Glossary

Updated April 24, 2018


4:4:4 is a digital color reproduction standard where Y (luminance), U (color as defined graphically along a horizontal axis) and V (color as defined graphically along a vertical axis), are all sampled equally. 4:4:4 is a very high quality color sampling system typically used in green-screen ultimatte work.

4:2:2 is a digital color reproduction standard where U (color as defined graphically along a horizontal axis) and V (color as defined graphically along a vertical axis) are both sampled at 1/2 the frequency of Y (luminance). As a result, changes in chrominance are recorded with half the fidelity as changes in luminance are. 4:2:2 is commonly used for “broadcast quality” capture.

4:2:0 is a digital color reproduction standard where Y (luminance) is sampled for each pixel on each scan line, Cb (blue) is sampled every other time luminance is sampled, on every other line, Cr (red) is sampled every other time luminance is sampled on the third scan line, and so on.

Act: In commercial live entertainment television, an “Act” is a continuous series of content elements called “Items” separated by commercial breaks. The content that occurs prior to the first commercial break would be part of Act #1.

Action Axis (180 degree rule): The imaginary line drawn between two subjects or along a line of motion to insure the audience has continuity of screen direction. Crossing the action axis from one shot to the next creates an error in continuity perspective.

AGC (Automatic Gain Control):  (a) Circuitry used to automatically adjust an output signal regardless of varying input signal levels. (b) A circuit that applies either gain or loss to an input signal to maintain an output that is a constant average level over a typically 5 to 10 second averaging time. This emulates what an operator might do by manually riding the gain. Usable versions of AGC stop the level adjustment when the input drops below a threshold. This prevents boosting the background noise to full level when the program material stops. AGCs designed for sound reinforcement also have a means to limit the maximum amount of gain applied (say a 6 dB max gain limit) which reduces the chance that so much gain is applied the system goes into feedback.

Aliasing:  (a) Undesirable video artifacts. Examples include: jaggies or stair-stepping  (stepped or jagged edges of angled lines, especially at the slanted edges of letters), raster scan aliasing (e.g., twinkling or strobing effects on sharp horizontal lines), temporal aliasing (e.g., rotating wagon wheel spokes apparently reversing direction).  (b) Digital audio artifacts generated when a signal that is higher in frequency than 1/2 the sampling rate enters a Analog to Digital converter (A/D). This is normally prevented by use of an anti-aliasing filter before the A/D. The higher the input frequency is above 1/2 the sampling rate the lower in frequency the artifacts. This is analogous to the backwards turning wheels sometimes seen in video. Aliasing therefore does not sound “natural” and sounds very different from normal signal distortion. Because aliasing sounds unnatural even small amounts can be audible.

Ambient Sound (Ambience):  The natural background audio of a given recording environment. On-camera dialog might be primary sound whereas traffic noise or a refrigerator hum or room tone would be ambience.

Aperture:  See Iris. For more information about aperture also see the article Understanding Iris, F stops, Aperture, Gain, Shutter, Depth of Field & Lighting.

Asynchronous: A video source that is not gen-lockable.  To gen-lock an asynchronous video signal a frame synchronizer, either internal to a production switcher, or external to a switcher must be used.  Frame synchronizers incur delay (latency).

Back focus: An adjustment near the mounting flange of a broadcast television lens which modifies the distance between the rear optical element of the lens and the camera’s imager.  A zoom lens whose back focus is not correctly set will lose focus as the lens is zoomed in or out.  For more information about back focus, see the article Understanding back-focus.

Black Burst (Bi-level sync): Is an analog video signal used to reference and synchronize other analog or digital video signals. Synchronous video signals gen-locked together with a common black burst allow glitch-free switching in a production switcher.

Black Level (or “Pedestal Level”): the level of brightness at the darkest (black) part of a visual image.  A black level adjusted too high will result in black appearing rather gray. A black level set too low (“crushed blacks”) will result in the loss of visible detail in the blacks.

When viewed on a Waveform monitor, an analog composite video a black level (in the United States, NTSC) is set to 7.5 IRE.  Digital standard definition video (ITU-R Rec. 601) has a black level of 0 IRE (16 Y’, 8 bit).  Digital High definition video (ITU-R Rec. 709) has a black level of 0 IRE (16 Y’, 8 bit and 64 Y’, 10 bit).

Breathe (Lens Breathing): A subject captured with a frame appearing larger or smaller (shifting of angle of view) as the len’s focus is adjusted.  A change in focal length (magnification) as focal distance (focus) changes.

Camera Control Unit (CCU): a device used with multi-camera live production cameras to allow video & audio (camera microphone) out from the camera to be sent to a control room; and gen-lock, tally, headset communications, iris control, paint control, return video and prompter signals, and camera power to be sent from a control room back to the camera head.  The cable connecting the camera head to the CCU is typical SMPTE or TAC fiber, Triax or Multicore.

Candela: A unit of illuminance or light intensity. A common wax candle emits light with a luminous intensity of roughly one candela.

Chip Chart: a chart used for reference purposes while white balancing cameras, illuminated by talent’s key light, or a portable chip light.

Chip Light: a portable light, the same color temperature as the stage’s key lights, which is moved around to each camera to illuminate a Chip Chart while white balancing the cameras.

C-Mount: a type of lens mount commonly found on 16mm movie cameras, closed-circuit security cameras, microscope phototubes and some POV production cameras.  C-mount is an alternate mounting system to B4 (found on most broadcast lens), PL (found on cinematography lenses) and various DSLR mount.

Color Bars: A standardized video signal which can be transmitted, recorded or played back, and is used to evaluate the accuracy of a source video signal, or a signal’s path, in regard to luminance (how bright the image is), chrominance (how saturated/desaturated colors are), phase (the hue of a color), and black levels (to what extent details may be seen in blacks). The top 2/3rds of SMPTE color bars contain seven vertical bars (white, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, red and blue) each at 75% intensity. These colors represent the three base colors – green, red, and blue; and three derivative colors – yellow, magenta and cyan; and white (which is green, red and blue at equal maximum amplitudes). The order the bars appear when viewed as SMPTE color bars creates a stair-step appearance when viewed on a waveform monitor in “luminance mode.”

The bottom section of the SMPTE color bars includes a white square at 100% intensity and a rectangle of black at 7.5% intensity. Some SMPTE color bars include a “pluge” (three small vertical bars) at the bottom right of the screen. The furthest right of the three small vertical bars is black at a level of 11.5 IRE.  The middle small vertical bar is at 7.5 IRE and the leftmost small vertical bar is at 3.5 IRE. When adjusting display devices (such as video monitors or projectors), the rightmost pluge bar (11.5 IRE) should be visible barely as a dark grey, while the left two pluge bars should be completely black. When adjusting video signals on a waveform monitor, the 7.5 IRE pluge black bar should align with the 7.5 IRE line on the waveform display.

The bottom left hand side of the SMPTE color bars may have a “I” and “Q” rectangular “blackish” boxes. One of these is a very dark blue hue while the other is a very dark purple. When viewed on a vectorscope, I and Q appear as two short lines, ninety degrees apart from each other appearing at 147 degrees and 237 degrees on the vectorscope scale.

Color Temperature: in practical terms, a measurement in degrees (Kelvin) describing the color of white light (actually, the temperature or reflected heat of a black-body radiator, radiating reflected light of a color similar to the light source). Very warm color temperatures (1800 K) are typically emitted by candle light, or during a sunrise or sunset. Warm color temperatures (2700-3200 K) are typically emitted by incandescent lighting instruments. Cool color temperatures (5000 K) is typically emitted by a midday sun whereas an overcast sky would typically be cooler (6500 K). CRT and LCD screens are typically somewhere between 6500-9500 K.

Colorimetry: human color perception.  The adjustment of red and blue gains (or red, green and blue gains) and/or red and blue pedestal (blacks) to achieve a given esthetic or to match live cameras.

Counter balance: A system within a camera’s pan/tilt tripod head applying opposing force when the camera operator tilts the camera. Counter balance is typically used to assist the camera operator in maintaining a level (to the horizon) pitch, or a desired pitch angle above/below horizontal.

Crash Zoom: when using a zoom lens – changing the lens’ focal length at the maximum rapid speed possible, snapping from a wide FoV to telephoto, or vice versa.

Depth of Field (DoF):  the distance within a frame, closer to the camera, or farther from the camera, that remains in-focus.  A narrow or shallow depth of field typically has the subject (or part of the subject) in-focus; with the foreground and background out of focus, thus drawing the viewers attention to the in-focus portion of the screen. A deep depth of field will have the subject as well as the foreground and background in-focus, thus allowing the viewer to explore the frame and look where they will.  For more information about depth of field, see the article Understanding Iris, F stops, Aperture, Gain, Shutter, Depth of Field & Lighting.

Detail: A camera’s detail circuit controls the sharpness of an image.  Too much detail will result in a image looking unflattering.  Too little detail will result in the image looking soft, almost out of focus.  Some cameras have various different types of detail controls, including the ability to adjust “skin detail” separately from overall detail.

Dolly (Dolly In, Dolly Out):  (1) a device with wheels which supports the camera. (2) the act of physically moving the camera closer or further to/from the subject in a frame thereby increasing/decreasing the field of view with a static focal length.

Dolly Zoom (Zolly):  combining a dolly shot (the act of physically moving the camera closer or further to/from the subject in a frame thereby increasing/decreasing the field of view) with a zoom, changing a lens’ focal length from a wider focal length to telephoto, or vice versa. Dolly Zoom or Zolly shots often calibrate and coordinate the changes in camera distance and speed with focal length and speed, maintaining static framing while the angular field of view is changing.  See the video below for a good example:

Dust Off:  A canned air product manufactured by Falcon, used to remove dust or dirt from electronics. For instructions on lens cleaning see this post.

Establishing shot:  An opening image of a program or a scene. Typically a wide shot, extreme wide shot or distant perspective that orients viewers to the overall setting and surroundings.

Field of View (FoV):  the observable area a camera operator allows into a videographic frame for the audience to see.  The vertical and horizontal angles – in degrees – which a lens captures light.

Extreme Closeup Shot (Abbreviated “ECU” or “XCU”):  A camera frame tighter or closer-in than a Closeup shot. Example:

Extreme Closeup / ECU / XCU

Closeup Shot (Abbreviated “CU”):  A camera frame in which the vertical space captured is approximately one foot vertical.  In the context of a presenter’s presentation, also known as a Head shot. Example:

CloseUp / CU /Headshot

Medium Closeup Shot (Abbreviated “MCU”):  A camera frame in which the vertical space captured is approximately eighteen inches (1’6″) vertical.  In the context of a presenter’s presentation, also known as a Bust shot. Example:

Medium Closeup / MCU / Bust Shot

Medium Shot (Abbreviated “MED”):  A camera frame in which the vertical space captured is approximately thirty inches (2’6″) vertical.  In the context of a presenter’s presentation, also known as a Waist shot. Example:

Medium / MED / Waist Shot

Medium Wide shot (Abbreviated “MWS”):  A camera frame in which the vertical space captured is approximately four foot six inches (54″) vertical.  In the context of a presenter’s presentation, also known as a Head to Knees shot. Example:

Medium Wide / MWS / Head to Knees

Wide Shot (Abbreviated “WS”):  A camera frame in which the vertical space captured is approximately six foot six inches (78″) vertical, or equivalent to capturing a human male or female completely, from the top of their head to their toes, regardless of the subject’s height.  In the context of a presenter’s presentation, also known as a Head to Toe shot. Example:

Wide / WS / Head to Toe

Extreme Wide Shot (Abbreviated “EWS” or “XWS”):  A camera frame wider than a Wide Shot, sometimes as wide as the camera’s lens will allow. Example:

Extreme Wide / EWS / XWS

F Stop Ramping (F Drop): F Stop Ramping (F Drop): a phenomenon found in zoom lenses whereby the lens becomes less light efficient when zooming in. To avoid F stop ramping (F Drop) altogether, the “entrance pupil” of the focusing lens group must be equal to or greater in size than the lens’ telephoto focal length divided by the F-stop number. However this would result in lenses becoming much larger and heavier, and so a compromise is made resulting in handheld capable lenses being less light efficient as the lens’ focal length increases.

Focal Length: Within a lens, focal length is the distance between the point of convergence (typically at the rear of the lens) to the sensor or film within your camera, represented in millimeters. A lens’ focal length tells us the angle of view, how much of the scene will be captured. The longer the focal length (the higher the number), the narrower the angle of view and therefore the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, (the lower the number) the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.

Follow Focus: Controlling a lens’ focus so that an image maintains sharpness and clarity despite camera or the subjects movement.  Or, an accessory device used by cinematographers to operate a lens’ focus barrel, controlled by either the camera’s operator or the First Assistant Cameraman, as in “Studio Follow Focus.”  Studio Follow Focus devices often have discs which the camera operator or First AC can mark focal distance cues, or “witness marks.”

Foot candle: a unit of illuminance or light intensity. A foot-candle is the illuminance cast on a surface by a one-lumen source one foot away.

Framing: The act of composing a shot, selecting the Field of View for the desired content and angle.  The judicious act of determining which content to omit.

Gain: Camera gain is the amount of amplification the camera is currently applying to the imager’s output, expressed in decibels.  For more information on gain, see the article Understanding Iris, F stops, Aperture, Gain, Shutter, Depth of Field & Lighting.

Gen-lock: the technique of adjusting the picture timing (synchronization) of a video source signal (a camera, VTR, character generator, etc.) to conform with a video production switcher, or a master sync generator in a video production system.

Headroom: (a) The amount of space between the top of a subject’s head and the upper edge of the screen.   The amount of headroom typically sought is commensurate to the tightness of the frame or Field of View.  Tighter frames receive less headroom.  Wider frames are given more headroom.  (b) The audio difference in peak level between the signal peak and the peak level the system can handle without distortion. Headroom is required to allow for the fact that sounds can vary a lot and max levels can be hard to predict. For example when setting levels during a rehearsal it is wise to leave a lot of headroom to allow for levels to be higher during the performance.

HDR (High Dynamic Range): in the context of video production, High Dynamic Range (HDR) video is a subset of HD (High Definition) or UHD (Ultra High Definition) which allows a greater contrast range (i.e.: a greater “dynamic range”) than previous HD broadcast standards would allow. For the consumer, a HDR signal viewed on a HDR television will allow brighter brights with more detail in those brights (without getting blown out); and darker darks, with the ability to see into the shadows – than a non-HDR HD or UHD program would allow. Similarly Wide Color Gamut (WCG) allows a greater color pallet than previous HD broadcast standards would allow. Unlike digital still photography, HDR in video production does not involve the merging of two exposures to create one composited image.

Currently there are multiple competing HDR encoding formats which are not necessarily compatible with each other. They include HDR10 (a 10 bit, 1,000 nit, static metadata open source standard supported by Samsung, Sony and Microsoft), HDR10+ (a dynamic metadata standard supported by Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, Amazon and 20th Century Fox), Dolby Vision (a proprietary hardware based, dynamic metadata, 12 bit, 10,000 nit capable system), HLG (developed by the BBC and NHK Japan to be a backwards compatible system for viewers without HDR capability), and Advanced HDR (a new cross-compatible-HDR format).

Hyperfocal distance: the distance between a camera lens and the closest object that is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity.

Internal/External sync: A switch often found on professional video tape recorders/players allowing an operator to select whether or not the VTR is referenced to external signals (as in black burst) or an internal signal. When being used as a recorder, the Internal/External sync switch would often be set to Internal, whereas then used as a player, the Internal/External sync switch would often be set to External.

Imag: is a production technique which utilizes one or more video cameras capturing a live speech or performance in front of a live audience and simultaneously video projecting those camera(s) onto screen(s) with the intent of aiding the audience (in the venue) seeing the presenter or performer better/larger than they could with the naked eye.

Iris: A ring on a lens controlling aperture, typically expressed in F-stop numbers.  The lower the f-stop number the wider the aperture, allowing in more light.  The higher the f-stop number the smaller the aperture, allowing in less light.  Wide aperture (smaller f-stop numbers) reduces the depth of field.  Smaller aperture (higher f-stop numbers) increases or deepens the depth of field.  For more information regarding iris, see the article, Understanding Iris, F stops, Aperture, Gain, Shutter, Depth of Field & Lighting.

Iso: A video recording only of a specific camera, or video element, as opposed to a linecut.

Item: In live entertainment television an Item is a section of dialog, or a song, a playback element, etc., contained within a Act.

Jimmy Jib: A brand name which manufactures camera support device where the camera is placed on one end of a long arm, the operator (and counter balance weights) are on the opposite end of the arm and a fulcrum is in the center. A competing similar system is manufactured by CamMate. Typical Jimmy Jib shots are high/low angle, or sweeping motion shots where the camera moves in an arc.

Kimtech Kimwipes: A professional dry lint-free lens tissue typically used in conjunction with Pancro. For instructions on lens cleaning see this post.

Latency: (a) the amount of time, typically measured in milliseconds or video frames, which a device requires to process, convert or synchronize a video signal.  Latency of a video signal only will cause audio to appear out of lip-sync.  Video latency is especially problematic in production environments projecting cameras (Imag) as delaying audio (through a PA system) of a presenter/teacher/preacher to match the latent video is not an acceptable solution.  The average attendee will begin to notice latency/lip-sync mismatch at about 4-6 frames of delay. (b) All digital audio adds some latency to the audio, but typically less than the latency involved with video processing. The distance from the loudspeaker to the listener will also add roughly one millisecond of latency for every foot of distance.

Lens blower: A rubber bellows device used to remove dust or dirt from a lens. I recommend the Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster. For instructions on lens cleaning see this post.

Lens brush: A soft bristle device used to remove dust or dirt from a lens. I recommend the LensPen NLP-1. For instructions on lens cleaning see this post.

Linecut: A video recording of a production switcher’s Program output.  Linecut’s which are “dirty” include all graphical elements.  Linecut’s which are “clean” refer to Program without lower-third graphics, logos, bugs, etc.

Long shot: (Abbreviated “LS”) A camera’s view of a subject or scene from a distance, showing a broad perspective.  See Extreme Wide Shot.  Also can describe the likelihood a presenter will get you his/her graphics in a timely manner.

Lumen: a measurement of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source.  The difference between lumens and lux is that lux takes into account the area over which the light is spread.  For example, 1000 lumens concentrated into an area of one square meter lights up that square meter with an illuminance of 1000 lux. However the same 1000 lumens spread out over ten square meters would produce a dimmer illuminance of only 100 lux.

Lux: (Abbreviated “lx”) a measurement of light’s intensity. One lumen per square meter.

Meter Lag: (Audio) The difference between the level shown on the meter and the actual peak level of the signal. Some audio level meters, particularly those marked in Volume Units (VU) attempt to display an average of the level over a short time. This is done because it correlates well with the perceived level. However, all signal types have peak levels that are higher than such a meter displays. Some sorts of signals such as flute will have peak levels only a few dB higher than shown in VU. Other sorts of signals such as piano, and percussion, can have peak levels 30 dB or more higher than shown in VU. Please note this meter lag is not the same as Headroom, and must be accounted for in addition to headroom.

Moiré:A moiré pattern occurs when an object that being shot contains repetitive patterns of detail (such as parallel lines, or dots, etc.) which may exceed a camera’s imager resolution. Moiré is identified as strange-looking wavy pattern imposed over the repetitive detail area of a frame. Changing a camera’s angle to the subject; or a camera’s field of view (either by adjusting the distance to the subject at a given focal length, or by adjusting focal length at a given distance) will mitigate moiré. Additionally, changing a camera’s aperture by stopping down to very narrow F-stops (f/11, f/16, or greater, etc.) will cause an optical phenomenon known as “diffraction,” which also may mitigate moiré.

Narrative: Production content which tells a story, typically fictional or fictionalized, regarding an event or narrative.

Neutral Density Filter (ND): an optical filter placed either in front of a lens, or internal to the camera, to reduce the amount of light hitting the camera’s imager, without adjusting the camera’s shutter, aperture or gain.  A “ND 0.3” filter will reduce light by one stop (or phrased another way, it will reduce the light by half).  A “ND 0.6” will reduce light by two stops.  “ND 0.9” is three stops.

Nit: A unit of luminance equivalent to one candela per square meter.

Nose room: The distance between the subject and the edge of the frame ,in the direction the subject is looking. The more profile a camera angle is, the more Nose room is given.  The more dead-on a camera angle is, the less Nose room is give. Also called “Look room.”

Over-the-shoulder shot:  A framing technique where the primary subject is in the background while the back of a second person’s shoulder and head are in the foreground of a shot. Often used in interview situations.

Paint Box: See “Remote Control Panel.”

Pan: Pivoting a camera horizontally, right to left, or left to right.

Pan Off (Pan Off Left/Right): A camera direction term where the camera frame begins with the subject in the frame and the camera operator panning until the subject is no longer visible.

Pan On (Pan On Left/Right): A camera direction term where the camera frame begins without the subject in the frame and the camera operator panning until the subject is revealed and positioned where desired.

Pedestal (Studio Pedestal): A camera move where the entire camera body & lens raises or lowers vertically.  Also a camera support device used to dolly, truck, crab and perform vertical camera movements, as in “Studio Pedestal.”

Point-of-view shot (POV):  A camera framing perspective whereby the camera assumes a subject’s view and thus the audience see what the subject would have seen.

Prime Lens: A lens designed to work at only one focal length.  Often used due to superior image quality compared to zoom lenses.

Pull (Pull Out): the act of physically moving the camera further from the subject in a frame thereby increasing the field of view with a static focal length. Typically done when the camera is on a dolly or a pedestal. (2) the term “pull out” may also be used to describe a simple zoom move, where the camera physically remains at a static distance to the subject and the camera operator slowly changes a zoom lens’ field of view by decreasing the lens’ focal length. (3) when using a film camera, the term “pull” may refer to the technique of telling, or setting a camera’s ISO dial lower than the actual ISO rating of the film one is using, thereby overexposing captured images. Pulling during film acquisition may be done to achieve a lower shutter speed (achieving a given motion esthetic). (4) During the development process of camera film, “pulling” may refer to leaving the film in the developing-chemicals shorter, thereby achieving a shallower contrast range when using overexposed film.

Push (Push In):  the act of physically moving the camera closer to the subject in a frame thereby decreasing the field of view with a static focal length. Typically done when the camera is on a dolly or a pedestal. (2) the term “push in” may also be used to describe a simple zoom move, where the camera physically remains at a static distance to the subject and the camera operator slowly changes a zoom lens’ field of view by increasing the lens’ focal length. (3) when using a film camera, the term “push” may refer to the technique of telling, or setting a camera’s ISO dial higher than the actual ISO rating of the film one is using, thereby underexposing captured images. Pushing during film acquisition may be done to achieve a higher shutter speed (achieving a given motion esthetic). (4) During the development process of camera film, “pushing” may refer to leaving the film in the developing-chemicals longer, thereby achieving an unequal contrast range when developing underexposed film (the highlights and brights become brighter, while the darks remain without detail in the shadows).

Rack focus: Shifting focus between subjects in the frame.  Often used to shift optical focus between foreground and background elements, so a viewer’s attention is directed intentionally from one subject to another subject within the frame as the focus shifts.

Remote: A shoot performed outside of a controlled studio environment, on location.  Also called (in Europe) an “Outside Broadcast” or “OB.”

Remote Control Panel (RCP):  the controller which allows a Video Engineer (“Shader”) to adjust a camera’s iris, pedestal, detail and colorimetry.  If connect to a camera’s CCU, the device is typically called a “RCP.”  If manufactured to connect directly to the camera’s head, then typically called a “Paint Box.”

Return Video: A feature typically found on video production cameras with CCUs (camera control units) whereby the camera operator can view alternative content in the camera’s viewfinder, such as the line-cut, or a preview of the placement of a digital video effects box to be superimposed onto the image.

Rule of Thirds: A composition theory based on dividing the screen into thirds vertically and horizontally and placing the main subject along those lines.  Example:

Rule of Thirds grid

Safe Area (essential area, critical area, safe action area): Image boundaries within which contents of a television picture are sure to be seen regardless of the viewer’s television receiver aspect ratio, sizing or cropping.  A safe area encompasses (approximately) the inner 80 percent of the image as is typically used to determine where important graphics or content should be placed.

80% Safe Area

Scene: In feature films, a sequence of related shots usually constituting the action in one particular location [See “Shot“].

Scripted Content: Production genres where all dialog is predetermined, rehearsed and delivered as previously planned.  Scripted content is often “blocked,” meaning the physical location of each camera and talent delivering lines is planned out and rehearsed.  Examples of scripted content include narrative feature films, commercials, etc.

Shade: to adjust the iris, black levels, colorimetry, and detail of a camera’s image. Typically done by a Video Operator.

Shader: See Video Operator.

Shot: The Intentional composition or framing of a scene.

Shot Sheet: a list of shots specific to a given camera, which includes who the camera operator is to frame, the field of view, as well as any specified motion the camera is required to give.  Shot numbers refer to a sequential list of shots, most often cued by a live television Associate Director (AD).  Shot sheets come in both paper and electronic forms.

Paper & Electronic Shot Sheets

Shutter: with video cameras, shutter is a device which controls the motion esthetic achieved.  Slow shutter speeds (or turning the shutter off) may give the impression of motion being blurred. High shutter speeds lend themselves to a motion esthetic which is temporally fast-paced, in some cases to the point of appearing visually staccato.  Lower shutter speeds (or turning the shutter off) allow more light to reach the camera’s imager.  Higher shutter speeds reduce the amount of light and therefore affects exposure.  For more information on shutter, see the article Understanding Iris, F stops, Aperture, Gain, Shutter, Depth of Field & Lighting.

Siemen’s Star chart: a chart used to aid in adjusting a len’s back-focus.

SMPTE: the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Speed Ramping: A slow motion (over-cranking) or fast motion (under-cranking) visual effect where the images go from normal speed to slow motion, or normal speed to fast motion, or either vice versa within a shot. Slow motion (over-cranking) is achieved by shooting more frames per second than the display system will reproduce (i.e.: shooting 60 frames per second and displaying 24 fps will result in a 2.5x slow motion effect, each second of frames captured will have 2.5 seconds duration when viewed. Fast motion (under-cranking) is achieved by shooting fewer frames per second than the display system will reproduce (i.e.: shooting 12 frames per second and displaying 24 fps will result in a 2x speed-up motion effect, each second of frames shot will have one-half of a second duration when viewed. Speed Ramping is the gradual changing from one frame rate per second to another frame rate per second.

Steadicam: A brand name which manufactures body-worn camera stabilization devices. Steadicam shots are typically a hybrid of that which a dolly or a handheld camera operator might achieve.

Subject: in regard to the framing of objects, the subject is the primary point of interest within a frame. The placement of our subject, the inclusion or exclusion of foreground and background elements, and lighting are chosen intentionally to communicate to the viewer relationship, stature, and perspective.

Switcher ME (M/E, MLE): is a portion of a production switcher controlling a discrete video output; governing the selection of which input, transition type, and (potentially) keyer type is assigned to a ME output. ME’s typically have two rows of source selection buttons each; a preview row and a row which indicates which source is currently being sent to the ME’s output. Some production switchers have only one ME, while others can have two, three, four or more MEs. Switchers that have multiple MEs can send their ME’s output to a specific and dedicated destination (e.g.: projection screens, or a webcast) or the output of one ME can cascade into another ME to achieve layered effects.

Tally: a signal light within a eyecup camera viewfinder, or on a studio camera viewfinder, which alerts to the camera operator when his/her camera has been put on-air (Program).  A tally indicator may also appear on a monitor wall to identify which camera is on-air.

Tilt: Pivoting a camera vertically, up and down, on a single axis.

Timecode: a numeric sequence of codes imprinted on a video tape or within video file. Timecode is used to reference specific content in a recording, and/or to synchronize devices or files. SMPTE timecode is a temporal representation of hours, minutes, seconds and frames. Subsets include: (a) Linear timecode (LTC) where timecode is recorded onto a dedicated audio track, (b) Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC) where timecode is recorded within the vertical blanking interval of a video signal, (c) burnt-in (or “vis” timecode) where the timecode digits are superimposed visibly over the video content itself, and (d) CTL timecode (control track) where timecode is written to a control track separate from audio or video.

Tracking: Lateral camera movement traveling along with a moving subject. Typically, the camera maintains a somewhat consistent distance to the subject.

Tripod: A camera support device typically with three legs and a pan/tilt head.

Tripod Lock: A lever or knob on a tripod pan/tilt head which prevents panning, tilting or both from occurring. Typically engaged when the tripod is not in use, or the camera operator is not present or distracted.

Tripod Tension: A dial or knob on a tripod pan/tilt head which selects the amount of drag (friction) the operator feels when panning or tilting. Typically there are separate tension dials for pan and tilt.

Truck (Truck Left, Truck Right): similar to dolly, but instead of moving the camera closer/further from talent, “truck” is a side-to-side motion. Trucking is often accomplished with a dolly on track, or a slider.

Two-shot: A camera view including two subjects.  Examples:

Two Shot – Medium
Two Shot – Wide

T number vs F stop:  Feature film cinematography lenses are rated in “T numbers.” T numbers reflect a lens’ absolute light efficiency and transmittance. If two lenses have the same T number, they will both pass the same amount of light to the camera. F stop numbers (as found on still photography and video lenses) however express the speed of a lens based on a assumption the lens transmits 1OO% of the available light. Since F Stop numbers refer to a theoretically perfect efficiency, two lenses with the same F-stop rating may actually differ in light transmittance.

Video Operator (VO, Shader):  the live multi-camera production team member who is responsible for insuring the exposure, black levels, detail and colorimetry of each camera matches.  Typically the VO accomplishes this with a color critical grade video monitor, a router, a waveform/vectorscope and a RCP or paintbox for each camera.

Vignette: An intentional or unintentional visual effect whereby viewers see images through a perceived keyhole (the outer edges of the frame darker than the center of the frame).

Whip pan (Swish pan): An extremely rapid camera movement from left to right or right to left, sometimes causing an image to blur during the movement.

White Balance: adjusting the colorimetry of a camera so that white captured by the lens is rendered as white, without a blue-ish or red-ish tinge.

White space (Negative space): an element of aesthetic composition describing the intentional use of no objects, or blankness within a frame containing one’s subject. May also describe the placement of a subject within a frame, the amount of headroom, lead or nose room, etc.

Zoom (Zoom In, Zoom Out): Variance of a zoom lens’ focal length from a wider-angle to telephoto, or vice versa, in one continuous move.

Zoom Ratio: A zoom lens’ telephoto focal length divided by a lens’ wide angle focal length.  A zoom lens with a telephoto focal length of 160mm and a wide angle focal length of 8mm is said to have a zoom ratio of 20x.  With broadcast lenses, the focal length range is expressed as “20×8,” meaning 8mm is the widest focal length the lens can achieve, and 160mm (8mm x 20) is the telephoto capability of the lens.

[Special thanks to Mark Malburg, Bruce Coffy, Richard Curtis, Jason McKelvey, Stefan Svard and Ray A. Rayburn for contributing thoughts and content to this page]