Glossary of Film and Electronic Media Terms
SAP Supplementary audio program. Part of the MTS broadcast audio system.
S-VHS (super VHS) A videotape format based on VHS, but with wider luminance bandwidth, which has a potential horizontal resolution of more than 400 lines. Allows component recording and playback without cross-luminance or cross-color artifacts.
safe action area Also called essential area. The inner 90 percent of the video frame. Since the outer 10 percent of a broadcast picture is typically cut off by overscanning, this area is considered safe for most subject matter. See also safe title area.
safe area See safe action area and safe title area.
safe title area The inner 80 percent of the video raster or frame. Since the outer 20 percent of a broadcast picture is cut off by some home receivers, this is considered safe for essential subject matter such as titles and text. See also safe action area.
safety chain A metal chain (sometimes a cable) attached to both a light and a lighting grid, designed to keep a light from falling if it's clamp comes loose.
SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Trade union for motion picture and television actors.
sample Digitized version of a unit of sound as processed by a sampler.
sampler Device that converts analog sound into digital information which thereafter can be fully manipulated by a computer or MIDI device.
sampling Digital representation of an analog sound or video signal made at precise intervals of time. Also digitally recording sounds or short musical segments from live or pre-recorded sources. Once a sound is sampled, it can be endlessly modified. Sampling is used in MIDI-based sound creation systems.
satellite An orbiting space station designed to receive and re-transmit audio and video signals from a wide area (footprint) of the earth.
SNV (satellite news vehicle) A field production used to uplink ENG signals to a satellite. Often contain VCRs and basic editing facilities.
Saticon A type of camera pickup tube. An improved variation of the vidicon tube.
saturated color A pure color, one that does not have significant amounts of white or black.
saturation The purity of a color its freedom from black or white.
scale The minimum fees prescribed by unions for television talent.
scan rate The speed at which an electron beam traces the TV raster. Typical computer displays operate on different scan rates than standard NTSC video.
scanner A device that translates hardcopy images into digital data that can be stored, processed, and retrieved by a computer.
scanning area Full picture area scanned by a camera. This area is reduced somewhat during subsequent stages of signal processing and transmission.
scanning Process of moving an electron beam horizontally and vertically to reproduce a television pictures. Also, process of moving a video head across a videotape to record or playback a signal.
scene A script designated locale in single-camera production which typically constitutes a basic setting for a series of shots.
scenery Backgrounds and related set pieces within a setting.
scenic designer An individual who carefully studies the script of a production and then works with the producer and possibly the director in devising appropriate sets.
scoop A floodlight, often used as a fill light, which has a deep, diffuse, and generally elliptical reflector.
scouting; scouting locations Searching for a suitable location for doing one or more on-location scenes in a production.
scramble To encode an electronic signal so that it cannot be received by normal audio and video equipment. Commonly used for cable television and satellite systems to prevent subscribers from receiving specific channels without paying a subscription fee.
scratch track An audio track containing production cues or information. Used only as a guideline or reference during production or editing.
screen direction General direction of movement within a scene or a visual frame. To avoid viewer confusion, screen direction must remain consistent from shot to shot.
screenplay A film-style script for a production.
scrim A spun-glass material placed over the front of a light to reduce intensity.
script The written blueprint for a production.
SCSI Small Computer Systems Interface. A computer hard disk drive controller.
SDTV Standard Definition Television. TV signals using a 4:3 raster area with about the same sharpness as the original NTSC television standard.
search An mode in a video editor used to locate a specific video frame.
search mode An editing system control that switches a VCR into a shuttle mode so that tape can move forwards or backwards at varying speeds so that needed segments can be located and cued.
SESAC Society of European Stage Actors and Composers. An agency that licenses copyrighted music.
SECAM (System Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire) A broadcast standard for broadcast used in France and the Soviet Union.
second unit A video or film production team responsible for doing supplementary scenes.
seek time The time required for a hard drive to access data.
segment producer A producer who takes charge of a specific production segment, generally a segment of a newscast.
segment rundown A listing of the basic elements in a production in the order in which they will appear.
segmented video A videotape format in which each complete video frame is recorded through the action of two or more video heads. Most associated with 2-inch quad, the first, widely-used videotape format.
segue To smoothly go directly from one audio element to another.
selective focus Using limited depth of field to make only one plane of focus in a scene sharp, thereby forcing an audience to concentrate on that area.
semi-dramatic format A production containing dramatic scenes with actors.
semi-scripted show In contrast to a fully scripted show which contains all the elements and written dialogue of a show, a semi-scripted show contains only the beginning, the end, and a basic outline of the show.
sequencer Computer software for controlling MIDI sound devices. Somewhat like a word processor, sophisticated sequencers make possible unlimited control over digitally-recorded sounds, including copying, deleting, moving sections around, and the elaborate layering of sounds.
sequential scanning Progressive scanning. Scanning lines are transmitted or reproduced in a straight numerical sequence, rather than in interlaced, odd- or even-numbered fields.
serial interface A method of sending computer data over a single wire. Computer serial ports include RS-422 and RS 232 connectors.
servo controlled An electronically controlled mechanical device, generally within a tape machine, that uses electronic feedback to maintain a desired and accurately controlled speed.
servo zoom A lens which uses a motor-driven mechanism to alter focal length.
set designer An individual who handles the initial phases of creating a production setting.
set props Objects on a set that are handled or used by talent.
set-up 1) In single-camera, film style production, a single camera position from which one or more segments in a scene are done. 2) On a waveform monitor, the pedestal or black level the baseline dividing reference black from the blanking and synchronizing pulses.
sets Scenery and properties supporting the suggested locale, idea, and mood of a production.
SFX Special audio or video effects.
shader The video engineer responsible for maintaining the luminance and color quality of a camera.
shading To adjust the chroma and video levels on a video camera. Often, an on-going process that takes place throughout the broadcast or taping of a production.
shadow mask A perforated metal plate within a color TV picture tube that controls which colored dots or stripes the electron beams will activate. The shadow mask keeps the specific electron beams from hitting the phosphors of the wrong color.
share Percent of television sets tuned to a specific station compared to the total sets turned on at that time.
sharpness Apparent image resolution or clarity of an image.
shield Commonly, a woven braid around an audio line that reduces or eliminates outside interference.
shock mount A device that holds a mic and protects it from handling noise.
shot sheet A listing of all shots recorded on a videotape along with times and descriptive comments. Also a list of shots required by a camera operator.
SHF Super high frequency. The frequencies ranging from 3 GHz to 30 GHz. These include communications satellite signals and most microwave transmissions.
shield law A law that exists in many states that keeps a news reporter from having to reveal confidential sources of information.
shift register An electronic memory bank associated with CCDs which holds a charge before being read out by the system's scanning process.
shock mount A rubber or spring-based mic holder which reduces or eliminates the transfer of sound or vibration to the mic.
shock value An element in news value based on the amount of amazement, surprise, horror or scandal represented by a story.
shoot and protect A term which relates to the need to keep the full HDTV 16:9 aspect ratio free of extraneous subject matter, even if it is reproduced in a 4X3 ratio. In this case action should be confined to the smaller area (the shoot range), but the larger area (the protect range) must be free of microphone booms, lights and other distracting elements.
shooting ratio The amount of tape recorded relative to the amount of tape actually used.
shot box A control that can electronically present various zoom speeds and focal lengths for a zoom lens. Preset positions are activated by push buttons.
shot Individual production setup. A video segment that will later be combined with other shots in a meaningful sequence.
shot-by-shot script style As opposed to the master scene script style, which outlines only general scenes, the shot-by-shot script style lists each individual shot.
shotgun mic A highly directional microphone capable of picking up sound over a great distance.
shoulder brace Shoulder mount. Shoulder pod. A support for a video camera that rests on both the shoulder and the body.
showscan A film process using 70mm film (65mm in the camera) shot and projected at 60 frames per-second (rather than 24). The process results in a much greater fidelity than traditional motion picture methods.
shuttle speed How quickly a tape recorder can move a tape forward and backward.
sibilance A splattering, hissing vocal sound commonly caused by the combination of "S" sounds and poor audio equipment.
signal-to-noise ratio; S/N The degree to which a desired signal stands out from background noise or interference. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio, the better the quality of the resulting sound or picture.
simultaneous contrast The effect of a surrounding tone or color on a specific color or tonal value. Certain color combinations or brightness values, when placed in proximity, interact and affect each other.
single system As opposed to double system, the process of recording both sound an video on the same videotape.
single-frame recorder A VCR capable of recording one video frame at a time. Commonly used in doing animation.
skew control A playback control on a videotape machine which adjusts videotape tension and the length of the video tracks read from the videotape. Improper skew adjustment results in various picture aberrations.
slander Uttering false statements deemed harmful to another person's character or reputation.
slant track Helical scan videotape recorder.
slate A small blackboard-type visual photographed at the beginning of a scene that identifies the scene in terms of basic production information such as the date, scene, take, director, etc.
slide fader See linear fader.
slip-cuing Method of cueing records which involves moving the record forwards and backwards until the precise starting point of a selection is found. Allows for the instantaneous start of a selection.
slo-mo A video record-playback machine capable of playing back in slow motion.
slung mike A microphone that is suspended above performers by wire, cord or rope.
smear A trailing image associated with motion caused by any one of several video problems. Normally associated with vidicon, tube-type cameras when used under low light levels.
SMPTE/EBU time code A digital electronic signal recorded on a video or audio tape that provides a precise time-based numbering system together with other information. Also called address track. The name designates a standard agreed upon by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the European Broadcast Union.
SMPTE Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. A professional engineering society responsible for establishing technical standards in film and television. The SMPTE is the largest such society in the world.
snap zoom A very rapid zoom from a wide-angle into a close-up of some person or object intended to achieve a dramatic effect.
snoot Metal cone used to restrict the light beam from a lighting instrument.
snow A rapidly moving grainy effect in video caused by little or no picture information.
SOF Sound-on-film. A film that includes a soundtrack.
soft contrast filter A filter that reduces the contrast ratio of a scene, typically used to bring it within the desired 30:1 video ratio.
soft news As opposed to hard news, stories which emphasize human interest events and appeals.
soft wipe A video wipe in which the demarcation line between the two sources blends into a soft line.
soft-copy prompter A camera prompting device that uses a video display, as opposed to a hard-copy prompter that uses paper.
softlight A floodlight producing an extremely soft and virtually shadowless light.
softwall flats Set pieces consisting of wooden frames covered with canvass or burlap.
software Programs, or coded instructions that, when loaded into a computer, make it perform certain tasks.
solarization Visual effects produced by a partial reversal of colors or tonal values. Sometimes caused by extreme overexposure.
SOT (sound-on-tape) videotape that includes a sound track.
sound bite Videotape segment where the corresponding audio remains intact and in lip-sync with the video.
sound effects Studio-created sounds to give the illusion of real life sounds.
source machine(s) In videotape editing, the machine(s) that contain the original footage that will be edited onto the edited master.
special effects / video effects A wide range of electronic video transitions and methods of combining video sources including wipes, keys, mattes and inserts.
SEG / special effects generator A video-mixing device that allows switching between several cameras and a variety of special effects, such as dissolves, fades, inserts and wipes.
sparklies Flecks of snow in a satellite reception.
spectral (or specular) highlights Bright reflections from shiny subject matter that often cause spikes on a waveform monitor and video brightness range problems.
special effects generator / SEG Device that creates video effects such as wipes, fades, keys, etc.
spectrum analyzer A receiver capable of receiving, monitoring, and analyzing specific RF frequencies. Often used in SNG work.
split edit See L-Cut.
splice To attach ends of a tape together, or a junction where tape ends were attached.
split field lens; split focus lens A "bifocal-type" lens that fits over the front of the standard camera lens and makes it possible to divide the scene and bring near and far objects into focus at the same time.
split screen TV or computer screen electronically divided to show two or more images at once.
spotlight Lighting instrument that focuses its beam of light.
spot meter A reflected light meter with an extremely narrow angle of acceptance (often about 5 degrees) designed for accurate light readings at a distance.
spotlight effect Video effect resulting in a circular section of the screen appearing brighter in order to highlight a particular element.
spotlight Lighting instrument that produces a focused, relatively undiffused light.
stacked bar chart A specific type of graphic for showing and comparing data values. Contains bars that are placed on top of one another instead of adjacent to each other.
stagehand An assistant who can be assigned a wide variety of studio responsibilities including setting up and moving sets, props and equipment.
staging The re-enactment of an event for the purposes of video production. In doing news, staging refers to the sometimes questionable re-enactment of a happening for the purposes of a news story. Also, a temporary structure used as a production setting.
stand-in An individual who resembles the main talent who can substitute for them during specific phases of production. Often used during lighting set-ups.
standards converter A device for converting signals from one broadcast standard to another.
standupper; stand-up An on-location shot of a reporter talking to the camera, often used to introduce or conclude a news piece.
star filter An optical filter that has finely etched criss-crossing lines on the surface that creates fingers of light around bright lights and spectral reflections.
static composition Elements and guidelines of composition related to still images. See also dynamic composition.
status indicators The collection of various lights, patterns and alphanumeric characters visible in and around a video camera viewfinder that show the operating condition of the camera, recorder and battery.
Steadicam A brand-name for a body camera mounts which uses a system of counterbalanced springs to keep a camera reasonably steady, even when the camera operator is walking or running.
stereo mike A microphone containing two sound-sensitive elements designed and arranged in such a way as to reproduce a stereo sound perspective.
stereo separation The degree to which left and right stereo channel information is perceived as being distinct and separate.
stereo synthesizer An electronic circuit that modifies a monophonic audio signal to simulate stereo.
sticks A slang term for a camera tripod.
still frame storage unit A digital device that stores individual video frames which can be instantly recalled by entering an address number. Eliminates the need for slides and camera cards.
still frame A graphic of any kind presented as a single, static video image.
still video camera A camera that allows still video frames to be stored on small computer-type magnetic disks or removable solid-state devices.
storyboard Pictures (generally drawings) that illustrates the proposed sequence of shots in a production.
streaking Smearing effect around objects in a picture caused by aberrations in the video system.
strike To take down and remove scenery after a production.
striped filter Microscopic vertical stripes on the surface of a color CCD imaging device designed to break up the picture into two basic color components. Serves the same basic function of dichroic mirrors in three-CCD or three-tube cameras.
studio floor plan A scale drawing of a studio area showing where scenery and props (and sometimes lights and cameras) are to be placed.
sub-master A volume control which enables an operator to group a number of different audio or lighting sources together and then to control them with one fader.
subcarrier An extra information carrier added to the main RF carrier signal.
subjective shot A camera shot which appears to take the viewpoint of an actor.
subtractive colors Typically, magenta cyan and yellow. Any three colors, which when mixed together, filter each other out and produce black. Basically the opposite of the additive color process.
subtractive primaries Magenta, cyan and yellow. Used in color printing, paints and pigments. When mixed, they act as filters for a white light source, subtracting specific colors and leaving a dominant color.
success d'estime A production that is well received by critics but that does not achieve popular or financial success.
successive contrast The tendency of certain complementary colors or tones to exaggerate each other when viewed in temporal proximity. For example, the green color of grass will be exaggerated if a scene with large areas of intense red, magenta, or blue precedes it.
sungun A small, battery-powered light mounted on a film or video camera. Sometimes called a headlight.
super Superimposition. A double-exposure effect. The simultaneous showing of two pictures in the same area of a video screen.
supercardioid A moderately-directional microphone response pattern.
superconductors A general classification of experimental conductors that exhibit zero or near-zero resistance to the passage of an electrical current.
superimposition See super.
supplementary lenses An optical attachment used with a video camera lens that alters its optical characteristics. Three general categories are used: those that enable a camera lens to focus on objects at very close distances, those that increase the effective focal length of the lens (creating a telephoto effect), and those that decrease effective focal length (providing a wide-angle effect).
surround-sound A system of sound recording and reproduction which goes beyond stereo in its dimensional perspective and approximates quadraphonic sound.
sustaining program Program not supported by advertising. Commonly, public service programming.
SVGA (super video graphics array) A high resolution video display for computers.
S-VHS VHS format using special tape that offers more than 400 lines of resolution.
sweep reversal The reversal of electronic video scanning resulting in the left-to-right and/or top-to-bottom reversal of a television picture.
sweetening The postproduction addition of sound effects, laughter, music, etc., to a production sound track. Various problems in audio are also corrected during sweetening.
switchback A camera shot that returns to the central action after a cutaway.
switcher The main production video control device capable of handling and manipulating numerous sources of video and selecting which video source is recorded or goes on the air.
symbolic set A non-realistic setting intended to suggest an environment or setting--often somewhat abstractly.
sync; synchronization The basic synchronizing pulse in video. The crucial timing signal that keeps various pieces of video equipment electronically coordinated.
sync buzz An undesirable noise containing harmonics of 59.94 Hz. Heard on television audio under certain signal and transmission conditions as, for example, when the transmission of electronically-generated characters are of high level or have a resolution greater than the NTSC broadcast capability.
sync generator An electronic device that generates the variety of timing pulses needed to keep the video equipment synchronized.
sync roll The momentary or continuous vertical rolling of a television picture due to loss of sync.
synchronization license A step in obtaining clearance to use a copyrighted work which grants a producer permission to use the music for a specific period.
synthesized music Music created entirely by electronic means without the use of traditional musical instruments.
synthesized stereo An approach to creating a simulated stereo effect from one or more monophonic audio signals.
synthesizer An electronic device with associated software used to create sound effects.
© 1996-2004, R. Whittaker