The Video Production Encyclopedia

Alex
Aerial Videography Camera Technology FAQ Production Service Slow Motion Videography Technology
the-video-production-encyclopedia

The Video Production Encyclopedia

Alex
Aerial Videography Camera Technology FAQ Production Service Slow Motion Videography Technology

The Video Production Encyclopedia: Explaining The Jargon

What does the phrase cinematic mean to you? You may have heard it, but what does it actually mean? Do the phrases SD, HD and 4K ring any bells? Good. How about bitrate, H.264 or 60FPS. If this sounds unfamiliar, don’t worry. That’s what we at Film Division are here for, to act as as a guide for you. Video Production has its own set of standards and jargon much like most industries. So if we are going to work together, we want you to understand what we’re talking about when we’re discussing ideas. So here are some of the most used words and terms in our industry in our Video Production Encyclopedia.

 

 

Video Production Encyclopedia: Technology

When it comes to video and film production, the amount of science, engineering and innovation that has been applied to the field has been mind boggling. Technology has come so far that it has allowed us to be more and more creative every year. It is therefore important that we understand that technology in order to wield it creatively.

Video Production Encyclopedia

SD/HD

One of the most common video production terms that come up is the resolution of the video footage. Digital video is made up of hundreds or in many cases thousands of pixels. The more pixels an image contains, the higher the quality of video. This is the fundamental difference between Standard Definition Video (SD), which has hundreds of pixels, and High Definition Video (HD), which has thousands. While in the UK the PAL standard for SD video is 720 pixels across the width of the video and 576 pixels in height. In the US the NTSC standard for SD video is 720 pixels across the width of the video and 480 pixels in height. Although, SD is seldom used nowadays, but its nice to see how far we’ve developed!

 

HD video has two general international standards. 720p is 1080 pixels across the width of the video and 720 pixels in height. 1080p is 1920 pixels across the width of the video and 1080 pixel in height and is currently the highest consumer and online quality available.

Video Production Encyclopedia

4K/UHD

4K or Ultra High Definition is the standard used in most digital cinemas. 4K TV’s are available to buy now and if you have a good enough internet connection, you can stream 4K content. Providing you have a 4K monitor to see the difference it brings. To put it simply, 4K just means more detail and sharper images. For this reason, the size of the video files are much larger than that of HD. You need the storage space and the editing workflow to work in this format. This blog from a few weeks ago explains the 4K workflow in more detail.

 

Bit Rate

The bit rate of a video camera is based on the amount of data it can process in a second. Similar to internet speeds, the higher the number, the more data it can capture while it is recording. This generally leads to better visual and colour quality in the final image. In some cases, you can film at a higher bit rate but at a lower resolution and vice versa. Filming at the highest resolution possible doesn’t always yield the best results, you need to think about where your audience will be consuming your video content. Will it be blown up on a large 4k screen? Or more likely on their smart phones?  This should influence your decision on whether to prioritise bit rate over resolution.

 

Frames Per Second (FPS)

Video or film is quite simply a series of single images being displayed in quick succession which creates movement. This is called the frame rate (FPS). Different countries have varying standards at which the speed of these images should be displayed for broadcast. In the UK for example the PAL standard requires that 25 of these images or frames be displayed every second that the video plays whilst in the US, the NTSC standard is 30 frames (images) a second. This is known as the frame rate.

 

White Balance / Colour Temperature

Our eyes are the best for dealing with light. They automatically adjust how much light they let in and can also determine the colour of that light. Cameras however, can’t do this.They can guess but they cannot truly tell what colour light or colour temperature they are filming in. So we have to tell them. This is called white balancing and involves calibrating the camera so that it adjusts to shooting in the current colour temperature.

 

Broadcast Quality

A lot of video production companies state that they shoot in broadcast quality. But what does that actually mean? Well broadcasters like the BBC have a standard to which programmes being shown on their channel should be created to. You have to use a certain technical level of camera to collect the right amount of colour information in your shots. The final video also needs to be delivered at a certain exposure, colour and audio level to pass quality control. While this is a good standard to adhere to,  if your video isn’t going on television, shooting in broadcast quality doesn’t matter that much.Video Production Encyclopedia

The Sony PMW-FS7

 

Cinematic

The word cinematic has derived from several terms. The Lumière brothers, who invented moving pictures, called their first camera the Cinématographe, which means “the writing of movement” in Greek. As moving images became more popular, the term Cinema was used to describe the viewing of these films. Cinematic is now a term used to describe anything related to cinema, including the style of the imagery. Cinema is larger than life – it is magical realism and that’s why it appeals to us. It’s a story with a beginning, middle and end and one that is different from ‘everyday’ life, a sort of hyper reality. Cinema is an art form, and designed to evoke particular emotions in the viewer using imagery and sound.

 

Video Production Encyclopedia: Pre-Production

This is essentially anything that happens before any shooting or filming begins. This encompasses Video Pre-Production Services such as Concept Development, Scriptwriting and Location Scouting.

Finding our purpose in video marketing golden circle approach

Timeline

When we edit together a video, it is usually done in a piece of editing softwares timeline. At Film Division, we use timelines before we actually film anything in order to plan out the structure of a video “on paper” or on a whiteboard or in some creative software. We define the narrative of the video and decide what supportive imagery we can add to it. This allows us to decide where in the video we need to build excitement, or tension and where we show “the big reveal”. This is so when we edit, we can just follow this plan in a timeline form.

 

Brand Rip

You can spend a lot of time and money producing a script, or storyboard and proof of concept but sometimes you need something more. This is where the brand rip comes in. We take pre existing visuals such as videos, images and graphics, whether we own them or not, and we come up with a video edit that closely resembles the desired final outcome. Essentially a moving mood board. Not being restricted by copyright means we can go truly wild with our vision.

 

Video Production Encyclopedia: Production

Production is the filming process of the video, anything from drone shots and narrative scenes to animating a 3D character is classed as production.

 

Cinematography / Director of Photography

The cinematography of a video is the responsibility of the Director of Photography. Cinematography is all about the imagery you see within the frame, the composition, the lighting and the way the camera moves, or doesn’t move.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Gaffer

A gaffer is responsible for the positioning, powering and safety of lighting and their modifiers on set. They take instruction from the DoP and help speed up the process of lighting and re-lighting a scene.

 

A-Roll

This usually refers to the primary camera footage captured on a shoot day. This is generally an interview, the narrative or a wide shot of the action.

 

B-Roll / GV’s / Cutaways

B-Roll is the supplementary footage that provides context to the interview or main footage captured on a shoot day. Don’t let the name fool you, B-Roll is just as important as A-Roll!

 

Cine Cameras

The big difference between an ENG, (Electronic News Gathering), camera and a cinema camera is the sensor. The bigger the sensor, the better quality the image and most cinema camera sensors dwarf those of a ‘regular’ video camera. They also have a much better dynamic range. Dynamic range is the measurement between the whitest whites and the blackest blacks in an image, or the lowest and highest values of density and luminance. This means that the camera is able to distinguish between darker areas and lighter areas better than ENG cameras. As the name suggests, this can create more dynamic shots and allows for both brightly lit areas and dimly lit areas to exist in the same shot and be exposed correctly.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Video Production Encyclopedia

A very important part of a cinema camera is also the ability to shoot in RAW. When a digital video camera shoots video, it creates video files which are compressed down. When shooting in RAW, the camera does not compress the footage, and simply keeps the image data straight from the sensor. This gives us unparalleled freedom in post-production in the colour grade and visual effects stage. Probably one of the biggest differences however is time. Cinema is an artform and it takes time to use these cameras to craft the light on set. However when given enough time, these cameras can produce fantastic cinematic images that can be really impactful on an audience.

 

Prime / Zoom Lenses

There are many kinds of lenses, but each lens is either a prime or a zoom lens and it’s all to do with the focal length. The focal length is the distance between the front of the lens and the image sensor or film negative. It dictates how close or wide your shot will be. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, which means in order to see more in your shot, the camera needs to physically move backwards from the subject or the subject needs to physically move backwards away from the camera. These lenses generally produce a high quality sharper image because there are less glass elements within the lens. They can also let in more light. A zoom lens is fairly self explanatory. You have the ability to zoom in and out without having to move the camera or the subject. These lenses are typically heavier, can’t let in as much light and are not quite as sharp. However they are great for shoots where you are pushed for time or need to be flexible with your shooting.

Video Production Encyclopedia

 

Wide / Normal / Telephoto / Macro Lenses

The four main lens types are again to do with the focal length. A wide angle lens does exactly what it says on the tin, it can show a wide area of the frame. These lenses also have more depth to them and can exaggerate the speed and presence of movement. A normal lens is pretty close to the way humans see with their eyes. This is generally used for filming other people so not to distort the features of their face. The telephoto lens essentially does the opposite of a wide angle lens. It reduces the amount of depth in an image and minimises the impact of movement. You would use this lens to show things closer together than they actually are. Finally, a macro lens allows you to film very small subjects such as insects and coins and show them right up close. This is a great way to see the detail and also the importance of tiny subjects.

 

Cine Lenses

About 90% of cinema lenses are prime lenses which have a fixed focal length, These lenses produce a high quality, ‘sharper’ image because there are less glass elements within the lens. They can also let in more light and thus capture more detail.

Video Production Encyclopedia

 

Anamorphic Lenses

Anamorphic lenses bring unique characteristics to images. Other lenses are spherical, projecting a circular image onto the film or camera sensor. Anamorphic lenses are instead oval and therefore project an oval-shaped image. This provides more horizontal information from the shot. This basically allows for ultra-wide rectangular aspect ratios as seen in the cinema without cropping the image in post-production. Cropping in post-production would lose video resolution. It also creates long horizontal lens flares, such as those seen in Super 8 below;

Grip

A grip is a crew member who is responsible for the camera movement during a take when the camera operator cannot do it themselves. They set up and operate the equipment that supports the camera such as dollies, cranes, tracks, jibs and tripods. More on those below.

 

Jib

Sometimes called a camera crane, a jib can take the camera higher than any tripod and allows for steady vertical movement. They can be moved in all directions as far as the length of the jib will dictate. These are great at establishing the scale of locations and showing them in a way that people haven’t seen them before. Jibs come in all shapes and sizes and are an inexpensive tool that can add real production value to any project.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Track & Dolly

Track and dolly or glidetrack is, in simple terms, a train with a camera on it. The dolly is a mount on which the camera and in some cases the camera operator sits. It is then pushed along a laid out track. For smaller spaces, this can be miniaturised in the form of a glide rail. This is a great way to add movement to shots as the camera follows a person or object as they move from one place to another. It is also a great tool for showing depth and keeping the pacing of a video going. Again this shows normal subjects in a new and interesting way.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Stedicam / Gimbal

Ever tried to hold a camera steady while trying to move at the same time? This is where the stedicam or gimbal come in. A stedicam is essentially a third arm of a camera operator. The operator wears a harness with a metal “arm” attached to it which is then fixed to the camera and holds it steady. This allows the operator’s arms to be free to operate the camera. There is also a new piece of filmmaking equipment called a gimbal which is based on the mechanism used on police helicopter cameras. Instead of a third arm, the camera is supported by a gyrostabiliser that keeps the camera level. In both tools, because the camera is not touching the operator’s body as they walk, the shakiness is removed from the shot. This gives a sleek movement to the camera and allows it to go where a track & dolly cannot practically do so.

Both of these tools also allow for extremely long takes like the one seen in Atonement.

 

Aerial Drone

A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a camera attached. Some drones are small and have the camera built into it. Other larger drones allow you to attach cinema cameras to them. They both do the same job however, which is to show the grand scale of a location. They show you life in a different way, like the POV of a bird of a plane.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Sam Mendes’ Skyfall was the first of the James Bond movies to use drones for filming aerial footage.

Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street used drone cinematography to capture the aerial shots of the pool party.

If you’re considering using a drone for your next production, make sure that the pilot you hire holds a Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW) or similar license, issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. It’s illegal to commercially use a drone without one and if you were to see photographs of the injuries they can cause you would probably never fly one again.

 

Radio / Lapel Mics

These can both be one and the same and separate pieces of equipment. A radio mic is any kind of microphone that transmits its audio input to the recording device using a radio frequency, wifi or bluetooth. There are no wires between the microphone and the recording media which makes it ideal for shots where the subject is moving and talking a lot or if running a cable would prove too much of a health hazard.

A lapel microphone is one you wear on your body as close to the mouth as possible without it being distracting and a hidden cable connects it to the recording device. Depending on the necessity, lapel microphones can be fully visible or fully hidden from the cameras view. As long as the tone of the video suits it and it is not distracting, then it is perfectly fine to be able to see a lapel microphone. These are great for noisy environments where the mic needs to be as close to the person as possible but to do so with a normal microphone would make it visible and distracting.

 

Set Design

This is the process of making a location as aesthetically pleasing on camera as possible in line with the tone and themes of the video. This can be as subtle as having a tidy up of an office and adding a few plants, to building a fully working set in a studio.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Pan / Tilt

Panning is where the camera stays in the same spot, usually on a tripod, but moves its field of view to the left or right. Tilting the camera is exactly the same, but the camera instead looks up or down. Both methods are a great way to reveal a location or a subject in a shot. Video and cinema is all about moving pictures. Panning and tilting can create the dynamic experience that you are looking for. 

 

Tracking

Tracking is a type of camera movement where the camera itself moves in the space to follow a character or explore a location. This can be done with a gimbal, Steadicam, drone, track & dolly or even handheld. This is a great way to add movement to shots as the camera follows a person or object as they move from one place to another. It is also a great tool for showing depth and keeping the pace of a video going. Again this can show otherwise ‘normal’ subjects in a new and interesting way. A great example is this shot in Saving Private Ryan;

 

The immersive cinematic effect created by utilising some form of dynamic movement.

Hand Held

Hand held is very simple: the camera is mounted on the shoulder of the camera operator or on a shoulder rig. Having the camera connected to a body adds that human element to the shots. That slight shakiness adds a level of immersion to the scenes. For more chaotic scenes, adding more shakiness can really enforce this in the camera movement. A good example is this scene from Birdman;

Contra Zoom

A contra zoom is a very specialist camera technique used for a specific effect. To create this effect, the camera tracks forward towards the subject, but at the same time, the lens is zoomed out. This warps the perspective of the camera as the camera moves closer and the focal length of the lens changes. This is famously used in the film Jaws in the scene below.

 

Video Production Encyclopedia: Post-Production

This stage refers to all of the works and steps taken after filming has wrapped. It is where the final film is carefully pieced together one stage at a time.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Narrative Draft

This refers to one of the earlier stages of video editing where we just use A-Roll and audio, no B-Roll or other supportive footage. We do this so that when a client sits down to watch and review the first edit of their video, they can purely focus on the message of the video(s), ie what the interviewee is saying.

We find that when we provide a client with a fully polished video, they become too focussed on the visual and technical details and not the message that the video is trying to convey. Without these distractions, we can ensure that the words spoken, the message and the tone are all correct or amended in the first round of feedback.

It also allows for you, the client, to be involved at each stage of the edit and appreciate the amount of work that is put into the video as it develops layer by layer, draft by draft. This approach is the most effective in reducing the amount of time we spend editing and it is much quicker to produce a narrative draft after shooting has wrapped than it is to fully edit a video and then take it all apart again because there are changes based on a clients feedback.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Context Draft

After the narrative draft, the context draft comes next. This is where we focus on the visuals and ensure that they match the context of that particular part of the video.

 

Final Draft

This is the very last edit a client will see before they receive their final exported video file. This is where everything has been polished and finalised and all changes have been made. From the colour grading, the sound mixing and motion graphics, everything is put together for final delivery. While there is room to tweak things, any major changes to the edit at this stage would incur additional post-production time.

 

Animation

Animation is relatively self explanatory but it is important to define the difference between animation and motion graphics. Animation is the manipulation of inanimate objects to move, whether in a live action or a digital setting. This could be the animation of elements within live action footage or a video made entirely digitally with animated elements.

Motion Graphics / Mortise Graphics

Motion graphics are a form on animation but generally refer to graphics that support live action footage such as lower thirds, title cards and animated logos.

Video Production Encyclopedia

Lower Thirds

Lower thirds refer to the graphics used to show an interviewees name. They are called lower thirds because they almost always sit in the lower horizontal third of the frame.

 

Visual Effects

Visual effects are special effects (SFX) elements used to enhance the visuals. This could be anything from rain falling to lens flares. These are generally used when it is not practical or even possible to achieve this effect in camera during shooting.

Visual Effects Film Division

Stock Footage

Stock footage refers to video footage that has been filmed separately from a project and is purposefully universal in terms of brand and context. These are an excellent tool to get those one or two shots that would be expensive to capture otherwise, such as a drone shot of the amazon rain forest or a building that would normally be difficult to get permission to film yourself. But it needs to be used sparingly as they will lack the authenticity and personality of the brand and message.

 

Colour Correction / Grading

This piece of video production jargon easily get mixed up with each other. Colour correction is matching shots together so that they look like they were shot in the same lighting environment. You would do this if you had to match footage from two different models of cameras, or a shot that was filmed on a different day. Colour grading is adding a visual and creative grade to the shots. (i.e orange and red for a warm look for positivity or homeliness, white or blue for a clean or scientific “cold” look). 

Video Production Encyclopedia

 

Sound Mixing

This is where we improve the sound captured during production, making it punchier and nicer to hear. We also make sure that all sounds on the video work together and compliment each other. We ensure that the music is not too distracting when there is dialogue and we mix in the sound effects from b-roll footage to give an audio context as well.

 

Sound Design

Sound design differs from mixing in that we actually create specific sounds for use in our videos. This could be an entirely artificial sound or recorded separately by a foley artist. Sound design can go as far as recording footsteps to sound like footsteps or recording a lion roaring and manipulating it in such a way that it sounds like a scary monster. The design part is all about manipulating the sound in such a way that is has the desired effect on the audience.

Sound Design Film Division

Captions

Captions are often confused with subtitles. Captions describe what is being said and heard on screen for people who are hard of hearing.

Subtitles

Subtitles are displaying the translation of different languages other than the main language spoken in the video. This is all dependant on the target audience / language that will be the most effective in terms of the videos goal.

 

Digital First

Digital first is typically any kind of content that is produced specifically for use on social media.

Longform Cornerstone Content

Longform or cornerstone content is content that is designed to last for a long time for a brand and give audiences as much information about them as they would like to consume. It generally covers promoting the company as a whole rather than specific objectives.

BME

BME stands for beginning, the middle and the end. It refers to our basic formula for editing quick video snippets for social video content. It simply summarises the main long form content in a way that can tease it when used on social media.

 

Vertical / 9:16 Video

Quite self explanatory but it is any video content that is produced or shot in the 9:16 aspect ration for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok. Most videos are shot in a 16:9 (Widescreen) ratio so its good to fully define this new way of producing content that empathises with your audience.

 

Compression / Video File Types

Once the editing stage is complete, the video edit is exported out of the editing software and made into a video file. The video file created is different from the one created by the camera as it has been compressed down into a smaller video format suitable for a specific task. For example, an MPEG-2 file is ideal for a DVD as it is small enough to fit onto the disc.

  • MPEG-2: Highly compressed file generally used for DVD.
  • MPEG-4: Highly compressed for 1080p HD for web video such as Youtube.
  • FLV/F4V: Highly compressed for Flash video players on the web.
  • MOV: Slightly compressed, ideal for editing.

 

Video Production Encyclopedia: Targeted Distribution

Videos are designed to be watched, its such a shame when a client spends a small fortune for a video to be produced for it to be uploaded to their Youtube page and then left to stagnate. Relying on organic views from a bit of sharing on social media or paying for views won’t do much either. You could have 10000 views on your video, but if the video is promoting your ocean cleanup organisation in Scotland and your 10000 views come from China, its not going to be of much help is it. It’s far better to have 1000 targeted views from potential donators or volunteers than 10000 people who may or may not be. This is where targeted distribution comes in. We can use social media platforms and even digital television to actually find the audience who you want to hear your message and show them your content.

 

Hosting Platform

Where your videos are hosted online. Some obvious examples could be Youtube, Vimeo and Facebook and other could be hosted specifically on your website with their own video player.

Distribution Format

By distribution format, we typically mean any way that your audience can and will consume your video content. This could be on their phone at work, on the television at home or in a powerpoint for an internal training course.

Media Buying

Media buying simple refers to the advertising space purchased to host any kind of advertising.

 

We hope you enjoyed our Video Production Encyclopedia. Now that you’re up to scratch with the video production terminology, do you think its time make your first video?

 

 

 

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