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Film Terminology

Whether you are an aspiring actor or film maker, there is a specific film language which you need to understand. Have a look at this quick list of film terminologies to help you on your way.

  • Auteur: French for ‘author’ this refers to any director considered to have a specific quality or unique cinematic style across their entire film canon.
  • Bridging Shot: a shot that connects two scenes by showing a change in time or setting.
  • Cinematography:the art or science of motion picture photography, which includes the techniques used to both develop and shoot a film.
  • Continuity Editing:the narrative growth of a film where the entire storyline is constructed consistently despite the shots and takes being made at various times.
  • Crane Shot: a shot in which the camera rises above the ground on a mobile support.
  • Cross-Cutting: the switching back and forth between one scene and another completely separate scene.
  • Diegetic Sound:sound which relates to the action on camera eg. speech or background noise (see non-diegetic sound for the opposite).
  • Dolly Shot: a trolley on which the camera is pulled along the ground; a dolly-in moves the camera towards the subject and a dolly-out moves the camera away from the subject.
  • Dynamic Cutting: combining a series of seemingly unrelated shots, objects or people in order to create a form of montage.
  • Establishing Shot: a long shot predominantly used to show off a landscape, usually at the beginning of a sequence in order to set the scene.
  • Graphic Match: when two separate scenes overlap in a way that easily fades them into one another so that they appear for a moment to be alike.
  • High-/Low-Angle Shot: high-shots give the appearance of looking down on a scene or character whilst low-angle shots do the opposite in looking up at the action.
  • Jump Cut:an instantaneous cut from one shot to another often in a rapid or abrupt way which can disrupt the flow of a film but keep an audience’s attention; particularly common in action or horror films.
  • Mise-en-Scène:everything that is placed within a frame to set the scene, for example costume, set decoration and styles of performance; the unity between visual and psychological elements within a frame.
  • Non-Diegetic Sound:any sound that doesn’t appear within the scene such as external music/soundtracks or voice-overs (see diegetic sound for the opposite).