Aural Perspective

The volume and tonal qualities of a sound in relation to its distance from the camera.


Previous events that have occurred in the past of a character prior to the start of a film narrative.

Blue Screen Shot

Process whereby actors are photographed in front of a blue or green background in color so that a second image with a background and possibly other actors or created characters can be composited together in a laboratory or through digital means.

Breaking Axis

Any shot taken from the opposite side of the imaginary line running horizontally through a screen. Also called crossing the line, the 180 degree rule or direct reverse.

Canted Angle

An unusual composition that expresses a unique point of view and personal interpretation. Also known as a dutch angle.

Cinéma Vérité

A documentary film for developed in France during the 1950s and 1960s that attempts to film like as it really is without cinematic manipulation or interference.

Composite Shot*

When more than one visual element is combined to create an image at the laboratory stage or through manipulation by digital software.


An editing technique that compresses and event into a shorter space of time than it would take in real time. Although the basis of most editing is to compress time, the editor can drastically alter real time when it is drastically necessary for a scene.


Footage that duplicates or complements the master shot from a different angle or size, thus allowing the editor to make a match or move the film editorially.


Editing technique whereby shots or scenes are cut together in alternate sequence to create a dramatic relationship. Also called intercutting.

Diegetic Sound

Sounds that occur within the screen space.

Digital Postproduction

Process that includes editing picture and sound and visual effects utilizing computer software such as Photoshop, Maya, and After Effects and nonlinear platforms such as Avid, Final Cut Pro, and ProTools.

Direct Cinema

The American interpretation on cinéma vérité where the camera is non-objective and as invisible as possible in the manner of the French school but where films are tightly structured during the editing process.

Direct Cut

An end-to-end without any optical or digital transitions.


Optical process whereby one shot fades out as the next shot fades in.


A non-fiction film dealing with facts that attempts to present reality as it is.


A film narrative that employs elements of both comedy and drama.

Dutch Angle

An unusual composition that expresses a unique point of view and personal interpretation. Also known as a canted angle.

Ethnographic Film

The study and systematic recording of human cultures on film.

Experimental Film

Non-narrative filmmaking created in opposition to the commercial nature of the Hollywood studio film. A term used in the 1960s and 1970s to identify individual, nontraditional filmmakers with artistic intentions often employing abstract concepts and techniques.


Establishing the principal story action and the general circumstances of the character.

Eye Line-Match

When the direction and angle of a character's gaze is staged, and photographed by the camera so it will connect with same concerning another character in the previous or following shot.

Fade In

Optical effect or digital transition in which an image appears from black or a solid color field.

Fade Out

Optical effect or digital transition in which an image disappears into black or a solid color field. Also known as Fade to Black.

Fine Cut*

Edit of a film that is very close to being completed. What's left to do after a fine cut usually is little more than taking off a frame here and there, maybe deleting or moving a shot but not much more.


A scene that takes place earlier in time than the one that precedes it.
FlashforwardA scene that jumps ahead out of relation to the time frame that has been established.

Freeze Frame

A single frame of an motion picture image repeated for a desired length of time.

Handheld Camera

Technique where the camera is held and operated by the operator without a tripod or dolly.

Head Trim

When frames from the beginning of head of a shot are cut/trimmed.


A short shot, usually filmed separately and cut into a scene. An insert can be a shot of a clock, newspaper headline, or a detail that helps to explain the action or meaning of a scene.


Editing technique whereby shots or scenes are cut together in alternate sequence to create a dramatic relationship. Also called cross-cutting.

Interscene Editing

The cuts or edits taking place within a scene.


Text inserted into the body of a film. Utilized in silent films to present dialogue, background information and to establish time and place. In sound films inter-titles provide information or comment on the content of the film.

Iris Shot

A shot associated with silent filmmaking that is masked, most other in a circular shape, to open or close a scene by expanding or decreasing the image shape to or from full screen, or to bring attention to a character or object, or to contrast the context between the isolated image and the full screen space.

Jump Cut

A jump in action caused by removing part of a continuous shot or by joining two shots that do not match in continuity.


A scene, sequence, or montage that is removed in its entirety from the cut in progress and stored in a bin. At times lifts can be put back into a cut in progress in the same place as it was or in a new position. They also can remain out of the film.

Linear Storytelling

A narrative which utilizes a consecutive timeline without flashbacks or flashforwards.

Locked-Off Camera

A camera which is secured in position and composition after a shot is completed. Camera are often locked off so that another shot with different action can be photographed and later edited together with the former shot to give the illusion of a continuous take. Any shot without camera or lens movement can also be referred to as being locked-of

Master Shot

Continuous shot that includes the entire action of a scene.

Match Cut

Two shots that link or match a related action.


Term that refers to the film or videotape available in raw unedited state for postproduction of a motion picture.


The French word for editing. The early Russian cinema style in which a collision effect is achieved between shots designed for their graphic, narrative, social, and political purpose. In the Classical Hollywood Studio model a series of shots that established the passage of time or compresses an action or event. A contemporary filmmaking style which employs a multitude of individual shot details as the main communication source of storytelling.


These three letters do not stand for anything in particular but MOS means a shot is going to be done without sound. The story goes that back during the studio era, a European director called for the next shot to be "Mit Out Sound," it was the accent that changed the W to an M. The person working the slate that day heard "Mit Out Sound" and wrote down MOS.

Multiple Exposure

When the same section of a film negative is exposed more than twice to superimpose a series of images into one shot.


Words spoken by an off-screen voice, either an unidentified speaker or one of the characters in a film. Theorists have classified the text of a narrator as being reliable or unreliable as a part of a narrative strategy.

Narrative Conventions

A device, principle, procedure or form generally accepted between the filmmaker and the viewer. The happy ending, killing off an evil character, and the guy gets the girl were all part of the Classical Hollywood Studio System mode of storytelling.

Non-Diegetic Sound

Sounds that do not originate or occur within the screen space.

Non-Linear Storytelling

A narrative that does not follow a consecutive timeline and moves forward and back in time, place, action, and events.

Non-Fiction Film

A film that presents actual not fictional situations and people.

Non-Narrative Film

Term used to describe an experimental film that has no discernible story or plot often employing abstract or non-figurative images.


Action that takes places outside the camera frame.


Any editorial device such as a dissolve, wipe, or fade or a visual effect achieved on film through the use of a photographic optical printer. When produced digitally these cinematic elements are termed transition.


The sound of an outgoing shot extended into the incoming shot.

Over-the-Shoulder Shot

A shot in which the camera shoots past the back of the head and shoulder of a character on the left or right side of the frame to the person the character is seeing.

Parallel Storytelling

When two or more storylines occurring at the same time are presented alternately to show simultaneous and related actions.

Picture Lock

Any editorial device such as a dissolve, wipe, or fade or a visual effect achieved on film through the use of a photographic optical printer. When produced digitally there cinematic elements are termed transition.

Plan Sequence

A sequence choreographed, stage, photographed, and presented in a long single take without interscene editing.


Also known as POV, when the camera visually presents what a character is seeing through their eyes and perspective.

Pre-Title Sequence

A sequence that occurs before the main titles appear. A pre-title sequence may begin the narrative, present the past or future or serve the purpose of engaging the viewer's attention with a segment unrelated to the principle story.

Process Shot

A shot where a foreground action is played live in front of a background image that is rear screen projected. Also known as Rear Screen Projection.

Production Sound

The sound track recorded by the production sound mixer during the shooting of the film.

Rack Focus

When the point of a camera focus is deliberately shifted from one person or object to another. Used as a storytelling device to direct the viewer's attention.

Rear Screen Projection

A process that allows a background to be projected from behind a screen so the actors can be photographed in front of it placing them in the setting. Also known as the Process Shot.

Reverse Angle

A shot in a dialogue scene that is take from the direct opposite angle than the previous one.

Scene in One

(found as Deep Focus)
A scene presented in one shot without interscene editing.


Non-diegetic music created by a film composer that created an aural emotional atmosphere film by presenting thematic, dramatic, or expressive musical accompaniment.

Shot/Reverse Shot

Technique utilized during a dialogue sequence where the image of the other character presented from the direct opposite angle. The result links the two shots together and allows the viewer to forget the presence of the camera.


A shot that contains one character.

Source Music

Music which is coming from a direct established source such as a radio, musicians in the shot, or an on screen sound system.

Split Screen

When the screen is divided into two or more separate fields that each present their own image.


When going through a film to determine exactly a music cue, sound effect or a shot or shots will go.

Stock Footage

Pre-existing film, purchased from a stock footage library or archive. Also known as archival footage.

Stop-motion Photography

An animation technique where images are exposed a frame at a time to create the illusion of movement by puppets, models, and inanimate objects.


Drawings that depict the action of a scene; used to plan the shooting.


When one or more images are layered on top of each other in a transparent fashion.

Swish Pan

A rapid panning of the camera which produced a quick, often blurred action then settles on its point of destination.


When sound and picture run side by side in direct relationship to each other.

Tail Trim

Material cut from the end or tail of a shot.

Third Person Angle

Objective camera position which represents the audience's point-of-view no one of the characters in the film.

Third Person Narration

Objective narrative voice that does not represent the point-of-view of any of the characters in the film.

Time Cut

A cut between two shots which represents a compression of the narrative timeline.

Top Shot

A camera angle from high above a scene that looks directly down. Also known as God's POV or Bird's Eye View.

Tracking Shot

When the camera is mounted on tracks laid down on the set of location so it can be moved forward, backward, right to left or left to right.


A spoked voice that is not directly connected to any characters on screen. Narration can also be considered voice-over.


A sound effect for the murmur of a crown in the background.


An optical effect or digital transition in which one image wipes another image off the screen. Wipes can be made in almost any shape or direction.