A Selected Vocabulary for Students of Film

Character – the fictitious or real individual in a story, performed by an actor; also called players.


Cinema Verite’ – a French word that literally means “true cinema” or “cinema truth”; a method or style of documentary movie-making with long takes, no narration and little or no directorial or editing control exerted over the finished product; usually made without actors, and often with a minimum of film equipment, a small film crew (camera and sound), impromptu interview techniques, and a hand-held camera and portable sound equipment; sometimes used to loosely refer to a documentary-style film or minimalist cinema; popularized in the 1950s French New Wave movement; now widely used (often inappropriately) to refer to the popular, artsy trend of using hand-held camera techniques.


Camera angle – the point of view (POV) or perspective (including relative height or direction) chosen from which to photograph a subject. Various camera angles, compositions, or positions include: front, behind, side, top, high (looking down), low (looking up), straight-on or eye-level (standard or neutral angle), tilted (canted or oblique), or subjective, etc.; framing.


Critic – an individual who writes and/or publishes a review of a film from either an artistic or entertainment point of view. Film reviews often analyze and discuss a film’s details, its content and characters, a critique of the performances, camera work, directing, editing, production, and script; film critics are usually more philosophical and theoretical than film reviewers or commentators; film criticism refers to the analysis of the narrative, historical and stylistic characteristics of film.


Cut – an abrupt or sudden change or jump in camera angle, location, placement, or time, from one shot to another; consists of a transition from one scene to another (a visual cut) or from one soundtrack to another (a sound cut); cutting refers to the selection, splicing and assembly by the film editor of the various shots or sequences for a reel of film, and the process of shortening a scene; also refers to the instructional word ‘cut’ said at the end of a take by the director to stop the action in front of the camera; cut to refers to the point at which one shot or scene is changed immediately to another; also refers to a complete edited version of a film (e.g., rough cut); also see director’s cut; various types of cuts include invisible cut, smooth cut, jump cut (an abrupt cut from one scene or shot to the next), shock cut (the abrupt replacement of one image by another), etc.


Director – the creative artist responsible for complete artistic control of all phases of a film’s production (such as making day-to-day determinations about sound, lighting, action, casting, even editing), for translating/interpreting a script into a film, for guiding the performances of the actors in a particular role and/or scene, and for supervising the cinematography and film crew. The director is usually the single person most responsible for the finished product, although he/she couldn’t make a film without support from many other artists and technicians; often the director is called a helmer (at-the-helm); the assistant director is known as the a.d. ; the director of photography (or cinematographer), responsible for the mechanics of camera placement, movements, and lighting, is known as the d.p.


Dissolve – a transitional editing technique between two sequences, shots or scenes, in which the visible image of one shot or scene is gradually replaced, superimposed or blended (by an overlapping fade out or fade in and dissolve) with the image from another shot or scene; often used to suggest the passage of time and to transform one scene to the next.



Documentary – a non-fiction (factual), narrative film with real people (not performers or actors); typically, a documentary is a low-budget, journalistic record of an event, person, or place; a documentary film-maker should be an unobtrusive observer – like a fly-on-the-wall, capturing reality as it happens; aka doc or docu; also called direct cinema; one type is termed docudrama; contrast with cinema verite and mockumentary.


Editor/editing – the process (performed by a film editor) of selecting, assembling, arranging, collating, trimming, structuring, and splicing-joining together many separate camera takes (includes sound also) of exposed footage (or daily rushes) into a complete, determined sequence or order of shots (or film) – that follows the script; digital editing refers to changing film frames by digitizing them and modifying them electronically; relational editing refers to editing shots to suggest a conceptual link between them; an editor works in a cutting room; the choice of shots has a tremendous influence upon the film’s final appearance.


Fade – a transitional device consisting of a gradual change in the intensity of an image or sound, such as from a normally-lit scene to darkness (fade out, fade-to-black) or vice versa, from complete black to full exposure (fade in), or from silence to sound or vice versa; a ‘fade in’ is often at the beginning of a sequence, and a ‘fade out’ at the end of a sequence.


Focus – refers to the degree of sharpness or distinctness of an image (or an element of an image such as a person, object, etc.); as a verb, it refers to the manipulation or adjustment of the lens to create a sharper image.


Freeze-frame – an optical printing effect in which a single frame image is identically repeated, reprinted or replicated over several frames; when projected, a freeze frame gives the illusion of a still photograph in which the action has ceased; often used at the end of a film to indicate death or ambiguity, and to provide an iconic lasting image.


Genre – originally a French word meaning “kind”, “sort” or “type”; refers to a class or type of film (i.e., westerns, sci-fi, etc.) that shares common, predictable or distinctive artistic and thematic elements or iconography (e.g., bad guys in Westerns wear black hats), narrative content, plot, and subject matter, mood and milieu (or setting) or characters.


Film Grain – the amount of light-sensitive material in the film’s coating or emulsion; results can either be fine-grained (or sharp) – that requires more light for filming, or excessively grainy (or coarse) – best for low-light situations.


Lighting – refers to the illumination of a scene, and the manipulation of light and shadows by the cinematographer.


Narration – the telling of a story, and the supplemental information given to the film audience by an off-screen voice; sometimes the narrator is a character in the film, who provides information in a flashback.


Point of View (Objective/omniscient) – a film in which the narrator knows (and sees) everything occurring in a story, including character thoughts, action, places, conversations, and events.


Point of View (Subjective) – a film in which the narrator has a limited point-of-view regarding the characters, events, action, places, thoughts, conversations, etc.; a subjective camera is a style of

filming that allows the viewer to look at events from the POV of either a character or the author, whenthe camera position is close to the line of sight of the character.

Pan – abbreviation for panorama shot; refers to the horizontal scan, movement, rotation or turning of the camera in one direction (to the right or left) around a fixed axis while filming; a variation is the swish pan (also known as flash pan, flick pan, zip pan, blur pan, or whip pan), in which the camera is purposely panned in either direction at a very fast pace, creating the impression of a fast-moving horizontal blurring of images across the screen.


Post production – the final stage in a film’s production after principal photography or shooting, involving editing, the addition of sound/visual effects, musical scoring, mixing, dubbing, distribution, etc.; in digital post-production, can also include changing facial expressions, removing flaws or obtrusive objects (microphone, boom, etc.), enhancing the visual image, etc.


Pre-production – the planning stage in a film’s production after the project is finally greenlighted, and before principal photography or actual shooting commences, involving script treatment and editing/rewriting, scheduling, set design and construction, casting, budgeting and financial planning, and scouting/selection of locations.


Producer – the chief of a movie production in all logistical matters (i.e., scheduling, financing, budgeting) save the creative efforts of the director; raises funding and financing, acquires or develops a story, finalizes the script, hires key personnel for cast, crew, and director, and arranges for distributors of the film to theaters; serves as the liaison between the financiers and the film-makers, while managing the production from start to finish.


Re-enactment – a film production that re-creates an actual event as closely as possible.


Script – refers to the written text of a film – a blueprint for producing a film detailing the story, setting, dialogue, movements and gestures of actors, and the shape and sequence of all events in the film; in various forms, such as a screenplay, shooting script, breakdown script (a very detailed, day-to-day listing of all requirements for shooting, used mostly by crew), lined script, continuity script, or a spec script (written to studio specifications); a screenplay writer is known as a screenwriter, scripter, scribbler, scribe or penner; a last-minute script re-writer is known as a script doctor; a scenario is a script that includes camera and set direction as well as dialogue and cast direction; a shooting script is a detailed final version of the screenplay with the separate scenes arranged in proper sequence, and used by the cast.

Shot – the basic building block or unit of film narrative; refers to a single, constant take made by a motion picture camera uninterrupted by editing, interruptions or cuts, in which a length of film is exposed by turning the camera on, recording, and then turning the camera off; it can also refer to a single film frame (such as a still image); a follow-shot is when the camera moves to follow the action; a pull-back shot refers to a tracking shot or zoom that moves back from the subject to reveal the context of the scene; see also scene and sequence; shot analysis refers to the examination of individual shots; a one-shot, a two-shot, and a three-shot refers to common names for shooting just one, two, or three people in a shot.

Soundtrack – technically, this term refers to the audio component of a movie, including the dialogue, musical score, narration, and sound effects, that accompany the visual components. Popularly, it refers to a collection of songs heard during the movie, and often sold as an album.



Special Effects – a broad, wide-ranging term used by the film industry meaning to create fantastic visual and audio illusions that cannot be accomplished by normal means, such as travel into space. Many visual (photographic) or mechanical (physical) filmic techniques or processes are used to produce special illusionary effects, such as optical and digital effects, CGI, in-camera effects, the use of miniatures/models, mattes, rear-camera projections, stop-motion animation, bluescreens, full-scale mockups, pyrotechnics (squibs (miniature explosions, i.e. a gunshot)), stunt men, animatronics (electronic puppets), rain/snow/wind machines, etc.; F/X are coordinated by the visual effects and the special effects supervisors; known negatively as trick photography;


Stereotyping – the act of portraying a particular character (or group) with a formulaic, conforming, exaggerated, and oversimplified representation, usually offensive and distorted.


Story – the events that appear in a film and what we can infer from these events; aka narrative or plot.


Stylized – a term that refers to the artificial exaggeration or elimination of details in order to deliberately create an effect – in other words, to make (or interpret) a person, a face, a tree, a figure, or something as ‘grotesque,’ ‘disturbing,’ or ‘overbright’ as opposed to realistic or naturalistic.


Wipe – a transitional technique or optical effect/device in which one shot appears to be “pushed off” or “wiped off” the screen by another shot replacing it and moving across the existing image; also called a push-over; a flip-over (or flip) wipe is when one scene rotates or flips-over to the new scene; wipes were very commonly used in the 30s.


Writer – refers to the individual who authors the content of the piece from pre-existing material or uses an entirely new idea; usually there are many writers involved with re-writes, adaptations, character development, etc.; aka screenwriter.


Zoom – a single shot taken with a lens that has a variable focal length, thereby permitting the cinematographer to change the distance between the camera and the object being filmed, and rapidly move from a wide-angle shot to a telephoto shot in one continuous movement; this camera technique makes an object in the frame appear larger; movement towards a subject to magnify it is known as zoom in or forward zoom, or reversed to reduce its size is known as zoom out/back or backward zoom.

Meet our 2010-2011 artists-in-residence

The following teaching artists will work with Pages students and teachers this year:

Chiquita Mullins Lee
Chiquita Mullins Lee, writer
Chiquita Mullins Lee is the project coordinator for Ohio’s Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest. She serves as a teaching artist for the Ohio Arts Council’s Artist-in Residence program and has taught creative writing in schools throughout Ohio and at the Thurber House. She won individual artist fellowships from the Greater Columbus Arts Council in fiction and playwriting and from the Ohio Arts Council in fiction and non-fiction. Chiquita co-wrote 12, a three-woman show about girls on the threshold of womanhood, and Myrlie, Coretta and Betty: the Mothers of the Civil Rights Movement, in which she plays Coretta Scott King. She was the 2007 Ohio Arts Council summer writer-in-residence at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Massachusetts. She wrote scripts for TechKNOWKids, which received an Emmy nomination. Her non-fiction work has been published in Fifth Wednesday Journal and her poetry published in the anthology Red Thread/Gold Thread. Her plays have been presented as part of Contemporary American Theatre Company’s Shorts Festival 2000 and 2004. Her critically-acclaimed one-man play, Pierce to the Soul, received its world premier at CATCO in 2010. Formerly of Atlanta, she worked as a producer/director at WDCN-TV in Nashville. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, a Master of Arts degree from Ohio University, and a second master’s degree from the Ohio State University.

Mark Lomax
Mark Lomax, musician

Mark Lomax, II is a drummer, composer, and musical scholar. As a drummer, Lomax has been featured as a member of the Marlon Jordan Quintet, the Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet, The Ellis Marsalis Quintet, and the Azar Lawrence/Edwin Bayard Quintet among others. Mark has penned over 200 compositions for many genres including jazz, gospel, and “classical.” His orchestral arrangements of gospel songs have been played by the Nashville Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Akron Symphony. His jazz pieces, which run the gamut from ‘head’ arrangements to extended compositions, have been performed, and recorded by his premier performing ensembles: The Mark Lomax Quartet, The Mark Lomax Trio, and his Afro-chamber Ensemble. In addition to performing and composing, Mark has taught college preparatory theory classes in the Columbus Public School system. He has developed general music and music history curricula for the Martin Luther King Jr. Summer Camp program and the Directions for Youth and Families program that targets ‘at risk’ youth and teens. Lomax holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in composition and is completing a Doctor of Music Arts degree at The Ohio State University.

Kelli Trinoskey
Kelli Trinoskey
Kelli C. Trinoskey is an award-winning television and documentary writer and producer, having worked for ten years in Atlanta, Georgia for CNN, Turner Classic Movies and Connect with Kids Network, Inc. She currently teaches creative writing classes in the Columbus area for young writers, ages 12-20. Her written works have appeared in The Columbus Dispatch, Literary Mama, and in a recently published anthology entitled: When One Door Closes – Reflections from Women on Life’s Turning Points. Look for her article on Bexley’s historic Jeffrey Mansion in the October issue of CMH Magazine. Finding her way back into the world of television, she is writing a one-hour documentary on the historic Columbus University District neighborhood for WOSU Television’s Columbus Neighborhoods Project.

Wexner Center for the Arts
Dionne Custer, writer
Dionne Custer is an arts educator serving K-12 students and teachers at The Wexner Center for the Arts, where she pioneered several innovative K-12 school programs including two high school programs: Pages, a multi-visit writing-based arts program and WorldView: Cultural Intersections in Contemporary Art. She holds a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, and is currently completing a Masters degree with a dual concentration in Arts Education and Creative Writing at Antioch University. For 12 years, she has served in Central Ohio communities as an artist, educator, and advocate, focused on arts integration in K-12 education, creative writing, the teaching artist as a practice, performance art, and developing arts-integrated programs that build interdisciplinary experiences for youths and teens. In 2006, she received a Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Nonprofit from the Academy of Leadership and Governance at the Jefferson Center for the Arts. Community-based partnerships and projects in the arts and education are commitments she integrates in her work. She serves on committees and works in partnership with several local organizations including Ohio Arts Council, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. For her work and leadership in the arts, she was recently awarded a leadership fellowship with Americans for the Arts.