Glossary Of Editing & Post-Production

Reference Glossary of Terms used in Editing and Post-Production

Here is a glossary of film making and TV production terms that are in common use (both technical and production based) that I hope will act as a useful reference for you. There is no need to read all of this but it’s here for those occasions when you encounter something new and are too frightened to ask what it means.

Forgive me if there is some repetition here but I think it’s better to have the information in two relevant places than none at all. Forgive me also if I lose some of you here because some of the explanations by their very nature get quite technical.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ

 

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A & B

The term A & B is used to describe the left and right audio signals of a stereo source.

A-B Rolls

A-B rolls is a term from linear editing days where two separate rolls of different material were produced to allow for dissolves and other mixing processes.  The A roll would contain the first shot, and the B roll the second and so on.

AAF Audio

AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) is a form of audio coding that is used when transferring media and associated timeline information from one piece of equipment to another. It is most commonly used to export completed and edited media from editing computer to dubbing suite. The format carries with it necessary timecode information relating to both source and sequence.

“Action”

“Action” is the command usually heard after “stand-by” to start a sequence in front of a camera. For example, it can be used to cue the camera to start moving or an actor (or actors) to start performing. It is the point from which any clip is captured or digitised – from action to cut.

Actuality

Actuality describes pictures or sound that are shot and recorded as part of the current production as opposed to library or stock footage. The term most accurately applies to sound recorded at the time of shooting as opposed to library discs.

Add Black To Tail

Add Black to Tail is found in the Digital Cut options on editing software where the VTR is kept in record for a set amount of time (I usually set this to 4’) after the programme finishes to act firstly as a post-programme safety net to prevent the whole thing going to sash too quickly and secondly for the later insertion of clean elements.

Additional Dialogue Recording

Additional Dialogue Recording (or ADR) is where additional dialogue is re-recorded with your actors to either change the original words, or change the performance, or compensate for poor recording conditions.

AES

AES is digital audio now being superseded by SDI video with embedded audio. AES can be carried on balanced or unbalanced circuits. Audio is sampled at 48 kHz (see audio sampling rates) and comes as a stereo pair thus you can have A1/2 or A3/4 on a single wire or connector. It is a self-clocking system that is sometimes surprisingly fragile but it’s usually because it is sent for miles down indifferent cables that should have be reinstalled long ago.

After Effects

After Effects is digital motion graphics and compositing software published by Abobe systems. It is editing finishing software for high-end video manipulation and effect generation. It is primarily used for creating motion graphics and visual effects. After Effects allows you to animate in 2D and 3D space with various built-in tools and third party plug-ins. Avid’s rival would be Marquee.

Alpha Channels

In computer graphics, alpha compositing is the process of combining an image with a background to create the appearance of partial transparency; the alpha channel controls this transparency and acts very much like a key but is on a pixel to pixel basis.

Analogue Signals

An analogue signal represents pictures or sound as a continuous wave, normally in the form of a varying electrical voltage. Analogue signals whether transmitted over cables, read from videotapes or broadcast, are subject to degradation due to noise, distortion and bandwidth reduction. For example a microphone produces a voltage in direct proportion to the sound pressure waves that hit it. An amplifier as well as amplifying will introduce distortion, frequency response changes, and may pick up other signals and process them at the same time. Any copy of the original signal cannot be a perfect copy, as no analogue circuit is absolutely perfect. Using digital systems, where you only have to recognise the difference between a present or absent signal, some of these problems are removed. There are few analogue elements left in the television production chain, microphones we’ve already mentioned, but others would include CRT monitors (the light emitting bit at least), headphones and loudspeakers. Thus all the processing in the middle, so to speak, is now in a digital domain.

Anamorphic

An anamorphic picture is squeezed laterally to fit into a 4:3 frame on a piece of film or a 4:3 television picture. This squeeze is removed either in the cinema or television receiver to restore a geometrically normal image. See Amamorphic lenses.

The aspect ratio of 4 by 3 was chosen a long time ago when it was not possible to build television tubes that were very far away from being circular. Today we have large display devices, such as plasma or LCD screens, in a geometry much more akin to the way we see objects in real life, in other words wider than tall. An anamorphic picture is a picture whose normal geometry has been changed so that the viewer at home might be able to receive, on a suitable widescreen television, a picture wider than it’s tall by the ratio of 16 to 9. The production of anamorphic pictures has to be broadly compatible with the existing 625-line television system. The way this is done is to switch cameras scans so that a person or object placed in front of the camera is scanned with compression in the horizontal direction compared with a normal 4:3 picture. A person scanned in this way and displayed on a normal 4:3 monitor would appear tall and thin compared with real life. This picture would require a widescreen television to restore that person to a normal size by pulling him or her out horizontally. This is basically all there is to it! You record, edit, transmit tall thin people, and wait for the destination display device to horizontally pull the picture back out to the correct size. The Freeview and Freesat digital transmission networks take the tall thin pictures and transmit them, tall and thin, through the air. The old analogue transmission networks take these tall and thin pictures, re-size them electronically to pull the pictures out horizontally and thus continue to transmit normal sized people that fit perfectly into granny’s 4:3 sized TV. In stretching the tall thin people out to normal, it is obvious that the extreme left and right of the picture is lost and not transmitted. So that not too much of the picture is lost, a compromise is reached whereby, black is transmitted top and bottom of a resized anamorphic picture. This compromise position means that the viewer sees a picture in the ratio of 14 by 9 with a transmitted black bit at the top and bottom. So from the one master tape, which has tall thin people recorded on it, two different forms of the programme are transmitted simultaneously to the two main transmission networks, analogue and digital. See also Pan and Scan.

Anamorphic Lenses

In the film industry anamorphic lenses were used to put wide-angle images on 35mm or 70mm film. Similar anamorphic lenses (now able to stretch rather than compress light) had to be used to in the projectors to pull the filmed tall thin people back to normal size in the cinema. In other words, if you look at a frame of the film you would see tall thin people. It was by this method that widescreen formats such as Cinemascope where possible.

Answerprint

The first fully graded colour print produced by the labs from the cut negative of a completed film sent for production approval. After viewing the director or film editor may ask for grading corrections. The final print is known as the show print.

Anti-Aliasing

Anti-aliasing is the process of smoothing the edges of graphics and text to prevent flicker and jagged edges.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio describes the relationship between the width of an image and its height. 4 by 3 for example, describes a picture that is wider horizontally to its height by the ratio of 4 to 3. Nowadays widescreen televisions are the shape where the ratio of the width to the height is increased to 5.333 by 3. This is more easily expressed as the ratio 16 by 9. It is this aspect ratio that is used for most television production today. In filmic terms 4:3 equates to 1.33: 1.

Assembly

An assembly puts shots into a sequence into the right order without any attention to how finely they will join in later revisions.

Assemble Editing

A videotape term whereby the record machine is put into full record at a pre-determined point to produce an edit. All tracks are recorded simultaneously and the tape beyond the edit point can be totally blank and devoid of any video, audio, timecode or control track information. If individual track selection is required for a particular edit then the tape has to have some recording already present. A tape prepared in this way is said to be tracked, blacked or striped and allows insert editing where audio and video can be recorded separately and shots individually replaced. Here the ‘out’ edit produces a clean transition to the picture already recorded on the tape.

Assistant Floor Manager (AFM)

This is the person who assists on the studio floor at the time of the recording. He or she is usually a member of the production team who adopts a different role for the production during the rest of the week. In more film-based productions this term equates to second assistant director.

Asynchronous

This term refers to sound that is not synchronized to the video.

Atmos

Atmos is short for ‘atmosphere’ and is the background sound of a particular shooting location. It also can refer to sounds like that for example distant traffic or birdsong or weather noises.

Audio Compression

Audio level compression is not to be confused with audio data compression. Audio level compression is primarily the reduction of the dynamic range of a sound to improve audibility such that quieter bits are made louder with respect to peaks. Most sound reaching TV or cinema screens is compressed one way or another. This is done either as it is recorded or somewhere along the chain of processing from microphone to transmitter; that can of course include the edit suite.

Audio Data Compression

Data compression uses different codecs to reduce the bitrate of existing video and audio data with hopefully no, or little, loss of quality. It is done to save space on storage discs or pack more channels into a fixed transmission bandwidth allocation.

Audio Levels.

See Audio Line-Up.

Audio Line-Up

So that we all speak the same language and prevent overloads to any of the equipment during the complex engineering process of recording editing and transmitting audio signals, agreed standards of audio level range must be adhered to throughout. I don’t want to put you off, as so often you can get away without knowing any of this but I include the following just to let you know it’s there, that’s all. A standard volume is set by sinusoidal tone at a specific frequency and level. This standard volume is referred to as line-up tone and is at a frequency of 1 kHz (+/-100Hz) and represents a level 8dB less than the maximum allowable peak in your programme. This reference level is there to indicate that, without adjustment, the programme transmitted will be within the signal level limits specified and will thus be broadcast as the producer/director/editor intended. Within the BBC this reference level is often referred to as ‘Zero Level’, ‘Line-up Level’, ‘0dB’, ‘0dBu’ or ‘PPM4’. The fun they must have these days. Digital Audio Reference level is defined as 18dB below (-18dBFS) the maximum coding value (all 1’s) as per an EBU recommended practice. For stereo sources, Stereo Line-up Tone can be provided at the same level and frequency as above, with the left leg identified by breaks. All tones must be sinusoidal, free of distortion and must be phase coherent between channels, the spec being: the two stereo legs, when sending identical programme (Mono), shall match within 0.5dB and be phase coherent to less than 15 degrees at 10kHz (-20dB on an ‘S’ reading meter), this represents a 4μs delay. Mono is derived from Stereo according to the M6 standard: Mono = (L+R) – 6dB. See also PPM.

Audio Reference Levels

See Audio Line-Up.

Audio Sampling Rates

You should be entirely used to this if you have any form of portable audio player or I-pod. The sampling rate defines how often you measure the analogue voltage of an audio signal with the idea of representing that voltage in terms of ‘1’s and ‘0’s. How accurately you describe this voltage is determined the number of bits you use. Multiplying these two factors together, the sampling rate and the number of bits, gives you the bitrate. The sampling rate for CDs is 44.1 kHz and use 16-bit words to define the voltage of the source signal. The purists say this is too low for accurately representing an analogue sound wave. This gives a bit rate of 44.1k x 16 x 2 (stereo) = 1411 Kbits/second. 48 kHz is the broadcasting standard for digital audio and it is to this standard you should set the Avid and FCP software to capture with using 16-bit words. Only use the sampling rate of 48 kHz as converting between this and 44.1 KHz can produce fussy and fizzy results. When a CD is imported the software happily changes the sample rate and produces good results. Very high ‘Hi-Fi’ can use rates as high as 96 kHz and 24 bit words but I defy anybody over 20 to hear the difference.

Audio Scrub

Audio Scrub is the ability to hear bursts of sound while jogging or frame stepping, so that the start of a particular sound can be accurately marked. The amount of sound the editing software plays at each step is pre-settable within your settings. I only use scrub when I have to be frame accurate between two takes, as I find it very tiresome to listen to for long periods of time.

Audio Stream

An audio stream is simply a stream of digital audio data being processed or passed from source to destination.

Audio Track Allocation

It is usual for delivery of a master tape to a broadcaster to have the following audio track allocation.

Track 1 Track 2 Track 3 Track 4
Final Programme Mix International tracks
Left (A) Right (B) Music & Effects (L) Music & Effects (R)

Autocue

Autocue is the trade name of a television prompting system. The system works by mounting a television monitor connected to a character generator pointing upwards and directly below the front of the lens on a camera. By means of a piece of glass positioned at 45° above the monitor, the presenter can see the text written upon this monitor, whereas the camera only sees the presenter. Often the kit does not have to be made by autocue for it to be called autocue…it’s like Hoover or Biro.

Autosync

Autosync is a way of grouping clips together in editing software to that they play together. The ‘auto’ part is either timecode or ‘in’ points you have marked on each of the individual clips. See Grouping.

Autosave

Autosave is the frequency your software saves your project, how often this happens is totally up to you. I would go for 10’ as it’s better to be safe than sorry. Just get into the habit of saving the project before you tackle something strange or tricky, as most software I know has an uncanny knack of picking just the right moment to fall over.

AutoTune

Software made popular by the X-Factor programme’s revelation that they used it in their competition to repair a singer’s pitched notes.

AVI

AVI (Audio-Video Interleave) is a video format for Windows. Compression parameters can be set depending on its use and destination. AVI files are easily imported into editing software packages.

Avid

Avid (or the Avid Corporation) designs and makes editing software that was the industry standard until Final Cut Pro (the Apple equivalent and rival) undercut their dominance, mainly for reasons of price. The most important software variations from Avid are Media Composer and Symphony.

AVs

AV stands for Audio and Video, and AVs are edits where the sound and vision cuts happen simultaneously with each other when two shots are joined together.


 

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B-Y

See YUV, or Colour Difference Signals

Backing

A backing is a parallel recording to the main recording that carries the same material but on a second and separate tape. Nowadays with several isolated recordings recorded made alongside the main, a backing seems a bit like a luxury, as it takes another expensive machine to produce a recording which, for the most part, is never touched again. Provided the main is checked after each segment of recording and confidence monitoring is used throughout I can see less need for a backing today.

Back-Lighting

Back-lighting lights the subject from behind and therefore towards the camera. The effect will soften the image of the subject.

Back-Projection

Back-projection is rarely used today in favour of the more common technique of Green Screen.  With back-projection, the projection of an image, film. or television picture on the rear of a translucent screen is used to from a background in front of which your foreground action can take place.

Back-Timing

Back-timing allows a computer to calculate the remaining ‘in’ point having matched up two ‘out’ points using a three-point edit technique where only one of the two ‘in’ points has been defined by the editor. See Three-point editing.

Balanced Audio

Balanced audio uses a 3-wire system to carry audio signals from source to destination. The three wires are called line, return and earth and are housed in the same cable, the earth usually being a braded screen around the line and return wires. The audio signal is carried between the line and the return, the earth staying, in electrical terms, halfway in between, thus the line and return signals see-saw positively and negatively with respect to this earth. The advantage of this arrangement is that the effect of external interfering signals, like lighting dimmer circuits, sparks from electrical switches or simply adjacent cables, is much reduced. This is because such interference induces an equal voltage in the line and return wires that effectively is cancelled out at the receiving amplifier, as this amp is only interested in voltage differences between line and return. The hums, clicks and breakthrough problems associated with unbalanced audio and wiring are minimised. Again, the with the predominance of SDI and other digital routing, the need for balanced audio circuits is diminishing, however they are still widely used for microphone connections, where analogue is still king…for the moment.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth defines or sets limits to the range of frequencies that audio or video signals occupy. The bandwidth of our hearing is roughly from 20Hz to 20 kHz so most audio equipment is made to cover this range. For a 625-line SD picture the bandwidth extends to 5.5MHz. HD pictures take this higher to 37 MHz for 1080i pictures (same for 720p) or 74 MHz for 1080p pictures at a frame rate of 60Hz. More often than not, this is described by the number of pixel elements horizontally and vertically that are transmitted so we get:

1080i (1920×1080 pixels split into two interlaced fields of 540 lines) and 1080p (1920×1080 pixels progressive scan)

In analogue days bandwidth was always at risk, as analogue circuits and analogue recorders always did horrible things to bandwidth (normally reducing it), such that a copy wasn’t quite up to the original in terms of picture or sound quality.

Bar Counting

A skill used in the production gallery on a music programme. The music being recorded is broken down into groups of bars and beats, which are then called in the gallery along with the director’s shot numbers to enable camera operators to time their movements and to provide a guide for the vision mixer. Bar counting is normally be done by the production assistant or script supervisor. In addition to bar counting the production assistant would be calling out the director’s shots and timing the programme just in case you thought it was counting 1,2,3,4; 1,2,3,4 all the day.

Bargraphs

Bargraphs are mainly used as sound level meters. Once only hardware based they are now in graphic form and found within most editing software and any other software that deals with sound levels.

Barrel

A barrel (or coupler) is a double-ended connector (usually female) that is used to join two video or audio connectors together. Thus you can have MUSA barrels or BNC barrels or phono barrels.

Bars and Tone

Bars and tone is a test signal placed at the start of a tape or file and can be used to predict the limits of the signals (sound and vision) contained in the forthcoming programme.

Batch Capture

Batch capture is the process of capturing (or digitising) several references to video and sound regions on a tape. These references are created as a log (in the Log and Capture window of FCP) or imported from a shot list. For this to happen the software needs to know reel number, and the ‘in’ and ‘outtimecodes of the sections required. When the batch capturing process covers material on several tapes, required changes of reel are prompted by the software but the rest of the process is automatic. See Capturing.

Betacam

Batacan is Sony’s trade name for a analogue broadcast-quality videotape recorder system that used half-inch tape housed in a cassette, for the component recording of luminance and chrominance. A digital upgrade resulted in the Digial Betacam recorders (Digi-beta) which were an industry standard tape format until HD  TV arrived.

Bias

Bias is a high, single frequency signal added to the audio signal before it was applied to the recording head in all forms of analogue tape recorders to reduce the non-linear nature of magnetic recording.

Bin

A bin is a database folder in editing software such as Avid or Final Cut Pro where references to shots, sequences, titles or effects (both audio and video) are stored. Derived from bins of the film-editing world, they are essential to keep a project tidy and not have elements scattered all around. Different column headings arrangements can be selected, set in any order and saved as part of your overall settings.

Bitrate

Bitrate is the number of bits used in one second to describe an analogue waveform. A typical bitrate for audio sampled at 48 kHz and using 16-bit words would be 768 kbits per second for a single channel and 1536kbits per second for stereo. SDI video signals carrying SD video (625 lines 50Hz) has a bitrate of 270 Mbits per second and HD SDI a bitrate of 1.5 Gbits per second.

BITC (Burnt in Timecode)

Timecode, used to identify each frame in a 24-hour time period, can be displayed on the picture it represents. Useful in the edit suite, the result is often recorded on a DVD where the BITC enables the logging of sequences throughout a programme in a production office without the need of any other expensive equipment because the timecode is superimposed on the pictures. In the case of rushes these BITC DVDs can be used to log the starts of good takes and in the case of complete programmes to generate a subtitle list where timecodes will define the arrival and departure of the captions.

Black and Burst

Sometimes referred to as ‘colour black’, Black and Burst is a composite TV signal where both the chrominance and luminance signals are at zero. Zero in this case doesn’t mean anything at all, the signal still contains the synchronising pulses and colour locking information (the burst) vital for both video recorders and television monitors. This information is contained in the composite signal outside the area viewed on a monitor. Black and Burst is most commonly used to record something on a blank tape to allow insert editing rather than the more clumsy and restrictive assemble editing. See also Control Track.

Black to Tail

Add Black to Tail is found in the Digital Cut options on editing software where the VTR is kept in record for a set amount of time (I usually set this to 4’) after the programme finishes to act firstly as a post-programme safety net to prevent the whole thing going to sash too quickly and secondly for the later insertion of clean elements.

Blacking or Black and Bursting

Tapes bought from a manufacturer are blank, and need a track recorded on them before insert editing can be attempted. The ‘track’ is recorded either with black and burst connected to the VTR’s input or a black source brought up from within the test signals that the machine has available internally. The machine records black on the vision track, silence on the audio tracks, timecode both on a timecode track as an audio signal (Longitudinal Timecode or LTC) and inserted into the video signal in spare lines at the top of the picture (Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC)). In addition to this bunch of signals, a control track is recorded, which comprises set of synchronising pulses allowing the machine to lock-up and cue without reference either to the video or timecode information. Timecode can be set to start from any time but for master tapes it is generally set to start from 09:57:00:00 to give time for a bars and tone test signal and a clock (at 09:59:30:00) before the programme starts at 10:00:00:00. See Leader. Assemble editing also records the full set of signals that can enable subsequent insert editing but it has to pick up from already recorded material. What editors usually do to save the time of tracking the whole tape is to crash record some black with the internal timecode generator set 15” before your first wanted timecode. Record beyond that timecode and assemble on from there using the edit to tape or digital cut controls on your editing software to output the programme at the same time as tracking the tape.

Blocking

After lines are learnt (or nearly learnt) a director will block a scene with the actors. This means placing and moving the actors in relation to props and scenery to best portray or invent the action in a scene. During this process the director will frame shots and establish imaginary camera positions to best photograph the dramatic action.

BNC

A BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman), now there’s a useless piece of information, is a lockable coaxial video connector. Similar in size to a Musa, BNC plugs have the advantage of being able to be secured by a half-turn twist against two lugs on the female socket. For this reason they are found on the back panels of a wide range of video equipment, where video cables are left, happily locked in place until the equipment is taken out of service – well that’s the theory.

Boom

A boom is a long extendable pole used to support a microphone (or sometimes a light or other piece of equipment) over the action being shot. The intention is to keep the microphone out of shot (yea, right!) but in a position where good sound can be picked up.

Break Jack

Break jacks are audio sockets, usually arranged in an array, on audio jackfields. Jacks are normally used in vertical pairs, the top one being a ‘listen’ jack, the lower a ‘break’ jack. Putting a jackplug into a listen jack does no harm to any established connections but allows you to listen to the signal and possibly route it somewhere else without affecting the original source or destination. The break jack has to be used with greater care because, as its name suggests, insertion of a jackplug here will break the circuit to or from a piece of equipment.

Bridging Shot

A bridging shot is another term for a cutaway, which is a shot used to cover a jump in time or any sort of break in continuity. The bridging shot term is more commonly used on longer time jumps, such as between scenes.

Brightness

Brightness (often called lift or set-up) can be defined as the point from where the darkness element of the picture starts. With this control you can black crush darker elements to render them invisible or lift them out of the gloom.

Browser

We are in FCP land. A browser is you project window in FCP. It allows you to browse clips, effects or sequences. Headings can be chosen to match your needs and sorted whatever which way you like.

Burnt In Timecode

Timecode, used to identify each frame in a 24-hour time period, can be displayed on the picture it represents. Useful in the edit suite, the result is often recorded on a DVD where the BITC enables the logging of sequences throughout a programme in a production office without the need of any other expensive equipment because the timecode is superimposed on the pictures. In the case of rushes these BITC DVDs can be used to log the starts of good takes and in the case of complete programmes to generate a subtitle list where timecodes will define the arrival and departure of the captions.

Burst

A burst, or more properly a colour burst, is part of the composite video waveform not normally seen as they occur before the start of the displayed television line. Transmitted they keep all televisions in the country colour locked, as they are used to lock the local colour oscillator in individual receivers so that colour information, within the following line, is decoded properly.

BWAV (Broadcast WAV Format (BWF))

BWAVs are WAVs with the addition of metadata, to facilitate the seamless exchange of sound data between different computer platforms and applications. The contained metadata, allows audio processing elements to identify themselves, and permits synchronisation with other recordings – that means timecode. This metadata is stored as extension chunks in a standard WAV file.


 

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Call Sheet

A call sheet is a document that sets out the time that each actor should arrive at a rehearsal or recording. It’s sometimes broadened to refer to the daily schedule for everyone involved in shooting.

Camera Left

Camera Left (or Cam L) is a standard script abbreviation for left, as seen by the camera looking towards a set or whatever is being shot. Distinct from stage left which is the left hand side of the set looking towards the camera, from the actor’s point of view. I’m confused already.

Camera Right

See Camera Left and multiply by minus 1! That hasn’t made it any better.

Camera Card

A camera card relates to the camera script. The cards are attached to the relevant cameras in a multi-camera shoot and each camera operator uses them as a reference as to which shot needs to be covered next.

Camera Script

A Camera Script is an ordinary script onto which is superimposed details of camera shots and movements, sound requirements and lighting changes in addition to the actors’ dialogue. A camera script is designed by the director and produced by the script supervisor.

Cans

Cans is slang for headphones or earphones.

Canvas

Canvas is FCP speak for the window that displays your sequence so far created. It’s a grown-up viewer with more features such as the ability to show source and sequence timecode information, safe caption areas and warns you about illegal colours. Most importantly it allows you to insert or overwrite source material from the viewer to join or replace material already in the sequence.

Capstan

A capstan is a rotating shaft within a tape transport responsible for pulling the tape over spinning video heads and stationary audio heads. A sprung pinch wheel is engaged to squeeze the tape to the capstan to achieve tape motion.

Caption Safe

Caption safe defines an area of the screen (normally away from the edges) where captions can be inserted. Although HD is a fully widescreen standard with 16:9 action and caption safe areas, most HD programmes will be down-converted for distribution in areas that still use SD protection standards. To allow compatibility HD programmes should conform to the same safe areas criteria as SD. This means captions should still be in a 4:3 safe zone, and that’s far in from the sides of a 16:9 picture.

Capture (Digitise)

Capturing (or digitising) is the act of copying audio and video material onto a computer memory (usually tape onto a disc) before editing is attempted. The capturing software can control the source tape deck and its cueing to follow a pre-determined list of the wanted sections of a tape’s content (batch capture), or can be used manually to capture all the footage on the tape. The process is done in real time and gives you the opportunity of a first look at the material and mark-up and name interesting shots or takes.

CGI

CGI stands for Computer Generated Imaginary. It is a general term that unberellas a wide range of techniques.

Chroma Key

Chroma key (or green screen or CSO) is a process whereby a colour contained in a picture is used to switch in a replacement picture.

Chrominance

The chrominance is the colour portion of a component or composite video picture or waveform.

Clean Elements

Clean elements are textless background pictures used elsewhere in a programme (over which captions were inserted) and placed at the end to allow for corrections or language variations. They are generally positioned 1 minute after the end of a programme and are now a delivery requirement for most broadcasters.

Clapperboard

A clapperboard is a board with a hinged arm which is clapped when the camera is turning and is used to identify the correct synchronisation of picture and sound at the beginning or end of a scene. The clapperboard generates a sharp sound of less then a frame in duration that can be matched to the visual action of the clap. This seems crude but even today it is essential as the sound an vision take different journeys in and out of the edit suite.

Clean Feed

A clean feed is a sound mix containing everything except the commentator or presenter’s sound. It also refers to video pictures before the addition of captions or graphics of any kind.

Clips

Clips are database references to chunks of media that result from capturing video and sound information from an external source onto a local disc drive or memory. Clips (or the data base references) are stored in bins within an editing project.

Clog

A clog happens when a video or audio head is contaminated with particles from the tape (usually oxide particles) that serve to lift the tape away from the head and cause a recording or replay to fail. In the worst cases it is easy to spot as the picture breaks up into squares and splats appear on the soundtrack. Green lights turn to red on the front panel of the replay machine, the only cure being to lift the lid and clean the tape path. This must be left to an expert, as heads in modern VTRs are very expensive. Once cleaned normal operation should be restored immediately. Clogs during recordings are more damaging, which is why manufacturers fit what is known as a confidence head thereby providing confidence monitoring. A confidence head is a replay head that immediately follows the record head and reads what has just been written. If this replay is okay then the recording is likely to be satisfactory.

Clone

A Clone is an exact copy of a digital recording, for example a safety back-up transferred to second tape from a digital master.

Close-up (CU)

A close-up (CU) tightly frames a person’s face (or an object) to fill the whole frame.

Coaxial Cable

A coaxial cable is a standard way of sending video (and some kinds of audio) from source to destination. It is a cable consisting of a central inner conductor (the core) and a cylindrical outer conductor (the sleeve). See also Musa, BNC and unbalanced audio.

Codec

Codec is short for compression/decompression algorithm and is used to encode and decode (compress and decompress) data such as audio and video files. Common codecs include those that convert analogue video signals into compressed digital video files such as MPEG or in the audio world a codec such as MP3 can be used to digitise analogue audio.

Colour Burst

A burst, or more properly a colour burst, is part of the composite video waveform not normally seen as they occur before the start of the displayed television line. Transmitted they keep all televisions in the country colour locked, as they are used to lock the local colour oscillator in individual receivers so that colour information, within the following line, is decoded properly.

Colour Difference Signals

To understand the need for Colour Difference Signals a brief explanation of colour television is necessary. A colour picture is made up of three colours: Red, Green and Blue and these are presented to the viewer’s eye superimposed on each other to give the illusion of a full colour picture. We could record, process and transmit these colours as separate singles and would happily achieve our goal of colour television. Trouble is they would all have to be of full bandwidth and therefore would take up a lot of space on storage discs or a tape. In the early days it was hard enough for a VTR to record one full bandwidth black and white signal of 5.5MHz, otherwise called the luminance (Y). The solution to the bandwidth problem was to allow the luminance to retain full bandwidth (after all this is transmitted already), but with some clever algebra create two colour difference signals: R-Y and B-Y and reduce their bandwidth as the colour bandwidth does not have to be so great. Here comes the algebra. We want to arrive at RGB at our destination but we only have Y, R-Y and B-Y to play with.

Getting back R and B is easy:

R= R-Y+Y and similarly B=B-Y+Y, very simply achieved in a circuit with a resistor network.

What about G? Well G can be found from the formula for TV white:

Y = 0.3R + 0.59G + 0.11B or…

0.59G = Y – 0.3R – 0.11B and therefore…

G = (Y – 0.3R – 0.11B)/0.59

This can be achieved by inversion of R and B and apply the maths in a resistor network as before. See YUV

Colour Replace Filter

A colour replace filter is an effect in editing software that produces a change in the colour of objects or areas within a picture based on their hue values.

Colour Sub-Carrier

A colour sub-carrier is a high frequency signal onto which, in the case of composite video, the two colour difference signals (R-Y and B-Y) are modulated. The modulated sub-carrier is added to the black and white image or luminance signal (Y), so that colour information can be carried (piggyback fashion) on that luminance.

Colour Separation Overlay (CSO)

‘BBC speak’ for chroma key or green screen where a colour contained in a picture is used to switch in an alternative video source. See Chroma Key.

Column Headings

Column headings are headings for the database information contained in an editing project’s bins. A bin contains references to shots, sequences, titles or effects (both audio and video). Different column headings arrangements can be selected, set in any order and saved as part of your overall settings. By A-Z sorting individual columns it is possible to display the data any way you like. The shortcut for sorting a column is ‘Control’ and ‘E’ on an Avid.

Comp Reel

A Comp Reel is a reel of complied shots taken from other programmes from which a later selection of edited clips will be made.

Compliance

Compliance is complying with a broadcaster’s regulations or rulebook when it comes to sensitive content. Areas like legal issues, bad language, sexual, religious and commercial references fall under the umbrella of compliance. See text, page 202.

Component Video

Component video is a video format where the chrominance (the colour elements of the signal) and the luminance (or black and white elements of the signal) are handled separately. Keeping these elements separate can help to maintain picture quality when copying, processing or manipulating images. In contrast composite video has all these elements encoded within the single waveform. See Colour Difference Signals.

Composite Video

Composite Video is a video signal in which the luminance (or brightness), chrominance (or colour), blanking pulses, sync pulses and colour burst information have been combined using one of the coding standards: NTSC, PAL or SECAM. Colour information or more properly the colour difference signals (R-Y and B-Y) are modulated onto a carrier (4.43MHz in the case of PAL) and added to the luminance signal. This is the reason for fuzzy edges in areas of high colour or strange colours on chequered clothing where colour circuits wrongly interpret this high frequency luminance information as colour. See Colour Difference Signals.

Composite Picture

The combination of two or more images to form a single image, for instance the final image produced by marrying (or keying) together the background and the foreground in a green screen sequence.

Compositing

Compositing in a process whereby multiple 2D images are rendered in separate passes and then combined into a single final image. For example, compositing is used extensively when combining computer rendered image elements with live footage.

Compression (Audio Level)

Audio level compression is not to be confused with audio data compression. Audio level compression is primarily the reduction of the dynamic range of a sound to improve audibility such that quieter bits are made louder with respect to peaks. Most sound reaching TV or cinema screens is compressed one way or another. This is done either as it is recorded or somewhere along the chain of processing from microphone to transmitter; that can of course include the edit suite.

Compression (Data Rate)

Data compression uses different codecs to reduce the bitrate of existing video and audio data with hopefully no, or little, loss of quality. It is done to save space on storage discs or pack more channels into a fixed transmission bandwidth allocation.

Confidence (or Confidence Monitoring)

Confidence monitoring is used on VTRs whereby a replay head (or confidence head) is passed over the freshly recorded track made by the record head and presented at the machine’s output to enable the operator to check all is well. See Clog.

Conforming

Conforming is a computer controlled editing process in which the EDL (Edit Decision List) and the original rushes tapes are taken to a broadcast quality editing system where all the edits are repeated automatically in order to recreate the programme in a broadcast standard. EDLs have been superseded by simply taking the final sequence in a bin to an online machine and pushing ‘go’. It’s slightly more complicated than that but you get the idea.

Consolidate

Consolidate is where, towards the end of the editing process, an element of filtration is placed on existing media associated with that project. In the days when memory was expensive, consolidation was widely used to save storage space. The process could allow for slight changes of mind with the preservation of handles on either side of each separate element of the media used in the timeline. However media to which there was no reference at all in the timeline went by the way of all flesh.

Contrast

Contrast on a TV menu for example is more accurately described as Gain when you are referring to the video signal itself. Blacks are unchanged (mostly) but lighter elements are amplified or attenuated. The limit of such amplification is peak-white (0.7 volts above black level).

Control Track

In addition to recording video, audio and timecode a VTR also records what is called a control track. The machine internally uses this control track to achieve playback and cueing processes more quickly and accurately. You’ll only meet the term in relation to capturing options where the control track is an option for accurate pre-roll in the absence of coherent timecode.

Convergence

Convergence is the means by which the separate red, green and blue images are aligned on a CRT display to produce a seemingly single image. If this were not done colour fringing would be visible, as edges split into their constituent colours of red, green and blue.

Crash Record

Crash record is available within the Digital Cut Tool in Avid editing software. It is usually used with Firewire controlled decks where there isn’t a proper RS-422 remote control. Crash record does not guarantee frame accuracy and may result in your programme not starting at your sequence start timecode because no pre-roll is involved which would normally give VTR to lock-up prior to dropping into record. Some decks make cleaner crash edits than others. You’ll just have to give it a go. With FCP the Edit to Tape window only works when device control is connected and timecode is present on the videotape, so you can’t create crash edits in this window. You can, however, create crash edits on tape by pressing the Record button directly on your camcorder or deck, and recording the video output of Final Cut Pro using either the ‘Print to Video’ command or the direct video output of the timeline.

Crawler

A crawler is a line of text moving across the screen from side to side, usually from right to left, so the viewer reads the text as it appears. It’s not liked so much these days as broadcasters box-down closing titles to advertise what’s coming next.

Cross-Cutting

Cross-cutting or inter-cutting is a technique that emphasises spatial discontinuity. In English what that means is that if you constantly switch from one location to another to see different action, you are emphasising the fact that the action is simultaneous and, at least to start with, unconnected.

Cross-Fade

A cross-fade is a transition that causes the end of one audio clip to fade out, while the beginning of the next clip fades in. The term can be applied to video transitions but this type of effect is more properly called a mix.

Cross-Talk

Cross-talk is mostly an audio problem where external unwanted signals are induced onto programme signals and become audible. This normally happens when balanced audio circuits become unbalanced and become prone to electrical attack from interfering electrical signals and noise. Cross-talk can be minimised by not laying cables carrying high-level signals alongside those carrying lower-level signals. In the old days we used to have endless problems with timecode breakthrough because timecode, if played through a loudspeaker is a hard-edged digital signal, whose fundamental is a mixture of 1 kHz and 2 kHz square wares. If any of your signal audio lines became unbalanced then timecode would appear, yes at very low levels but there all the same. Digital signals do not suffer from cross-talk, so you only need to be aware of this when dealing with analogue audio and video sources.

Crossing The Line

The 180° rule is a basic guideline in film or TV production that states that two characters (or other elements) in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. In other words what starts on the left, stays on the left (and vice versa) despite changes of viewpoint, until someone is seen to move and change this.

CRT

CRTs or Cathode Ray Tubes, now being superseded by plasma, LCD and LED displays, were the standard way of viewing TV pictures from the pioneering days before the second war to only a few years ago. The CRT is basically a valve (a tube in the States) containing an electron gun firing a stream of electrons at a fluorescent target. This stream or beam is made to scan the target giving you a raster and varying the intensity of the beam (the number of electrons passing by) giving you brightness. Starting off in the black and white days of 1936 with displays of no larger than 10 inch by 7½ inch, they were developed to widescreen colour displays of sizes up to 42 inch on the diagonal – that’s some piece of glass engineering!. Their big advantage over other devices is that there is no delay in the CRT bit of the monitor, so they will be in sync with any sound monitoring.

CSO (Colour Separation Overlay)

‘BBC speak’ for chroma-key or green-screen where a colour is used to switch between two video sources.

Cue and Cue Sheet

  1. ‘Cue’ is an instruction, usually from a director, to start a new section of a script or programme that could involve the entrance of an actor, the insertion of a sound effect or the commencement of a camera move. Hence we get Cue Romeo, Cue Grams, Cue Camera and so on.
  2. Cue in the context of music, is the commencement of some composed or recorded music at a specific point in a programme usually defined by timecode. Thus we get the term ‘cue sheet’ that lists such musical additions.

Custom Pre-Roll

Pre-roll is a videotape term that describes the process of winding a tape back a certain number of seconds before a selected ‘in’ point. This, for most practical purposes, is set to 5 seconds, though modern tape transports can cope with less, as they lock-up more quickly these days. If the setting is changed away from the pre-set then this is referred to as a custom pre-roll. You will meet the term during capturing taped material and the digital cut process because any tape deck has to wind back slightly from any selected ‘in’ point so that it can present those pictures in a fully locked and stable state.

Cutaways

Cutaways, similar to reaction shots, are shots mainly used in TV production rather than film making, to allow an edit to be made in the dialogue track, while we the audience, look at the person receiving the information.

Cutting Copy

In film editing a cutting copy is the first print of a filmed negative used entirely for editing purposes.

Cyc (Cyclorama)

Cyc (pronounced “sike”), an abbreviation of cyclorama, is a curved studio backdrop hanging from a track, like an enormous set of curtains, onto which lighting can be projected. A cyc is often made of neutral-coloured cloth stretched horizontally and vertically. Some studios have a hard cyc, basically a studio wall that curves into the floor rather than having a square corner. A cyc track is a permanent rail to which a cyc cloth can be attached.


 

D [Link back to A to Z choices]

DA-88

Introduced in 1993, the DA-88 was among the first affordable digital recorders available to home studios. The 8-track, 16-bit recorder captured audio to Hi-8 video cassettes. Its optional synchronization features made it a standard in post-production audio, and many units are still in use today.

dB or dBs

See Decibels just below.

Decibels (dBs)

A Decibel is unit of a logarithmic scale to describe voltage or power relationships. In sound terms a voltage increase of double is expressed as an increase of +6dB from the formula 20*log10(new voltage/old voltage). A logarithmic scale is used because our ears hear level increases logarithmically.

Decompose

A completed edit is decomposed to reveal its constituent shots prior to a conform session where the pictures are taken up to broadcast quality. To achieve this, a sequence is usually duplicated to a new bin and safety handles set prior to decomposition. Decomposition creates a new database of shots or audio clips for the conform process, these new media references are now restricted only to the portions of the original media that have ended up in the final cut. See Handles.

De-Interlace

The process of preparing interlaced television signals for playback on progressive scan devices such as computer screens.

Depth of field

The depth of field is the area between the nearest object in focus and the furthest object in focus as photographed by a camera lens.

Digibeta (or Digi)

Properly called Digital Betacam, this is a tape format that is currently used as a delivery format for SD programmes.

Digital (or Digital Encoding)

Digital or more properly digital encoding is a method of representing analogue voltages using binary numbers. This process virtually eliminates generational loss, as every digital-to-digital copy is theoretically an exact duplicate of the original, allowing copies to be made without degradation. In actuality of course, digital systems are not perfect and error correction is used to correct and prevent data loss. Digital video requires more bandwidth than analogue video to produce the same results unless compression techniques or codecs are used. See Pulse Code Modulation

Digital Audio reference Level

Digital Audio Reference level is defined as 18dB below the maximum coding value (-18dBFS) as per an EBU recommended practice. See Audio line-up.

Digital Clone

A Digital Clone is an exact copy of a digital recording, for example a safety back-up transferred to second tape from a digital master.

Digital Cut (or Edit to Tape in FCP)

Digital cut is an editing software term that refers to transferring a programme, or part of a programme, to tape from the editing computer. This can be done with the destination deck in insert or assemble. In insert you are able to play out specific or solo tracks (video or audio) but in assemble you smash the whole lot across. Adding black to tail is another option here where the VTR is kept in record for a set amount of time (I usually set this to 4’) after the programme finishes, to act firstly as a post-programme safety net to prevent the whole thing going to sash too quickly and secondly for the later insertion of clean elements.

Digital Signal Processing (DSP)

Digital Signal Processing or DSP is a general term for manipulation of existing digital data. It covers mainly sound processing, though the term can equally be applied to video, but here you would call it ‘digital video effects’ or something like that. DSP on audio data covers a wide range of different effects such as equalisation, filtering, reverberation and pitch. See text, page 142.

Digitising

Digitising (or capturing ) is the act of copying audio and video material onto a computer memory (usually tape onto a disc) before editing is attempted. The capturing software can control the source tape deck and its cueing to follow a pre-determined list of the wanted sections of a tape’s content (batch capture), or can be used manually to capture all the footage on the tape. The process is done in real time and gives you the opportunity of a first look at the material and mark-up and name interesting shots or takes.

Diamond Display

A diamond display is a type of waveform monitor display that shows the range of colours contained in the video signal. Any transgression outside the limits of the diamond with trigger alarm bells and these colours are illegal and will trigger rejection of the presented material by the broadcaster. See Gamut.

Dissolve Transition

A dissolve (or mix or cross-fade) is a transition is mainly associated with video pictures in which the end of one clip gradually blends with the beginning of the next, thus as one comes up the other goes down.

DOG

DOG stands for ‘Digitally Onscreen Graphic”. It’s a small stationary graphic most often used to add the channel logo to the programme output. BBC3 and BBC4, for instance, have their DOGs on display at the upper left hand side of the screen throughout all programmes. 

Dolby 5.1 Audio

A form of audio encoding that allows different sounds to be placed in a multi-speaker set up. As transmitted over digital satellite networks, 6 different channels of sound can be heard and connected to different loudspeakers.

5 channels for normal-range speakers (20Hz-20,000Hz) – Left & Right, Centre, Left Surround & Right Surround and one frequency limited (20Hz-120Hz) LFE (Low Frequency Effects)

The ‘.1’ in 5.1, refers to this LFE channel, which is also a discrete channel. This digital information is placed on the film in between the sprocket holes.

Dolby 5.1 Audio Delivery

When Dolby 5.1 Audio is made available for delivery it used to be delivered on two DA-88 tapes: one for the main audio and the second for the 5.1 international audio tracks. The DA-88 must be timecode synchronous with the delivered master videotape.

Tracks layout should conform to the following table

Track 1 Left
Track 2 Right
Track 3 Centre
Track 4 LFE (Low Frequency Effects)
Track 5 Left Surround
Track 6 Right Surround
Track 7 Stereo Left total (Lt)
Track 8 Stereo Right total (Rt)

Today delivery is in the form of BWAV audio files.

Dolly

A dolly is a wheeled platform with a camera mount that can be used to produce tracking shots where the camera is pushed while a shot is being photographed.

DOP

DOP stands for Director of Photography – that’s cameraman to you!

Double Action

Double Action is where action is repeated between joined shots. A hand moves twice, a person gets up twice or a door closes twice are all examples of double action.

Double-Enders

Double-enders are lengths of cable with a plug on each end, designed to carry audio or video signals. They are used for quick, day-to-day plugging arrangements to set-up temporary routes from source to destination. Used less these days, these connectors established circuits from VTR to DVD or Avid to monitor very quickly, usually on a patch-bay or jackfield. Audio double-enders use PO Jacks, video double-enders use Musa plugs.

Double Roller Edit (Double Rollering)

A roll edit (or rolling edit) is an editing process where both outgoing and incoming clips are trimmed at an edit point to shorten one while lengthening the other and thereby maintaining the overall length of a programme. Sometimes it is referred to as ‘double rollering’.

Down-Conversion

Generally speaking, down-conversion is the reduction of the sampling bitrate of a digital signal or the transfer from a higher quality format to a lower quality one. A common down-conversion is the action of producing an SD tape copy from an HD master. This can be done using internal down-converter in an HD broadcast VTR.

Drop Frame Timecode

In the US, in an NTSC environment, there are actually 29.97 frames of video per second, rather than 30 frames per second. Timecode that is to remain accurate relative to actual programme running times must be adjusted to suit. The timecode generator drops two frame numbers every minute to allow for the difference, thus 15:01:59:27 is followed by 15:02:00:00. Divided by a common language and more!

Drop-Out

A drop-out is a fault where a signal is temporally lost usually due to a tape imperfection or because contact has been lost between the recording head and the tape itself. Analogue drop-outs generally produce line flashes on the picture and dips, or holes in the audio replay. Digital drop-outs produce picture break-up with the appearance of blocks or squares and if bad, no signal at all. Clicks and splats are the usual result of drop-outs on the audio signal. Similar effects can be seen in areas of poor reception of digital transmissions.

Drop Shadow

Drop shadow is an adjustable feature in editing software when a caption is keyed onto a background. A drop shadow border(usually black) helps the caption (usually white) stand out on bright or busy backgrounds. The shadow can be made to ‘drop’ in any direction (even up!) and can have different width boarders.

Dropped Frames

Dropped frames is where your editing software, for a reason only know to itself (usually processing power), drops a frame of video in order to keep the output going. On many playbacks this doesn’t matter a jot, but if you’re performing a Digital Cut or Edit to Tape then you should know when this happens. It’s just one of the delights you have to deal with from time to time.

DS

DS is high-end short-form editing software from Avid. Its main use is for short, highly complex sequences that involve multiple layers of keys and video. It is also very good at doing micro repairs such as removal of modern street infrastructure like traffic signs and yellow lines to produce pictures that might have been shot years ago.

DSP

Digital Signal Processing (or DSP) is sound manipulation to produce effects such as reverberation or compression.


 

E [Link back to A to Z choices]

Echo

Here one or several delayed audio signals are added to the original signal to simulate the echo effect of a large hall or cavern. When large numbers of delayed signals are mixed over several seconds in this way, the resulting sound is more commonly called reverberation or reverb for short. Many parameters are adjustable when such audio processing is required, such as reverberation time, depth, attack and release and many more. Twiddle until you find something you want or until you give in and leave it to a dubbing mixer.

Edit to Tape (or Digital Cut On An Avid)

Edit to tape (Digital Cut if you speak Avid) is an editing software term that refers to transferring a programme, or part of a programme, to tape from the editing computer. This can be done with the destination deck in insert or assemble. In insert you are able to play out specific or solo tracks (video or audio) but in assemble you smash the whole lot across. Adding black to tail is another option here where the VTR is kept in record for a set amount of time (I usually set this to 4’) after the programme finishes, to act firstly as a post-programme safety net to prevent the whole thing going to sash too quickly and secondly for the later insertion of clean elements.

EDL (Edit Decision List)

Grades often ask for EDLs (Edit Decision Lists). These used to be the only way of transferring your edit information to another machine for conforming. We thought we’d left them far behind but they seem to be the simplest way of giving a grade your cut points. They simply import the EDL (vision only) and instantly the cuts appear in their timeline just as they were in your edit. From that point it is easy to change grading from shot to shot and not have to find shot changes manually. The format for such EDLs is usually a CMX 3600 which is available as an option in the EDL generating window of most editing software.

Encoding

Encoding is the process of converting an analogue video or audio signal to a digital file such as MPEG or WAV, or from one codec to another (AVI to MPEG etc.). See Digital Encoding or Compression.

End Board

An end board is a clapperboard filmed at the end of the shot rather than the beginning. An end board is always held upside down to make it totally clear that it’s marking the end of a take and not the beginning of the following shot. An end board would be used either because the board was forgotten at the front or because the nature of the action being filmed made filming a front board difficult.

Equalisation (EQ)

Equalisation is audio ‘posh-speak’ for bass and treble adjustment. In order to equalise sound different frequency bands are attenuated or boosted to produce desired spectral characteristics.

Establishing Shots

An establishing shot sets up a scene’s setting and/or its participants.

Extreme Close-Up (ECU or XCU)

Extreme Close-Ups (ECUs) are shot so tight that only a fraction of an object or face is the focus of attention.

Eyedropper

An eyedropper is a cursor symbol that appears in many software applications when a colour choice box is clicked. It is used to set a new colour in the palate from a colour already on the screen.


 

F [Link back to A to Z choices]

FCP (Final Cut Pro)

Final Cut Pro is editing software from the Apple Corporation. Made cheaper than its main rival Avid, it has caught hold rapidly and is a force to be reckoned with. Version X has however not met with universal approval

Feed Spool

A feed spool holds tape (or film) yet to be passed through a tape transport. Enclosed nowadays in tape boxes these used to be on full view, one wonders what health and safety would say about these exposed moving parts today – somehow most of us survived, but it’s vry hrd t tpe wth oly thre figers.

FFOP

Simple stands for ‘First Frame of Picture’.

FHA (Full Height Anamorphic)

The aspect ratio of 4 by 3 was chosen a long time ago when it was not possible to build television tubes that were very far away from being circular. Today we have large display devices, such as plasma or LCD screens, in a geometry much more akin to the way we see objects in real life, in other words wider than tall. An anamorphic picture is a picture whose normal geometry has been changed so that the viewer at home might be able to receive, on a suitable widescreen television, a picture wider than it’s tall by the ratio of 16 to 9. The production of anamorphic pictures has to be broadly compatible with the existing 625-line television system. The way this is done is to switch cameras scans so that a person or object placed in front of the camera is scanned with compression in the horizontal direction compared with a normal 4:3 picture. A person scanned in this way and displayed on a normal 4:3 monitor would appear tall and thin compared with real life. This picture would require a widescreen television to restore that person to a normal size by pulling him or her out horizontally. This is basically all there is to it! You record, edit, transmit tall thin people, and wait for the destination display device to horizontally pull the picture back out to the correct size. The Freeview and Freesat digital transmission networks take the tall thin pictures and transmit them, tall and thin, through the air. The old analogue transmission networks take these tall and thin pictures, re-size them electronically to pull the pictures out horizontally and thus continue to transmit normal sized people that fit perfectly into granny’s 4:3 sized TV. In stretching the tall thin people out to normal, it is obvious that the extreme left and right of the picture is lost and not transmitted. So that not too much of the picture is lost, a compromise is reached whereby, black is transmitted top and bottom of a resized anamorphic picture. This compromise position means that the viewer sees a picture in the ratio of 14 by 9 with a transmitted black bit at the top and bottom. So from the one master tape, which has tall thin people recorded on it, two different forms of the programme are transmitted simultaneously to the two main transmission networks, analogue and digital. See also Pan and Scan. See Widescreen.

Field

A field is one-half of a complete interlaced television picture. It is a single complete vertical scan of the video image containing 262.5 lines for a 525 line picture and 312.5 lines for a 625 line picture. Two fields make up a complete television picture or frame. See Interlacing, Film Effect.

Filler

Filler is blank space added to the timeline in the course of editing a programme. It can be treated as a clip of a specific duration and inserted into any track in the timeline at any point.

Film Effect

Film effect is where the two fields of an interlaced picture are merged to produce only frames. Thus pictures, or really half pictures, that were presented to the eye at 50Hz are merged in pairs and produce a presentation rate of 25Hz. Not all delivery outlets will accept conversion of interlaced pictures to progressive scan as some conversion methods reduce the resolution of the image as well as introducing flicker on motion. Currently broadcasters only accept film effect processes that attempt to maintain the full resolution of the original. Straight field duplication is not acceptable as it reduces the vertical resolution by half.

Film Recording

Film recording was a means of storing early television productions, which simply involved pointing a modified film camera at a black and white monitor. Once recorded this enabled broadcasters to reuse the then valuable (but now priceless) 2” videotape. Nowadays these surviving film recordings benefit from digital restoration, even to the extent that colour information is recovered from the black and white film image by complex analysis of the colour subcarrier fuzz that happily was recorded on the film as part of the image. A few editions of Dad’s Army were recently re-transmitted in colour, which were restored in this way.

Filtering

Filtering is an extreme form of audio equalisation. In the general sense, frequency ranges can be emphasised or attenuated using low-pass, high-pass, band-pass or band-stop filters. With modern DSP (Digital Signal Processing) techniques it is easy to set the range of frequencies you wish to boost or cut, and also set the sharpness of this boost or cut (referred to as the ‘Q’). See text, page 146.

Final Cut Pro (FCP)

Final Cut Pro is editing software from the Apple Corporation. Marketed more cheaply than its main rival Avid, it has caught hold rapidly and is a force to be reckoned with. Version X after a rocky start is now finding a market.

Find Bin

Find Bin is an editing software term that when used will find the bin where the clip in question is housed. find Bin used in conjunction with Match Frame can be a very useful and quick wayto bring up a range of recently used clips when you are assembling a scene for the first time.

Firewire

Also known as IEEE 1394, Firewire is a standard for high-speed serial connections approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The standard is designed for the exchange of information between PCs and consumer electronic devices that transfer large amounts of data, such as digital camcorders or VCRs.

Fish Eye Lens

A fish eye lens is an extremely wide-angle lens giving a distorted image similar to that seen by a fish from underwater, how do they know?

Flanger

A flanger is used to create unusual sounds, here a delayed signal is added to the original signal with a continuously variable delay (usually smaller than 10ms). This effect, now done electronically, was originally created by playing the same recording on two almost synchronised tape machines, and then mixing the signals together.

Flash Frames

A flash frame is a very short shot (usually one frame, but occasionally several) that appears in a sequence of images usually by mistake. Because of the shortcomings of some editing software, flash frames can appear when your programme is conformed. This occurs because timecode was allocated wrongly as the footage was originally captured or as the shot was conformed into the online quality sequence. There is no solution other than checking every cut or watching through the whole programme very carefully.

Floor Manager

The floor manager (or FM) runs the studio floor during a rehearsal, recording or transmission and is responsible for safety and general organisation of a studio shoot, ensuring that people are on set at the right time etc. The FM is normally in contact with the director in the production gallery via talkback through headphones. The FM conveys all instructions from director to actor and has to phrase some comments more politely.

Focus Puller

A focus puller is the 1st assistant to the camera operator responsible for operating the focus control on a lens during a complex camera movement.

Foldback

Foldback is sound played from the studio sound control room or gallery to speakers on the studio floor. This helps performers in loud environments to hear themselves, so that they stay on the right note. Foldback might also be used to enable performers to mime to a track they had pre-recorded.

Foley

A technique whereby recreated sounds are used to replace the original versions, such as footsteps, the russle of a newspaper or the rattle of tea-cups.

FPS

FPS simply means ‘frames per second’. It can be written f/s.

Frame

  1. A single picture (consisting of 2 fields) on film, videotape or on a computer drive. Feature films use 24 frames per second whereas television and video in this country use 25. PAL video plays at 25 frames per second, and each video frame consists of two half-frames called fields. Two scans or fields are interlaced to produce a frame. When the video image is created on a TV set, the scanning dot of light first scans across the topmost horizontal line, line 1. Rather than scanning along line 2 next, it scans line 3, then line 5, and so on. When it gets to the bottom a 50th of a second later, it begins at the top again but on line 2, then line 4, and so on. This technique is called interlace, and it was invented because most people see a flickering image if television is scanned sequentially at 25 fps.
  2. A Frame is also used to describe the total visible area of an image as seen by a camera.

Full Length Shot

A Long Shot (LS) is a slightly vague term describing a ‘head to toe’ shot of a person or object such as a building. Sometimes this type of shot is more properly referred to as a Full Length

FX

FX is short for effects whether they be sound or vision effects.


 

G [Link back to A to Z choices]

Gaffer

A gaffer is the senior lighting electrician in a unit, working under the direction of the DOP or lighting cameraman.

Gain (Video)

Gain when you are referring to a video signal is the same as contrast on a TV. Blacks are unchanged (mostly) but lighter elements are amplified or attenuated. The limit of such amplification is peak-white (0.7 volts above black level).

Gain (Audio)

Gain is the amount of amplification applied to an audio signal. It is usually expressed in decibels (dBs). The limit of such amplification is to produce a signal that is 10db below a digital maximum of all 1’s, the limit is expressed as -10dBFS. The 10dB gap is known as the headroom.

Gallery

A gallery is the studio production control room where various members of the production team including director, vision mixer and production assistant sit during the recording and/or transmission of a programme. Sound control and lighting control are usually contained in separate adjacent rooms.

Gamma

Gamma expresses by how far the normal linear response from black to white is altered to produce video effects. Usually used to enhance or reduce subtleties near black, gamma can be altered for each colour separately, so very quickly your pictures can start to look like a painting by Andy Warhole.

Gamut Error

A gamut error is defined as any part of the video signal that goes outside the appropriate colour space. These errors will often trigger rejection of the material by the broadcaster.

Generation

We’re back to the days of analogue recording where original recorded footage was called first generation. A copy of this original was second-generation. A copy of the copy was called third generation, and so forth. Each generation caused pictures and sound to lose quality so the trick was to produce the final cut in a few passes or generations as possible. Fourth generation was considered mostly as untransmittable in 2” and 1” days.

Glass Shot

A glass shot is an economical method of producing elaborate settings without actually building them. A sheet of glass is painted with aspects of the set and scenery, usually at the extremities of the shot – a ceiling or sky that will complement the rest of the photographed picture. The painted glass sheet is placed directly in front of the camera. Actors will appear normally directly through the glass that is not painted.

Grading

In a grading session a programme has any colour variations between shots smoothed out and the overall look improved to suit the mood of the piece. It is here also that vignettes are placed on the pictures to darken down edges for example with the idea of highlighting the more important elements within a picture.

Grams

The word ‘Grams’ (derived from gramophone) appears on studio and OB scripts and implies that a sound or music is wanted over the action. “Cue grams” the director shouts and the sound supervisor or operator pushes a button and a telephone goes off or a radio bursts into life. ‘Grams’ was so named because a needle used to go into a groove on a gramophone record. Ha! Sound out of plastic, whatever will they think of next!

Green Screen

Green Screen (or chroma key or CSO) is a process whereby a colour contained in a picture is used to switch in a replacement picture.

Grouping

Grouping involves the linking of video shots (usually by timecode or ‘in’ point) so that they play together. Thus a main recording is grouped with synchronous isolated camera recordings, so that they can be easily viewed in a quad split display or this group placed in a timeline so that easy selection can be made to create the final, and most preferred, sequence of shots. See also ‘Capturing Multi-cam Material’, page 218.

Guide Track

A guide track is a soundtrack recorded for, or during, the editing process. A guide track could be a commentary recorded by a member of the production team to make sure the pictures fit in the edit. It is later replaced by a professional voice-over artist’s commentary before the programme is complete.

Gun Mic

A gun mic, also known as a rifle mic, is a microphone that picks up sound only from a very narrow area around the direction in which it is pointed. A gun mic would normally be hand-held or attached to a boom. It is so called because of its shape.

GV (General View)

A GV is a shot of a general nature used to set the scene or establish a location, often an exterior view of a building, or a wide shot of a geographical location. GVs are shot on location without any clear and predetermined use, but are considered worthy of shooting anyway.


 

H [Link back to A to Z choices]

HA

A high-angle shot (HA) is produced from a camera located above head height and the shot is thus angled downwards.

Hair In The Gate

A hair in the gate is a film term for rubbish (often it is a hair) that becomes detached and jams in the gate (the part of the camera which holds the film while it’s being exposed). On a film shoot the focus puller checks the gate after each shot (or whenever possible) and if there is a ‘hair’ present then the shot would be taken again. This would be necessary as it causes a permanent blemish on that part of the film having been photographed it becomes part of the image.

Handles

Handles are the extra media saved in a consolidation or decomposition exercise at either end of a used piece of media to allow for changes of mind. Handles are generally 50 frames (2 secs) long, which allows for quite serious changes of mind. Handles are also important when exporting media to a dub, in order to give that dub maximum flexibility to generate the best soundtrack they can.

HD (High Definition)

HD stands for High Definition television. For years 625-lines reigned supreme, taking over as it did (in 1964) from the world’s first ‘High Definition’ system of 405 lines, which itself dates back to 1936. Nowadays 625-lines has been downgraded to standard definition. It all depends on bandwidth. For a 625-line SD picture the bandwidth of the luminance signal extends to 5.5MHz. HD pictures take this higher to 37 MHz for 1080i pictures (same for 720p) or 74 MHz for 1080p pictures at a frame rate of 60Hz. More often than not, this is described by the number of pixel elements horizontally and vertically that are transmitted.

So we get: 1080i (1920×1080 pixels split into two interlaced fields each of 540 lines) and 1080p (1920×1080 pixels for a single progressive scan)

HDCAM

HDCAM, introduced in 1997, is a high-definition video digital recording videocassette version of Digital Betacam. The recorded video bit rate is 144 Mbit/s. Audio is also similar, with four channels of AES 20-bit, 48 kHz digital audio. Like Digital Betacam, HDCAM tapes are produced in small and large cassette sizes.
The main competitor to HDCAM is the DVCPRO HD format offered by Panasonic. It uses a similar compression scheme and bit rates ranging from 40 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s depending on frame rate.

HDCAM SR

HDCAM SR was introduced in 2003. It uses a higher particle density tape and is capable of recording in 10 bits 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 RGB with a video bit rate of 440 Mbit/s, and a total data rate of approximately 600 Mbit/s. The increased bit rate (better than HDCAM) allows HDCAM SR to capture much more of the full bandwidth of the HDSDI signal (1920×1080). Some HDCAM SR VTRs can also use a 2× mode with an even higher video bit rate of 880 Mbit/s, allowing for a single 4:4:4 stream at a lower compression or two 4:2:2 video streams simultaneously. There are 12 channels of audio recorded uncompressed at 24 bit 48 kHz sampling.
HDCAM SR was used commonly for HDTV television production as a master recording medium until file-based systems became the normal.

HD Delivery Format

Leaving file delivery aside for a moment tape-based HD programmes going to the BBC could only be delivered (as of 2010) on an HDCAM SR tape. During the production process the highest technical standards must be maintained so that the delivered programme achieves the required standards. HDCAM is acceptable as a recording format but delivery must be HDCAM SR tape.

HD Film Effect

Most High Definition cameras can capture in both Interlaced and Progressive Scan modes. If a film effect is desired for the look of the programme then this decision has to be made up front, as it is not acceptable to many broadcasters for you to add a film effect to HD interlaced images at a later date, as the pictures are no longer classified as HD. See Film Effect.

HDMI

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. It represents a digital alternative to consumer analogue standards, such as RF cables, SCARTS, S-Video and VGA. HDMI connects digital audio/video sources—such as AV amplifiers, TVs, set-top boxes, DVD and Blue-Ray player/recorders, Play Stations and the like.

Headroom (Audio)

Headroom is the level gap between the peak audio level in a programme and the absolute maximum of all ‘1’s. It is generally set to be 10dBs. See Audio Line-up

Headroom (Pictures)

Headroom is the space between the top of the subject and the picture’s upper screen edge. Leaving space for ‘headroom’ is common practice.

High-Angle Shot (HA)

A high-angle shot (HA) is produced from a camera located above head height and the shot is thus angled downwards.

Horizontal Resolution

Horizontal Resolution is way of defining the fidelity of a video image (the fine details in other words) and is measured in scan lines. The more lines, the higher the resolution and the better the quality of the picture. See Resolution.


 

I [Link back to A to Z choices]

‘In’ Point

The ‘In’ point is the timecode of the specific frame at which a clip begins.

Insert

Inserting shots into a timeline on any editing software causes all following material to shuffle down – the programme becomes even longer! Different tracks can be kept ‘sync-locked’ so that everything shuffles down together (or not as you require). The opposite of insert is overwrite, where new shots (frame for frame, track for track) replaces material already on your timeline.

Insert Editing

A tape editing process that requires a blank tape to be prepared with a black video signal already recorded on it, that will allow ‘in’ and ‘out’ edits to be performed on any or all the individual tracks, video and audio. You will meet this term in your editing software when to make a Digital cut (or Edit to Tape) of a finished programme. This can be done with the destination deck in insert or assemble. In insert you are able to play out specific or solo tracks (video or audio) but in assemble you smash the whole lot across.

Inter-Cutting

Inter-cutting or cross-cutting is a technique that emphasises spatial discontinuity. In English what that means is that if you constantly switch from one location to another to see different action, you are emphasising the fact that the action is simultaneous and, at least to start with, unconnected.

Interlacing

An interlaced picture has each frame divided into two fields. This is done by first scanning one field consisting of an image’s odd scan lines (1, 3, 5…) and then scanning the remaining even scan lines (2, 4, 6…), thus interweaving both fields. Interlacing reduces the perception of screen flicker (50Hz rather than 25Hz in the UK). Interlacing can cause annoying interference effects with images such as computer generated text and graphics when used in a TV environment.

Interpolation

Interpolation is the progressive calculation of parameters between keyframes.

Iris

An iris is an adjustable diaphragm made of metal leaves moved over the lens aperture that controls the amount of light passing through the lens to the film or optical target.

ISO (Isolated Camera Recordings)

Iso refers to the output a single camera on a multi-camera shoot, which is recorded separately onto its own VTR.


 

J [Link back to A to Z choices]

Jackfields

Jackfields or patchbays are used less these days but act as an interconnection panel for both audio and video signals of all types, both analogue and digital. They enable simple day to day re-routing of signals within, and to and from, edit suites, dubbing suites, studio control rooms and the like. Outputs and inputs of most of the equipment in the suite or control room present themselves to the jackfield and therefore available for re-routing. However today, more often than not, this routing function has been taken over by assignable matrices: select a source – select a destination and your connected once you hit ‘take’. The advantage of matrices is that they route multi-layer signals, and can connect audio, video and remote signals all at once.

Audio Jackfields use balanced (3-wire) circuits using connectors (PO Jacks – Post Office jackplugs) that Alexander Graham Bell might have recognised as they were used in telephone exchanges of years gone by, but still make a very reliable connector even today. They look like ¼” headphone jacks but are of a slightly different design and only carry one source of audio. The three connections are – tip, ring and sleeve: tip-line, ring-return and sleeve-earth.

Video Jackfields use Musa coaxial connectors that allow the easy routing of video signals using interconnection wire called ‘double-enders’. These bits of wire set-up temporary circuits between different bits of equipment: a VTR to a monitor for example. Musas connectors are still used today to interconnect the latest HD SDI signals, though the old video cable has to be upgraded to cope with the higher bandwidth. Video U-links on jackfields are effectively solid bits of curved screened wire that join signals from the top row of Musas to the row below. Thus signals always fall downwards through a U-linked video jackfield. Any U-link can be removed and the signal re-routed elsewhere with double-enders, thus starving the original destination of a signal. So U-links set up a normal mode of operation with all of them in place.

Such normalisation on an audio jackfield is within the wiring behind the array of holes. Jacks are normally used in vertical pairs, the top one being a ‘listen’ jack, the lower a ‘break’ jack. Putting a jackplug into a listen jack does no harm to any established connections but allows you to listen to the signal and possible route it somewhere else without affecting the original source or destination. The break jack has to be used with greater care because, as its name suggests, insertion of a jackplug here will break the circuit to or from a particular piece of equipment. Thus if a VTR normally receives signals from an Avid through this listen/break arrangement, then insertion of a jack into the lower break jack will take away this feed and replace it with whatever is coming down your cable. Nowadays analogue jackfields are disappearing, as signals to and from different equipment in the edit suite generally use SDI interconnections, where audio and video come down the same pipe.

Jackplug

Audio Jackfields use balanced (3-wire) circuits using connectors (PO Jacks – Post Office jackplugs) that Alexander Graham Bell might have recognised as they were used in telephone exchanges of years gone by, but still make a very reliable connector even today. They look like ¼” headphone jacks but are of a slightly different design and only carry one source of audio. There connections are – tip, ring and sleeve: tip-line, ring-return and sleeve-earth. Two plugs joined by a short length of connecting wire (double-ender) provide an easy method of over-plugging on a jackfield that can quickly establish temporary circuit connections between different pieces of equipment in the suite.

Jib

  1. A Jib is a swinging arm mounted onto a camera crane or dolly. The camera would be fitted on the end of the jib arm thus giving it lots of flexibility of movement.
  2. The term ‘Jib’ can also be used as a verb to describe the movement of the camera on a jib arm

JKL

J-K-L playback key structure is common to many editing systems. The keys, by the use of multiple tapings, can perform numerous other useful functions.

Tap L – Forward play (x1). Now tap it again, double speed and again triple speed.
Tap K – Stop
Tap J – Reverse play (x1). Now tap it again, double speed backwards and again triple speed

Thus dancing between J-K-L can propel you backwards and forward through your timeline or individual clips at various pre-set speeds.

On some software you can:

Press K and keep it down. Add L. You should be hearing a slow scrub through your timeline. Release L.

Press K again. Add J. Reverse slow scrub

Just try all the combination and see what they do on your system’s software, it just might help.

Jog

To jog is to move forwards or backwards in video or audio media on a tape or captured clips in a computer by playing at slow speed through it.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group – now who knew that?)

JPEG is a digital compression standard for still video images that allows the image to occupy less memory or disk space. Like the MPEG standard, it includes options for trading off between storage space and image quality.

Jump Cut

If a cut is made in the middle of a shot and the resulting halves joined together, this is a jump cut and it will break the continuity of time. People and objects jump as time passes in an instant

Jumping Frame

Differently framed shots can cause a person or object to jump from the left of the screen to the right if joined together as a cut. This can look ugly.


 

K [Link back to A to Z choices]

Kerning

Kerning is the space allocated between t y p e d characters. See Leading

Key (or Keying)

A key is a video signal used to cut a hole in another piece of video (known as the background) with the idea of filling this hole with itself or a colour. If the holes are letter shaped then text appears instead of the background. See Luminance Key, Chroma Key.

Keyframe

A keyframe is a placed marker that defines a point in time at which an event or change of parameters takes place within editing software. For example the start of a caption animation and how it moves across the screen is defined by keyframes and many other software manipulations are done in the same manor. These can be changes of colour correction, audio levels and effects, cropping objects, changing boarders and many more in fact whenever parameters of an effect need to be changed from frame to frame.


 

L [Link back to A to Z choices]

LA

Low-angle shot (LA) is a shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis, often at knee height, looking up.

Leader (Film)

A leader is a length of film joined to the beginning of a reel that is used for threading the film through the camera or projector.

Leader (Tape)

A leader is provided on a transmission tape and should contain the following video and audio in the following sequence.

Timecode Picture Audio 1 Audio 2 Audio 3 Audio 4
09.58.00.00(or Earlier) EBU Bars (100/0/75/0)Or100% bars (100/0/100/0) Coherent tone at -18dBfs (PPM4)(1 kHz) Coherent tone at -18dBfs (PPM4)(1 kHz)
09.59.30.00 Ident and Clock Silence Silence
09.59.40.00 Stereo Ident or Line up Tone at -18dBfs (PPM4) Stereo Ident or Line up Tone at -18dBfs (PPM4)
09.59.50.00 Silence Silence
09.59.57.00 Black Silence Silence Silence Silence
10.00.00.00 Programme(Last caption held for at least 10”) MasterLeft MasterRight M&ELeft M&ERight
Minute of black
Textless title backgrounds Clean Backgrounds – Titles and credits(Cut points should match)

Leading

Leading is the space between lines of text.

Letterbox

Letterbox describes the TV screen when black bars have been put above and below the picture so that widescreen material can be seen in its entirety on a 4:3 television screen.

Library Shot

A library shot (or stock shot) is a shot used in a film but not recorded specifically for it. Such footage can be referred to as stock footage which was filmed previously for another film or TV production. Documentaries often rely heavily on library shots.

Lift

Lift is posh-chat for brightness. Lift defines where the darkness element of the picture starts from with respect to black level. With this control you can black crush darker elements to render them invisible or lift them out of the gloom.
Lift in terms of editing software is the removal of material from a timeline to leave a gap and not causing anything else to shift around.

Line-Up

Line-up is the process of preparing electronic equipment (particularly cameras and VTRs of the past) so that it meets specified standards. In a studio or at an OB, line-up takes place just before recording or transmission to make sure that equipment is technically ready to go.

Line-Up Level

Within the BBC, audio reference level is often referred to as ‘Line-up Level’, ‘Zero Level’, ‘0dB’, ‘0dBu’ or PPM4. Give in? Line-up Level represents a level that is 8dB less than the maximum (or peak) allowed during the programme.

Line-Level

Professional audio is distributed at a higher level than found in the domestic environment; this higher level (about 10dB) is called line-level. However some domestic equipment is installed in edit suites, such as DVD recorders and CD players. Care must be taken connecting these unbalanced, domestic-level sources into the balanced line-level environment.

Linear Editing

Linear editing using media like recording tape or film, forces the editor or operator to access material in order (e.g., to access scene 5 from the beginning of the tape, one must proceed from scene 1 through to scene 4) either in fast-forward or play. Editing a sequence on tape is done by taking chunks of vision and sound from one tape and recording these onto a second tape that becomes the edited master. It’s difficult to change your mind because if you want to replace a shot at the beginning of the tape with one of a different length, you will have to re-record all the subsequent material. This contrasts with non-linear editing which offers more flexibility.

Lip-Sync

Perfect lip-sync is said to happen when visible lip movement and audible speech fit together perfectly. Pictures and sound take different paths through the shooting, editing and transmission processes. All elements along the line claim to not harm the synchronicity between picture and sound, but somehow there are often problems, and it seems more so with the advent of HD TV. Don’t ask me where it goes wrong but it does. It doesn’t help that when you start looking for sync errors, every picture suddenly looks out of sync. As a check of synchronisation  a clapperboard is used at the start or end of each shot recorded or filmed in most productions.

The situation has not been helped with the more common use of LCD and Plasma TV technology that is replacing the traditional CRT monitor in galleries, edit suites and dubbing theatres. LCD and Plasma TVs have an inherent delay built in, causing pictures to be as much as over a frame late. As you can imagine, such a monitor hardly helps when lip-sync issues arise. The brain hates hearing sound early with respect to the vision as this goes against real life where sound, because of distance, is often late with respect to the vision it accompanies. Trouble is, in our TV world it is the vision that is delayed more by bits of equipment than the sound, this produces early sound, to which we are all very sensitive. The relative timing of sound to vision should not exhibit any perceptible error and broadcasters insist that sound must not lead or lag the vision by more than 20ms (1 field at 25 frames per second), but realise that if distance is involved a sound delay of greater than 20ms can be perfectly natural and therefore acceptable.

Listen Jack

Listen jacks are audio sockets, usually arranged in an array, on audio jackfields. Jacks are normally used in vertical pairs, the top one being a ‘listen’ jack, the lower a ‘break’ jack. Putting a jackplug into a listen jack does no harm any established connections but allows you to listen to the signal and possible route it somewhere else without affecting the original source or destination. The break jack has to be used with greater care because, as its name suggests, insertion of a jackplug here will break the circuit to or from a piece of equipment.

Lock-Up

Lock-up is the time a VTR takes to produce a stable picture. Now well under a second (if not instant) this used to take up to 6” on old quad machines.

Locked-Off Shot

Here the camera mount and pedestal are physically locked in one position. All adjustments on the camera’s lens must be out of bounds when shooting such a shot. If they are touched they must be returned to exactly the same setting or what should be invisible turns horrible visible and cost must more time and money to repair. If the shot is successfully photographed, then invisible jump cuts can be performed anywhere in that fixed image. Magical appearance and disappearance effects can be created by the editor by jumping between characters present and absent in the locked off shot. Ghostly half images, where backgrounds can be seen though a foreground character, can be created in a similar way by mixing or superimposing shots with and without the character concerned.

Log

A log lists numbers, either timecodes or tape times (heaven forbid), that are used to identify recorded media. The log also includes additional information such as reel numbers, scene numbers, clip durations and best takes etc. Such a log can be used to capture a tape onto a drive in a process called batch capture.

Log and Capture

The Log and Capture window in FCP performs the same function as the Capture Tool in an Avid. You can either capture manually or pre-select sections of your tape (log them) and then subsequently batch capture them.

Long Shot (LS)

A Long Shot (LS) is a slightly vague term describing a head to toe shot of a person or object such as a building. Sometimes this type of shot is more properly referred to as a Full Length Shot.

Loop

A loop is made from a piece of film or tape joined top to tail to produce an endless loop which was then threaded in a projector, Telecine or tape machine to produce an everlasting set of images or sounds. A rain loop is a common example of this technique, which was mixed in with the ‘dry’ pictures to give the impression of a downpour.

Low-Angle Shot (LA)

Low-angle shot (LA) is a shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis, often at knee height, looking up.

LS

  1. See Long Shot.
  2. An abbreviation for Loudspeaker

LTC (Longitudinal Timecode)

LTC (Longitudinal Timecode) is distributed as an audio signal and can be recorded on a piece of tape. Trouble is when a tape is stopped such an audio signal disappears and is unreadable (because it is silent). That’s where its partner Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC) comes in. VITC (pronounced “vitsy”) is a system of recording and distributing timecode data by using spare lines at the top of a TV picture. Because as it’s part of the vision signal it is available when the tape is stopped in the form of a freeze frame, the timecode of a stopped frame can thus still be read accurately. During normal operation, a VTR constantly switches its sourcing of timecode information from LTC to VITC. See Timecode, VITC.

Luminance (Y)

The luminance (referred to as the Y component) is the black and white portion of a component or composite video waveform.

Luminance Key

Often used in simple caption work, luminance keying only uses two video layers. Here the caption or title graphic (placed on layer 2 of a timeline) uses itself, or more precisely the video level of itself, to cut a hole in the background picture (which is placed on layer 1) and fills that hole with itself or a colour. The key can have a border(simply cut a bigger hole), or coloured border(fill the enlarged hole edges with a colour) or shadow (simply cut a bigger hole and offset it slightly), or soft edges (mix between the hole edges and the background), or opacity (mix between the filled hole and the background). Sorry, I came very close to talking about software. See Chroma Key.


 

M [Link back to A to Z choices]

M6

  1. A motorway from Birmingham to Carlisle.
  2. Sometimes a stereo PPM is switchable between displaying simple left and right information (A & B) and the more specialised sum and difference nature of a stereo signal (M & S). M can be thought of as the Mono sum and S the strength of the stereo nature of the signals – in other words how different they are from each other. ‘M’ mathematically (if you are working to the M6 standard) is equal to A+B-6dB in other words left plus right and divided by 2. ‘S’ is simply A-B. Thus when you add two identical signals at PPM 4 the resultant M signal will also PPM4, strange but true. M3, now hardly used, takes only 3dB from the A/B sum.

M & E (Music And Effects)

When audio is mixed at a dub, music and sound effects (M & E) will often be recorded separately on their own tracks and away from the full mix that will also contain commentary and dialogue. This separation has become a delivery requirement for international sales of TV programmes so that foreign broadcasters have the option of re-voicing the dialogue over an already mixed Music and Effects track. These alternative soundtracks get to the foreign broadcaster usually in the form of a set of synchronous BWAV files, so that the sound can be relayed on the distributed master as required.

M & S Stereo

Sometimes a stereo PPM is switchable between displaying simple left and right information (A & B) and the more specialised sum and difference nature of a stereo signal (M & S). M can be thought of as the Mono sum and S the strength of the stereo nature of the signals – in other words how different they are from each other. ‘M’ mathematically (if you are working to the M6 standard) is equal to A+B-6dB in other words left plus right and divided by 2. ‘S’ is simply A-B. Thus when you add two identical signals at PPM 4 the resultant M signal will also PPM4, strange but true. M3, now hardly used, takes only 3dB from the A/B sum. Monitoring audio in this way can reveal phase errors in the source material that would remain hidden with simple A & B monitoring, this is because any phase difference between the A & B legs, will produce a high ‘S’ signal.

Markers

Markers are available on editing software to mark special points on source material or specific points in your edited sequence. To make them useful they can have a colour associated with them and can have text attached so that they can act as comments or reminders of things to do. A list can be exported at the end of the edit that could be useful in a dub so that necessary further is clearly identified.

Marquee

Marquee is high-end graphic and 3D title generation software from Avid. It combines word processing capabilities, font manipulation and 3D text animation into one application. It operated from four main windows; the large Main display window, a Timeline window, a Gallery window, and the Properties window.

Mask

A mask is a shield placed in front of the camera to cut off some portion of the photographed image.

Master Shot

A master shot is camera coverage of an entire dramatised scene from start to finish. It is shot from an angle that keeps all, or most of the players in view.

Match Frame

Match frame (Reveal Master Clip in Final Cut Pro) is feature of editing software that allows you to backtrack and find the source of any picture or sound in your timeline and display the clip once again in your source or browser window. From here it is easy to find the clip in its bin by using ‘Find Bin’ in Avid. Match Frame is a very useful feature and you’ll find many reasons for its use. It is incredibly useful to quickly reload shots into the viewer you’ve recently inserted into your timeline as you assemble your scene from the various shots provided for you by the director. ‘Reverse match frame’ finds where in a sequence you have used a particular shot in your viewer and will take you to the very frame.

Matte

  1. A matte is a mask fitted over the camera lens so that only a certain area of the image is photographed (something like a pair of binoculars cut-out, for instance).
  2. The term is more commonly used to describe a post-production technique where an object can be separated (or masked) from its background. A matte thus produced can act as an external key.

MCU

A Medium Close-Up (MCU) usually frames the subject’s head and shoulders.

Media Composer

Media Composer is a version of editing software made by the Avid Corporation. It was the industry standard until Final Cut Pro (Apple’s equivalent) stole their thunder mainly for reasons of price. In recent years the pendulum may have swung back to Avid.

Medium Close-Up (MCU)

A Medium Close-Up (MCU) usually frames the subject’s head and shoulders.

Metadata

Metadata is loosely defined as data about data. The strength of this definition, even though it is not very precise, is in recognising that metadata is data. JPEGs, AAFs and MXF files all carry metadata with them relating to the media they represent. Metadata provides information about: means of creation, purpose of the data, time and date of creation, creator or author of data, what standards were used etc. An ordinary WAV file has no metadata, but a BWAV or Broadcast WAV has such data included, of which the most important is timecode, so it can be synchronised with other tracks in your timeline.

Mid-Shots (MS)

Mid-shots (MS) are framed generally down to the waist.

Mix

A mix (or dissolve) is the slow transformation from one sound or image to another, in other words one image or sound takes over from the other. In the middle if the mix both images are seen or heard so they must be made to look and sound good together.

Money Shot

A money shot (also called a ‘money-making’ shot) is a provocative, sensational, or memorable sequence in a film, a shot on which the film’s commercial performance is perceived to depend.

MP3

A form of audio coding that can data compress audio waveforms without much loss of quality provided the bitrate (which is selectable) is set high enough.

MPEG

MPEG is a digital compression standard for moving video images that allows the images to occupy less memory or disk space. Like the JPEG standard, it includes options for trading off between storage space and image quality. The MPEG carries with it metadata about creation and other properties.

MS

Mid-shots (MS) are framed generally down to the waist.

Multi-Camera Coverage

A multi-camera coverage is used, more often than not, when an audience is involved. Situation comedies, panel games, concerts, variety and chat shows are generally recorded in this way. The number of cameras used on any of these shows depends on the format, ranging from 4 up to double figures. Luckily, editing software enables you to group the camera outputs together so that a choice can be easily made as to the best coverage to use in your sequence.

Multi-track recording

Multi-track recording is a technique of sound recording that uses a separate track for each sound source to permit subsequent dubbing and mixing. The term applies just as well in the analogue or digital worlds.

MUSA

A Musa is a coaxial video connector and is used primarily in video jackfields to allow the easy insertion and removal of interconnection wire called ‘double-enders’ to set up circuits between different bits of equipment in an edit suite or similar. Musas are still used to interconnect the latest HD SDI signals today though the old video connecting cable has to be upgraded to cope with the higher bandwidth.

MXF

MXF is a form of audio and video coding that is used to produce media files when material is captured into an editing computer memory. MXF media has taken over from OMF files that used to separate the track nature of audio and video signals. Troublesome at first they are more reliable now, as bugs associated with the new media format have been ironed out. The media contains within its code information about reel source and timecode data.


 

N [Link back to A to Z choices]

Noise

Noise is a general term used in electronics to indicate the existence of any unwanted electrical signals and therefore unrelated to the original wanted signal. Video noise generally manifests itself as snow or graininess or ghost images superimposed on the picture. Noise on sound is a hissing sound in the background, a good example of this is noise from analogue tape recording (cassette maybe) or a radio tuner with insufficient signal strength from its aerial. Technically this is referred to as white noise and it is evenly spread over the audio passband. Other external sources of electrical interference or noise that can affect both vision and sound are things like: switches, electric motors, fluorescent lamps, etc. Digital signals are not immune from such interference, as I know a neighbour of mine can’t use an electric lighter with losing his Freeview TV picture for a moment.

Non-Linear Editing

Non-linear editing requires that (with suitable computer software) your pictures and sound clips be captured (or digitised) onto a memory or disc. The computer has instant access to this material and can display it in any order or sequence. Thus your created sequence is just a series of instructions to the software to show material in a specific order. The big advantage to the editor is that all captured material is instantly available for selection and alterations can be made to the sequence at any point and the following material just shuffles up or down.

Normalisation

Normalisation is a ‘normal’ set of interconnections between different pieces of equipment in an edit suite, dubbing theatre or control room. This ‘normal’ was established when the suite was designed and wired, however it can be altered to suit day-to-day operations that require temporary special circuit re-arrangements when different sources or destinations are introduced. Very often this ‘normal’ is set in the wiring found behind audio and video jackfields. U-links set up the normal mode of operation on a video jackfield, so that when all of these are in place the designed wiring layout is in operation. Such normalisation on an audio jackfield is within the wiring behind the array of holes. Jacks are normally used in vertical pairs, the top one being a ‘listen’ jack, the lower being a ‘break’ jack. Putting a jackplug into a listen jack does no harm to any established connections but allows you to listen to the signal, and possible route it somewhere else, without affecting the original source or destination. The break jack has to be used with greater care because, as its name suggests, insertion of a jackplug here will break the circuit to or from a piece of equipment. Thus if a VTR normally receives signals from an Avid through this listen/break arrangement, then insertion of a jack into the lower break jack will take away this feed and replace it with whatever is coming down your cable.

NTSC

NTSC stands for National Television Standards Committee and is the system of colour TV broadcasting used mainly in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan, containing 525 lines per frame and 29.97 frames per second. (See PAL and SECAM). Rudely described as ‘Never Twice the Same Colour’ as a result of green/magenta hue errors the system could introduce.


 

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Offline

When an editing computer declares media to be offline it means it has a reference to media but has lost the actual media. In the worst case the media has been corrupted or deleted and will therefore have to be re-captured, otherwise it has been moved and the computer software will have to find it and relink it.

Offline Editing

Offline editing uses captured video media of lower than broadcast quality while decisions about the programme’s content are being made. It is therefore a less expensive system as the required drive space is much reduced. When locked, the programmes goes to a conform session, where a more expensive broadcast quality online system replaces all the pictures according to your sequence information from the offline.

OMF Media

Now being superseded by AAF and MXF Media, (Yes, I know!), OMF (Open Media Format) media files are produced when audio and video material is captured (or digitised) into an editing computer’s memory. This OMF media contains metadata that includes references to reel and timecode information of the source material. OMF files are also used when transferring media and associated timeline information from one piece of equipment to another. It is most commonly used to export material from editing computer to dubbing suite. However today most dubbing suites find it easier to deal with AAF formatted media but the approach is exactly the same.

Online Editing

Editing on an online system uses and manipulates pictures with a high enough quality for transmission. Some programmes will be assembled first, using a cheaper offline system.

Opacity

Opacity is the degree to which a video image is transparent thereby allowing images that are layered behind to visually show through. It often crops up when dealing with keys of any sort.

Open Media Format

See OMF. Just above.

‘Out’ Point

The ‘Out’ point is the timecode of the specific frame at which a clip ends.

Outside Broadcast (OB)

An OB describes multi-camera coverage usually of an event such as a football match, an opera, concert performance or church service. The OB is run as though it were a studio set-up with the various control rooms (sound, lighting, production gallery) contained within trucks or lorries called scanners.

OOV

OOV means “out of vision”. It’s a standard instruction used on scripts to show that the person speaking won’t be seen on the screen but is speaking commentary or adding a voice-over to accompany pictures.

Open Talkback

Open talkback, once activated, is available to all in a studio or OB set up. The source of this open talkback is usually the production gallery where the director, production assistant and vision mixer work. This means they have a microphone in front of them picking up everything they say and this can be heard continuously by other areas on the system. It can be the source of many interesting anecdotes not intended for broadcast to the crew at least. Always check it’s off before saying anything controversial. See also Switched Talkback.

Over the Shoulder Shot (OS)

An over the shoulder shot (OS) is a shot of someone or something taken over the shoulder of another person.

Over-Scan

Transmitted video images generally exceed the physical size of the screen in a domestic environment. The edge of the picture may or may not be displayed, depending on the adjustments of the scans within individual television sets. The extra area is called the over-scan area. Video productions are planned so that critical action never is played in these over-scan areas. Professional monitors are set to display the entire video image including the over-scan area for obvious reasons.

Overwrite

Overwrite is a function found in editing software where new material, in a viewer or source window, replaces shots (frame for frame, track for track) already on your timeline. The alternative to overwrite is insert, where the same new shot now cause any following material to shuffle down the timeline – the programme becomes even longer! Different tracks can be kept ‘sync-locked’ so that everything shuffles down together (or not as you require).


 

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Pack Shot

A pack shot is a shot in a commercial showing a close-up of the product itself.

Pad

A pad is an electronic circuit that reduces, or more properly attenuates, the level of analogue signals passing through it. Applied to audio signals, pads, which are usually passive, can have a fixed or variable attenuation. The fixed ones are generally made to be 6 or 10dB and are used to ‘pad-down’ professional sound levels to suit domestic equipment. You can also find them at the front end of audio mixers and are there to prevent incoming signals clipping the receiving amplifiers of the mixer’s circuits, which would otherwise cause distortion.

PAL

PAL stands for Phase Alternating Line. This is the analogue colour television standard used in the UK, most of Europe and large parts of the rest of the world, such as China and India. PAL encodes the two colour-difference signals (R-Y and B-Y) onto one sub-carrier and places it within the luminance passband (at 4.43MHz). It’s rudely referred to as ‘Pale And Lurid’. See also Composite, NTSC, SECAM and YUV.

Pan (Camera)

A pan is where the camera is moved in a predominately horizontal plane in either direction.

Pan (Sound)

Panning is where a sound source is moved within a stereo image – left to right or vice versa. The panned sound is usually a single source of sound such as a solo voice or instrument. Moving this source within the stereo image is achieved by altering the relevant levels of that sound (L with respect to R) in a sound mixer, or editing software, that ultimately feeds your two loudspeakers.

Pan And Scan

The process of reformatting 16:9 pictures into a 4:3 shape loses an equal amount of picture information from the left and right hand sides, as only the middle of the 16:9 picture can be saved if we keep all the vertical information. Pan and Scan is the technique of saving important picture information by selection of a different portion of the original image to be reformatted other than the geometric centre section. See Aspect Ratio.

Patch Bay

Jackfields or patch bays are used less these days but act as an interconnection panel for both audio and video signals of all types, both analogue and digital. They enable simple day to day re-routing of signals within, and to and from, edit suites, dubbing suites, studio control rooms and the like. Outputs and inputs of most of the equipment in the suite or control room present themselves to the jackfield and therefore available for re-routing. However today, more often than not, this routing function has been taken over by assignable matrices: select a source – select a destination and your connected once you hit ‘take’. The advantage of matrices is that they route multi-layer signals, and can connect audio, video and remote signals all at once.

Audio Jackfields use balanced (3-wire) circuits using connectors (PO Jacks – Post Office jackplugs) that Alexander Graham Bell might have recognised as they were used in telephone exchanges of years gone by, but still make a very reliable connector even today. They look like ¼” headphone jacks but are of a slightly different design and only carry one source of audio. The three connections are – tip, ring and sleeve: tip-line, ring-return and sleeve-earth.

Video Jackfields use Musa coaxial connectors that allow the easy routing of video signals using interconnection wire called ‘double-enders’. These bits of wire set-up temporary circuits between different bits of equipment: a VTR to a monitor for example. Musas connectors are still used today to interconnect the latest HD SDI signals, though the old video cable has to be upgraded to cope with the higher bandwidth. Video U-links on jackfields are effectively solid bits of curved screened wire that join signals from the top row of Musas to the row below. Thus signals always fall downwards through a U-linked video jackfield. Any U-link can be removed and the signal re-routed elsewhere with double-enders, thus starving the original destination of a signal. So U-links set up a normal mode of operation with all of them in place.

Such normalisation on an audio jackfield is within the wiring behind the array of holes. Jacks are normally used in vertical pairs, the top one being a ‘listen’ jack, the lower a ‘break’ jack. Putting a jackplug into a listen jack does no harm to any established connections but allows you to listen to the signal and possible route it somewhere else without affecting the original source or destination. The break jack has to be used with greater care because, as its name suggests, insertion of a jackplug here will break the circuit to or from a particular piece of equipment. Thus if a VTR normally receives signals from an Avid through this listen/break arrangement, then insertion of a jack into the lower break jack will take away this feed and replace it with whatever is coming down your cable. Nowadays analogue jackfields are disappearing, as signals to and from different equipment in the edit suite generally use SDI interconnections, where audio and video come down the same pipe.

Pedestal

A camera pedestal (often abbreviated to ‘ped’) is the standard one-person studio camera mounting that enables silent and fluid camera movements (in the right hands of course!). The ped is on wheels, that can be steered in any direction and the camera raised and lowered on a gas-filled column. Video pedestal (or ped) is the amount by which lift or brightness is added to a video picture. NTSC pictures in the US were given (by design) a 7% ped to get over the problem of visible fly-back lines in early TV sets. This has to be removed when converting them to the UK TV standard of 625-lines .

Phaser

A phaser is a piece of audio software (it used to be hardware) that processes recorded sound in special ways to create unusual sounds. To create a phasing effect the signal is split, and a portion of it is filtered, delayed and then mixed with the original.

Phasing

Phasing usually occurs when two audio signals, carrying roughly the same information, are added together but one of them has, for whatever reason, taken a slightly longer signal path. Phasing is audible on high frequencies first, so S’s in speech acquire a fussy, sucky sort of sound. The cure is to introduce a compensating delay in the other leg and bring them back in phase. Phasing also was a problem caused by old analogue tape machines, whereby the stereo replay head alignment had become titled away from vertical and therefore causing one signal of the stereo pair to be replayed fractionally before the other. See M & S.

Phono Plugs

Phono plugs (or more properly RCA phono plugs) are coaxial unbalanced connectors used for domestic audio and video. They are generally coloured-coded as follows:

  1. Red – right audio
  2. White – left audio
  3. Yellow – video

Pilot

A pilot is an experimental new programme, or a first episode of a new series, that as yet does not have full commissioning backing. It can take any form from a filmed read-through, right through to a complete programme. The more transmittable you make, it the more expensive it is. Pilots are the hardest programmes to edit, as no style has yet been established that suits them best. You have to invent one in an incredible short timescale and production companies usually want you to do all this for a rate far below your normal. Yea, right.

Pinch Wheel

A pinch wheel is a mechanical component of a tape transport mechanism. To achieve tape motion the pinch wheel, which normally has a rubber surface, is pushed towards and against a rotating shaft known as a capstan, the tape being trapped in between, is forced to move. Thus the tape is pulled over the spinning video heads and stationary audio heads.

Pixel

A pixel is a single picture element, or the smallest element in a graphic image. Picture quality increases as the number of pixels that are used in a measured area of an image, just like dots per inch (DPI) in the printing world.

Plate Shot

Sometimes the machinery of film and TV production have to be contained within a shot alongside the actors, purely because of the fact that, for whatever reason, is has to be there. A plate shot is a shot that doesn’t contain any of this machinery or indeed actors; it is therefore a background shot. Boom poles and lights are possible examples of what I mean. The plate shot photographed without these unwanted items allows, with some software trickery, their removal thus producing a perfect shot.

PLUGE

PLUGE stands for Picture Line-Up Generator Equipment and is a test signal that enables you to check for correct grey scale reproduction on a colour CRT or LCD display. It is comprised of shades of absolute grey that should, on a correctly aligned monitor, come out grey. It also allows you to set the brightness of a monitor accurately, such that, in the right lighting conditions, you can see the slightest increase in brightness level from true black. Grey references are very important in grading suites to act as a reminder of what neutrality is and PLUGE can be used for this. It can be printed on glass and illuminated by truly grey fluorescent light. See Colour Correction.

Point of View Shot

A POV is a shot seen from the point of view of the actor – as though we, the viewers, are looking through the performer’s eyes and seeing what they see.

PPM (Peak Programme Meter)

An old-fashioned PPM is still one of the best ways to display the level (voltage or volume) of audio signals. With a fast attack and slower fall back times they accurately follow the complicated peaks of an audio signal. With a simple linear scale (1-7, white on black) they easily define and identify line-up levels (PPM4) and maximum level (PPM6). There are 4dBs between each division. Stereo PPMs have two needles: red for left and green for right (as in port and starboard lights on a boat or aircraft). Sometimes a stereo PPM is switchable between displaying simple left and right information (A & B) and the more specialised sum and difference nature of a stereo signal (M & S). ‘M’ can be thought of as the Mono sum and ‘S’ the strength of the stereo nature of the signals – in other words how different they are from each other. ‘M’ mathematically (if you are working to the M6 standard) is equal to (A+B)-6dB in other words left plus right and divided by 2. ‘S’ is simply A-B. Thus when you add two identical signals at PPM 4 the resultant M signal will also PPM4, strange but true. M3, now hardly used, takes only 3dB from the A/B sum.

PO Jack (Post Office Jackplug)

PO jacks are audio connectors Alexander Graham Bell might have recognised as they were widely used in telephone exchanges of years gone by, but still make a very reliable connector even today. They are found on audio jackfields and are a balanced 3-wire connector, using the tip, ring and sleeve to carry the line, return and earth signals. ‘Double-enders’ made up of a PO jack on either end of a length of wire accommodate quick, day-to-day audio plugging arrangements. Their rugged construction using brass contacts made them very reliable, so long as you gave a little twist to the jack as it went in to clean off last night’s oxide. They are similar to ¼” stereo headphone jacks but are not the same. Do not insert a ¼” jack into a PO jackfield as you will do physical damage to the jackfield, because the tip is and ring are slightly larger – oooh nasty!

POV (Point of View) Shot

A POV is a shot seen from the point of view of the actor – as though we, the viewers, are looking through the performer’s eyes and seeing what they see.

Print-Through

Print-through is a feature of the early days of magnetic recording where any layer of tape on a packed spool would print-through its magnetic information to its neighbours; the neighbours capable of doing the same of course. There are two reasons that the problem has gone away. Firstly we are using tape that is magnetically so hard, that it takes enormous field strength to alter an existing recording, so much so, it is now quite hard to erase a tape for reuse. And secondly, if that magnetic recording was of a digital signal we are only interested in detecting the difference between nothing and something. And that something is magnetically huge compared with any print-through effects.

Pre-Read

Pre-read is available in digital recorders whereby a playback head is used to read material just before it’s over-written by a record head. This enables you to alter recorded video footage only using one VTR. You can practice any modification all you like but once you hit record the unmodified video is gone forever – dangerous but useful. Captions can be added but not removed by this method – oh, and it applies to audio as well.

Pre-Recs

Pre Recs are recordings done before any main show recording. These can be scenes that would be too complicated to do on the night in front of an audience or maybe limited space for sets meant that they had to be recorded beforehand. The benefit is you have less to record on the night.

Pre-Roll

Pre-roll is a videotape term that describes the process of winding a tape back a certain number of seconds before a selected ‘in’ point. This, for most practical purposes, is set to 5 seconds, though modern tape transports can cope with less, as they lock-up more quickly these days. If the setting is changed away from the pre-set then this is referred to as a custom pre-roll. You will meet the term during capturing taped material and the digital cut process because any tape deck has to wind back slightly from any selected ‘in’ point so that it can present those pictures in a fully locked and stable state.

Print to Video

In Final Cut Pro you can create crash edits on tape by pressing the Record button directly on your camcorder or deck, and recording the video output using either the Print to Video command or the direct video output of the Timeline.

Production Gallery

A gallery is the studio production control room where various members of the production team including director, vision mixer and production assistant sit during the recording and/or transmission of a programme. Sound control and lighting control are usually contained in separate adjacent rooms.

Profile Shot

Does what it says on the tin, a shot framing the profile (usually a face) of person or object.

Progressive Scan

Used on computer monitors and now on HD TV transmission outlets, progressive scans suffer from less vertical flicker and can produce stunning images on good but expensive displays. With interlacing a frame is presented twice but with only half the information available at each scan, these half frames are called fields. With a progressive scanned picture a complete frame is presented only once but at the full resolution.

Project

A project contains all the database details of an editing exercise. Within a project are bins used to store database references to media usually held separately. Bins also store sequences, effects and title graphics. Projects are small in size, at least compared to the media they reference, and can easily be kept for safety on a USB Stick.

Pulse Code Modulation (PCM)

Pulse Code Modulation is a process by which an analogue signal is sampled and turned into a stream of digital codes. The more often and more closely you measure the source analogue signal, the more accurately you represent the original in the digital codes that are produced. The downside of greater accuracy is that you will have more data to deal with and your file sizes correspondingly larger.


 

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Q

The Q is a measure of the sharpness of how a selected range of frequencies separates themselves from the rest of the spectrum when performing filtering and equalisation effects processes to recorded sound.

Quad Split

A quad split is four pictures in one, and is usually the output of multi-camera coverage or recording. The pictures are usually put on a DVD with burnt in timecode (BITC) so the complete coverage is viewable in one sitting.

Quadruplex (Quad)

Using 2” videotape running at 15ips (15.625ips in the UK), these quadruplex machines and associated equipment filled a room, however they were the first and longest lasting tape format that allowed the recording, transfer and editing of full quality broadcast pictures. Modified for colour and 625 lines they lasted in use from 1956 to about 1982.

Quality Assessment Review (QAR)

All programmes delivered to broadcasters on tape are subject to a Quality Assessment Review prior to delivery. Only independent companies approved of by the broadcaster (and paid for by the production company) are able to perform QARs. Any programmes failing to meet the required technical standards, or being in breach of other acceptance requirements will be referred back to the supplying production company. You’ve been warned!

Quarter-Inch

Quater-Inch was an analogue audio tape format using 1/4 inch wide tape. It was usually stereo and could have a time code track down the guard band between the tracks. Professionall the tapes ran at either 7 1/2 or 15 inches per second (i.p.s.)

QuickTime

QuickTime files are audio/video files used and generated primarily on MAC operating systems. They are easily imported and exported into editing software.


 

R [Link back to A to Z choices]

R-Y

See YUV, or Colour Difference Signals.

Racks

Racks is another name for the area of the studio control rooms where technical control of cameras takes place. A lighting gallery is usually part of the same room or directly alongside.

RAID

Originally RAID stood for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks; now commonly Redundant Array of Independent Disks. These drive arrangements allow for several disks to take the load of recording media or files. Because information can be duplicated and shared between the disks in the array, the failure of any one of the disks should not resuot in the loss of any files.

Raster

The area scanned by the cathode ray in a CRT monitor.

Reaction Shot

A reaction shot is a shot that cuts away from the main source of drama in a scene to show an emotional response to the immediately preceding action or words. See text, page 32.

Recce

Pronounced ‘recky’, it is an abbreviation for reconnaissance. It’s a pre-filming visit to a location to work out its suitability for shooting, including access to necessary facilities and assessment of any lighting or sound problems that may arise.

Recording Report Form (RRF)

Every tape submitted to a broadcaster must be accompanied by a completed recording report or RRF. The report, in addition to providing a programme title, sub-title, timings etc., includes details of the programme’s supplier and the recording facility house where it was recorded. It must also include technical information including the origination format, timecode of first frame of picture (FFOP) and details of the aspect ratio and caption safe areas used.

Reference Level

Reference Level represents an audio level that is 8dB less than the maximum allowed during the programme as measured with a PPM. Within the BBC, Reference Level is often referred to as ‘Zero Level’, ‘Line-up Level’, ‘0dB’, ‘0dBu’ or ‘PPM4’. Oh, the fun we used to have there!

Relink

Relink is a process within editing software whereby clips in a bin (remember it’s only a database) are re-glued to the media they catalogue. You might say how did they become divorced from each other in the first place? It can happen when media is moved between different attached drives or when media has been accidentally wiped, or when you’ve had to move computers and re-build your project from scratch. In most cases the media goes offline (temporally we hope). When an editing computer declares media to be offline it means it has reference to media but has lost that actual media. In the worst case deleted or corrupted media has to be re-captured, otherwise if it was only moved, the computer software will have to find it again and relink it. This relinking is done very simply by matching up reel numbers and timecodes of all the clips concerned. These two references should provide unique references to the lost media and re-establish the link. Trouble is it never seems to be that simple.

Repeated Action

Repeated action or double action is where action is repeated between joined shots. A hand moves twice, a person gets up twice or a door closes twice are all examples of double action.

Rendering

Rendering is when a non-linear editing system needs time to process a particular effect that cannot be played back in real-time. This term is also found relating to computer graphic animation where the computer has to be given time to create the designed multi-layers and show them together as a single sequence.

Resolution

Resolution is a measure of the ability to reproduce detail in an image. Vertically the resolution is easy, it’s simply the number of active lines. Horizontally it gets more complicated and relates to the maximum frequency of your scanned picture. Horizontal resolution can be expressed as a line number even though we are talking about a single continuous line. With lots of calculation it can be found that the horizontal resolution of a 625-line picture with a luminance passband of 5.5MHz is 580 lines. In other words 580 transitions black to white transitions can be fitted into one horizontal line and be resolved. An active line duration being 52μs, max freq. 5.5MHz – you do the maths but beware the Kell factor!

Reveal Master Clip

Reveal Master Clip (Match Frame in Avid) is feature of editing software that allows you to backtrack and find the source of any picture or sound in your timeline and display the clip once again in your source or browser window. From here it is easy to find the clip in its bin by using ‘Find Bin’ in Avid. Match Frame is a very useful feature and you’ll find many reasons for its use. It is incredibly useful to quickly reload shots into the viewer you’ve recently inserted into your timeline as you assemble your scene from the various shots provided for you by the director. ‘Reverse match frame’ finds where in a sequence you have used a particular shot in your viewer and will take you to the very frame.

Reverberation

Here one or several delayed audio signals are added to the original signal to simulate the echo effect of a large hall or cavern. When large numbers of delayed signals are mixed over several seconds in this way, the resulting sound is more commonly called reverberation or reverb for short. Many parameters are adjustable when such audio processing is required, such as reverberation time, depth, attack and release and many more. Twiddle until you find something you want or until you give in and leave it to a dubbing mixer.

Reverse Angle

Here the camera is positioned behind the action and framed to contain characters or objects previously seen from their front (or vice versa).

Reverse Match Frame

‘Reverse match frame’ finds where in a sequence you have used a particular shot sitting in your source viewer and will take you to the very frame. See also Match Frame.

RGB

RGB stands for Red Green and Blue, the three colours that make up a television picture.

Roll Back And Mix

‘Roll back and Mix’ is an old system from the linear editing days, whereby a studio would mix from the playback of a just recorded scene to a live scene. It required two VTRs and considerable skill to achieve, also including the actors. However it enabled mixes or wipes to be included in the finished programmes that would otherwise have needed an expensive 3-machine edit suite to achieve. 3-machines were employed because you had to record the result of the mix from machine A to machine B, thus all three were running at this point.

Roll Edit

A roll edit (or rolling edit) is an editing process where both outgoing and incoming clips are trimmed at an edit point to shorten one while lengthening the other and thereby maintaining the overall length of a programme. Sometimes referred to as ‘double rollering’.

Rostrum

A rostrum is a photographic bench designed to securely hold photos or artwork so they can be lit and filmed effectively. ‘Rostrum’ has come to be used as a term for shooting using a rostrum camera. The camera is mounted looking down onto the rostrum bench and used to add movements to static objects such as maps or photos.

Rough Cut

Never hear of it! And stop anybody that says it. Use the terms like ‘first-cut’ or ‘first-assembly’ instead.

RS-422

RS-422 is a 9-pin plug and socket system used mainly for the remote control of VTRs.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is the basic principle that is the most valuable to any new photographer and reminder to any old one. This rule takes the rectangular TV shape and divides it into thirds horizontally and vertically. The key elements or objects in a composition should fall on one of these imaginary divisions. All of this completely flies out of the window when you perform an aspect ratio conversion on any picture.

Rule of Three

A rule of three applies to many aspects of TV production especially in scripts. Scripted lines, comedic lines, and many performed jokes have a rule of three contained in their written structure. As an editor you might be tempted to remove one of the three in the list for reasons of time but don’t do it because it will on most occasions ruin the flow of that speech or the joke. Try and find somewhere else to save time.

“Run VT”

“Run VT” is the cry from a director or PA in a studio gallery when a previously recorded and edited insert is required for playback. Run VT is still cried even if no VT is within sight and the material is being read from a drive. Somehow all the romance is going. ITV directors used to cry “Roll VTR” – answers on a postcard.

Runner

A runner is what you’ll become after mastering every single technique in the book to the highest of standards, but hopefully not for as long as someone who hasn’t! When you’ve moved up the ladder you can suggest to the runners, who now bring you tea, that they should buy a copy. I pay commission you know, (no I don’t). Tee Hee!

Rushes

Rushes are unedited source material from a location or studio shoot, in other words, the recording tapes or film canisters taken out of the camera immediately after shooting and before the editing stage. The term originates from the film world, where the shot negative was sent to film laboratories at the end of each day and processed overnight (in a rush) for viewing the following morning. This viewing checks for both film and camera faults as well as how well the shots and performanceslook.

RX

RX is short for ‘recording’.


 

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S-Video

S-Video is a domestic form of component video, which keeps the chrominance (colour) and luminance (brightness) information separate in a 4-pin plug and socket arrangement.

Safe Area

Safe area or caption safe defines an area of the screen (normally away from the edges) where captions can be inserted. Although HD is a fully widescreen standard with 16:9 action and caption safe areas, most HD programmes will be down-converted for distribution in areas that still use SD protection standards. To allow compatibility HD programmes should conform to the same safe areas criteria as SD. This means captions should still be in a 4:3 safe zone, and that’s far in from the sides of a 16:9 picture.

Saturation

Saturation is posh-chat for colour, or more precisely the strength of colour content in a picture. Turning this right down will produce a black and white image. Variation of saturation is used to convey different stylistic moods.

Sampling Rate

The Sampling Rate is the rate at which a source signal (usually analogue) is measured and its value turned into a digital code of ‘1’s and ‘0’s, See also Audio Sampling Rates, Bitrate, Pulse Code Modulation and Resolution.

Scanners

Scanners are lorries turned into TV production trucks primarily used for location TV coverage at an OB or outside broadcast. An OB is generally multi-camera coverage of an event such as a football match, variety show, concert or even a church service. The OB is run as though it were a studio set-up with the various control rooms (sound, lighting, and production gallery) contained within the scanners.

Screen Direction

If an actor is shown in one shot walking from camera left to camera right, and then shown in the immediately following shot, to be moving in the opposite direction (camera right to camera left), the audience will assume that the actor has changed direction and is now walking back to where they started from (in the absence of obvious geographical or environmental clues). So the rule to follow (or break) is: Out Left/In Right or Out Right/In Left, if that makes any sense at all.

Script Supervisor

A script supervisor is the person responsible for all aspects concerned with the script as it is changed in content and format throughout a production. Production of camera cards, camera script and editing notes is also the responsibility of the script supervisor. He or she will also call the shots in a gallery or perform bar counting during musical numbers and might also be responsibility for producing the compliance documents delivered to the broadcaster. The script supervisor will also prepare edit notes in the form of a tram-lined script, and deal with credits and getting all the actors’ names right on the credit roller.

Scrub

Scrub is the ability to hear bursts of sound while jogging or frame stepping, so that the start of a particular sound can be accurately marked. The amount of sound the editing software plays at each step is pre-settable within your settings. I only use scrub when I have to be frame accurate between two takes, as I find it very tiresome to listen to for long periods of time.

SD (Standard Definition)

SD or Standard Definition describes a TV picture that in the UK that has 625 lines and has a 50Hz interlaced field structure. SD pictures can be analogue or digital in nature representing composite PAL or component YUV video.

SD Delivery Format

SD programmes should be delivered on a Digital Betacam component videotape format. During the production process the highest technical standards must be maintained so that the delivered programme achieves the required standards. In all cases the submitted videotape recording must be fully compliant with the manufacturer’s technical specification thereby ensuring format compatibility.

SDI

Serial Digital Interface (SDI for short) is the latest way of carrying digital video round an edit suite or post-production set up. Carried on coaxial cables, the signal is robust and can have 4 audio tracks embedded within it so it is now the chosen means of sending signals to and from VTRs, editing computers or central apparatus machine rooms.

SECAM

SECAM stands for ‘Systeme Couleur Avec Memoire’, and is the broadcast television standard for France, Russia, it’s territories and various eastern European countries. Like PAL, SECAM is based on a 25Hz frame rate, but it utilizes a different colour encoding process, displaying lines interlaced at 50 fields per second. In countries using the SECAM standard, most video production is done using PAL and only converted to SECAM prior to transmission. Rudely described as ‘System Electronique, Contrary to the American Method’.

Segment Mode

Segment Mode is an editing software term whereby whole shots (or groups of shots) are moveable around the timeline. It is a mode that FCP (Final Cut Pro) seems to want us to work in most of the time whereas I would have thought an editor is much more interested in edges of shots and how one shot cuts to another. Well, each to his own I suppose. I am getting used to it.

Segue

In music Segue is a direction to the performer. It means continue to the next section without a pause. In our terms it is a smooth join between different sections be they speech or music based, though more commonly it refers to a comfortable join between two individual pieces of music. This can be composed musically as in a medley or constructed as in an edit.

Servo

A servo is an electronic technique or circuit whereby a motor shaft is kept in the correct phase or frequency with respect to a reference. Hence capstan servo or video head drum servo.

Sat-Up

If pictures are said to be sat-up it generally means they have had too much lift applied to them. Here blacks turn grey and the whole picture appears misty and lacking depth.

Short-Form Editing

Short-form editing generally describes the production of short but highly complex video sequences. Requiring the use of software like DS from Avid this is specialised work for specialised talents. Producing title sequences or special effects involving computer graphics is included in this sort of work.

Shot Log

The process of listing shots and takes during a shoot, from rushes or from a finished programme produces a shot log. It’s usually done by noting down the timecode where a shot or take or sequence starts. A shot log helps to provide the editor with notes about where to find good shots that might be used in the edit. With scripted drama or comedy it’s better for this shot log to be re-written in the form of a tram-lined script.

Show Duplicate Frame

‘Show Duplicate Frame’ is another useful feature in editing software that tells you if you’ve used a shot more than once in your sequence. On both Avid and FCP, you’ll find it as one of the options in or near the timeline menus.

Show Print

A show print is the final print of a film that has been accepted as suitable for showing.

Sit

Sit is the amount of lift or brightness introduced to a video signal. Sit affects the whole signal but will be seen to affect the darker elements of a picture just above black level more than brighter elements. See Pedestal.

Slate

Slate is an alternative word for the clapperboard that has written details of the production title, director, DOP, scene and take number on it and is used to identify each take as it is photographed.

Smash Cut

A smash cut is where one scene abruptly cuts to another, usually with the intention of startling the audience.

SMPTE

SMPTE is the abbreviation for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, they invented timecode, so they’re really clever chaps and chapesses. With timecode each frame has a unique address in an hours : minutes : seconds : frames format.

SOVT

SOVT stands for “Sound on Videotape” and is a standard script abbreviation on studio or OB camera scripts. It means that the source of sound, sent to the studio output (and maybe on the air), is coming from a videotape machine that is playing, rather than the presenter or any other live source of sound in the studio. SOVT still applies if the source of the pictures and sound is not a VT, but some kind of modern drive thingamabob.

Split Edits

Split edits (or L cuts) are made by separating the timing of the vision and sound cuts, even by a few frames when joining two shots together.

Split tracks

Location sound can be recorded with a combination of microphones. Personal radio mics and a boom mic is a common example of a belt and braces approach often used on location. These different versions of the sound will come to you either on different tracks (split tracks) on a tape (A1, A2…) or individual WAV files that you’ll have to synchronise with the vision tracks.

Standards Conversion

Standards Conversion is the process of converting television pictures from one TV standard to another, for instance from NTSC to PAL or SECAM.

Sparks

Sparks is a common term for a lighting electrician, either on location or at a studio or OB.

Stacking

Actors in a scene can sometimes get trapped behind other actors, so that a clear shot of them is not possible, this is stacking. It’s usually caused by one or more of the actors being off their marks. The solution is to move camera or actor. Moving actors around a set or scenery prior to filming is called blocking.

Stage Left

This is the left hand side of the set looking towards the camera, from the actor’s point of view in other words, as distinct from camera left which would refer to the other side – stage right.

Stage Right

See Stage Left and multiply by minus 1!

Steadicam

Steadicam is the trade name of a hand-held, counter-balanced camera mounting which allows an operator to achieve smooth and steady shots.

Sting

A short musical phrase or animated graphic sequence (or both together) used to punctuate a programme. Stings are sometimes used repeatedly to mark a move from one part of a programme to another or to identify a particular item, game or menu sequence.

Stock Shot

A stock shot (or library shot) is a shot used in a film but not recorded specifically for it. Such footage can be referred to as library footage which was filmed previously for another film or TV production. Documentaries often rely heavily on stock shots.

Storyboard

A storyboard is a series of still images (usually drawings) depicting the structure of a film, scene, sequence, animation or graphic. Storyboards, often originated by the director, are used in the early stages of a production to communicate the content and enable discussion between all departments of that production.

Strap

A strap is a narrow band of colour or textured graphic super-imposed over pictures (usually at the bottom of the screen), which is used as a background for text. A strap can be solid or semi-transparent and makes text, such as name supers or subtitles, easier to read over pictures.

Striping

Tapes bought from a manufacturer are blank, and need a track recorded on them before insert editing can be attempted. The ‘track’ is recorded either with black and burst connected to the VTR’s input or a black source brought up from within the test signals that the machine has available internally. The machine records black on the vision track, silence on the audio tracks, timecode both on a timecode track as an audio signal (Longitudinal Timecode or LTC) and inserted into the video signal in spare lines at the top of the picture (Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC)). In addition to this bunch of signals, a control track is recorded, which comprises set of synchronising pulses allowing the machine to lock-up and cue without reference either to the video or timecode information. Timecode can be set to start from any time but for master tapes it is generally set to start from 09:57:00:00 to give time for a bars and tone test signal and a clock (at 09:59:30:00) before the programme starts at 10:00:00:00. See Leader. Assemble editing also records the full set of signals that can enable subsequent insert editing but it has to pick up from already recorded material. What editors usually do to save the time of tracking the whole tape is to crash record some black with the internal timecode generator set 15” before your first wanted timecode. Record beyond that timecode and assemble on from there using the edit to tape or digital cut controls on your editing software to output the programme at the same time as tracking the tape.

Switched Talkback

Floor managers, camera crews, sound and lighting personnel often use switched talkback to communicate with the director and production assistant in the studio gallery. In this system a button at the side of an individual’s microphone is pushed and held down to activate the circuit. Switched talkback can be used from director to presenter, so that the presenter only hears the instructions that are specifically for them. The director’s instructions to the crew are usually available on an Open Talkback arrangement. See Talkback.

Sub-Frame Editing

Sound edits can only be achieved every 25th of a second (40ms) in most editing software applications. Occasionally there is a need to edit without this restriction, for example in the case of click removal and other microscopic sound repairs, this is sub-frame editing. A click, lasting only a few samples, is tiny compared with the frame limit of 40ms.

Sub-Carrier (Colour)

A colour sub-carrier is a high frequency signal onto which, in the case of composite video, the two colour difference signals (R-Y and B-Y) are modulated. The modulated sub-carrier is added to the black and white image or luminance signal (Y), so that colour information can be carried (piggyback fashion) on that luminance.

Sub-Clip

A sub-clip is a portion of a clip (I kid you not!) and is created by your editing software to help you manage your media. Manually creating sub-clips from a large captured file can help you identify specific sections of your source material. After you have created sub-clips, you can edit them into your sequence the same as you would any other clip.

Super

  1. Very good indeed.
  2. Super is short for “super-imposed”. It’s used to describe a graphic that is placed over the top of another picture so that both remain visible. The phrase “name super” applies therefore to the superimposition of the name of a person, identifying them when they appear.

Don’t use the term in a gallery to mean No.1 or your vision mixer just might do No.2.

Symphony

Symphony is a version of editing software made by the Avid Corporation. It’s mainly used for online finishing work. It was the industry standard until Final Cut Pro (Apple’s equivalent) stole Avid’s thunder mainly for reasons of price.

Sync

Two pictures or two sounds are said to be in sync when they occur simultaneously and there is no discernable delay between them. With sound it’s easy, two sync sources create no phasing or multi-echo effects when they are mixed together. With vision, cuts or actions have to occur at the same time and usually have to be judged by eye. See Lip Sync.

Sync Pulses

Sync Pulses (synchronising pulses) are parts of the composite television waveform that are not normally seen as they occur before the start of the displayed television line. Transmitted, they keep all televisions in the country horizontally scanning at the same rate, as they are used to lock the line frequency oscillator in individual receivers. It takes me back!


 

T [Link back to A to Z choices]

Take

A take is single shot filmed without a break. If the same shot has to be repeated, it is identified by a different take number. Hence we say Shot 37 Take 4.

Take-Up Spool

A take-up spool collects tape (or film) that has just passed through a tape transport. Nowadays enclosed in tape boxes these used to be on full view. One wonders what health and safety would say about these exposed moving parts today – somehow we survived, but it’s vry hrd to typng wth oly tree figers. Sorry it’s the same joke as I used for feed spool.

Talkback

  1. A TV production company.
  2. Talkback is a non-broadcast sound system allowing operational areas that are remote from each other to communicate. Used universally in studios so that production staff in a gallery can talk to cameras, sound, lighting and videotape areas without this chat getting on the air. Similarly used at OBs and within post-production areas so that staff can communicate with each other. See also Open Talkback, Switched Talkback, and Talkback Breakthrough.

Talkback Breakthrough

Talkback breakthrough is a problem where talkback finds itself on the main programme output. It can be caused by an unguarded pair of cans left on and off the user’s head, and picked up by the studio microphones. Alternatively it’s some sort of electrical induction caused by a fault.

Talking Head

An interviewee or presenter, in any kind of close-up shot, talking to camera.

TC

See ‘Timecode’.  Just below.

Tech Run

Tech run is an abbreviation of technical run. This is a rehearsal of a complete production specifically so technical staff (lighting, sound, cameras etc.) can plan their own input to the show.

Telecine

The word Telecine describes machines that run and scan film to produce a television picture or nowadays more usually an HD video file.

Termination

  1. When your director finds someone more capable than you, especially at cracking jokes in a glossary of terms.
  2. Terminations are used at the destination end of a video circuit. Sometimes in the form of a switch, a termination is a 75ohm resistor placed across the video coaxial cable. I don’t want to go into too much detail as much equipment sorts itself out these days, but all I want to say that if your monitor or Avid input looks strange with the picture burnt out to white, a termination is missing on the line. The reason this is done is that a single source can have several destinations within an edit suite; the last one on this daisy chain must have a 75ohm termination.

Three-Point Editing

To perform an edit, so that the result is predictable, three points have to be set-up and defined. These three points are a combination of ‘ins’ or ‘outs’ and are allocated between source clip and sequence depending on what you want to do. Given that software is obliged and programed to match ‘in’ to ’in’ or ‘out’ to ‘out’, then you can predict the result with only three marked points.

Tie-Lines

Tie-lines are lengths of wire (twisted pair or coaxial) that carry electrical signals, between sources and destinations. These sources and destinations can be as varied as edit suites, studio galleries, dubbing suites and viewing rooms. As no amplification is generally used, the tie-line can carry signals in either direction. Tie-lines can take many forms such as USB or RS-422 connections that are used for remote control of VTRs. Source and destination will be clearly marked on jackfields, but remember behind these holes probably lies older wiring which may not capable of carrying modern high data-rate signals such as HD SDI. All that means is that your connection might not work with some types of signal.

Tilt (Camera)

A tilting shot is where the camera is moved in a predominately vertical plane, in either direction, tilt up or tilt down.

Timecode (TC)

Timecode, if played through a loudspeaker is a hard-edged digital signal, whose fundamental frequency is a mixture of 1 kHz and 2 kHz square waves. It is therefore a digital signal in the audio passband, which is used to identify each frame in a 24-hour time period and can be displayed on the picture it represents. Starting at 00:00:00:00 it clocks to 23:59:59:24 in a day. Centrally generated in a TV station or production house, it is recorded on every tape the station records on that day. This is often referred to TOD (Time of Day) timecode. It forms a bedrock for logging, editing, synchronising, transmitting and results in the fact that everything we do in TV and film production is never far from timecode.

Made visible and displayed on the picture (called BITC or Burnt in Timecode), the result can be recorded on a DVD and enables the logging of pictures and sound to take place in a production office without the need of any other expensive equipment because the timecode is permanently visible. In the case of rushes these BITC DVDs can be used to log the starts of good takes and in the case of complete programmes to generate a subtitle list complete with timecodes where words or phrases actually start. Timecode is recorded on a tape in two forms firstly as an audio signal – LTC (Longitudinal Timecode), and secondly as part of the vision – VITC (Vertical Interval Timecode).

Time-Lapse

Time-lapse is a method of shooting an event that happens over a long period of time, for instance a plant growing, clouds moving across the sky or even the seasons changing over a year. It works by placing a camera in a fixed place (from which it must not be moved) and then shooting a single frame of film or videotape at pre-determined intervals. A seed growing into a plant might have a single number of frames filmed per day – when this is played back it will appear to grow very quickly. This technique is much used on natural history programmes.

Timeline

Associated with many, if not all editing systems a timeline is a linear graphical representation of the edits (both sound and vision) in a sequence from start to finish. Individual tracks are displayed along with a timecode timescale ruler. Separate media chunks are moveable within the timeline to suit the creative process of joining shots together into sequences. Curser movement is made easy by the software enabling you to jump to any desired location.

Tint

Tinting a picture is to give a picture an overall colour wash. The control is found in colour correction and colour generation aspects of editing software.

TK

  1. Short for ‘Telecine’, which are machines that run and scan film to produce a television picture or nowadays more usually an HD video file.
  2. Short for ‘Take’ which are attempts at some particular dialogue or action

TOD (Time Of Day) Timecode

Timecode a digital signal used to identify each frame in a 24-hour time period and can be displayed on the picture it represents. Starting at 00:00:00:00 it clocks to 23:59:59:24 in a day. Centrally generated in a TV station or production house, it is recorded on every tape the station records on that day. This is often referred to TOD (Time of Day) timecode. It forms a bedrock for logging, editing, synchronising, transmitting and results in the fact that everything we do in TV and film production is never far from timecode. Timecode is recorded on a tape in two forms firstly as an audio signal – LTC (Longitudinal Timecode), and secondly as part of the vision – VITC (Vertical Interval Timecode).

Tone

Tone is the term to describe a sine wave shaped electrical waveform. Set at a certain frequency (usually 1 kHz) and level (usually -18dBFS), it is used as a line-up device to inform a destination as to the maximum signal loudness in any forthcoming programme material. With digital signal systems on VTRs and interconnecting circuitry, the level aspect of tone has become slightly redundant as digital circuits do not suffer from gain variations unless something is wrong. Similarly it used to be a requirement (and for some broadcasters it still is) that the left hand channel should have a repetitive break in the tone, to identify that channel of sound as the left. With current digital signal systems, namely SDI, the audio is now carried with the vision as a complete package and can’t therefore suffer a left/right swap.

Track

A track is a portion of the recording medium (tape or film) that will carry the information in whatever format for which it was designed. In the non-linear timeline the term continues to define the same segregation of media elements.

Tracking (VTR replay adjustment)

Tracking on a VTR places the recorded vision tracks under the reading video head to give maximum signal to the replay signal chain. Most machines do this totally automatically but you still see this control on older VTRs, such as Beta SP, VHS, U-Matic and broadcast machines such as D3, 1-inch and 2-inch machines.

Tracking (or Blacking or Black and Bursting or Striping)

Tapes bought from a manufacturer are blank, and need a track recorded on them before insert editing can be attempted. The ‘track’ is recorded either with black and burst connected to the VTR’s input or a black source brought up from within the test signals that the machine has available internally. The machine records black on the vision track, silence on the audio tracks, timecode both on a timecode track as an audio signal (Longitudinal Timecode or LTC) and inserted into the video signal in spare lines at the top of the picture (Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC)). In addition to this bunch of signals, a control track is recorded, which comprises set of synchronising pulses allowing the machine to lock-up and cue without reference either to the video or timecode information. Timecode can be set to start from any time but for master tapes it is generally set to start from 09:57:00:00 to give time for a bars and tone test signal and a clock (at 09:59:30:00) before the programme starts at 10:00:00:00. See Leader. Assemble editing also records the full set of signals that can enable subsequent insert editing but it has to pick up from already recorded material. What editors usually do to save the time of tracking the whole tape is to crash record some black with the internal timecode generator set 15” before your first wanted timecode. Record beyond that timecode and assemble on from there using the edit to tape or digital cut controls on your editing software to output the programme at the same time as tracking the tape.

Tracking Shot

A tracking shot (also known as a dolly shot) is a shot taken with the camera mounted on a wheeled platform (or dolly) that is pushed on rails whilst the picture is being taken.

Tram-Lined Script

A tram-lined script is a script that has been marked up with a series of vertical lines over the text to show the start and finish at any attempt at dialogue or action. These vertical lines can look not unlike tram lines on an urban street.  It is by far and away the best way of conveying shot and take information from the filming to the edit suite.

Transcoding

Transcoding is where a digital signal (video or audio) has its bitrate changed or is re-coded into another type of file by using a different codec. Thus a WAV file is transcoded into MP3, or a QuickTime movie is made from an AVI file. Transcoding can be painful sometimes as the software can be very obstinate and what worked perfectly yesterday doesn’t work today. Am I the only one to experience this?

Trimming (or Trim Mode)

Trimming is the action of shaving off frames (usually in 1 or 10 frame lumps) from the outgoing or incoming shots, or both to achieve a perfect join – yes, the audio as well. Editors spend much of their time popping in and out of trim; it’s strange therefore why FCP made is so awkward! There are work arounds if you look hard enough. See Roll Edit.

Two Shot

A shot framing two people or objects

TX

TX is a widely used abbreviation for the word “transmission”, the point at which a programme is publicly broadcast.


 

U [Link back to A to Z choices]

U

U is a component of YUV video, where Y is the luminance, and U and V the colour signals or more properly the colour difference signals and commonly known as R-Y and B-Y.

U-Link

Video U-links are found on jackfields and are effectively solid bits of curved, screened wire that join signals from the top row of musa sockets to the row below. Thus signals always fall downwards through a U-linked video jackfield. Any U-link can be removed and the signal re-routed elsewhere with double-enders, thus starving the original destination of a signal. So U-links set up a normal mode of operation with all of them in place. See Normalisation.

U-Matic

U-Matic was a Sony analogue video cassette format using 3/4 inch tape which offered a semi-professional broadcast quality at a far lower cost compared with the then current reel to reel 1 inch or 2 inch equivalents. The format was mainly used in news gathering operations and in the corporate world and for offline linear work before a full broadcast quality online.

Unbalanced Audio

Unbalanced audio, common on domestic equipment uses two wires in a coaxial arrangement to carry signals from source to destination. The signal is carried between the central core wire and the surrounding screen. Interfering signals are for the most part kept at bay but can, in noisy electrical environments, get through to cause problems, as they can induce a voltage difference between core and sleeve, which ends up at the receiving end and amplified or recorded. We get away with unbalanced systems in a domestic environment but for professional installations balanced audio is preferable if not essential. Connecting unbalanced equipment to a professional balanced system requires the use of an audio transformer or pad to do it properly. However it generally works if you connect the line of the balanced circuit to the core of the unbalanced, then connect the both the return and earth of the balanced circuit to the screen of the unbalanced circuit. This unbalances the balanced circuit up to the receiving amplifier but you can often get away with it if the leads are short.

Upstage

Upstage is an area towards the back of the set and thus further away from the camera. The term originates from the fact that theatre stages slope toward the audience, thus downstage is nearer the audience.

Ultimatte

Ultimatte is a top-end keying add-on from Avid for producing very good green screen effects and removing those fringy edges.


 

V [Link back to A to Z choices]

V

V is a component of YUV video, where Y is the luminance, and U and V the colour signals or more properly the colour difference signals and commonly known as R-Y and B-Y.

Vertical Interval Timecode

VITC (pronounced “vitsy”) stands for “vertical interval timecode”. It’s a system of recording and distributing timecode data using spare lines at the top of a TV picture. Its partner LTC (Longitudinal Timecode) is distributed as an audio signal and can be recorded on a piece of tape. Trouble is when a tape is stopped such an audio signal disappears and is unreadable. That’s where VITC comes in because, as it’s part of the vision signal, which is available when the tape is stopped in the form of a freeze frame, the timecode of a stopped frame can still be read accurately. During normal operation, a VTR constantly switches its sourcing of timecode information from LTC to VITC.

Vertical Resolution

The vertical resolution of a picture is limited by the number of scanned lines or pixels counted in a vertical direction. Resolution is a measure of the ability to reproduce detail in an image. Vertically the resolution is easy, it’s simply the number of active lines or pixels. Horizontally it gets more complicated and relates to the maximum frequency you can transmit of your scanned picture. Horizontal resolution can be expressed as a line number even though we are talking about a single continuous line. With lots of calculation it can be found that the horizontal resolution of a 625-line picture with a luminance passband of 5.5MHz is 580 lines. In other words 580 transitions black to white transitions can be fitted into one horizontal line and be resolved. An active line duration being 52μs, max freq. 5.5MHz – you do the maths but beware the Kell factor!

VFX

Short for video effects or rather confusingly video effects.

Video Effects

Commonly shortened to Vid FX or VFX, include all forms of video manipulation performed on the video signal outside the context of a live-action shoot.

Video-Mixdown

To save computing power or to export several video tracks to a destination a video-mixdown is performed. Here several video tracks or video streams in a timeline sequence are mixed down to create new media representing the ‘sum’ of all these separate tracks.

Video Levels

See Video Line-up just below.

Video Line-Up

Video line-up signals, and line-up signals in general provide a reference to confirm that the programme transmitted is likely to be within broadcast limits and will be as the producer, director or editor intended. Bars and tone is the test signal most used for this purpose. Bars represent the whitest white, the reddest red, the greenest green and so on. Nothing in the following programme material should exceed these levels. Video line-up levels are presented to the destination broadcaster so that the programme material can be used without further adjustment.

Some of the technical rules are as follows:

  1. Colour signals must be legal in both PAL and YUV domains.
  2. Black shall lie no more than 1% (or 2 bits) below nominal black level.
  3. Peak white shall be no higher than 3% (or 7 bits) above nominal white level.
  4. When decoded to RGB each component signal must not be above 105% or below -5%.
  5. Neither the programme luminance whites nor blacks should be clipped excessively.

Video Stream

A stream of video data takes processing power away from the CPU in the editing computer. If a machine is asked to replay two or three streams of video data and perform real-time effects on these streams then the CPU might run out of steam. The solution is to render the effects or perform a video-mixdown.

Virtual Studio

A virtual studio is a computer generated environment, or set, to which real actors and objects can be added by using green screen techniques. At its most complex a virtual set is generated using 3D animation so that any camera movements made in the actor’s studio can be matched by corresponding adjustments to the image of the 3D set.

Visual Effects

Commonly shortened to Vid FX or VFX, are special effects that can be created in front of the camera, such as explosions, crashes, fire, water, rain and snow.

VITC (Vertical Interval Timecode)

VITC (pronounced “vitsy”) stands for “vertical interval timecode”. It’s a system of recording and distributing timecode data using spare lines at the top of a TV picture. Its partner LTC (Longitudinal Timecode) is distributed as an audio signal and can be recorded on a piece of tape. Trouble is when a tape is stopped such an audio signal disappears and is unreadable. That’s where VITC comes in because, as it’s part of the vision signal, which is available when the tape is stopped in the form of a freeze frame, the timecode of a stopped frame can still be read accurately. During normal operation, a VTR constantly switches its sourcing of timecode information from LTC to VITC.

VO (Voice-Over)

VO (or V/O) is an abbreviation for ‘voice-over’ and is a narration or commentary on a programme that can be heard but the speaker remains unseen.

Vox Pops

Vox Pops is a corruption from the Latin ‘vox populi’ meaning ‘voice of the people’. The term covers the technique of asking members of the public simple questions, usually by stopping them in the street, and then using their answers to represent the range of opinions on a topic in a TV programme.


 

W [Link back to A to Z choices]

WAV

A WAV file is a digital representation of an analogue audio waveform. It produces an uncompressed stream of data that produces rather large files. Simple Pulse Code Modulation techniques are used to produce WAV files.

Waveform Monitor

An oscilloscope specially designed to display the TV waveform. See Gamut, and Diamond Display

White Noise

Noise is a general term used in electronics to indicate the existence of any unwanted electrical signals and therefore unrelated to the original wanted signal. White noise specifially refers to noise which exists over a wide range of frequencies in the bandwidth underconsideration. Thus if plotted ampliude against frequency white noise would give a flat response. Video noise generally manifests itself as snow or graininess or ghost images superimposed on the picture. Noise on sound is a hissing sound in the background, a good example of this is noise from analogue tape recording (cassette maybe) or a radio tuner with insufficient signal strength from its aerial. Technically this is referred to as white noise and it is evenly spread over the audio passband. Other external sources of electrical interference or noise that can affect both vision and sound are things like: switches, electric motors, fluorescent lamps, etc. Digital signals are not immune from such interference, as I know a neighbour of mine can’t use an electric lighter with losing his Freeview TV picture for a moment.

Wide Shot (WS)

Sometimes referred to as a full shot, a wide shot (WS) typically shows the entire setting and is usually intended to place figures or objects in some relation to their surroundings.

Widescreen

Widescreen describes any picture with an aspect ratio that is wider than the old TV standard of 4:3. The standard widescreen format for TV pictures today is an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Wild Tracks

Wild Tracks are primarily recorded on location to help the editing process deal with variations in the quality of background sounds, which are caused by different microphone positions necessary during shooting. Example of such tracks would be trees in a breeze or traffic or more specifically pub chatter or even a mobile phone ring. The thing is they should be clean of any dialogue or other interferring sounds, so that they are useable over any part of the edited scene.

Wipe

A wipe is a transition from one shot to another where a shapped edge travels across the screen, removing the outgoing shot and revealing the incoming.

Wow and Flutter

Wow and flutter is an old analogue audio fault normally caused by poor mechanical alignment or adjustment of tape machines or disc players (that’s black vinyl to you). A source of wow could simply be that the hole was not cut in the middle of the record. Youngsters of today don’t know they’re born.

WS

See Wide Shot. Just above.

WT

See Wild Tracks. Just above.


 

X,Y,Z [Link back to A to Z choices]

XLR (or Cannon Plug)

An XLR is a robust, lockable, 3-pin, balanced audio connector.

XLR – pins 123 or X – Screen (Pin 1), L – Line (Pin 2), R – Return (Pin 3).

These plugs and sockets are still used today for microphones and loudspeaker feeds. A mains version was available but is rarely seen anymore, a metal case carrying mains voltages is probably frowned upon today.

Y

Y is an abbreviation for luminance, which is the black and white portion of a component or composite video waveform and U and V the colour signals or more properly the colour difference signals and commonly known as R-Y and B-Y. See YUV.

YUV

YUV is an abbreviation of the individual the constituents making up component video. Y the luminance, U and V the colour signals or more properly the colour difference signals, R-Y and B-Y respectively. To understand the need for Colour Difference Signals a brief explanation of colour television is necessary. A colour picture is made up of three colours: Red, Green and Blue and these are presented to the viewer’s eye superimposed on each other to give the illusion of a full colour picture. We could record, process and transmit these colours as separate singles and would happily achieve our goal of colour television. Trouble is they would all have to be of full bandwidth and therefore would take up a lot of space on storage discs or a tape. In the early days it was hard enough for a VTR to record one full bandwidth black and white signal of 5.5MHz, otherwise called the luminance (Y). The solution to the bandwidth problem was to allow the luminance to retain full bandwidth (after all this is transmitted already), but with some clever algebra create two colour difference signals: R-Y and B-Y and reduce their bandwidth as the colour bandwidth does not have to be so great. Here comes the algebra. We want to arrive at RGB at our destination but we only have Y, R-Y and B-Y to play with.

Getting back R and B is easy:

R= R-Y+Y and similarly B=B-Y+Y, very simply achieved in a circuit with a resistor network.

What about G? Well G can be found from the formula for TV white:

Y = 0.3R + 0.59G + 0.11B or…

0.59G = Y – 0.3R – 0.11B and therefore…

G = (Y – 0.3R – 0.11B)/0.59

This can be achieved by inversion of R and B and apply the maths in a resistor network as before.

Zero Level

Within the BBC, audio reference level is often referred to as ‘Zero Level’, ‘Line-up Level’, ‘0dB’, ‘0dBu’ or PPM4. Give in? Reference Level represents a level that is 8dB less than the maximum allowed during the programme as measured with a PPM. See Audio line-up.

Zoom

A zoom is a magnification of a chosen area of the image by means of a zoom lens {a lens with a variable focal length]. In this way the camera appears to move closer to the subject.

 

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