A glossary of filmmaking jargon
If you’ve not yet produced video marketing material for your brand, then you may be a little confused by some of the terms used by your creative video company when on set or during pre and post production.
We’ve all seen enough behind the scenes and ‘making of’ material to have a reasonable idea of how a Hollywood blockbuster shoot works and the terminology used. But many of the names, terminology and language used in Hollywood will be identical to that used on your video shoot by pretty much all media production companies.
So here’s a short glossary of terms and language that may be used on your companies video shoot and their meanings.
OK so this is an obvious one, but many people are surprised to learn that these directions are still given even when shooting a corporate video. Clear communication from the director to the crew is essential even on small projects so when “action” is shouted that’s the cue to anyone who’s in shot to start doing whatever it is that the director has asked them to do, and of course “cut” tells them when to stop.
DOP is short for Director of Photography. While the director will focus on whats being captured, the DOP’s job is to focus on what it looks like on camera. So lighting, angles and camera position are the aspects of the shoot that the DOP is concerned with.
The Gaffer’s job is to look after the technical side of the lighting. He often works with the DOP to agree where the lights need to go and what their effect should be. In the world of corporate video you’ll probably only encounter a gaffer on the medium to large shoots and more often than not these shoots are studio based. The Gaffer will ensure that all lighting is rigged and working to the DOP’s wishes.
Grip is a term that is applied to anything (or sometimes anyone) who moves the camera. So if your video marketing requires beautiful sweeping elevated shots using a jib (small crane) or tracking shots using a dolly (basically a tripod on a track) then the general term applied to these items is grip.
As mentioned above, a dolly comes under the term ‘grip’, and it’s used to achieve sliding shots in a straight or curved line. The camera stays on the tripod, which will then sit on a flat panel or base that moves along a smooth track. These shots don’t typically take long to set up as the equipment can be surprisingly mobile, and they add instant value to any corporate video.
‘Post’, or ‘post production’, is everything that a video production company does after the shooting stage has been completed. So editing, sound mixing, animation of logos etc and visual effects are all generally referred to as ‘post’.
Likewise, ‘Pre’ or ‘PP’ is ‘pre-production’. Basically, it’s the planning and logistical work that is required before the cameras come out. This can involve a very wide scope of tasks from scripting and casting to scheduling crew and organising equipment, but quite simply it’s all the stuff that happens before the cameras come out!
Often when producing a corporate video 90% of the footage shot ends up being discarded, as only the best takes, comments or angles end up making their way into the final cut.
However before the editing starts the better media production companies will review every single frame of footage shot for them to work with. This footage is known as the rushes, from back in the days when film negatives were literally “rushed” to the developers so the editor could begin work.
A runner or ‘production/shoot assistant’ is an important part of any video production company. They will deal with a wide variety of tasks that arise throughout the shoot day and will contribute to the smooth running of the filming. From ensuring that clients, crew and artists are looked after and comfortable to helping with loading and unloading of equipment, their role requires them to be problem solvers, and a good runner can respond quickly and efficiently to any situation that can arise whilst filming.
‘Slate’ or ‘Mark it’
In the past, sound and footage could only be synchronised using a visual and audible reference point. This was done by using a clapper board which makes a snapping sound when shut and has an obvious visual cue to the sound that the snap generated. Hence the visual and audio elements of a film were easy to sync.
In the modern day world of digital filming, both sound and picture come ready loaded with ‘time of day’ and ‘date of shoot’ information. However a clapper board is often still used as a failsafe for syncing and also as a visual reference to the editor as to what the scene is – the clapperboard can be marked with information about the scene that is being shot. So don’t be surprised to see one used on the shoot of your latest corporate video.
So there you have it. Working with a creative video company may involve a lot of jargon that can leave you a little confused, and while this isn’t a full list of terms, they are some of the more common words and phrases that should help you on your next video shoot!