Ferrarone S Glossary of Film Acting Terms

Ferrarone S Glossary of Film Acting Terms


ACTION: The order the director or first assistant gives to begin the scene.

ACTION LINE: A header appearing in a script before each scene or shot detailing the characters, their location within the scene, entrances, etc. that will occur during the following action.

ACTION PROPS: Objects used or handled by actors, as opposed to props used only as set dressing.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: The film director’s main link, help (and bully boy).

ATMOSPHERE (Also known as ATMOS): The background sound recorded to cover possible unevenness in previously recorded background sounds from different shots.

BACK LIGHT: Lights the back of the actor’s head/body as seen by the camera (to make the actor stand out from the background). Can be used to create a “halo” effect.

BACKGROUND ACTION: The action of the extras (or supporting) artists at the rear of the shot in order to add a backdrop to the main action; e.g., the bustle of a crowd.

BANANA: Walking on a curved line, usually to allow the camera to see you earlier or to prevent masking a fellow actor or to increase the time used by the movement.

BEAT: A small pause; also a unit of action determined by a single character intention.

BLOCKING THE SCENE: Giving the moves for a scene (can apply both to actors and cameras); this is usually done during the first rehearsal.

BOOM: Telescopic arm, usually mounted on a moveable platform, that holds the microphone above the action but out of camera shot. It may also refer to a movable arm that attaches the camera to a DOLLY.

BUSINESS (or BIZ): Actions for an actor, usually involving a prop. Contrasts with movement that refers to an actor moving from one place to another.Can also refer to the business aspects of the film industry.

BUST SHOT: A head shot of a single actor, framed from the bust up.

CAMERA ANGLE: How high, low, and in which direction the camera is to point.

CHEATING: The art and craft of doing something that is untrue, but appears true to the camera; as in “Cheat your eyes or body towards camera; Cheat your height by standing on this box.”

CONTINUITY GIRL (Also SCRIPT GIRL): The person who takes copious continuity notes (and Polaroid photos) so that the same props are located in the same spots and the same business is done at the same time on all shots covering the same sequence.

CRAB: Moving the camera sideways. Sometimes done on a “Crab Dolly.”

CRANE: A device that can raise the camera up; small ones take it up to six feet up; giant ones can take it up to look down on roof tops.

CRAWL: Very slow movement of the camera.

CROSS-CUTTING: To cut back and forth, especially between two unrelated scenes where things are happening simultaneously; used in editing.

CU: Close up.

CUE: The signal to begin; often given as a hand signal from one of the production team.

CUT: The point where one shot is changed for another, either by editing (“I want to CUT as you get up out of the chair to leave”) or in the multi-camera studio (“I want to CUT from the close-up on Camera 1 to the wide shot on Camera 3 as the door opens”); also used to stop everything, the opposite of ACTION.

CUTTER: The person who joins the chosen bits of different takes together to make the finished product. Also called the EDITOR.

CYCLORAMA: A large backdrop, sometimes painted to illustrate that a scene shot inside a studio is actually occurring out of doors; sometimes it is blue and functions as a “blue screen” backdrop on which a wide variety of settings may be projected subsequent to the shooting of the scene.

DAILIES(also RUSHES): Shots from the day before, quickly developed in order to show to all interested people in case anything needs to be re-shot. Actors usually don’t get to see them (which is often wise).

DISSOLVE: Cross-fading from one picture to another, usually indicating passage of time.

DOLLY: The truck on wheels that allows the camera to move about the studio or to follow the action.DOLLYING (Also TRACKING; TRUCKING): The act of the camera moving to follow the action.

DRY RUN: Running through a scene without all the special effects that will be there in an actual TAKE.

DUBBING: Transferring all the sound effects, music, replaced voices, etc. onto the finished product (tape).

ECU: Extreme Closeup.

EDITOR: The person who joins the chosen bits of different takes together to make the finished product.Also called the CUTTER.

ESTABLISHING SHOT: The shot at the beginning of a scene that lets the audience know where they are.

EYELINE:The direction an actor takes when looking at the other actor. Directors often like the camera to“get into the EYELINE” – it means that both the eyes of the actor will be seen, and so they can domore with them.

FG: Foreground. The area nearest to the camera.

FULL SHOT: A shot of the full body of an actor framed at the feet, or beyond.

FREEZE FRAME: Where the action in “frozen” by keeping one picture (frame) going; sometimes used toend a scene.

GRIP: Person who transports and sets up the camera equipment; “stage hands.”

HAND-HELD: When the camera is hoisted onto the cameraperson’s shoulder (or otherwise held manually)so the cameraperson can follow the action without a moveable CAMERA BOOM.

IN THE CAN: The finished product. A satisfactory recording or TAKE, as in “we have got it IN THECAN.”

KEY LIGHT: The main light for an actor usually coming in over the top of the camera often slightly off toone side, e.g. from the right or left of the camera.

KILL: Stop or turn off, as in “KILL that light.”

LS: Long shot. Shot from a distance.

MARKS: Tape or chalk marks to indicate where a performer should stand or where they should come toafter a move: “Be sure to hit your MARK.”

MASTER SHOT: A wide shot that includes one or more actors. It tracks with the movement of theperformers in the scene. A master shot may be uninterrupted from the beginning of a scene, or itmay be interrupted several times because the director knows he/she will break it up in its final editedform anyway. This is a usually wide angle shot of the entire scene that is done first so that everyoneknows what lighting and positional movements have to be matched for all subsequent shots.

MATCHING: Editing several pieces (usually CLOSE-UPS and OVER-THE-SHOULDER SHOTS)with a MASTER SHOT in order to produce a final “scene” in which the important material receivesproper coverage and emphasis in a carefully integrated manner.

MCU: Medium close-up shot.

MIXER: Technician who mixes together the various inputs from the different microphones to get theproper sound.

MS: Medium shot.

OC: Off-camera; out of view of the camera and therefore not seen.

OVER-THE-SHOULDER SHOT: A shot in which we look across the back of one actor to the face of theother. Often simply OTS.

PAN: Rotating the camera head horizontally while keeping the base still.

POV: A POINT OF VIEW shot shows what a character sees. “Subjective camera.”

POST-PRODUCTION: Everything that happens to a production after the shooting has finished, such asediting, dubbing, special effects, etc.

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: In film, the assistant to the producer; in television, the person responsiblefor logging all shots, timing them, and noting down all TIME CODES, and taking continuity notes.

REACTION SHOT: The shot of what one actor is doing or “thinking” while the other is speaking.

REVERSES: Shooting the opposite direction of what you have just done. “After shooting all the shots ofthe person speaking to you, we will now do all your REVERSES.”

ROLL TAPE: The act of beginning to tape a video recording.

ROUGH CUT: The first rough editing of a sequence.

RUNNING ORDER: The actual order in which the scenes will be recorded.

SETUP: Every camera position or change in photographic composition is called a “setup.”

SHOOTING SCRIPT: The final approved script, often with cameras and cutting points marked in.

SHOTS: The pictures taken by the camera. See TAKE.

SINGLE: Shot of one person, usually in a medium closeup. Also ONE-SHOT.


SLUG LINE:A header appearing in a script before each scene or shot detailing the location, date, andtime that relates to the following action.

SPIKING THE CAMERA: When the actor, usually accidentally looks directly into the lens of the camera,thereby destroying the illusion.

STORYBOARD: The cartoon-like layout visualizing all the shots planned and how they relate to eachother.

STRIKE: To remove or take away.

TAKE: A take refers to a scene that is actually being filmed, as opposed to a rehearsal.

THREE-SHOT: Three people in frame.

TIGHT: Close.

TILT: Vertical movement of the camera head. Camera tilts up to look up and tilts down to look down.

TWO-SHOT: A shot that includes two people in the scene in the frame.

VOICE-OVER (VO):The disembodied voice that speaks while pictures are shown. Popular withcommercials.

WAIST SHOT: A shot of an actor framed from the waist up.

WIDE ANGLE: The camera “sees” a broad view.

WIPES: Transitional techniques including:

Flip Wipe: Ending scene appears to turn over on its vertical, horizontal, or diagonal axis,being replaced by the new scene as if it were on the reverse side of a card or sheet ofpaper.

Natural Wipe: Using a prop or actor in the scene to complete obliterate the scene before thetransition takes place.

WRAP: The end.

WS: Wide shot.