"Film Terms can be rather cryptic. Here's a convenient listing."



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Film terms can be very cryptic. As I'm creating pages here at Fun Film Talk I've run into terms that wouldn't necessarily be commonplace, or easy to understand. In an effort to make things as simple and clear as possible I've decided to start this ongoing Film Terms page to define these obscure terms. This page will grow as I run into more terms so check back often to keep abreast of the changes.

These movie words are very interesting animals indeed. There are many words and phrases used to describe the entire filmmaking process that can seem quite odd or strange. If I had to I could group these definitions into two camps - one for the actual handling of 35mm or 16mm film stock, as well as very flowery language used by film critics or reviewers.

At the bottom of the page I've included a Request/Suggestion form for Film Terms you think should be defined here. If there are terms you'd like defined, please use the form to let me know and I'll get right on it.

 

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Film Terms

Term
Definition
A & B Printing
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A method of combining picture information from two separate rolls of 16mm film. Arranged in checkerboard fashion, all of the odd-numbered scenes are cut together to form the A roll, and the even numbered scenes are similarly spliced into another B roll. Each scene is duplicated sequentially during laboratory processing. Transitional effects such as cross dissolves and fades are added during the printing process along with superimpositions to produce the composite print.
A & B Rolls
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The rolls into which the scenes are separated in editing 16mm film material. The odd-numbered scenes are spliced together into the A roll, and the even-numbered scenes into the B roll. Lengths of opaque black leader are spliced between each scene. The length of leader between scenes 1 and 3 on the A roll, for example, is equal to the length of scene 2 on the B roll; similarly, the length of leader between scene-. 2 and 4 on the B roll is equal to the number of frames in scene 3 on the A roll. During the laboratory printing process the scenes from each roll are printed sequentially to produce the composite print. Effects and superimpositions, such as titles and other graphic material, are spliced into a C roll and added to the specified frames.
Academy Leader
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A 12-foot length of film that has numbers and is spliced to the beginning and ending of each completed production.
Achromatic Lens
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A lens system used to duplicate previously processed lengths of film. Filtering the printing light through the lens eliminates chromatic aberration and the resultant color fringing.  action - The series of events and movements that makes up an animated film.
Advance, Sound Track to Picture
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The number of frames between any specified point in the sound track and the corresponding picture. In a composite 35mm motion-picture print, the sound track precedes the corresponding picture by 20 frames; in a 16mm print, by 26 frames. The position of the gate in the motion picture projector, through which the picture passes while the sound-track area is scanned by the projector's exciter lamp, places the picture 20 frames ahead of the corresponding sound. Advancing the sound track in relation to the picture places each element in its proper projection position simultaneously.
Aerial-Image Head
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An accessory on the projection side of the optical printer that doubles its effectiveness. In addition to the running footage that passes through the projection head, other lengths of film threaded in the aerial head can be exposed simultaneously to create a wide variety of unusual visual effects.
Aerial-Image Photography
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A unit used to project previously processed lengths of film onto the ground glass poacute; positioned between the registration bars on the compound table. Titles and other graphics, inked and opaqued on transparent cels, are placed on the registration pegs and combined with the projected film via stop-motion processes. The overhead-lighting units illuminate the graphics during the filming process. The film in the aerial-image unit is projected on the ground glass that is positioned over the underlighting unit. Compare  aerial-image head.
Afterimage
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See tail.
Allegory
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One set of circumstances being portrayed really referring to another. An extension of Metaphor.
Amici Prism 
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A 90-degree angle prism used in conjunction with the conventional lenses on the animation stand for insert shots and tabletop photography.
Anamorphic Print
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A print in which the aspect ratio is greater than the 1.33:1 standard. Squeezed or compressed by means of an anamorphic lens system on standard width film during the filming or optical-printing process, the picture information is restored to its normal proportions during projection by complementary deanamorphic lenses.
Aniforms
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A technique developed by Aniforms in which two-dimensional cutouts are substituted for the mountainous pile of drawings used in conventional animation. Developed by the famous puppeteer, Morey, Bunin, the aniforms, or representations of the characters to be animated, are cut out of a sheet of flexible black plastic material, positioned in front of- a black background, and outlined with white paint. Polarity is reversed in the television camera during the filming process; The resultant white image with a black outline provides a unique, line-drawing effect.
Animascope
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A system patented by Westworld Artist Productions for producing animated cartoons with liveaction filming techniques. The performers are fitted with foam-rubber masks to which a flat make-up is applied, and wear specially designed costumes prepared by the art department. The actual filming process takes place on a small stage, and the performers act in front of a special black-velour backdrop.
Animated Zoom
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A zoom effect achieved with artwork rather than with camera movement. The graphics for the effect are prepared by duplicating a title, for example, in a number of sizes, and positioning each title on a separate cel. The graphics can be moved to any size or position within the film frame.  animation - A technique in which the illusion of move-ment is created by photographing a series of individual drawings on successive frames of film with stop-motion processess. The illusion is produced by nrojecting the processed film at the standard sound-speed rate of 24 frames per second.
Animation Board
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A standard drawing-board with minor adaptations such as registration pegs and provision for underlighting. The underlighting unit enables the animator to see the lines on a number of drawings simultaneously.Movable peg bars allow the animator to plan actions in relation to moving elements in the scene.  animation camera - A motion-picture camera mounted on columns and suspended over a compound table. The camera, driven by a stop-motion motor, films individual drawings or cels successively on a frame-by- frame basis. The columns not only support the camera and the motor, but also enable the camera to move vertically in relation to the artwork positioned on the registration pegs of the compound table. The compound table, composed  of a ground-glass insert over an underlighting unit for filming transparencies, can be moved in any direction. The vertical camera movements and the horizontal compound-table movements make possible a wide variety of zoom and pan effects. Previously processed film can be projected through the camera shuttle onto the compound table, permitting graphic material to be matched to the film for mattes or rotoscope work. The animation stand includes the complex of camera, compound table, and control panel. See also matte and rotoscope.
Animation, Computerized
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The generation of motion sequences by means of a computer, or the operation of an animation stand by control tapes produced by a computer. In a computerized system, the animator generally makes the key drawings, and the computer interpolates the intermediate drawings needed to complete the action. In a computer-controlled animation-recording system, photographic instructions are initiated by a teletype tied to a computer. The punched-paper control tape produced by the program-ming process directs the animation stand through the entire sequence of movements.
Animation, Limited
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An animation technique designed to produce maximum movement with a minimum amount of drawing.  animation, multiplane effects - A process for producing dimensional effects with cel animation. The camera is mounted on a lathe bed, and the artwork is produced in the conventional manner. The dimensional backgrounds, however, are constructed from a ,-- variety of materials and mounted on a movable table. The cels for each exposure are locked in a glass frame positioned in front of the background. The distance between the animation cels and the several background planes creates dimensional effects with continually changing perspectives.  animation stand See Animation Camera.
Animator
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The artist or cartoonist responsible for creating the illusion of motion with the drawings produced under his direction. The animator himself does only the key drawings for a motion sequence; the intermediate drawings needed to complete the action are done by the animator's assistant. See also extreme and inbetween.
Answer Print
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See Optical Print.
Anticipation
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A preliminary action thaf precedes and emphasizes the main action in an animated cartoon.
Approach Calso Dolly, Truck, Or Zoom).
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The movement of a camera from a long shot of a scene to a close-up of the same scene or vice versa.
Avant-garde 
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An adjective (of French Origin) which describes experimental, innovative people or works. It's usually used in reference to culture, art or politics.
Back Lighting
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A light unit positioned under the compound table and used to film transparencies, drawings for  pencil tests, and. mattes for special effects. The light is focused on a rectangular ground glass in the center of the compound table between the top and bottom traveling-peg bars.
Background
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A realistic or abstract scene rendered with watercolors by the background artist. During the filming process the inked and finished cels carrying the animation are registered to pegs on the compound or table, and positioned over the background which is registered to a separate set of pegs.
Background, Sound
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Music and/or sound effects synchronized with the picture information. The background music sets the mond for the corresponding picture. The sound effects complement the visual information and accent actions needing sound support.
Bar Sheet (Also Lead Sheet).
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A Visual synopsis of the animation sequence prepared by the animator from the film editor's sound-track analysis. It indicates the-number of frames allotted for a specific action, the frames in which dialogue occurs, and the position of musical beats and special effects.
Beat
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The musical tempo used for timing or synchronizing sound.
Bipack
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A process utilizing four-compartmented film magazines to combine artwork positioned on the compound table  and lengths of previously processed film. With this, the processed film is loaded into one of the magazine's two feed compartments and raw stock is loaded in the other. Both lengths of film pass through the camera shuttle simultaneously on their respective routes to each of the two take-up compartments. The artwork is exposed along with the previously processed film to produce composite effects.
Bipack Magazine
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A four-compartmented film magazine with two take-up and two feed compartments. See Bipack.
Blimp
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A padded sound proofing cover for a film camera. This prevents camera noise from being picked up by a nearby microphone, and heard in the background; a particular problem when shooting interiors with live acoustics.
Bloop
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A small, triangular-shaped piece of tape or plastic that is placed over the sound track area at splice points. The mask covers the objectionable sound that occurs during projection whenever a splice is encountered.
Blowup
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The duplication of picture information on 16mm. film to the 35mm. width. ln most cases the results are unsatisfactory because the grain in the 16mm. film is magnified proportionately.  
Blue Backing
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A background used to produce matteing effects. It is exposed to color-blind or non-sensitive film. Subject matter photographed in front of this background produces self-mattes for subsequent optical combination.
Bottom Pegs
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The lowest set of pegs on an animation board or camera compound table used for regis- tering drawings, cels, or backgrounds.
Breakdown
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An indication that intermediate drawings are needed to complete the action: The instruction appears on the animator's key drawings along with spacing guides showing how the action should be timed or divided.
Bumper Footage
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A specified number of frames exposed at the béginning and end of each scene photographed on the animation stand. The extra footage provides added flexibility for the editor during the post-production stage.
Burn-In
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1. The process of superimposing titles over previously exposed film. The subject matter receives additional exposure during the burn-in run on the animation stand. 2. The combination on the optical printer of titles or other graphic material with processed film.
Butt Splicer
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A type of splicer designed to eliminate the possibility of out-of-focus frames at a splice point or of frame loss, which would throw a double-system sound track out of sync.
Calibrations
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1. A marking on the background indicating its position in each frame of the panning action. This information appears on the exposure sheets prepared by the animator and is used as a guide by the cameraman during the filming process. 2. The incremental moves plotted by the cameraman for zoom and pan effects.
Camera Projection
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See Rotoscope
Dailies (Rushes)
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Usually a onelight print, made without regard to color balance, from which the action is checked and the best takes selected.
Dope Sheet
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Film cameraman's sheet giving basic story information, location, exposure data, footage, insructions.
Double Entendre
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A phrase with double meaning, usually adult or risque in nature.
Flash Cutting
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A sequence structured from a series of very brief shots, each lasting only a few frames.
Master
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The final or intermediate film from which subsequent prints are made.
Metaphor
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A symbolic analogy between two ideas or concepts. To compare one idea or concept to another creatively.
Multi-Plane Camera Techniques
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An animation technique using multiple "planes" of glass beneath the film camera. Each plane can display separate elements of an intended frame of animation. This greatly improved the efficiency of creating animation where some elements would remain constant from frame to frame, allowing their re-use on one of the planes.
Nihilistic
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Literally, nothing. The absence or loss of meaning, or even individualism in life.
Overcranking
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Filming at a higher speed than normal, to produce a slow motion effect when projected at normal speed (24 fps)
Picture Workprint
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A positive print that usually consists of intercut picture daily prints, prints of dissolve montages, picture library prints, titles, etc, and has synchronism constantly maintained with the corresponding sound workprint. A picture workprint is used as a guide by the editor in combining the various picture scenes of a motion picture into the desired form.

 

 


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