Film and media production words and jargon?
June 5, 2015 2:25 PM   Subscribe

When it comes to film and media production, be it the technical or the creative aspects of the industry, what are some of the jargon and words that are used by the professionals in the field? I am trying to compile a list of the common as well as the unique vocabulary for these specific domains. Absolutely anything, no matter how trivial you think it is, is welcome.
posted by omar.a to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
C-47: clothespin
On the nose: a line or scene that's not subtle enough
Two-hander: a movie or show with two main characters
1K: a light that uses 1000 watts (or puts out an equivalent amount of light)
Bottle episode: an episode that, for budget reasons, takes place entirely or mostly on one set
Multi-camera: a show shot mostly like a stage play on a soundstage with multiple cameras at a time
Single-camera: a show shot mostly like a traditional film with one camera at a time
(Please note that most shows mix and match their setups these days, so The Big Bang Theory can have single-camera setups on location and Game of Thrones can have multi-camera setups during fight scenes)
Video village: the monitoring location behind the camera(s) for the video output(s) of the camera(s)

I'll come back to this thread later.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:39 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

These are a few terms often used in TV news production:

Sticks: Tripod
Box: Camera
Brick: camera battery
Wireless: wireless microphone
Shotgun: usually a camera-mounted microphone
Sungun: light mounted on the camera, used for run & gun shooting (see below)
B-roll: video footage that isn't an interview
Talking Head: interview footage
Pigfuck or gangbang: Press conference with lots of jostling crews
Plug in: stick a microphone into a multi-box to record the audio of a pigfuck, as in "Where can I plug in"
Most Important Part of the Day: Lunch
"Get some MOS's": Man On The Street interviews
JTFC: Just the fucking crew
V/O: Voice Over
V/O SOT: Voice over leading into Sound on Tape
SOT: Sound on tape, or soundbite
Natsound: Natural sound, as in whatever the ambient sound is on the videotape, could be birds chirping, wind, crowd noise
"Fix it in post" means "I know whatever we're shooting here isn't perfect but the editor will fix our mistakes in the edit room post production
Spray the room: Get some shots of whatever is happening, cover the action
Edit in the camera: Try to shoot sparingly so that editing isn't needed, or minimal editing only
Sequence it: Usually refers to a 3 shot sequence that can be cut together, wide, medium and tight shots
Run and gun: Shooting news style, meaning fast and dirty, maybe without using sticks, just getting the shots needed quickly to tell the story
Rip and read: Grab wire copy off the printer and read it directly on the air without rewriting

I'll also come back later. I want to stop thinking about work for a little while.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:50 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This seems to be a pretty good site from a quick glance:

Also note that 9 times out of 10, "fix it in post" is used ironically since it IS a phrase that can be meant as "Fuck it, I don't care about doing my job right, let someone else down the line fix my mistakes".

Set jargon is one of my favorite things, as I'm pretty sure every single thing on set can be called something other than it's Proper Name. When an industry invents a term for clothespins, you know they're deep into slang.

The trick is that while most jargon is simply a descriptive short-hand for what the item actually is, there's also a decent amount that sounds like you're just making up a word.
"Can you grab some cardellinis so we can attach this silk 6by to the c-stand?" just gets translated into "can you grab the specific style of clamp so we can attach this 6' by 6' frame of silk to a stand?"

Also! "FireWatch" is both the Best, and Worst thing to be told to do as a PA. It just means "We have an open truck filled with super expensive equipment. Stay here and make sure no one steals anything"
posted by WeX Majors at 8:24 PM on June 5, 2015

To corpse - to laugh inappropriately on camera (Kirsten Wiig does this a lot)

To spike the lens - to look into the camera lens accidentally, when the role does not call for breaking the fourth wall (ie, newscasters are supposed to look into the lens, actors usually are not- so if an actor accidentally "spikes the lens", the take is basically spoiled)

"Upstaging yourself" can mean "facing away from the camera, in a way that's detrimental to the storytelling". The expression comes from theatre, where stages used to be shaped like ramps sloping down toward the audience, so to be up-stage was to be further back (and thus higher on the ramp), and to "face upstage" meant to face away from the audience. A phrase like "he's upstaging her" can literally mean that his placement is forcing her to look away from camera, or it can be more metaphorical, and mean that her action is being upstaged, or overpowered, by his distracting action (for instance, actress is trying to do a sensitive monologue but actor upstages her by picking his nose).

In theatre many female performers prefer to be called "actors"; in film it's more common to use "actresses".

"Dirty" and "Clean: On camera, a clean close-up only shows the actor who's speaking; a dirty closeup shows part of their scene partner's body, as well (so this guy is "dirtying" her closeup; if you could only see her, it would be clean). Dirty audio is when the actors' lines overlap; clean audio is when there's a slight pause between lines (makes editing easier). Usually you allow dirty audio on a wide shot and get clean audio in closeups.

"On sticks" - camera on a tripod. Handheld: Not on a tripod.

Hitchcock zoom / Dolly zoom - when the camera is physically moved one way, and zoomed the opposite way, at the same time. Gives an unsettling feeling of doom, because the background changes size but the actors don't, which our eyes pretty much never see in real life. So named because Hitchcock used the technique in "Vertigo", and because the wheeled cart that moves the camera smoothly is called a dolly.

"To pick up" is to start again from a previous spot ("Ok keep rolling, let's pick it up from her entrance"), or you can shoot "pickups" which just means taking some time to shoot random little bits here and there to fill in the gaps you missed the first time.

"Wild lines" or "wild audio" are when you record lines or sound effects on set without caring about context- they will be trimmed and used in edit

"Room tone" is the ambient sound in the shooting location- at the end of the shoot, the audio recordist will usually ask for stillness and silence, hit record yell ROOM TONE, then roll for 30 seconds, capturing "silence" in that environment, using that mic configuration. This ambient sound clip is then used to help smooth gaps in the audio while editing.

A chyron is a graphics-and-text overlay that appear the lower-third of a screen (like the name of an interview subject in a news story, on a blue stripe or whatever). So named because the Chryon Company develops graphics-generating products.

Snot tape is a gummy adhesive that is peeled off a wax strip, and can be rolled into a sticky ball. Often used to stick down small microphone.

"Roll sound!" is how the First Assistant Director on a film set signals it's time for a new take to start by asking the sound person to start recording. They reply "Sound speed!" when they are rolling. Genesis is in the olden days of tape reels, when it took a sec for the reels to roll at the correct speed- anything recorded when they were rolling too slowly would sound distorted.

"Check the gate" - Director means, "I think that last take was the one, please make sure it wasn't ruined by ripped film". Film rushing through the gate of a camera can tear, leaving particles (called "hairs" stuck in the gate, which are visible on the footage, spoiling it. Checking the gate is one last precaution to make sure that the last piece of desirable footage is unmarred- if there's a "hair" in the gate, now's the time to clean the gate and do one more take while everything's set for the shot.

"Back to ones!" = "Hey everyone, we are going to re-start this scene, so please return to your first physical position."
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:06 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cheeseboroughs - clamps used to rig trusses together
Dutch Angle - shooting with the camera tilted horizontally
Stingers - extension cords
Edison - electricity
Bless it - shoot something thoroughly by panning back and forth and tilting up and down
Doughnut - a commercial with an existing open and close and a middle that can be replaced as needed
Fabric - the screen that an image is projected on
posted by DaddyNewt at 10:59 PM on June 5, 2015

The ever popular MOS - filming picture only, without recording sound.
Sticks can also refer to the slate, as in Second Sticks - clapping the slate a 2nd time to mark the scene (if the first slate was done prematurely or incorrectly).
The Martini - the last shot of the day, and The Abby - the 2nd to last shot of the day
posted by jindc at 6:11 AM on June 6, 2015

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