March 8, 2018

The ABCs of Production: The Video Vocabulary of the Professionals

Video Definitions: Fade, Pans, Lav, Slate, Sync… what?

The video vocabulary or glossary of words involved in video production is odyssey-like. Take charge of your video jargon with our handy “ABCs of Video” dictionary.


  • The aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image. The most common aspect ratios are 4:3, 16:9 and 1:85:1.


man holding a boom microphone
Boom mic, photo courtesy Nik MacMillan
  • A boom microphone is a long, corn-shaped microphone that allows sound to be clearly picked-up in filming while simultaneously being out of sight.
  • Bounce is a material simply used to bounce light on an area of focus while filming.
  • B-roll is supplemental footage that provides visual details of your subject.




  • Color correction is an editing technique that manipulated video color post-production.
  • Ranging from cool to warm, color temperature is a unit measure for absolute temperature measured in Kelvins.
  • Videos are giant, but compression allows them to upload faster and take up less space on your camera or computer.
  • Opposite of a wide angle, a close up puts the frame entirely on a subject’s face.
  • A crane allows capture of moving shots that require height, and is often called a jib or jib arm. 
    cinematographer with a jib arm
    Scenic Road rocking the jib on an agricultural video shoot in Canada
  • A C-Stand is a fancy tripod with a long arm that allows positioning of light modifiers and riggers.
C Stand
C Stand
  • Codec is a computer program that facilitates compression of footage.



  • The depth of field is the part of an image that is in-focus; shallow DOF results in a narrow focus on a subject whereas deep DOF has the whole frame in focus.
  • Diffusion is the spreading light evenly to reduce harshness or glare.
  • Digital Zoom is the rapid cropping of an image that gives appearance of zooming.
  • A dolly is a piece of equipment on wheels that prevents footage from looking messy due to shaky hands.




  • Fade is the effect of transitioning an image to black screen or black screen to image.
  • Frame rate  is the rate at which a shutter opens and closes. Scenic Road typically shoots in 24 for a more  film-like quality.

frame rate per second example image  

Follow focus is a feature that allows for quick changes in the subject of focus.




  • Importing is the process of transferring videos from a camera to a computer, or from a computer to editing software




  • A jump cut is an abrupt edit between two sequential shots of the same subject taken from camera positions that vary only slightly, if at all.  A jump cut gives the viewer an abrupt “what just happened” feeling, because it can seem as if you moved or “jumped” through time or space.




  • A lavalier microphone, or lav, is a tiny microphone typically attached to the shirt of a subject or to the side of their mouth; Scenic Road prefers to use nude moleskin to “tape” the microphone in place, which hides it from the viewer and eliminates any distractions from the viewing experience.




  • A matte box is an umbrella for your camera. It blocks light to prevent lens flares.




  • While also a technique used by models, an over the shoulder shot (or OTS) allows the audience to view a scene from the character’s perspective. Think of the powerful No Country for Old Men scene when Javier Bardem taunts a store clerk.




  • A pan shot is simply a shot where the camera moves horizontally.
  • A point of view shot (or POV) shows what a subject is looking at – not to be confused with an over the shoulder shot.
  • Prime lenses are lightweight lenses with a fixed focal length.  




  • Room tone is the empty sound of a room recorded after filming to add in the editing process later to eliminate abrupt editing point.
  • Resolution measures the number of pixels in an image. Higher resolution means more pixels and a clearer image.
  • The rule of thirds allows a producer to build interest in a frame while filming. The rule states a frame should be divided into nine squares with the subject of the film being in focus in one of the guide areas.
rule of thirds in cinematography using little girl on a beach as an example
The rule of thirds



  • A shot list or shot sheet is a list of all scenes or images wanting to be captured in the filming process. It can coincide with a storyboard.
  • A shoulder rig helps someone filming with a handheld camera keep the image stabilized. It’s like a shaped tripod for your shoulder.
  • A slate is that black and white rectangular object that a crewmember snaps before each take. “3…2…1…*snap* ACTION!” It helps keep sound aligned in the editing process.
    slate or clapperboard
    Slate – Clapperboard
  • Split screen divides a screen in half to show typically two separate scenes, but there can be more.
  • Stop motion is the effect where several photographs are taken of shifting inanimate objects and edited together to look like they are moving.
  • Storyboards are what filmmakers use to map out what will be shot so a story can be told in a cohesive manner.
  • A slider is a track that allows a camera to steadily move from side to side or back and forth.
    camera on a slider for ease of camera movement
    Smooth sailing with a slider
  • In order to film smoothly, flying stabilizers called steadicams are used.




  • Three-point lighting is a technique where three lights are strategically placed around a scene to create optimal lighting.
  • A timelapse is a scene that is filmed from the same point of view for a long period of time and then sped up to show rapid changes.




  • A viewfinder is a screen that shows a filmmaker what image their camera is picking up.




  • A wide angle shot captures more of a subject and its surroundings.
  • White balance helps keep the white in your images white and not tinted. Cameras can have white balance settings or film can be altered for white balance in editing.




  • A zoom lens allows a filmmaker to manually zoom in and out on a scene by adjusting the lens.


Any video vocabulary or industry jargon that you commonly use? Email us and we’ll add it to the list!