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Glossary of filmmaking terms

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art director
the designer who is in charge of costumes and sets.

camera angle
the angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject.

close up
the camera shows details of a person or object; they appear close and big on the screen so that, for example, facial expression can be seen.

cut
the process of moving from one shot to the next; the end of one shot is followed by the beginning of the next.

dialogue
the words spoken by the characters on screen.

director
the person with overall creative control of the film.

director of photography
person responsible for camera and lighting.

diegetic sound
any sound that is part of the world the film depicts, eg sound from a radio playing in the room where the story is set.

editing
putting a series of shots and sounds together to create meaning.

establishing shot
a shot at the beginning of a film or sequence which introduces the scene.

extreme close up
this shows a person or object in really close detail.

fade in
the image gradually appears from a black screen.

fade out
the image gradually disappears to become a black screen.

feature film
a full-length film, can be anything from 1 to 3 hours or more.

flashback
story order in the film in which events are shown which take place earlier than the event first shown.

frame
a single image on a strip of film; the edges of the screen.

framing
the way in which the subject is arranged in the picture, within the film’s ‘frame’.

genre
kind, category or sort used to describe literary or other artistic work.

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high angle shot
the camera looks down on a person or object and so makes them look vulnerable or inferior.

jib
equipment used to get camera in required position

long shot
a person or object is seen from a long distance within the setting in which the action takes place.

low angle shot
the camera looks upwards at a person or object; this makes them look powerful or superior.

mid shot  or medium shot
the camera shows a person or object from a medium distance, generally  a character is seen from the knees or waist up; some of the setting can be seen.

mise-en-scéne
the way characters and objects are arranged in the shot; lighting, behaviour of character, setting, costume, make-up, props.

narrative 
the way a story is told.

narrator
a person who tells the story, often using voice over.

non-diegetic sound
sound which is not part of the story on screen but which creates atmosphere eg though music or sound effects, or the voice of the narrator, the voice over.

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pan
panoramic shot, created by turning the camera from one side to the other.

point of view shot
the camera shows us what the character in the film is looking at.

reaction shot
this shot shows the audience a character's expression as they react or respond to what they have just seen the point of view shot.

reverse
a shot that takes the opposite point of view from the one before.

scene
a section of film which shows one part of the story that takes place in one location and in one period of time.

sequence
a series of linked scenes.

short film
a film that lasts for a short time, from one minute to about forty minutes.

shot
a single piece of film without cuts.

slow motion
section of the film or a shot where action is slowed down.

sound bridge
sound which either goes from the end of one scene into the beginning of the next or which starts at the end of a scene and carries over into the next making a connection between the two scenes.

soundtrack
this can consist of the music, dialogue and sound effects used in the film.

storyboard
a series of drawings / photos with captions to show the shots planned for the film; eg. characters, location, camera work.

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tilt
the camera points either upwards or downwards.

tracking shot
the camera moves along a track, often following a person or object that is moving.

two shot
a shot of two people.

voice-over
the narrator’s voice.

wide shot
a shot which appears to have been taken from some distance away. People, where present, look small in the setting; it is often used at the start of a film as an 'establishing shot' to show where the action is taking place.

zoom
the camera’s lens is adjusted so that a person or an object either looks closer (zoom in) or more distant (zoom out).

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