Mini glossary of cinema

Formats


8 mm
Amateur cinema format, launched in 1932 by Kodak.

Declined in Simple 8 and Super 8, different in their perforations and the respective surface of their images.


16 mm
Format launched by Kodak in 1923.

Created first for amateur cinema, but also for shooting reports and documentaries.


35 mm
Cinema film standard of 35 mm width.

It remains relatively unchanged since its creation in 1892 by Thomas Edison and Laurie Dickson. Originally created for cinema, it was later introduced in silver photography under the code 135.


70 mm IMAX
The IMAX 15⁄70 mm format has been in existence since 1970. Negative filming and projection copies are the same size, 70 mm wide.

The dimensions of the image, which scrolls horizontally, are 48.5 mm in height and 70 mm in width. The film is transported by two rows of perforations, fifteen perforations per frame, on each edge, hence the IMAX name of 15⁄70 mm.



A


ACUTANCE
Also called micro-contrast, defines the precision of the transition between dark and light areas.

A black zone bordered with white has a strong acutance, this same zone degrading towards the white while passing by gray has a weak acutance. A strong acutance gives an impression of sharpness.


ARTHOUSE FILMS
Commonly, in opposition to popular cinema.


ASPECT RATIO
Describes the proportional relationship between the width and the height of a frame.

Ex.: CinemaScope, ratio of 2,55:1. VistaVision, ratio of 2:1.



B


BLUE SCREEN, GREEN SCREEN, WHITE SCREEN, BLACK SCREEN
Visual effects/post-production technique.

The acting in front of one of these backgrounds allows them to be mixed with several elements filmed separately and assembled in post-production to obtain a composite image.


BULLET TIME
Very detailed type of slow motion realized with a series of cameras arranged around the action.



C


CAMEO
Brief appearance or voice part of a well known person in a work of the performing arts



D


DAY FOR NIGHT
Shooting a night sequence in daylight.

To avoid the extra cost of a night shoot, by playing on the exposure (diaphragm) and by placing colored filters in front of the lens: red or green for black and white, blue for color films.


DISSOLVE
Gradual transition from one image to another

The terms fade-out (also called fade to black) and fade-in are used to describe a transition to and from a blank image.



E


ELLIPSIS
Narrative device

In the scenario, it’s a temporal jump in the narration (temporal ellipsis). In the filmmaking, it’s a sudden displacement in the space of the same scenery (spatial ellipsis).


EXPRESSIONISM
Expressionist cinema developed in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Projection of a subjectivity that tends to distort reality to inspire the viewer an emotional reaction. The representations are often based on distressing visions, distorting and stylizing reality to achieve the greatest expressive intensity. Topics often include madness and other mental disorders, betrayal, and other profound psychological and moral issues.



F


FILM NOIR
Typical genre of American film, the term “film noir” was born in 1946 under the pen of a French film critic, Nino Frank

Essentially pessimistic, it usually stages a character imprisoned in undesired situations and forced to make desperate decisions. Murder or crime, infidelity, betrayal, jealousy, and fatalism are privileged themes.


FOLEY ARTIST
Technician performing post-production sounds not recorded during filming.

Or replacing them with more expressive sounds, or reconstructing sound effects, even ambiances, when dubbing a film whose international version does not include them.


FREEZE-FRAME SHOT
A freeze of the animated image.

A process that consists of repeating a single image, duplicated in the laboratory.



I


INTERTITLE
In silent movies: a box of text, placed between two shots, explaining the situation, giving a date, a place, a state of mind, a historical fact, or indicating the words that the actors have just pronounced.



J


JIDAIGEKI
Term designating one of the two major genres in Japanese cinema, whose action takes place in an ancient era.

Opposed to gendaigeki.


JUMP CUT
Film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly if at all.



K


KINETOSCOPE, KINETOGRAPH
Inventions of Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Laurie Dickson in 1891.

Methods of recording and viewing animated photographic images, which recorded and represented the first films in cinema history. Precursors of the single-machine process of the Lumière brothers.


KULESHOV EFFECT
Mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.



L


LOW-ANGLE SHOT
Shot from a camera angle positioned low on the vertical axis, anywhere below the eye line, looking up.

Sometimes, it is even directly below the subject’s feet. Psychologically, the effect of the low-angle shot is that it makes the subject look strong and powerful.



P


POINT-OF-VIEW SHOT
Short film scene that shows what a character (the subject) is looking at (represented through the camera).


PRE-CREDIT
Section of a film which is shown before the opening.

Often an action scene.



R


ROTOSCOPING
Technique that consists in taking image by image the contours of a figure filmed in live action to transcribe the form and the actions in an animated film.

The first films using this technique are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.



S


SCHÜFFTAN PROCESS
Special effect invented by Eugen Schüfftan.

Specially made mirror to create the illusion of actors interacting with huge, realistic-looking sets. It was widely used in the first half of the 20th century before being almost completely replaced by the travelling matte and bluescreen effects.


SEQUENCE SHOT
A long take that constitutes an entire scene.

Such a shot may involve sophisticated camera movement. Allows for realistic or dramatically significant background and middle ground activity.


SHORT FILM
Defined by less than 40 minutes in the United States.


SHOT/COUNTERSHOT
When one character is shown looking at another character (often off-screen), and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character.

Since the characters are shown facing in opposite directions, the viewer assumes that they are looking at each other.


SPLIT SCREEN
Screen showing several different images at the same time.


STEADICAM
Brand of camera stabilizer mounts for motion picture cameras invented by Garrett Brown and introduced in 1975

It mechanically isolates the operator’s movement, allowing for a smooth shot, even when the camera moves over an irregular surface.



T


TECHNICOLOR
Registered trademark of a color film process, based on a technique similar to that of trichromatic printing.


TRACKING SHOT
Any shot where the camera follows backward, forward or moves alongside the subject being recorded.