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The Riverside.fm A-to-Z Glossary of Video Production Terms

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The Riverside.fm A-to-Z Glossary of Video Production Terms

Working with video content means navigating advanced skills, tools, and software applications to achieve your intended results. In order to maximize your video creation potential, it’s important to understand relevant terminology. 

If you’ve ever found yourself unsure of a term’s meaning, you’re not alone. For newcomers to the video production industry, learning terminology can feel overwhelming. 

At Riverside.fm, we know the value of knowledge and understanding. That’s why we’ve put together this A-to-Z glossary of video production terms, helping you learn your way around industry terminology.

Video production terminology definitions

After Effects

After Effects is a digital software tool. This program is typically used to create motion graphics and special visual effects, but it can also be incorporated into other processes.

Aperture

Aperture relates to the size of the small opening within a camera’s lens. This controls how much light reaches the camera’s image sensor. 

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio describes your video dimensions, displaying the width and height in ratio format. Commonly, video aspect ratios are 4:3 or 16:9, but this can vary depending on content type and purpose. 

BacklIghts

A backlight is used to light an image or frame from behind, producing unique shadows and lighting effects.

Bokeh

Bokeh relates to the blur that affects out-of-focus subjects in your video content. Sometimes, this term is used to describe points of light that appear on film as blurred circles.

Bitrate

Bitrate refers to the amount of data (measured in bits, kilobits, or megabits) that is processed per second of video content. A video’s bitrate is an important measurement, describing data-processing speed. 

Bokeh

Bokeh relates to the blur that affects out-of-focus subjects in your video content. Sometimes, this term is used to describe points of light that appear on film as blurred circles. 

A bokeh image

Boom microphones

Boom microphones are directional microphones used to capture audio content when filming video. They can be mounted on cameras or attached to far-reaching boom poles, freeing the hands of actors and filmmakers.

B-roll

B-roll refers to supplementary video footage that can be used during video editing. B-roll content might be used as part of a new report and cut away to make a video more interesting. This type of footage is generally designed to complement the main narrative of video content.

Bounce

Bounce describes any material used to reflect light onto the subject of your video. A bounce can be used to control light and combat harsh sunlight, artificial light, or shadows.

Camera Slider

A slider uses a track to provide a moving camera with extra stability. 

Close-up

A close-up shot occurs when a video frame is almost completely filled with the subject’s face, filmed at a close distance. 

Codec

A codec is a software that compresses and then decompresses video through a process of encoding and decoding. It does this to convert video and audio content into transmittable material. 

Color Correction

Color correction involves the digital alteration of color during the post-production process. This is to generally balance out the color and make sure that it looks natural.

Color Grading

Color grading takes color correction to the next level. It involves altering colors and tones in your video to align with your desired mood or look.

Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to the coolness or warmness of light in a video frame or image. It is measured in Kelvin and the lower end of the spectrum refers to warmer shades of light, the middle refers to white shades and the higher end is colder tones of light.

Compositing

Compositing occurs when multiple images are combined into one during post-production video editing. 

Compression

Video compression involves reducing the data contained within a video file. This is used to reduce file size and allow for faster uploading and downloading speeds. 

Crane

A crane comprises a mechanical arm with a camera and a counterweight attached at either end. Cranes are used to film moving shots because they position the camera at a height and allow the camera to move in any direction.

Crop factor

Crop factor is a numerical figure used to display the ratio of a sensor’s imaging area compared to that of a full-frame sensor. 

C-stand

A C-stand is a type of tripod mostly used for lighting and other rigging jobs such as for backdrops, tools, and reflectors needed on film sets. 

Cut-in

A cut-in shot occurs when a video shows closer details of the same image, moving closer to an object, prop, or actor to offer a new, more detailed visual perspective.

Depth of field

Depth of field is the section of a video frame that is in focus. As depth varies, the emphasis changes. Deep fields show all elements sharply, while shallow depths focus singularly on a particular component. 

Diegetic sound

Diegetic sound is sound that is recorded at the same time as a video is being shot. It comes from the setting of the film or video. 

Diffusion

Diffusion is any material placed on lighting equipment to soften light and alter shadows. 

Digital Zoom

Digital zoom is when a camera enlarges the center of an image while cropping out the edges to give the illusion of focusing or zooming in. This is instead of changing a camera’s optical lens to zoom in and results in lower resolution.

Digital Light Projection

Digital light projection is a projector method that uses a digital micromirror device and a fast-spinning color filter to produce a moving image. 

Director

A director is the person who is in charge of a video shoot. The director controls shots and instructs actors and crew members to achieve filming goals. 

Dolly

A dolly is a wheeled cart that runs on a track to help a camera move smoothly and avoid shaky or unstable video shots.  

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR)

A DSLR is a type of camera. It uses an internal mirror to reflect light from the lens to the viewfinder, then to the image sensor when a user presses the shutter. 

Example of a DSLR camera
(Image source: Canon)

DVI

A DVI (digital visual interface) is a port used to connect a video source to a display device or monitor, allowing it to be viewed. 

Dynamic range

Dynamic range describes the limited range within which a camera can pick up on the lightest and darkest areas of an image without losing sharpness or detail.  

Export

Exporting occurs when a complete and edited video project is combined into a single file, which can be downloaded or uploaded by digital means. 

Exposure

Exposure describes the time period during which light is able to reach a camera’s sensor. Long exposure periods lead to brighter video frames. 

Exposure Latitude

Exposure latitude refers to the amount a captured image’s exposure can be altered. This depends on dynamic range.

Exposure Triangle

An exposure triangle describes a specific camera setup or exposure setting that includes light, aperture, and shutter speed. The elements influence image brightness, blur, and depth of field. 

Fade

Fade refers to the transition that occurs as a video image gradually fades to a blank screen or vice versa, with these processes dubbed fade out and fade in respectively. 

Fill Lights

Fill lights are less powerful lights used to expose details in an image of a video frame. They light up the shadows that are not lit by backlights or key lights. 

Five-by-five (5x5)

A 5x5 is a video that uses five consecutive 5-second clips, using original audio content. 

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights are used to create a soft and event light for video filming. These lights use mercury vapor and phosphor to produce their glow. 

Focal length

Focal length describes the distance from the lens inside a camera to the image focus point. The focal length influences magnification of an image. 

Foley

Foley is the process of creating everyday sounds to overlay film content. 

Follow focus

Follow focus a device that helps videographers change the focus ring of a camera lens.

F-stop

F-stop is a measuring system used to describe aperture size. Lower F-stop numbers refer to higher aperture sizes and more light entering the image sensor. F-stop measurements can also relate to depth of field. 

Frame rate

A frame rate describes the rate or speed at which still images are shown in a video. Generally, frame rates are measured by how many still images are displayed per second. Popular rates are 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, and 60 frames per second.

Fresnel

A fresnel is a lens placed in front of lamps to focus and control light beams. 

Full frame camera

A full-frame camera is designed to capture video footage at full width and height. Usually, full-frame cameras produce an aspect ratio of 3:2. Full-frame technology is especially beneficial when producing high-resolution visual content. 

High-definition media interface (HDMI)

HDMI is a digital connector. It is used to carry video and audio to a television or other video player. 

High dynamic range

High dynamic range refers to an increased contrast between highlights and lowlights in an image. In other words, whites are brighter and blacks are darker creating a bigger difference between the dark and light colors in the image. This affects image brightness, detail and color quality.

Hydrargyrum medium-arc Iodide (HMI) lights

HMI lights use mercury vapor and metal halides to emit daylight-like light during video filming. 

Hot shoe

A hot shoe is a mounting point that sits at the top of some cameras. This allows for microphones and other accessories to be applied. 

Image sensor

An image sensor converts light into an electric signal that allows a camera to interpret an image and turn it into a viewable format. 

Importing

Importing occurs when videos are transferred from a camera to another device, such as a computer or another software editor. 

ISO

ISO is a digital camera setting that influences a sensor’s light sensitivity, controlling image light conditions. 

J-cut

A J-cut occurs when the picture of a scene is preceded by its sound or audio content.

Jump Cut

A jump cut is a quick, abrupt film transition created during video editing. Jump cuts break up a sequence and are usually used to show a skip in time. 

Key lights

Key lights are used as the primary light source of a video scene. They can vary in strength, color, and angle to influence the image’s overall lighting quality. 

Lavalier Microphone

A lavalier microphone is a clip-on microphone attached to an actor’s clothing to capture diegetic sound.

Lighting Gels

Gels are colored plastics placed over lights to alter color tones and temperatures.  

Liquid crystal display (LCD)

Liquid crystal display screens include a thin layer of liquid crystals between sheets of glass or plastic.  

L-cut

An L-cut occurs when video frames change but audio content continues. 

Macro Lens

A macro is a camera lens with a long barrel. These lenses are designed to produce close focusing shots, especially of small subjects. 

Matte box

A matte box sits on the front of a camera lens. Its purpose is to block and absorb light, controlling the light that comes into the camera.

Memory card

A memory card is a data storage device in a camera. It stores digital information, including images and videos.

Monopod

A monopod is a one-legged alternative to a tripod, providing support and stability for on-the-go filming.

Neutral density filter

A neutral density filter is a piece of glass that covers the front of a camera lens, reducing light entry.

Optical zoom

Optical zoom describes the ability of a camera lens to change focal length. This allows you to focus in on an image without losing quality. 

Pan Shot

A pan describes a smooth lateral camera movement.

Pixel Aspect Ratio

A pixel aspect ratio shows the relation between the width and height of the small pixels that make up an image or frame.

Polarizing Filter

A polarizing filter is a piece of glass that covers the front of a camera lens, reducing glare and altering light input. 

Post-Production

Post-production refers to video editing processes that occur after footage has been filmed. During post-production, effects can be added and changes can be made to existing video content. 

Point of View

POV, or point of view, describes the perspective from which video footage is shot. It can have a drastic effect on viewer experience and narrative impact. 

Practical Lighting

A practical is a light source that is captured and seen within the frame of a shot.

Prime lens

A prime lens is a lens that uses a fixed focal length. These lenses offer high quality and wide aperture. 

Producer

A video producer is responsible for production tasks. These may include artistic details, script interpretation, actor preparation, and overall filming design. 

Room tone

Room tone describes sounds that occur in a room that is being filmed. This can be edited to coincide smoothly with dialogue content. 

Resolution

Resolution describes the number of pixels that appear vertically and horizontally in a video frame. High-definition resolutions are extremely crisp and clear, while a 4K resolution refers to a horizontal display resolution with exactly 4,000 pixels.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a photo composition strategy in which an image or frame is broken up into horizontal and vertical thirds. The subject or focal point(s) of the image is placed at the intersection of the dividing lines. 

Script

A script is a pre-written document that includes all the details that need to be captured in video filming. A script may include dialogue and character actions, as well as lighting, sound, set, and scene notes. 

Shot list

A shot list details all the shots that are included in a film. 

Shoulder rig

A shoulder rig is a piece of equipment that sits on a cameraman’s shoulder, holding a camera. It is used to help stabilize a camera when filming using a handheld device.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed describes the rate at which a camera shutter opens and closes, affecting the length of time light enters the image sensor. Faster shutter speeds freeze motion in an image, whereas slower shutter speeds give a blurred effect to moving objects.

Snorricam

A snorricam is a camera rig attached to an actor, also known as a chestcam or bodymount camera.

Split screen

A split screen occurs when multiple images are visible at once on-screen. 

Steadicam

A steadicam is a camera stabilizer device used for filming moving shots.

Synchronization

Synchronization is the process of aligning audio and visual content with each other. 

Telephoto

A telephoto is a lens enabling longer focal lengths. This magnifies images and frames while maintaining a small image size.

Three-point lighting

Three-point lighting includes light from three different sources: backlights, key lights, and fill lights.

Tilt Shot

Tilts occur when you film with a camera in a fixed position but tip or tilt it up or down.

Timelapse

Timelapse is a process that involves capturing video frames at a very slow rate, making time appear to pass more quickly when the video is played at normal speed.

Tracking

A tracking shot changes a camera’s angle or position as it follows a subject.

Viewfinder

A viewfinder is the small window a videographer or photographer looks through to see an image’s field of view. 

Wide angle

A wide angle is a lens that uses glass to shorten focal length but to capture a wider field of view. 

White balance

White balance refers to adjusting the colors of an image or video shot so that it looks natural. In other words, it’s making sure that white light being captured is actually white and not tinted by other colors.

Zoom lens

A zoom lens features a ring that allows a camera to zoom in and out with a single lens. It lets you adjust the focal length, without changing lenses. 

An example of a Zoom Lens
(Image source: Canon Zoom Lens)

Zoom shot

A zoom shot is when you create an illusion of moving closer or away from a subject, making them appear bigger or smaller. These are filmed with zoom lenses as you can seamlessly change the focal length to create this illusion.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand video terminology, you’ll be well equipped to film great content. We know it’s a lot to remember, but that’s why this guide is here to help you.

If you’re looking to particularly produce videos remotely check out Riverside.fm for HD studio-quality audio and video recording!

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