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ABOUT THE VISUAL GLOSSARY

The rich language of the cinema provides the foundation for JBFC's Visual Glossary. Clips from some of our greatest visual storytellers put these terms in context, showing how filmmakers use these concepts and techniques to create iconic imagery, memorable characters, and powerful stories.

Parallel Action

An editing technique in which cuts between two or more shots take place simultaneously in separate locations.

Post-Production

The third stage of filmmaking ,which includes editing and exporting.

POV Shot

A shot taken with the camera placed approximately where the character’s eyes would be, to show how the scene looks from the character's perspective.

Pre-Production

The first stage of filmmaking, which may include planning, budgeting, scripting, casting, and building sets.

Production

The second stage of filmmaking, which is actually shooting the film.

Racking Focus

One space of the image goes out of focus while the other comes into focus.

Rule of Thirds

A compositional strategy that lays an imaginary grid over the frame and places the main subjects at its points of intersection.

Scene

Several shots edited together to tell a discrete part of the story.

Score

The musical soundtrack usually created specifically for a film, emphasizing the tone and emotion.

Screenplay (script)

The written instructions, dialogue, and scene descriptions for a film’s story.

Sequence

Several scenes edited together in a specific order.

Shallow Focus

When a thin plane of space is in focus and everything else is out of focus.

Shot

A single uninterrupted section of footage.

Shot/Reverse-Shot

A compositional technique used to show alternating shots between characters while in conversation.

Slow Motion

When action is filmed at a frame rate faster than normal and then slowed down in postproduction.

Sound Bridge

Sound carried over from one scene into the next.

Sound Match

Similar sounds that are cut together to connect different images.

Superimposition

The overlapping of two or more images with varying ranges of opacity.

Take

A version of a single shot to select from in post-production.

Talking Head

A shot of a person speaking toward the camera, traditionally used in documentary film.

Three-Point Lighting

A traditional lighting setup for film, using three lights: a backlight, key light, and fill light.

Tilt

A camera movement in which the camera pivots up or down on a fixed vertical axis.

Titles

Text that appears on screen.

Tracking Shot

A camera movement in which the camera travels along with the action of the shot, for example moving backward or forward.

Transitions

An editing technique that connects one shot to the next. There are many different types of transitions such as wipe, fade, jump, and dissolve.

Voice-Over

The voice of an unseen off-screen character or narrator that is heard by the audience.

Whip Pan

A camera movement that swiftly pivots horizontally side to side, creating a blurring effect

Wide Shot

A more distanced framing in which the subject is seen from head to toe in a setting.

Wipe

An editing transition in which one shot crops in a way to reveal the following one.

Zoom

The use of the zoom lens, which causes the image to increase in size (zoom in) or decrease in size (zoom out) without camera movement.