes and low-key lighting. 

film stock
Unexposed motion picture film with variable characteristics, such as gauge (16mm, 35mm, 70mm), color (black-and-white, color), speed (fast film, slow film), grain (high-grain, or low-grain). 

filmography
A bibliographic listing of a film artist's body of work. 

filter
A piece of glass or plastic fitted in front of the lens to control the color or quality of light entering the camera. 

final cut
The edited version of a film as it will be printed and released for exhibition. See rough cut. 

first-person shot
See point-of-view shot. 

fisheye lens
An extreme wide-angle lens that distorts the image so that straight lines appear rounded at the edges of the frame. 

fiver
See senior spot. 

flash pan
See swish pan. 

flash-forward
A shot or sequence which depicts action that will occur after the film's present time or that will be seen later in the film. 

flashback
A shot or sequence which depicts action that occurred before the film's present time. 

floodlight
A studio lamp that illuminates a relatively wide area by "flooding" it with light. Also called a flood. See spotlight. 

focal length
The distance from the center of the lens to the point on the film plane where light rays meet in sharp focus. A wide-angle lens has a short focal length; a telephoto lens has a long focal length. 

focus
The sharpness or definition of a film image. 

following shot
A shot in which the camera pans or travels to keep a moving figure or object within the frame. 

footage
Exposed film stock. 

foreground music
Music which emanates from a source within the film scene, such as a "live" orchestra or a radio. Also called source music. See background music. 

formalism
An approach to filmmaking or film criticism which emphasizes form over content, arguing that meaning emerges from the way content is presented. 

formula
A familiar plot or pattern of dramatic action which is often repeated or imitated in films, for example, in genres like gangster films and westerns. 

frame
Each individual photograph recorded on motion picture film. The outside edges of a film image on the screen. 

frame enlargement
A photograph of one motion picture frame reproduced from actual footage, not to be confused with a still photographed during the shooting of a scene. 

framing
The visual composition of a shot within the frame. 

freeze-frame shot
A shot in which one frame is printed repeatedly in order to look like a still photograph when projected. Also called a freeze shot. 

full shot
A long shot that includes the human body "in full" within the frame. 

gauge
The width of film stock in millimeters. 

genre
A type of motion picture, such as westerns or science-fiction films, which employs similar plots, narrative conventions, character types, and formulas. 

genre criticism
A type of film criticism which examines genre films to determine how they reflect or comment on social values. 

German Expressionism
A film movement in Germany from 1919 through the mid-1920s characterized by the use of bizarre decor, lighting, and camera techniques to express strong feelings and inner experiences. 

grain
Minute crystals of light-sensitive silver halide within the emulsion on the film stock. Graniness is the speckle-like appearance in a film image caused by coarse clumps of individual silver grains. 

hand-held camera
A shot where the camera operator, rather than a tripod or a mechanical vehicle, supports and moves the camera during filming. 

hard lighting
Illumination which creates stark contrast between light and shadow. See high-contrast lighting. 

high-angle shot, (H/A)
A shot where the camera is tilted down at the subject. 

high-contrast lighting
A style of film lighting which creates a stark contrast between bright light and heavy shadows. See also high-key lighting and low-key lighting. high-key lighting A style of film lighting which creates bright, even illumination and few conspicuous shadows. See also high-contrast lighting and low-key lighting. 

Hollywood montage
See American montage. 

in-camera editing
Editing done within the camera itself by selectively starting and stopping the camera for each shot. 

independent film
Any motion picture produced apart from a commercial film studio. Sometimes called avant-garde, experimental, or underground film. 

indigenous sound
Sound or music originating from a source apparent within a film scene. See foreground music 

ingenue
A naive girl or young woman in a dramatic story. 

insert
A shot of a detail edited into the main action of a scene. Also called an insert shot. See cutaway. 

intellectual montage
Editing intended to convey an abstract or intellectual concept by juxtaposing concrete images which suggest it. 

intercutting
See cross-cutting. 

interior monologue
See monologue. 

invisible editing
Editing made unobtrusive by carefully cutting on action or matching action between shots. Also called invisible cutting. 

iris

A circular masking device, so called because it resembles the iris of the human eye, which may be opened up or shut down during a shot. 

Italian Neo-realism
See Neo-realism. 

jump cut
An abrupt transition between shots which disrupts (often deliberately) the continuity of time or space within a scene. 

key light
The primary source of illumination for a camera shot. 

lap dissolve
See dissolve. 

leader
Film footage with visual calibrations, usually in one-second intervals, used to lead into the film proper. Also called film leader 

lens
A ground or molded piece of transparent glass or plastic through which light rays are focused to create a photgraphic image on film. See normal lens, telephoto lens, wide-angle lens, zoom lens. 

lens aperture
See aperture. 

lighting cameraman
See cinematographer. 

limbo lighting
A style of film lighting which eliminates background light and isolates the subject against a completely dark (or neutral) field. 

lip sync
Dialogue or narration that is precisely synchronized with the lip movements of a character or narrator on the screen. See synchronization. 

live action
Film action with living people and real things, rather than action created by animation. 

location shooting
Filming in an actual setting, either outdoors or indoors, rather than in a motion picture studio. Also called filming on location. 

long shot
A shot that shows a fairly broad view of a subject within its setting. A long shot of an actor typically includes his entire body and much of his surroundings. 

long take
A take (shot) of lengthy duration. 

loop
Film footage spliced tail to head in order to run continuously. Looping is sometimes used when actors dub lip-sync sound to scenes which are already photographed. Also called film loop. 

low-angle shot, (L/A)
A shot where the camera is tilted up at the subject. 

low-key lighting
A style of film lighting which produces less illumination than high-key lighting, and therefore a darker atmosphere and tone. See also high-contrast lighting. 

magnetic sound track
A sound track that is recorded on an iron oxide stripe at the edge of the film opposite the sprocket holes. 

masking
Blocking out part of a film image, usually at the edges of the frame, thus altering the size or the shape of the frame projected on the screen. See iris. 

master shot
A single shot, usually a long shot or a full shot, which provides an overview of the action in an entire scene. 

matching action
Cutting together different shots of an action on a common gesture or movement in order to make the action appear continuous on the screen. Also called a matched cut. See also invisible editing. 

matte shot
A type of process shot in which part of a scene is masked so that other action or background/foreground images, photographed separately, can be added later with an optical printer. See traveling matte. 

medium shot, (MS)
A relatively close shot that shows part of a person or object in some detail. A medium shot of an actor typically shows his body from the knees or waist up. 

melodrama
A play or film based on a romantic plot and developed sensationally, with little regard for convincing motivation and with strong appeal to the emotions of the audience. 

metaphor
A comparison between two otherwise unlike entities, usually achieved in films by montage. 

method acting
A naturalistic style of acting taught by the Russian actor-director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, where the actor identifies closely with the character to be portrayed. Also called the Stanislavsky Method. 

Mickey Mousing
Creating music that mimics or reproduces a film's visual action, as, for example, in many Walt Disney cartoons. 

mise en scéne
In French, literally, "placing in scene." A theatrical term, carried over to cinema, which refers to the arrangement of everything physical in a camera shot, including scenery, props, and actors. 

mix
To combine sound from two or more sources onto a single sound track. Also called sound mix. 

monologue
A character speaking alone on screen or, without appearing to speak, articulating her or his thoughts in voice-over as an interior monologue. 

montage
To assemble film images by editing shots together, often rapidly to condense passing time or events. In Europe montage means "editing." See also American montage, Russian montage, dynamic montage, narrative montage. 

motif
A recurring subject, theme, or image in a film. 

Moviola
Trade name of an American editing machine. 

multiple exposure
See double exposure. 

multiple-image shot
A shot that includes two or more separately photographed images within the frame. 

multiscreen projection
Projecting motion picture images simultaneously on more than one screen. 

musical
A film genre that incorporates song and dance routines into the film story. Also called musical film. 

narration
Information or commentary spoken directly to the audience rather than indirectly through dialogue, often by an anonymous off-screen voice. See voice-over. 

narrative montage
Editing that constructs a story with film images by arranging shots in carefully sequenced order. See montage. 

naturalism
A style of filmmaking which is starkly realistic and which avoids any semblance of artifice. 

negative image
A photographic image in which dark and light tones are reversed, with dark areas appearing light on the screen and light areas appearing dark. 

Neo-realism
An Italian film movement after World War II characterized by starkly realistic, humanistic stories and documentary-like camera style. Neo-realistic films were generally shot on location, using available lighting and non-professional actors. Also called Italian Neo-realism. 

newsreel
A type of short film that presents a compilation of timely news stories. 

non-fiction film
Any film that does not employ invented plot or characters. See documentary. 

non-synchronous sound
Sound whose source is not apparent in a film scene or which is detached from its source in the scene; commonly called off-screen sound. See synchronous sound. 

normal lens
A camera lens that shows a subject without significantly exaggerating or reducing depth of field in a shot. For 35mm films a normal lens is 35-50mm. 

oblique angle
See Dutch angle. 

off-screen sound
See non-synchronous sound. 

off-screen space
Space beyond the camera's field of vision which the audience is aware of nevertheless. 

on location
Also called shooting on location. See location shooting. 

optical printer
Elaborate film laboratory equipment, consisting of a projector and a camera, which can reduce or enlarge film images and create special effects--such as fades, dissolves, and superimposition--in a printed film. 

optical sound track
A sound track consisting of photographed sound modulations at the edge of the film opposite the sprocket holes. 

out-take
Any footage deleted from a film during editing; more specifically, a shot or scene that is removed from a film before the final cut. 

overcrank
To run film stock through the camera faster than the standard speed of 24 frames per second (fps), producing slow motion on the screen when the film is projected at standard speed. See undercrank. 

overhead shot
A camera shot from directly above the action. See bird's-eye view. 

overlapping editing.
Cutting that repeats part or all of an action. 

pan
Short for "panorama." A shot where the camera pivots horizontally, turning from left to right or from right to left. Also called panning shot. 

parallel action
See cross-cutting. 

parallel editing
See cross-cutting. 

pixilation
A type of film animation in which real objects or people are photographed frame by frame in order to make them appear to move abruptly or magically when the film is projected. See also stop motion and trick film. 

point-of-view shot (POV)
A shot taken from the vantage point of a character in a film. Also called a first-person shot or subjective camera. 

postsynchronized sound
Sound added to images after they have been photographed and assembled; commonly called dubbing. 

process shot
A shot in which "live" foreground action is photographed against a background image projected on a translucent screen. 

property
Any movable item used on a theater or film set. Usually called a prop. 

puppet film
An animated film in which inanimate objects or figures are manipulated and photographed frame by frame in order to make them appear to move when the film is projected. 

pure film
A type of experimental film that explores the purely visual possibilities of cinema rather than narrative possibilities. Also called pure cinema. 

rack focus
To change the focus of a lens during a shot in order to call attention to specific images. Also called selective focus or shift focus. 

reaction shot
A shot that shows a character's reaction to what has occurred in the previous shot. 

realism
A style of filmmaking which endeavors to depict physical reality much as it appears in the everyday world. Typical realistic techniques include the prominent use of long shots, eye-level camera angles, lengthy takes, naturalistic lighting and sound effects, and unobtrusive editing. See expressionism. 

Rembrandt lighting
See back lighting. 

reverse angle, (R/A)
A shot where the camera is placed opposite its position in the previous shot, "reversing" its view of the scene. 

reverse motion
Action that moves backward on the screen, achieved by reversing film footage during editing or by reverse printing in an optical printer. Also called reverse action. 

rough cut
An early version of a film in which shots and sequences are roughly assembled but not yet finely edited together for the final cut. 

running time
The duration of a finished film. 

Russian montage
A style of editing, typical of prominent Soviet filmmakers in the 1920s, which employs dynamic cutting techniques to evoke strong emotional, and even physical, reactions to film images. 

scene
A unit of film composed of one shot or several interrelated shots unified by a single location, incident, or set of characters. 

science-fiction film
A film genre characterized by plot and action involving scientific fantasy. Also called sci-fi film. 

screen time
The time covered by a film's story, as opposed to its running time. 

screenplay
See script. 

screwball comedy
A type of Hollywood comic film characterized by zany characters, incongruous situations, and fast-breaking events. 

scrim
A translucent sheet of material used to soften or diffuse light on a shooting set. 

script
A set of written specifications for a motion picture production, usually delineating the film's settings, action, dialogue, camera coverage, lighting and sound effects, and music. 

selective focus
See rack focus. 

selective sound
A sound track that selectively includes or deletes specific sounds. 

semiology
A theory of film criticism which views cinema as a language or linguistic system that conveys meaning via signs or symbolic codes. Also called , semiotics. 

senior spot
A spotlight with 5000 Watts of illuminating power; also called a fiver. 

sequence
A unit of film composed of interrelated shots or scenes, usually leading up to a dramatic climax. 

set-up
The positioning of the camera and lights for a specific shot. 

setting
A location for a film or a film scene. 

shift focus
See rack focus. 

shock cut
A jarring transition between two actions occurring at different times or places. Also called a smash cut. 

shooting ratio
The amount of film footage shot compared to the length of the film's final cut. 

shooting script
The script that the director and the actors follow during filming. 

shot
A single, continuous run of the camera. The images recorded on a strip of exposed film from the time the camera starts until the time it stops. 

shot-by-shot analysis
Close and thorough study of the separate shots that make up a scene, sequence, or film. Also called shot analysis. 

shutter
The mechanical device on a motion picture camera that shields the film from light at the aperture during filming. 

sight gag
A visual joke; a piece of non-verbal comic business in a film. 

single-frame cinematography
Shooting film one frame at a time to speed up normal motion, to make lifeless objects appear to move, or to do time-lapse photography. Also called single-framing. 

slapstick comedy
Broad comedy characterized by violent physical action. 

slow film
Film stock that is relatively insensitive to light and that produces finer-grained images than fast film. Also called slow-speed film. 

slow motion
Shots photograhed faster than the standard speed of 24 frames per second (fps) so that the action on the screen appears to move slower than normal when projected at standard speed. See fast motion. 

smash cut
See shock cut. 

soft focus
Blurring the sharpness of a film image with a special lens or a gauze over the lens in order to diffuse or "soften" hard edges; used especially for close-ups to make the human face look more sensual or glamorous. 

sound bridge
Sound which continues across two shots that depict action in different times or places, thus providing an aural transition between the two scenes. 

sound effects
Any sound in a film other than dialogue, narration, or music. 

sound track
The optical or magnetic strip at the edge of the film which carries the sound. Also, any length of film carrying only sound. 

source music
See background music. 

special effects, (FX)
Shots which are unobtainable by straightforward motion picture filming techniques and which require special models, matting, multiple exposure, etc. The term also applies to most pyrotechnic and ballistic effects in a film. 

splice
To join two pieces of film. 

split-screen
Division of the film frame into two or more separate areas for images, done either in the camera or in the laboratory with an optical printer. Also called split-screen image. 

spotlight
A studio lamp that illuminates a relatively small, specific area, or "spot." Also called a spot. See floodlight. 

Stanislavsky Method
See method acting. 

star system
A system developed in the early days of Hollywood to market movies based on the appeal of popular actors and actresses, "movie stars," who were under contract with commercial motion picture studios to play leading roles in their productions. 

stereophonic sound
Sound recorded on separate tracks with two or more microphones and played back on two or more loud speakers to reproduce and separate sounds more realistically. 

still
A photograph taken of a film scene for promotional purposes, not to be confused with a frame enlargement reproduced from actual film footage. 

stock footage
Motion picture footage from previously existing films, filed in film libraries or archives, which is incorporated into a new film, usually to provide scenic background or for stock situations and settings, such as war scenes or foreign locations. See compilation film. 

stop-motion photography
Filming real objects or live action by starting and stopping the camera, rather than by running the camera continuously, in order to create pixilation, trick-film effects, or time-lapse photography. Also called stop-action photography. 

storyboard
A pictorial outline of a film scene or sequence using drawings or photographs to illustrate how each shot should look on the screen. 

straight cut
Two shots edited together without opitcal effects. 

structuralism, structuralist
Cinematic theories focusing on how certain codes or signs are structured to convey meaning in a film, a genre, or the works of a filmmaker. See semiology. 

studio crane
See crane shot. 

sub-text
Implicit meaning in a play or film which lies beneath the language of the text. 

subjective camera
See point-of-view shot. 

subtitle
A written caption superimposed over action, usually at the bottom of the frame, to identify a scene or to translate dialogue from a foreign language. 

superimposition
To expose more than one image on film at the same time. 

surrealism
An avant-garde movement in the arts during the 1920s which endeavored to re-create unconscious experience with shocking, dreamlike images. Surrealistic films rejected traditional notions of causality and emphasized incongruous, irrational action instead. 

swish pan
Panning the camera so rapidly across a scene that the image blurs on the screen. Also called flash pan, whip pan, zip pan. 

symbol
An object or image that has significance within a dramatic context beyond its literal meaning. 

synchronization
A precise match between film image and sound. Also called sync. 

synchronous sound
Sound whose source is apparent in a film scene and which matches the action. See non-synchronous sound. 

synecdoche
Use of a part to represent the whole. 

take
The shot resulting from one continuous run of the camera. A filmmaker generally films several "takes" of the same scene and then selects the best one. 

telephoto lens
A camera lens of long focal length which, like a telescope, magnifies the size of distant objects. For 35mm films a telephoto lens is 75mm or more. Also called a long lens. 

three hundred sixty-degree pan (360-degree pan)
A panning shot which turns around a complete circle. 

three-shot
A medium shot featuring three actors. 

tilt
A shot where the camera pivots vertically, turning from top to bottom or from bottom to top. 

time-lapse photography (cinematography)
A type of cinematography in which the camera intermittently photographs the same object or scene over an extended time period in order to speed up on the screen a lengthy process or action, such as the growth of a flower from a seed. 

tracking shot
See traveling shot. 

trance film
A type of expressionistic film in which a character, frequently the filmmaker, experiences a personal revelation by playing out a psychological drama in dream-like surroundings. 

traveling matte
A process for combining separately photographed images in a single shot using an optical printer. See matte. 

traveling shot
A shot in which the camera, mounted on a vehicle, moves while filming. Traveling shots are sometimes identified more specifically according to the kind of vehicle used to move the camera (a dolly shot or a trucking shot, for example). When tracks are laid down for the camera to roll on, the shot is usually called a tracking shot. 

treatment
A written description of a film story which may later be developed into a script. Also called film treatment. 

trick film (shot)
A film or a shot created by special camera or optical techniques, such as stop-motion photography or double exposure. See also pixilation. 

trucking shot
See traveling shot. 

two-shot
A medium shot featuring two actors. 

typecasting
Selecting an actor or actress for a film role because of his or her physical type, manner, or personality, or according to a public image created by previous roles he or she has performed. 

undercrank
To run film stock through the camera slower than the standard speed of 24 frames per second (fps), producing fast motion on the screen when the film is projected at standard speed. See overcrank. 

underground film
An independent film which emphasizes the filmmaker's self-expression rather than commercial success. Underground films frequently challenge or experiment with traditional cinematic form and technique, hence they are also called avant-garde or experimental films. 

voice-over
An off-screen narrator's voice accompanying images on the screen. Any off-screen voice. 

whip pan
See swish pan. 

wide-angle lens
A lens of short focal length that enables the camera to photograph a wider area than a normal lens. For 35mm films a wide-angle lens is 30mm or less. Also called a short lens. 

wipe
An optical effect in which one image replaces another by pushing, or "wiping," it off the screen. 

work print
A duplicate of film footage, used during the editing process in order to preserve the original intact until the final cut. 

zip pan
See swish pan. 

zoom lens
A camera lens of variable focal length that can be changed while shooting, thus allowing the the camera to photograph from wide-angle to telephoto range in the same shot. 

zoom shot
A shot with a zoom lens, which can make a film image appear closer (zoom in) or farther away (zoom out) by varying the focal length of the lens.