Thursday, 9 June 2016

Key Terms

Camera shots, Angle, Movement and Composition: 

Aerial shot - An aerial shot usually taken from a helicopter, often used at the beginning of a film to establish setting and movement.

Close-up - A camera shot taken at a very short distance to show the character's emotion, concentrates the attention and puts the audience in a priviledged position.

Establishing shot - The first shot of a new scene which is meant to give a general impression rather than specific information.

Extreme close-up - A camera shot showing a character's intimate feelings or thinking. This puts the audience in an intimate relationship. It can also be used for dramatic effect.

Long-shot - A camera shot taken at a relatively great distance from the subject and permitting a broad view of a scene.

Master shot - A wide shot that covers the entire action of a scene.

Medium close-up - A camera shot focusing on the importance on the emotions and objects but also keeping a sense of the surroundings and action.

Mid-shot - A camera shot in which the subject is in the middle distance. This situates the character in an immediate surrounding showing emotions.

Over-the-shoulder shot - A camera shot taken from behind a person looking at someone else. This focuses the audience attention on one character.

Point-of-view shot - A camera shot where the audience sees the situation from the character's position and can often be placed in the character's shoes.

Two-shot - A camera shot of two people framed similarly to a mid-shot; this is often used to provide a comparison between the two characters.

Wide-shot - A camera shot taken at a great distance which is used to set up a location.

Bird's eye view - A shot looking directly down on the subject. This can be used to establish an overall shot of a scene or to emphasise the insignificance of the subjects. Very often used for battle scenes.

Canted angle - A canted angle also known as the "Dutch angle" is when the camera is tilted. This is usually good for illustrating imbalance, transition or instability. It can also suggest a bizarre environment or psychological state. Effects such as blurring can contribute to this.

Eye level shot - A neutral shot where the camera is positioned as though it is a human observing a scene. The actor's heads are on level with the focus.

High angle - A camera shot showing the subject from above. This suggests character's weakness, vulnerability, insignificance or isolation and being looked down upon; the audience is in a powerful position.

Low angle - A camera shot showing the subject from below. This suggests character's strength, powerfulness or dominance that makes them threatening and being baked up too; the audience is in a weak position.

Rat's eye view - Often used to show the view of a child or pet. The audience is in a weak position.

Worm's eye view - A shot looking up from the ground. This shows strength and dominance and can be used to show the view of a child or pet.

Crane shot - A crane shot is achieved by a camera mounted on a platform, which is connected to a mechanical arm that can lift the platform up, bring it down or move it laterally across space.

Dolly shot - A shot in which the camera is mounted on a cart which travels towards or away from the subject.

Hand-held camera - A technique in which a camera is held in the camera operator's hands as opposed to being mounted on a base.

Pan shot - A camera movement technique that involves moving the camera horizontally to the right or left.

Reverse zoom - A reverse zoom is when the camera moves so that the subject appears the same size while the background size changes.

Steadicam - A mechanism for steadying a hand-held camera, consisting of an arm to which the camera is attached to.

Tilt shot - A camera movement technique that involves moving the camera vertically to the right or left.

Tracking shot - A shot in which the camera is mounted on a cart that travels along tracks from side to side.

Zoom - Zooming means altering the focal length of the lens to give the illusion of moving closer to the subject.

Deep focus - A camera technique which allows all distance planes to remain clearly in focus, from a close-up range to infinity.

Focus pull - A camera technique where you change focus during a shot. This means adjusting the focus from one subject to another.

Framing - This refers to the way a shot is composed and the manner in which subjects and objects are surrounded by the boundaries of the film image.

Rule of thirds - The rule of thirds is when the frame can be divided into three horizontal and three vertical sections and therefore, where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect makes an ideal location for the more important parts of the picture that need to be focused on.

Shallow focus - A technique in which one part of the image is in focus while the rest is out of focus.


Match on action - Connecting two shots together in which a character finishes off an action in the second shot that was started in the first shot.

Crosscutting - A technique where the camera cuts away from one action to another action in order to establish action occurring at the same time in two different places. This is also known as parallel editing and is often used to dramatically build tension and suspense in chase scenes or two compare two different scenes.

Cutaway - A shot that interrupts a continuously-filmed action by briefly inserting another related action, object or person, followed by a cutback to the original shot. This is often used to break up a sequence, ease the transition from one shot to the next, to provide additional information or to hint at an impending change.

Dissolve - A transition effect in which one video clip or image gradually fades out while another image simultaneously replaces the original one.

Ellipsis - A term that refers to periods of time that have been left out of the narrative. The ellipsis is marked by editing transitions, which signifies that something has been elided.

Eyeline match - A cut between two shots that creates the illusion of the character (in the first shot) looking at an object (in the second shot).

Fade-in - A terms used to describe a transition effect where the image slowly appears on screen.

Fade-out -  A term used to describe a transition effect where the image slowly disappears into a black. This usually indicates the end of a scene or film.

Graphic match - A transitional technique in which there is a cut between two shot that are joined, matched or linked by visual or metaphorical parallelism or similarities.

Jump cut - A jump cut is a transition between two shots which appears to "jump" due to the way the shots are framed in relation to each other.

Long take - An uninterrupted shot in a film, which lasts much longer than the conventional editing pace either of the film itself or of films in general, usually lasting several minutes. Long takes are often accomplished through the use of a dolly or steadicam shot.

Parallel editing - When you see what happens on two different locations, such as a male and female both waking up in a ROM-COM.

Reverse shot -  A shot photographed from the opposite side of a subject to provide a different perspective.

Short take - Very short takes within a film. 

Shot - The images which are recorded continuously from the time where the camera starts to the time where the camera stops. It basically is an unedited, uncut strip of a film.

Slow Motion - The action of showing film or playing back video more slowly than it was recorded, so that the action appears slower than in real life.

Superimposition - The placement of an image or video on top of an already-existing image or video.

Wipe - When one shot is progressively replaced by another shot in a geometric pattern.


Ambient sound - The background sound(s), which are present in a scene or location. Common ambient sounds include: wind, water, birds, crowds, office noises, traffic, etc.

Audio Bridge - A sound, dialogue or sound effect in one scene that continues over into a new image or shot.

Diegetic sound - The diegetic sound is the sound whose source is visible on screen or implied to be present by the action of the film. E.g. voices of characters, sounds made by objects (animals - bird's twitching) or music represented as coming from instruments in the story space etc.

Non-diegetic sound - The non-diegetic sound is is the sound whose source is neither visible on screen nor has been implied to be present in the action. E.g. narrator's commentary, sound effects adds for dramatic effect, mood music etc. It is therefore represented as coming from a source outside story space.

Voice-over - A voice-over is the voice of an unseen narrator speaking. However it can also be the voice of a visible character expressing unspoken thoughts e.g. Bridget Jones's Diary - Film opening analysis.


Anchorage: When you apply multiple signifiers to make the preffered reading clear.

Binary opposition - Any mutually exclusive pair form a binary opposition such as good/evil, happy/sad. When these are placed together we can say that they are juxtaposed. 

Connotation - The symbolic meanings of the factual details we denote. E.g. The word "rose" signifies passion.

Denotation - Denotation is a description of what we see or hear.

Iconic signs - Iconic signs are where the signifier represents the signified. E.g. A picture.

Indexical signs - Indexical signs are very closely related to the concept they signify. E.g. A tin of catfood signifies the catfood inside.

Intertextuality - Meaning of one text is tied to another, earlier text, e.g. to fully understand Scary Movie you'd need to have seen Scream.

Narrative Enigma - Mysterious elements within a text form a narrative enigma.

Polysemic - When a sign is polysemic, it means that it is carrying lots of  meanings at the same time.

Sign - The smallest unit of meaning. Anything that can be used to communicate.

Signifier - A signifier is a single detail that we pick out, which we think has a symbolic meaning, which is then the signified.

Signified - The concept that a signifier refers to.

Symbolic signs (arbitary signs) - Signs that do not have an obvious relationship with the signified, meaning that they can keep changing. E.g. A dove signifying peace.  

Target audience - The audience that the text is targeted at. E.g. Teenagers, adults, specific age group.


Ident - A short visual image that works as a logo (e.g. production companies in a film). 

Font - The type and style of writing chosen for text. 

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