Talk the Talk

Don’t be lost in translation when it comes to production lingo. We have compiled a list of everything you will possibly hear



After Effects

It is always a struggle to balance your creative goals with budget realities. The process can be exhausting for your team, eat up financial resources and be a real hassle. You can rely on  our expertise to help you overcome this challenge in order to execute your vision and get the advertising you want with a budget that makes sense.


A test commercial made using illustrated drawings edited together with a soundtrack.


A technique for creating movement in artwork or other inanimate objects by frames of motion picture film with several small progressive displacements of the subject so planned that when projected the image appears to be in motion.


A sequence of events that happens within the form of a piece of music.


Person who adapts a musical composition by scoring for voices or instruments.

Assistant Director (AD)

“Right arm of Director.”  Organizes production sets, prepares shooting schedule, maintains order on set.

Audio Mix

Process by which all audio elements of a project (sync dialogue, voice-over recording, sound design/effects, music) are assembled into a final mix.

Avid® (see ”Offline”) Background

In production, the part of the scene farthest from the camera.  In post-production, the bottom-most layer of a multi-layered image.

Blue (Green) Screen

Special effects photography in which a subject is photographed in front of a uniformly illuminated blue or green screen.  During the effects process, the color screen is electronically eliminated and replaced with a new background to produce a composite image with the appearance of a single shot.

Boom Man

Operates the microphone boom on each synchronous sound take.

Call Sheet

Production schedule listing crew and Actors, arrival time for makeup or production, wardrobe and prop requirements, and other shooting and production data.

Camera Assistant(s)

Checks out camera prior to shoot; loads and unloads camera; keeps slates; follows focus; keeps camera reports.

Camera Operator

Physically operates camera.


Computer-Generated Imagery.

Close-Up (CU)

Object or part of an object seen by the camera at close range and framed tightly.


The process of choosing values for color and/or density prior to (film to tape) telecine transfer or color grading of high definition image files.


The artist who operates the telecine and its associated color grading equipment, while collaborating with those who have shot the film or HD content.  The Colorist works with the agency Creative Team, the Director and Cinematographer, manipulating the color, shading, positioning of images and speeds prior to layoff to videotape, or kept as digital files in a DI (Digital Intermediate) process.


Working in a layering environment to combine images in a hierarchical order.


Even and logical succession of events (shots).  See also Script Supervisor.


The range of light to dark values present in a film, standard definition video or high definition image image.


All audio voice material to be aired.

Craft Services

Handyperson on set.  Handles food table, refreshments and sundry items for the crafts people hired as the crew for the production day.


Instantaneous transition from one shot to another.  Also, the act of trimming and joining film shots together.

Cut Away

Shot that temporarily draws the spectator’s attention from the main action, e.g., a close-up showing the reaction of a by-stander to a street fight.


A video transfer of the production day’s film material or the down conversion of high definition raw files to a smaller file format to be used in the offline edit process.


Digital Audio Tape.  A tape-based digital audio format used in synchronous recording during production in a process separate from the camera.  Also used as a back-up to hard disk recorders.


The person who has basic responsibility for the effective execution of a production.  He/she translates the creative concept into film or tape.

Director of Photography (DP)

Technically responsible for overall “look” of the film; supervises camera and lighting crew; may operate camera.


Dutch tilt, Dutch angle, oblique angle, German angle, canted angle or Batman Angle are terms used for a cinematic visual approach.  A Dutch angle is achieved by tilting the camera off to the side so that the shot is composed with the horizon at an angle to the bottom of the frame.  The effect is usually accomplished with a “Dutch Head,” a fluid head camera support with two axes of movement.


Digital Visual Effects tool in post-production.

Depth Of Field

The distance between the points nearest and farthest from the camera that is acceptably sharp.


Lines spoken by characters in a scene.


Gradual transition from one scene to another.  As the first scene is fading out, the second is fading in over it.  There are several types, including lap, matching and cross dissolves.


Making videotape, DVD, or digital file copy, e.g., from a D5 (master) or ProRes® file for approval copies or from a dubbing master for trafficking/distribution


That phase of production in which the creative and electronic act of selecting and organizing footage into a completed film narrative is accomplished.

EFX Operator

Sets up and operates any equipment that provides special effects, e.g., smoke, wind, snow, etc.


Checks power, assists DP in ordering equipment and achieving desired lighting effects.  Head Electrician is known as the Gaffer.


Performer in a minor role who does not speak or is not key to the action.  A performer who does not meet all of the criteria to be considered an on-camera principal.


To begin or end a scene in a motion picture or television production by gradually increasing (fade in) or decreasing (fade out) the amount of light through the lens so that the screen goes from black to the correct exposure or vice versa.

Final Cut Pro® (see ”Offline”) Fire Fighter

Employed when required by law.  Location-dependent.


High end, 3D, visual effects software for creating visual effects, compositing, graphics, color grading and conform for commercials or films.

Generator Operator

Operates generator for power supply on location shoots.


Handles rigging, sets up supports for lights, sets up dollies, cranes, etc.  Handles heavy equipment.  Head Grip is known as the Key Grip.

Hair Person

Dresses hair of on-camera talent.

HDTV or High Definition Television

A form of digital television characterized by a wide screen shape (16:9 aspect ratio), richer, more detailed, crystal-clear pictures, and Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound.

Home Economist

Shops and prepares foods needed on set.  Responsible for making food look great for filming.

Inside Prop

Handles all props, keeps inventory, makes sure props are replenished, etc.  Sometimes known as “Set Dresser.”

Jump Cut

A mismatching of the action or subject in two adjacent scenes, with the result that the subject jumps from one position in the frame to another.


An image format in which a wide-screen film is transferred by filling the video frame area with the entire width of the film frame and masking any surplus image showing above and below.  This preserves the original aspect ratio of the program.  A 16:9 HD image transferred to 4:3 SD would be presented in letterbox format.

Lip Sync (Synchronization)

The relationship of sound and picture in which lip action matches the sound.


A test commercial made using rough, live production edited together with a soundtrack.

Live Action

A complete film, or sequence of a film, or type in which live actors or real objects are photographed.

Live Recording

Recording of dialogue and other sounds while a scene is actually being filmed.

Location Photography

Natural setting, away from the studio, where shots for a film are taken.

Location Scout

Searches for locations.  Researches and photographs all pos­sibilities.  Aids in securing necessary permits and negotiates fees.

Make-Up Person

Applies make-up to on-camera talent.


The head person in sound department.  Responsible for overall sound.


Combining several different sound recordings, such as voice, music and sound effects, to produce a single, final sound track called a mix track.


Filmed/recorded without sound.

NTSC (National Television System Committee)

The video broadcast standard for the United States.

Nurse/First Aid

Hired to take care of any infants or children on set or location.


Historically, “offline” is the videotape post-production in an editing suite, not using the original videotape or full online editing rooms with switchers and digital effects.  It saves both money and time to work offline before conforming from the original VTR using the online equipment.  Currently, offline edit work takes place within a non-linear edit (NLE) system such as Avid®Final Cut Pro®, or Smoke®.  NLEs use digitized files from videotape dailies or files down-converted from RAW HD (RED Cam®, Arri Alexia®, Phantom®, etc.) or “standard” HD (1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720).  During this offline process, creative editing is done and the majority of the decisions are made as to how a spot will be put together.  Offline is where you choose which scenes to use and how long they will last, whether there will be cuts, dissolves, fades, etc., what sound effects and audio elements may be used, and anything else that will determine the look and feel of the spot.  With modern NLEs, once the offline cut is approved, an Edit Decision List (EDL) is used for selecting scenes for color-correction and is used to guide final edit, or online conform.  Consumer examples of an NLE software include Apple iMovie® and Windows Movie Maker® and Adobe Premier®.


Where all the final elements for the spot are assembled.  These elements generally include the final audio mix, the final color-corrected video takes, and any graphic elements or special effects that have been generated.  Final touches, such as titling, are added during this online process.

Outside Prop

Meets with Director and Set Designer and locates necessary dressings, furniture, etc.; responsible for creating atmospheric effects, e.g., smoke, fog, etc.


Scenes photographed and processed, but not used in the finished picture.

PAL (Phase Alternate Line)

The video broadcast standard for Europe and parts of Asia.


In live action, moving the picture area across the screen.  Achieved by pivoting the camera in a horizontal plane.  In animation, moving the art, or an element thereof, across the screen.  Usually achieved by moving the art in any direction.

Pencil Test

In animation, a test in which the pencil drawings are photographed to determine where corrections are needed before the final art is rendered.


A test commercial made using a series of photographs edited together with a soundtrack.


Employed when required by law.  Location-dependent.

Pre-production Meeting

A meeting of the Director, client, agency, Producer, Production Supervisor and Technical Adviser before start of film production to resolve script and production problems and to establish schedules and/or photographic locations and requirements.

Pre-Visualization (Pre-Viz)

With regard to animation, a pre-viz is a tool to test movement, timing and geometry of animation sequences for approval. The animated elements or characters are in wireframe or opaque skins as no detail in look, lighting or advanced rigging has occurred. Stages of pre-visualization are used for sequential approvals in order to avoid “re-work” in core elements after lighting and rendering have occurred.


Liaison between the agency/client and Director/crew.  Responsible for budget.

Production Assistant (PA)

General, all-purpose Production Assistant, who performs many functions.  Usually, several PAs are required for a project.

Production Manager

Assists Producer.  Handles purchase orders, petty cash, time sheets, etc.


Articles used to dress a set, e.g., furniture, flowers, fountain pens, and fishing rods.


Additional payments made to the talent for the right to air the spot.  Also known as residual payments.

Rough Cut

The first assembly of various scenes in the continuity to be used in a completed film, offline cut digital file.

SAG (Screen Actors Guild)

The union representing all Singers and Actors in film production.


In talent payments, the minimum wage set by the unions.  Typically, if additional product exclusivity is requested (beyond directly competitive products), talent may request over scale payment, i.e., scale and one-half or double scale, to compensate them for being unable to pursue work in these additional categories.  This would be a consideration if the Brand does not want to risk seeing their talent in another commercial.


A piece of continuous action made in one place at one time.  Each scene is numbered in the script and on the slate as a means of reference and identification.

Scenic Person

Applies paint/wallpaper to location or sets.


Writing or arranging music for a motion picture.

Scratch Track

A preliminary recording of narration used in initial editorial stages.  Not intended to be used as the final track.

Script Supervisor

Keeps detailed script notes.  Responsible for maintaining continuity of matching scenes.  Interacts with the clapper/loader and sound mixer to make sure each take has a consistent and meaningful slate.

Second (2nd)) AD (Assistant Director)

Assistant to the first AD.  Handles talent calls, contracts and setting of background extras.

Session Fee

The minimum union scale fee for performing in a recording session or on camera.


An interior or exterior setting in a studio, on a motion picture lot or on location.  The area photographed is a set.


Common term for a take.


High end editing effects and conform software.  Similar to Flame® but with fewer tool kits and capabilities.

Sound Effects (SFX)

Any special effects on a soundtrack, such as the sound of an object dropping or a door closing.


The general name for a commercial, which may be :10, :15, :30, or :60 long.

Stealamatic (a.k.a. Ripamatic)

A test commercial made using existing video or art edited together with a soundtrack.

Still Photographer

Shoots stills on set or location.

Stock Footage

Motion picture scenes taken from previous production or from a film library for use in a new picture.

Stop Motion (Single Frame)

Exposing one frame at a time instead of running the camera continuously.  A method used in animation.


Designs and supervises the construction and fitting of special costumes.  Selects, buys, rents clothing for talent.


A type of photography, where small objects can be handled within the working confines of a tabletop.


A single bit of action shot once.  Several “takes” of a scene are normally required before the Director, Camera Operator, and others are satisfied.


Collective name for all performers.


Drives all vehicles transporting equipment, props, cranes, etc.


Film to tape transfer.  Reproducing a film image onto videotape or digital media from positive film or negative.

Teleprompter Operator

Operates equipment that displays Actors’ lines while film is rolling.


Any graphic material shown in a broadcast.

Video Master

Final completed master videotape or digital file.


Recording made with an off-screen narrator.

VTR Operator

Operates videotape recorder or hard disk recorder.  Records and plays back what the camera is recording.

Wardrobe Attendant

Assists the Stylist, organizes wardrobe, handles alterations, maintains wardrobe.

Weather Day

A day of additional production costs caused by weather problems such as rain, snow, wind, etc.


Change in apparent distance between camera and subject, caused by a variable focal length lens during actual shooting.  In animation, the fast vertical move of the fixed lens, closer to or farther from the subject by means of animation camera movement.