Movie Terminology Glossary: S
camera's viewfinder actually shows (and records on film stock) a greater area of the scene than will appear in the final product. Markings are etched in the viewfinder to indicate to the camera operator the extents of the "viewable" film (called the live area). An area beyond that (called the safe area) is also marked; it is in this area that the production sound mixer might direct the boom operator to place the boom microphone.
An extreme, over-the-top performance that dominates the screen. "Chewing the scenery" suggests that actors are so engaged in their histrionic portrayals that furniture pieces and backdrops are left with big dental impressions.
On the web: List of Science Fiction titles at the IMDb.
soundtrack. Many scores are written specifically for movies by composers.
An association with jurisdiction over some works that can be recorded by picture or by sound. See also AFTRA.
On the web: Official Home Page
actor performs a particular role on camera, not necessarily with the correct makeup or on the set.
cinema. See also feature presentation, supporting feature, double bill, trailer.
script written to be produced as a movie.
writer who either adapts an existing work for production as a movie, or creates a new screenplay.
screenplay, shooting script, lined script, continuity script, or a spec script. A script is often sold for a particular price, which is increased to a second price if the script is produced as a movie. For example, a sale may be described as "$100,000 against $250,000". In this case, the writer is paid $100,000 up front, and another $150,000 when the movie is produced. See also advance.
production's crew responsible for the script of a movie. Consists of writers, script editors, and prompters.
A process whereby a script is reviewed and changed, based on input from various sources such as the director or producer. Writers who specialize in script editing are called "script doctors", and are frequently uncredited.
scenes deviated from the script; they also make continuity notes, creating a lined script.
The standard for TV/video display in France, the Middle East, much of Eastern Europe, and some African countries. Delivers 625 lines (formerly 819 lines) of resolution at 50 half-frames per second. See also NTSC and PAL.
An assistant to the assistant cameraman.
An assistant to the assistant director. Duties include overseeing the movements of the cast, and preparing call sheets.
An assistant to the second assistant director; responsible for (among other things) directing the movements of extras.
A small, subordinate crew responsible for filming shots of less importance, such as inserts, crowds, scenery, etc.
The director of the second unit.
series, serial, contrast with prequel.
cinema. The story structure usually has each chapter ending with a cliffhanger to ensure the audience would like to watch following chapter at its release. Contrast with series.
On the web: List of serials at the IMDb.
A sequence of films with continuing characters or themes, but with little other interdependence, especially with respect to plot or significant character development. Until the advent of television series, there were various film series such as The Thin Man and Blondie that were started with the intention of making more than one. In subsequent years, the term would apply to features such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture or Dr. No that made more than one sequel. In modern times, the term "franchise" has been used (perhaps cynically) to describe to the practice of creating a movie and product-marketing package which is contingent on commercial success. Batman and its sequels are typically used as an example of a franchise. Contrast with serial.
script, but is carefully constructed to make filming easier but still appear natural when viewed from the camera angle.
A person who has total charge of decorating the set with all furnishings, drapery, interior plants, and anything seen on indoor or outdoor sets. The set decorator has authority over a leadman. See also set dresser.
production designer's vision of the movie's environment into a set which can be used for filming. The set designer reports to the art director.
set per the Set Decorator's requirements, placing elements such as curtains and paintings, and moves and resets the set decoration to accommodate camera, grip and lighting setups. Contrast with set decorator, property master. Responsible for set continuity with script supervisor and property master.
cast and crew and is the safety liaison between production/construction and various agencies. This person may be an emergency medical technician, paramedic, nurse, or physician. Most often the set medic is involved in the production from the beginning of preproduction or construction through filming or production through striking the set or post-production.
script from which a movie is made. Usually contains numbered scenes and technical notes. See also lined script.
A movie that is shorter than 45 minutes. Contrast with feature.
scene, take, frame rate.
frame. See also shot selection.
The location of the camera, and what can be seen with it. See also shot composition, POV, mise-en-scene.
shots: 1) a person's face; 2) what that person is looking at; and 3) the person again, giving the audience a chance to process the person's reaction to what (or who) s/he is seeing. See also reverse shot.
frame is exposed for. Slower shutter speeds allow more light to enter the camera, but allow more motion blur. See also aperture, depth of field, go motion.
set designer's team.
A film that has no synchronized soundtrack and no spoken dialogue. It was a form predominate in film until the late 1920's when practical synchronized soundtrack technology was developed and its use became popular. See also intertitles.
On the web: List of silent titles at the IMDb.
actor's vocal parts. Marni Nixon was the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964); during post-production, Nixon's voice was dubbed over Hepburn's for the musical numbers.
A comedy in which humor is derived from people being placed in uncomfortable, embarrassing, or unfamiliar situations.
A comedy in which the humor is derived from physical interactions, often involving exaggerated but ultimately harmless violence directed towards individuals. Named after a device used by circus clowns - two boards which slap together loudly when swatted on someone's backside.
scene and take numbers, usually done with a clapboard. Most takes are identified at the beginning; a "tail slate" marks the end instead. Also used in an audition, to identify an actor's name, representation (if any), and the scene they will be performing in the audition.
An unpromising or unpublicized movie that suddenly attains prominence and success.
A shot in which time appears to move more slowly than normal. The process is commonly achieved by either repeating frames (see also freeze frame), or by overcranking. See also motion artifact, judder, frame rate, contrast with stop motion.
A header appearing in a script before each scene or shot detailing the location, date, and time that the following action is intended to occur in.
An unannounced screening of a movie before the premiere, often used to gauge audience reaction and feedback for final editing. See also focus group.
An international technical society devoted to advancing the theory and application of motion-imaging technology including film, television, video, computer imaging, and telecommunications. The abbreviation also refers to various measurements and standards defined by the organization.
On the web: Official Home Page
An honorary organization composed of several hundred men and women internationally, of outstanding and dedicated talent, who make their living operating film and/or video cameras in the cinematic media. Use of the abbreviation after a name indicates membership in the society.
On the web: Official Home Page
Sony has produced a noise reduction and sound enhancement process. Competitors include Dolby Digital and DTS.
On the web: IMDb Sound Mix Section
The group of crew members directly involved with creating of a movie's soundtrack. Individual job titles include: sound designer, sound editor, sound effects, sound mixer, sound recordist, boom operator, re-recording mixer, music supervisor, and foley artist. See also MPSE.
soundtrack, responsible for designing and creating the audio component of a movie.
sound crew who performs editing on the soundtrack. See also dialog editor.
post-production by the sound crew. Also used as a job title.
sound editor who specializes in editing sound effects.
The process of recording the production sound on the set at the time of shooting.
tape recorder operator.
studio) where elaborate sets may be constructed. Soundstages allow filmmakers greater control over factors such as sound, lighting, temperature, spectators, and security.
On the web: IMDb Soundtrack Section
western filmed in Italy, many times with American leading actors. This term appeared following the appearance of Clint Eastwood in a number of Sergio Leone movies.
On the web: List of Spaghetti Westerns at the IMDb.
script but who doesn't have any lines of dialogue in the finished film. Speaking roles typically pay much more than non-speaking roles. While extras may or may not be heard to speak in a film, they are not included as either speaking or non-speaking roles.
An artificial effect used to create an illusion in a movie. Refers to effects produced on the set, as opposed to those created in post-production. Most movie illusions are created in post production. These are called visual effects.
Fictional Movie(s): Stunt Man, The (1980)
The chief of a production's special effects crew.
Fictional Movie(s): F/X (1986)
director of photography or camera operator indicating to the director that the camera is operating at the correct speed. Called just after lock it down, and just before action.
An optical system in which the magnifications of the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the picture are the same. See also aspect ratio, contrast with anamorphic.
actors, they typically include a container of blood which bursts upon detonation. See also special makeup effects.
A person who has the same physical properties of a particular actor, and takes their place during the lengthy setup of a scene. This allows the actor to prepare for the filming itself. Contrast with stunt double and body double.
camera attached to a camera operator via a mechanical harness which reduces or eliminates the unsteadiness of the operator's motion.
camera operator who operates a Steadicam. See also Steadicam Operators Association.
An organization which represents Steadicam operators around the world, providing referrals across the entire film and video industry. Additional services include organizing and conducting workshops, and providing Steadicam equipment rentals.
On the web: Official Home Page
A person who photographs the action (often alongside the camera) to be used in publicizing the movie.
shots in a film may duplicated from other films or a film library. Such shots are called stock footage.
Fictional Movie(s): Ed Wood (1994)
Music not written specifically for the film in question. Very often it's owned by a company connected with the production and so it's cheap for them to use - sometimes royalty-free.
A form of animation in which objects are filmed frame-by-frame and altered slightly in between each frame. See also go motion.
production illustrator to communicate the desired general visual appearance on camera of a scene or movie.
Nonstandardized reality television term for a writer/producer who may be involved (at any level of pre to post production) in producing/editing source footage to create and nuance story. Other duties may include writing host dialogue, VO and dialogue/action pickups. During the post-production process, most either work directly with editors or provide detailed paper edits for editors to work from. The job consist of two parts: the production/shooting of the show and the post production/editing of the show. While shooting, a story producer tracks all of the story developments related to the cast, interviews the cast, and generally produces/directs the cast. In post production, the story producer is responsible for putting the episode together with an editor; building the episodes; making sure that all story lines and character arcs are clear and strong enough to make a good episode.
majors) have extensive in-house soundstages (also called "studio"s) where filming can be done.
A non-trivial and often dangerous piece of physical action. Often performed by a stunt performer.
stunt performer who specifically takes the part of another actor for a stunt. Stunt doubles rarely (if ever) speak, are typically chosen to resemble the actor that they are replacing as much as possible. Contrast with body double and stand-in.
Fictional Movie(s): Spaceballs (1987)
A specialist actor who performs stunts.
Fictional Movie(s): The Stunt Man (1980)
Trainspotting uses subtitles for humourous effect. Contrast with dubbing, intertitles, close-captioned.
A feature film which appears (typically in a double-bill) with a feature presentation.
A sound system which creates the illusion of multi-directional sound through speaker placement and signal processing. See also Dolby, SDDS, DTS, THX.
On the web: IMDb Sound Mix Section
epic film set in the times of Roman Empire or any other period, real or imagined, in which characters use sword and sandals. Often has biblical or fantasy elements
On the web: List of sword and sandal titles at the IMDb.
On the web: List of sword and sorcery titles at the IMDb.
script, generally in a page or two. Contrast with treatment.