Film set lingo, Film Terminology or on set slang

Film terminology and terms

Like any job, there is shorthand and slang thrown about on sets, but the difference in this profession is how prevalent it truly is. The idea behind Onset jargon is for speed and efficiency and is vital to communication. Film, TV and video all have a very rich lexicon of terms and it is important that you are familiar and understand the terms.

A large part of being successful when on a shoot is to be able to communicate effectively with everyone. It’s useful to know some of the top Film Set lingo that will make your days onset easier!

A film set can be a confusing place with a strange vocabulary and insider acronyms. So if you are going to be on set you should try to know your way around by knowing the lingo and a few common terms.

Camera Movement

In my opinion knowing the camera movement term is probably the best place to start as there two main terms, but yo should familiarise yourself with all 6.

Pan is movement of the camera from left to right or right to left around the vertical axis of the camera. The word Pan comes from the word Panorama.

Tilt is when the camera tilts up or down, rotating around the horizontal axis of the camera.

Dolly shot is a shot taken from a moving dolly. “Dolly in” is a shot where the camera moves closer to the subject. “Dolly out” is the reverse.

Tracking Shot (AKA: Tracking, Trucking) is the action of moving a camera along a path parallel to the path of the object being filmed.

Roll is moving the camera so that the horizon changes during a shot. A Dutch Tilt (AKA: Dutch) is when the camera is set (not moving) with the horizon not parallel with the bottom of the frame.

Pedestal (or Ped) is raising or lowering the height of the camera. Ped up is to raise the camera. Ped down is to lower it.

Shot descriptions

Being able to describe the shot also is vital. Here are a few terms to help you being clearly understood on set.

An extreme long shot contains a large amount of landscape. It is often used at the beginning of a scene or a film to establish general location or setting. This is also known as an establishing shot.

long shot contains landscape but gives the viewer a more specific idea of setting. A long shot may show the viewers the building where the action will take place. it is not as wide a view as an extreme long shot.

full shot is a complete view of the characters, typically a shot showing someone from head to toe.

mid shot contains the subject from the waist up. This shot shows the characters’ faces more clearly as well as their interaction with other characters.

close-up contains just one character’s face. This enables viewers to see the actor’s face and therefore the emotions.

An extreme close-up  contains one part of a character’s face or other object. This type of shot creates or portrays an intense mood and is quite common in horror films.

For many more film set terms and lingo have a look at the Internet Movie Database’s Movie Terminology Glossary.

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