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TV Speak

Learn the language of the industry with our guide to Television and other media terms. 

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - V - W - Z


ACCESS - Official permission to film on private property or with a particular organisation or individual. The only time access wouldn't be negotiated is for undercover filming - to be able to proceed in this situation, the programme-makers must be exposing information that's in the public interest. 

ACQUISITIONS - Completed and aired programmes that are bought or "acquired" by another broadcaster.  It's cheaper to acquire shows than to commission them to be made from scratch, but as acquisitions are already completed, the broadcaster has no creative input. Most broadcasters prefer to spend the majority of their budget on original commissioned programmes.

AD LIBBED - Deriving from a Latin phrase, "ad lib" means to improvise or make up what you're going to say on the spot. Many presenters work spontaneously in this way, or may have to supplement an agreed script with additional "ad libs" when required.

AIRTIME SLOT - Broadcasters split their schedules into individual time slots and then decide which programmes should be transmitted in each one. Viewing figures reveal what type of audience is watching during different airtime slots. Broadcasters must transmit shows that appeal to the type of audience watching each slot, so they can compete with other channels airing programmes at the same time.

ANALOGUE - Conventional broadcasting, where the picture, sound and other information is transmitted as a continuous wave form, which is a direct representation of the source material. Due to be replaced by Digital by 2012.

APERTURE - Iris on camera.

ARCHIVE MATERIAL - Images that have already been filmed and are then edited into a programme as clips or sequences to illustrate the past, whether recent or more historical. Archive material is often held by special libraries. Producers pay a copyright fee to include a sequence in their programmes depending on the clip's duration and the channel the programme will be shown on.

ASPECT RATIO - Ratio of the width of the screen to the height. The two relevant ones to digital TV are 16:9 (widescreen) or 4:3 (the current screen ratio).

ASSEMBLY - The version of a documentary, news report, drama or film that is first assembled to show the whole film.

ATTACH - A term used during a TV project's early stages to describe the talent, whether behind the camera or on-screen, that is lined up or "attached" to work on it.  When people are "attached", their involvement is not yet definite, but can help to get the project off the ground by making it more appealing to broadcasters.

AUTOCUE - A piece of equipment which displays the presenter's script. It's attached to the camera, so a presenter is able to read their lines while looking directly at the camera.

AVID - Avid is the name of a company which produces a type of computer editing equipment known as non-linear. Shot footage is loaded or "digitised" onto the Avid and can then be easily "cut" or edited out of its existing sequence into different forms or places within a finished programme. 



BARNDOORS - Very useful blinders on the sides of lights that can be used to keep light from spreading out everywhere. Can also be used to clip lighting gel onto. Barndoors get very hot when a light is on, so best to wear gloves when adjusting them, and let them cool before removing or packing them.

BARNEY - A quilted cloth that fits around a camera to reduce camera noise. Term is believed to come from a horse blanket, "barney blanket".

BAYONET - A type of lens commonly used with heavier lenses eg Zoom. Contrasts to screw-mount lenses as Bayonet attach with a locking system, and can typically be changed much faster than screw-mount.

BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation. Financed to provide television, radio, web and print products through the Television Licence Fee. Terrestrial TV Channels, BBC1 and BBC2, and raft of digital TV channels.

BOOM POLE - A long extendable pole which allows a microphone to be held over the action or a subject during filming. This keeps the microphone out of shot but means it can still be positioned close enough so that good, clear sound is recorded.

BRACKETING - Filming of several takes of the same frame or shot at different F-Stops to experiment and achieve the required effect or result. Often used for Titles.

BRAINSTORMS - Creative meetings in which a team of people discuss programme ideas in an informal setting. This can be much more productive than trying to develop ideas on your own. 

BUMPER - A short sequence, or "sting", acting as visual punctuation between two sections of a programme or introducing a regular feature or strand within a multi-item show.  An example would be a short graphics clip with theme music.



CABLE/SATELLITE PLATFORMS - TV channels broadcast via cable or satellite and requiring subscription by viewers and connection via cabling or a satellite dish. Both methods offer better quality images than traditional "analogue" TV reception (via an aerial) as there is no weather interference. Cable and satellite also offer additional services such as telephone connection, internet access, TV interactivity and radio channels.

THE CALL - Directions that begin a take eg "Roll Sound", "Roll Camera" etc.

CAMERA ASSISTANT - Person who assists the Camera Operator

CAMERA CREW or CAMERA DEPARTMENT - May just be Lighting Cameraman on News and Documentaries, or may be full team on TV Dramas, led by the Director of Photography, and made up of Camera Operator, 1st Assistant Camera (Focus Puller), 2nd Assistant Camera (Clapper Loader), Assistants to those on major productions, and Camera Runners.

CAMERA NOISE - Noise a camera makes, and they all make some kind of noise, however slight.

CAPTIONS - Text or wording that appears on-screen during a programme. This is created using computer equipment during the post-production process. An example would be a "chest caption" which displays a person's name and affiliation on the screen during an interview.

CGI: COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES - Images created on a complex computer animation system. These are used when it would be too expensive or physically impossible to film a particular sequence, like images of a dinosaur, an explosion or a huge crowd of thousands of people. CGI is expensive and time-consuming and requires specialist computer animators and equipment. 

CHANNEL 4 - Nationally networked terrestrial TV channel, with own digital channels for repeats and films also. Has remit to be innovative.

"CHEAT" - When the camera is set up for a second shot of a sequence / interview / shot at a different angle, it is possible to move actors, props etc. around a little to improve the new composition and look to make it cut with the first shot, thus hiding the difference in angle and perspective. "We're going to cheat you a little" is often said to the actor(s).

COLOUR GRADE - A post-production process in which the colour and tone of each shot is adjusted. This ensures visual consistency, as images shot in different locations and lighting conditions can vary widely in colour and look. Colour grading is also used to achieve a specific stylised look for individual sequences or through a whole programme. 

COMMENTARY - Spoken Off-screen and over Images by actor or journalist or voice of authority to act as narrator, fill in the story, and make major points in most genre of programmes.

COMMERCIALS - For Glossary of Commercials terms, see Media Speak - Advertising

COMMISSIONING EDITOR - A senior employee of a broadcaster, responsible for selecting programme ideas and allocating funds or "budgets" to the production companies who have created the idea to produce it. Commissioning Editors specialise in a specific programme genre, like drama, documentary or entertainment.  They have key creative input and will oversee the production of each programme or series until it's ready for transmission.

CONTINUITY - Seamless element of film, ensuring by the placement of actors, props, movement etc. that the audience does not notice when a film cuts from one shot to another.

CONVENTIONS OF TELEVISION - Also sometimes known as the "Grammar of Television." This relates to:

  • Camera Techniques including Types of shot: Wide Shot, Long Shot, Mid Shot, Close Up, Big Close Up; Angles - High, Low, Equal Height; Camera Movement - Tracking, Crab, Dolly, Tilt, Pan.
  • Editing - Cut, Dissolve, Fade.
  • Sound.
  • Mise en Scene and Composition.
  • Effects and Computer Generated Imagery.

CONVERGENCE - Through Digital, enables the coming together of more than one media on one platform for the audience, and also provides Interactivity and more Technical Quality. Eg Audience can watch sport event, select own angles and shots, bring up text information on teams, and see news going across the bottom and top of screen on other events.

CO-PRODUCTION - A production in which more than one broadcaster is providing the funding.   As most UK broadcasters are in competition with one another, it's usually international broadcasters that offer co-production funding.  This means producers must ensure the programme works creatively for all the broadcasters involved, or sometimes a slightly different version is made for non-UK audiences.

COPYRIGHT CLEARANCE - A fee which entitles a producer to include a copyright photograph, piece of archive material or music in their programme. It's essential that material that hasn't been specially shot or created is "cleared" for use.

CORPORATE PRODUCTION - Business-to-business production, also known as the "non-broadcast" sector. For a glossary of Corporate Production terms, see Corporate Production Jargon Breaker  

CROSSING THE LINE - Also known as the 180 degree rule, which states that if two people are filmed in a sequence then there is an invisible line between them. The camera should then only be positioned within the 180 degrees on one side of that line. "Crossing the line" results in a jump cut, where the people appear to change positions and eye line and ruins whatever effect is being sought.

CUT - standard way of moving from one shot to the next, with an instant "cut" to one shot away from the previous. Also can refer to the "first cut" of a film, or the "assembly", and second cut, third cut etc.

CUTAWAY - A shot, often a close-up or Wide Shot, that is used to break up a matching action sequence. Often vital in editing to rescue filmmaker from an impossible break in continuity.

CUTTING - A term used to describe the editing process. This dates back to the time when film rather than video tape was used, and editors would physically cut or splice film footage then edit it together. These days, cutting is done digitally on a computer editing system called an Avid.




  1. Different types of programming on television, usually reflecting the various genres of broadcasters or production houses, ranging from: Factual (News, Current Affairs, Documentary, Magazine) to Drama (Series, Serials) to Animation, Sport, Children's', Entertainment etc.
  2. May also be split into production stages, e.g. Development, Camera, Sound, Outside Broadcast, Engineering, Post, Effects, Sales etc.

DEPTH OF FIELD - Lens focuses on a single plane of depth, there is usually an additional area in focus behind and in front of that plane. That is called the depth of field. Wider the lens the more depth of field; longer the lens, less depth of field. Deeper area in focus, the further away the lens is focussed. Smaller depth of field, when lens is focussed close. Depth of field is not an even spread, as rule of thumb, about one-third in front of plane, and two-thirds behind. Many think understanding and use of Depth of Field is core art of photography, and camerawork. To factor all the variety of factors in, many consult a depth of field table, of which there are several.

DIFFUSION - Filter used on camera to create a soft focus effect. It can also refer to a white sheet of material used on a movie light to soften the shadows.

DIGITAL CHANNELS - Broadcasters that transmit their programmes digitally via special set-top boxes (Freeview) or cable and satellite. Programmes are transmitted electronically as digital bits per second or millions of bits per second, and are much better quality than traditional analogue TV, transmitted as a continuous wave form. All analogue broadcasts are due to switch to digital transmission between 2008 and 2012.

DIGITISED - The process by which "rushes" or shot material is loaded into the Avid computer editing system so that it can be digitally manipulated by the Editor during the editing or post-production process.

DIRECTOR - Person who takes the idea / concept / script and turns it into pictures and sounds, by directing the Cameraman and Editor on shoots, and Editor in Post on smaller productions; or - on bigger budget productions - directing DoP and camera crew, Sound, Lighting, Art and Design, Wardrobe etc. and Actors, and driving the Post-Production Process, as to what he or she wants on screen and looking to achieve that.

DISSOLVE - Transition between two shots, where one shot fades away and simultaneously another shot fades in.

DISTRIBUTION - The sale of programme ideas ("formats") or completed programmes to broadcasters around the world. As production companies who create programmes usually hold all or most of the copyright, they'll benefit financially from any such sales.  Specialist distribution companies often sell the programmes on a production company's behalf and take a commission fee for their services.

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - On major productions will likely have a DoP. In overall charge of Camerawork, Lighting and Camera Crew / Department. Highly experienced cameraperson, ultimately makes all decisions relating to camera, composition etc., subject to Director approval.

DOLLY SHOT - Where the camera is placed on a dolly, and is moved while recording the shot.

DRAFT SCRIPT - An early-stage script written to help shape how the programme is filmed or edited.  This usually evolves frequently throughout the production and there'll be many different draft versions before the script is finalised in the later stages of post-production or editing.

DROPPED IN - The insertion of a shot, image or sequence into a specific position in an edited programme during the post-production process.

DUBBING - The process by which programmes made in another country are edited to have a a new audio or sound track in the appropriate language for the new audience.  Dubbing is also used to describe the key sound editing process in post-production.

DUTCH TILT - Composition with the camera viewing the scene at a diagonal. Same as Canted Angle. Much used in "The Third Man".

DV: DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERA - DV stands for Digital Video. DV camcorders were originally designed for non-professional use, but adopted by many productions due to their low cost and small size. The quality of DV is much less than professional broadcast camera equipment. 



ECONOMIES OF SCALE - The financial savings that can be made on larger production projects. The costs of producing a single one-off programme will be proportionately greater than those of a single episode within a long series, as certain items such as sets, graphics, music, technical crews etc. can be shared across the different episodes of a series.

EDITING - The cutting and arranging of shots.

EDIT SUITE - The room or rooms in which editing equipment is located and where the editing process takes place. This is also sometimes referred to as the Cutting Room.

E.D.L. - Edit Decision List. EDL is created from the non-linear edit systems used and will then go to on-line editor for the final edit from the original recorded material.

EFFECTS - Whether Sound (SFX) or Visual (VFX) that are specially created for the particular programme, and are not filmed or recorded as natural elements of events.

EXPLOIT THE RIGHTS - Making a financial profit from the copyright ("rights") that a production company or broadcaster holds in a programme by selling it to other broadcasters around the world. The rights can also be exploited by creating books, merchandising or DVDs linked to the original programme to put on sale.

EYE LINE - The direction an actor (or interviewee) should look off-screen to match the Point of View shot or Reverse Angle shot that may cut in before or after. Always best to give the character an actual spot or thing or person to look at.



F-STOP - Scale used to measure the size of the opening of the iris on a lens.

FACILITIES - Services provided to the television production community by independent facilities houses, including post production facilities. For Glossary of Facilities terms, see Media Speak - Facilities

FADE - Slow transition from one shot to black. Fade Out is where the image becomes black. Fade In or Fade Up is where the image fades up from black.

FEEDS - The images individual cameras capture in a multi-camera situation like a studio. Each camera's feed travels down cabling to the production control room known as the gallery, where the shots are sorted and selected for transmission by the Director and the Vision Mixer.

FILM - For Glossary on this, Film Speak

FILTER - Tinted glass or plastic sheet placed in front of the lens or behind it, used to change the colour of the entire shot. Can be used to convert tungsten-balanced film for use in daylight or vice versa. Also used for effects eg to make blue sky red or black. May be done electronically on video cameras.

FIVE - Channel 5, nationally networked terrestrial commercial TV channel, financed by advertising revenue.

FOCAL LENGTH - How wide or how narrow a view the lens will provide. Smaller focal length numbers mean wider; larger numbers mean narrower.

FOLEY - Recording of customised sound effects during post-production in the same way that dialogue is dubbed. The inventor of the system was Foley.

FORMATS - A narrative structure or sequence of editorial or stylistic devices that can be repeated across a series of programmes or even a number of series. Successful formats are highly prized as they tend to lead to multiple-episode series and can also be sold to international broadcasters.

FRAME - Single image on a piece of film. 24 fps (frames per second) on 16mm film. Single piece of action on video.

FREEVIEW - Digital distribution service of the BBC, providing BBC digital TV and radio channels and some others.

FRENCH FLAG - Small black piece of metal, attached to camera with an arm that can be manipulated, to shade the lens from light and avoid Flare in the shot.  



GAFFER - The most senior lighting electrician who reports to the Director, Producer/Director or Lighting Camera person and is in charge of the work of the other members of the lighting department (the Sparks).

GAFFER TAPE - Cloth tape specifically used for film shoots, usually 2 inches wide, black or silver. Very strong and does not leave any sticky residue behind.

GALLERY - The studio production control room where the Director, Vision Mixer, Production Assistant and other team members work during recording or transmission of a multi-camera production. There are a number of screens which display the images each studio camera is capturing, so the Director and Vision Mixer can choose between them.

GANTRY - A specially constructed metal rig or walkway, much like scaffolding, that is positioned or built above a studio set to allow direct access to the overhead lighting rig and other technical equipment used in studio filming.

GEL - Large sheet of transparent tinted plastic, used as filter for lights or to cover a window. Two types: one will convert one colour temperature to another; another that will come in variety of colours.

GENRES - "Type" or kind of programming. Different types of programming on television, usually reflecting the various departments of broadcasters or production houses, ranging from: Factual (News, Current Affairs, Documentary, Magazine) to Drama (Series, Serials) to Animation, Sport, Children's', Entertainment etc.

GO THROUGH POST - An informal way of referring to the post-production process. 

GOBO - Flat board, like a flag, but full of holes or shapes, used for creating a pattern of light or shadows when placed in front of a light. Also known as a Cookie at times.

GRAMMAR OF TELEVISION - Also sometimes known as the "Conventions of Television." This relates to:

  1. Camera Techniques including Types of shot: Wide Shot, Long Shot, Mid Shot, Close Up, Big Close Up; Angles - High, Low, Equal Height; Camera Movement - Tracking, Dolly, Tilt, Pan.
  2. Editing - Cut, Dissolve, Fade.
  3. Sound.
  4. Mise en Scene and Composition.
  5. Effects and Computer Generated Imagery.

GRAPHICS - Computer-generated images or sequences. Creating graphics is an intricate, expensive and time-consuming process, done by specialist graphic designers or animation teams. There are two main types of graphics:

  • 2D GRAPHICS - A computer-generated graphic image or sequence created in two dimensions (2D), rather than three (3D). An example would be a map or a diagram that appears on screen. They are usually fairly straightforward to create but require the work of a graphic designer and specialist equipment.
  • 3D GRAPHICS - Computer-generated graphic image (CGI) or sequence created in three dimensions (3D), like an animated dinosaur or a scene including a computer-generated explosion. These are usually complex, time-consuming and expensive to create and require specialist animation teams and equipment.

GREENLIGHT - The stage when a broadcaster commissions a programme idea and gives it the go-ahead to go into production. It can take a long time to reach this point, and it usually depends on a series of detailed meetings and budget negotiations. In some cases, broadcasters want to see test filming (a "taster tape") first.



HAIR IN THE GATE - Film term. Disaster strikes if and when a hair is in the gate of the camera, is not noticed and a roll or number of shots has the hair dancing around across it. Camera Assistants constantly check the lens for such hair or dust, using small torches and delicate brushes and touches. 

HAND HELD - Shooting without a tripod. Unusual in Film.

HEADROOM - Space between the top of a subject's head and the top of the frame. Headroom needs care so there is not too much, and not too little. Audience attention is easily distracted if this is wrong. Thought must also be given to Headroom if the production is to go to video or for blow-up.

HIGH DEFINITION TELEVISION - HDTV. Television with up to twice the resolution of SDTV (standard definition television). Various options of lines and pixels are specified in standards, the highest of which in HDTV is 1080 lines by 1920 pixels, aspect ratio 16:9.

HMI - Type of light, standing for Halogen Metal Incandescence. Bright, power efficient lights, balanced for colour temperature daylight, which means they are useful in mixed lighting situations. Expensive, large and heavy.



INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION COMPANY - A company that is independent of any broadcaster and produces programmes for several of them. They may also make programmes for non-broadcast purposes (for corporate clients) or produce TV-related material, like interactive or multi-media content. There are over 1,000 independent production companies (or "indies") in the UK, ranging in size from just a few to hundreds of employees.

INFINITY - The furthest distance on the focussing ring of a lens.

INSERTS - Previously recorded short sequences or items which are inserted into a live show. These are also referred to as "VT" (or video tape) inserts.

IRIS - A valve within the lens to control the amount of light that passes through. Opening the Iris permits more light through, closing the Iris permits less. The degree to which the Iris is opened is measured in F-Stops.

ISO OR PED - A standard TV studio camera, mounted on to a pedestal base with wheels to enable silent and fluid camera movement. The camera itself sits on a gas-filled column so that it can easily be moved up and down by the Camera Operator.

ITV - Independent Television, or Channel 3, predominantly owned now by Granada Media Group. ITV is made up of raft of regional companies including: Anglia, Border, Carlton, Central, Channel, Grampian, Granada, HTV, LWT, Meridian, Tyne Tees, Westcountry and Yorkshire. GMTV supply a breakfast service nationally; Scottish and Grampian serve Scotland, and UTV Northern Ireland. The companies work through the ITV Network Centre to provide a co-ordinated, nationwide network with regional news and magazine opt outs at times.



JUMP CUT - Two similar shots cut together with a jump in camera position, time or continuity.



LAID BACK - A post-production process in which edited images or sounds in their final version are "laid back" or "laid down" onto the master video tape of the programme, ready for transmission. 

LIGHTING PLAN - A document prepared by the Lighting Director before filming which is a floor plan of the filming area, typically a studio.  It shows the proposed layout and organisation of the different filming lights.

LINEAR EDITING - The traditional (but no longer used) process of editing in which shot film or "rushes" was physically cut and placed in a new order to create an edited sequence. This is described as linear because each shot had to be worked on in order.

LINES - Specific lines within a script that a presenter may have to memorise or read from an autocue during filming.

LIP SYNCH - Synch Sound.

LIVE SHOW - A programme transmitted live by the broadcaster as it actually takes place, rather than being previously recorded and edited later for transmission. Some shows are shot "as live" - produced in the same way as a live programme, but broadcast at a later date. This may be for legal or scheduling reasons, or simply to capture the energy and excitement of a live production.

LOCATION SOUND - Synch Sound, recorded on location, plus any other sort of wild track such as atmos or room tone.

LOCKED DOWN SHOT - Shot taken with the pan and tilt releases locked so that the camera will not move during the duration of the shot. Usually used for definite effects, eg. one shot with character in it; cut to next shot, locked down to same frame with no character in it, creating the illusion the character has just disappeared in an instant.

LOG/LOGGED - A document, usually compiled on a computer, listing all the tape numbers of the rushes and detailed information on their content. This helps in the drafting of a paper edit or edit script and enables easy access to specific sequences during the off-line edit. 



M&E - Music and Effects. Productions will have an M&E track made in Post-Production, which is used when the film is dubbed into other languages so that all the Music and Effects do not have to be re-created and re-done each time. Only essential if production plans on going into different languages.  

MAGAZINE SHOW - A programme structured like a magazine, with many short items or strands that aren't linked to one another in terms of any particular narrative or story.

MAKEOVER PROGRAMMES - A type of programming in which experts try to improve a member of the public's life or lifestyle. The programme shows the "before" and "after" of the transformation, which might involve the person's home, garden or even personal style, and focuses on how the process has affected them.

MARK - Used in drama and movies. Clapping of Clapperboard to create a Synch Mark for the shot. This term is also used to refer to piece of tape on floor which is an Actor's Mark for standing or moving to.

MARK IT - Direction to Clapperboard Operator to mark the shot.

MASTER - The final edited tape of a programme, which the broadcaster will use to transmit it and from which all other copies of the tape will also be made. 

MASTER SHOT - A single shot, usually a wide shot that incorporates the whole scene from beginning to end. Usually filmed first, and then all the close-ups and other shots are done afterwards.

MATTE BOX - A square metal frame, that goes in front of the lens, usually held there by two small rods. Holds filters and various matte masks.

MERCHANDISING - Products for sale that are linked to TV programmes or series. These could range from books to DVDs to branded souvenirs or products that in some way reflect the content of the programme. For instance, a successful cookery series might lead to the development of a range of saucepans that carry the programme's brand.

MICROSITES - Mini websites that are linked to a specific programme or series and usually sit within a broadcaster's main website.

MIX - Process of combining all soundtracks into one mixed whole, with the sounds blended together with the right quality and volumes per sound, to give the desired and intended result.

MOBILE PHONE OPERATORS - Companies that operate individual mobile phone networks. Examples include Vodafone, Orange, 3 and O2.

MULTI-CAMERA - A production in which several cameras are used to capture images at the same time.

MULTI-CHANNEL - TV platforms like Freeview, cable and satellite that offer viewers multiple channels, rather than conventional analogue TV which broadcasts the standard "terrestrial" channels. The term multi-channel can also be used to describe a broadcaster that offers more than one channel.

MULTIPLEX - Broadcaster provides more than one service eg two television stations of their own and simultaneously broadcasts data and a score of other channels, distributed by the initial broadcaster but not created by them.

MUTE - TV images without any sound.



NARRATIVE STRUCTURE - The way a programme's story or direction is shaped as the programme progresses. A strong narrative structure makes viewers feel they're going on a clear journey as they watch the programme and helps to keep them hooked until the end. 

NETWORKING - How people working within the TV industry build up working relationships with other key industry contacts. This might be through casual conversation, informal socialising or even formal networking get-togethers arranged specifically for people to widen their range of contacts.

NICHE - A programme or a channel that appeals to a very small, specialised audience. To achieve big audiences, the major broadcasters air programmes that have popular, wide appeal. They may show niche programmes, but will limit them to less popular times, such as late at night or early morning. Some small channels make a virtue out of broadcasting niche programming in all their slots.

NON-LINEAR EDITING - The post-production process in which shot material or "rushes" are digitised onto a computer system called an Avid and can then be rearranged in any number of different versions. This is much faster and more flexible than traditional linear editing, in which an editor worked on the shots in order.

NTL - Major cable television provider in the UK, is carrying packages of digital including all major channels and some of its own.



OFF-LINE EDIT - The first part of the editing or post-production process: a less expensive system is used to digitally cut down all the shot material into a rough cut or digicut. During the off-line, which usually takes several weeks, an EDL or Edit Decision List is created which is used in the next stage of editing (the on-line edit) to craft the programme into its final order and style. 

ON CAMERA - Action and Interviews that are captured on camera.

ON-LINE EDIT - The final part of the editing or post-production process: a very expensive computer system creates the edited programme to a high enough quality for professional broadcasting. The off-line version of the edit (the rough cut or digicut) is used as a guide. Due to their cost, on-line edits usually take a day at the most.

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DEGREE RULE - States that if two people are filmed in a sequence then there is an invisible line between them. The camera should then only be positioned within the 180 degrees on one side of that line. "Crossing the line" results in a jump cut, where the people appear to change positions and eye line and ruins whatever effect is being sought.

OUT OF VISION - When a person or object does not physically appear on screen, but is heard on the sound track, or in the voiceover or commentary. On scripts, this is indicated using the abbreviation OOV.

OUT TAKES - Footage from rushes that is not used.

OVERNIGHTS - Viewing figures compiled overnight by a specialist organisation called BARB, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Overnights give broadcasters and producers an immediate indication of how successful programmes aired the previous day have been. Overnights are adjusted later once figures for people who videotaped a programme and watched it later are factored in. 



PACT - Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television. Trade Association for Independent Producers.

PAN - Horizontal camera on an axis, moving from left to right or vice versa. Camera is turning on own axis, not across space as in Dolly or Tracking shot.

PAPER EDIT - A version of the script compiled after filming has taken place to help prepare for the editing process. This involves editing the draft or shooting script that was prepared before filming.

PARALLEL EDITING - Inter-cutting between two simultaneous stories or scenes.  

PED OR ISO - A standard TV studio camera, mounted on to a pedestal base with wheels to enable silent and fluid camera movement.  The camera itself sits on a gas-filled column so that it can easily be moved up and down by the Camera Operator.

PICTURE LOCK - A key stage in the editing or post-production process in which all the images have been put into their selected order in the off-line edit and are then fixed or "locked" so they can progress to the next stage - the on-line edit.

PIECES TO CAMERA - Sequences in which a presenter talks directly to the camera.  These may be scripted in advance, in which case the presenter will either have to memorize them or use an autocue, or they may be "ad libbed" - improvised spontaneously.

POST-PRODUCTION HOUSE - A specialist company supplying a wide range of post-production services, equipment and teams to independent production companies.  Some production companies own editing equipment themselves or hire it in as needed ("dry hire"). Others contract a post-production house to complete all the processes required.

POST-PRODUCTION SCRIPT - A version of the script completed once a programme has been through post-production. This document records every aspect of the completed programme, including each shot, its order and duration, every word spoken, sound effect heard and details of music and archive used.

P.O.V. - Camera gives a Point of View shot of a character, as though the camera and hence the audience can see what the character can see.

PRE-PRODUCTION - The stage when a programme is created, developed and prepared before filming begins.

PRE-RECORDED - A programme filmed and edited before it's broadcast. This term can also be used to describe individual sequences (or items or inserts) that are recorded in advance of a live show and then inserted into it.

PRODUCER - Person(s) who deal with and oversee every areas of a documentary, news feature, drama, magazine show or film that is not essentially within the Director's purview. This includes: finance, legal, administration, marketing, personnel, a watching brief on editorial and creative etc. The Producer may have originated the project, pitched and financed it and then attached talent such as writer, director, actors etc. or it may have come to the Producer or Studio from a journalist, member of the public, writer, director, agency etc.

PRODUCTION FEE - The fee that production companies charge broadcasters for producing a programme or series. This is usually between 10% and 15% of the total budget the broadcaster offers for the production. On very low-budget projects, the production company doesn't make much money, but exploiting their copyright in the programme by selling it to international broadcasters can help boost profits.

PRODUCTION OFFICE - The central production base where planning and administration take place during filming. In most cases, this is the production company's main office, but sometimes on location or in a studio, a temporary office will be set up so production staff can work closely with those on set or on location.

PRODUCTION SCHEDULE - A document or chart which shows the dates and times when different sequences are to be filmed. Schedules are also completed for each day's shoot, detailing all the location and logistics needed and the precise time each shot or sequence will be filmed. This is sometimes known as the Call Sheet, as it indicates the time each member of the crew is "called" or required.

PRODUCTION SOUND - Synch sound, or any other sort of wild track.

PROPOSAL - A document outlining an idea for a new programme, series or format, submitted by a production company to a broadcaster, with the aim of acquiring a programme commission. Proposals (also called pitches or treatments) are usually brief and may include photographs or a screen-test or taster tapes (sample filming).

PSC: PORTABLE SINGLE CAMERA - A traditional term that came into use in the days when TV was still shot on film and video tape was just becoming popular. A portable single video camera that is dispatched to location for filming and can easily be moved between locations during the shoot.

PUBLIC SERVICE - Programming that aims to improve society by informing the audience and catering to the diverse range of viewers. In the UK, BBC Television is a public service broadcaster and is funded by the TV licence fee we all pay. Commercial broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4 and Five raise funding through advertising and sponsorship and must produce programmes to attract as large an audience as possible to keep advertisers happy.



RADIO - For Glossary on this, see RADIO.

RADIO MIC - A small microphone, usually attached to a presenter or interviewee's lapel or collar. It has its own small radio transmitter which is typically hidden in a back pocket or worn on the back of a belt. The person can move freely without being connected by cabling to the camera, making filming much easier and more flexible.

RATINGS - Viewing figures compiled by a specialist organisation called BARB, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. The way a programme "rates" (ie. how many people watched it) is the key indicator of how successful it has been. Stong ratings for programmes in key prime time slots are crucial in the fiercely competitive battle between the broadcasters for viewers.

REACTION SHOT - Shot of someone looking off screen and showing their reaction to something that has gone before, or which follows.

REALITY TV - Programming that is unscripted and follows actual "real life" events as they unfold, usually involving members of the public or groups of celebrities.

RECCE - Pronounced "recky", this is a shortened form of the word "reconnaissance". It's a research visit to a location before filming to assess its suitability and check technical specifications and logistics.

RED BUTTON INTERACTIVITY - The red button on a digital set top box's remote control offers viewers a number of interactive options, depending on the type of channel and programme. These include choosing a camera angle to watch a sports event, voting in an entertainment show or taking part in an interactive quiz or competition.

RESTRICTED SERVICE LICENCE - Local, ie normally broadcasting to a 25 mile radius, television services operate as RSLs, offering a local television service in a score of cities or large towns in the UK. Usually with a 4 year licence.

RE-VERSIONED - A completed programme that's been re-edited to make a new version. This usually happens in co-productions when a foreign co-producer requires different programme style or content compared to the UK version. Re-versioning of commentary and captions may also be needed if the programme is to be shown in non-English-speaking countries.

RIGHTS - The copyright that the creator of a TV idea, programme or format owns. Broadcasters used to retain the copyright in their programmes, but rights now rest fully or largely with the production companies that develop and produce each programme. This can be very profitable if programmes are sold or "distributed" to international broadcasters.

ROOM TONE - May be called "atmos", recording the "silence" of a room or any location.

ROUGH CUT - The end of the first stage of the editing process, the "off-line" edit, when the programme has been roughly assembled into the correct order. The rough cut is also sometimes called the digicut.

RUNNING ORDER - A document which lists the order that individual items or sequences will appear in a programme and states their duration. This gives a good overview of the programme's structure and content.

RUSHES - The shot unedited videotape material that is edited down to create the final programme. The term dates back to the time when shot film footage would be processed in the laboratory overnight - in a rush - so the Director could view it the next day.



SAFETY - An additional take, done after what may or may not be a good one, just as a safety net when shooting to ensure you have sufficient material and a good take.

SATELLITE - Delivery of television (and other services) by satellite via a satellite dish outside individual homes.

SCENE - Dramatic unit composed of a single or several shots, in continuous time, in the same setting and involving the same characters.

SCREEN TEST - A short tape shot as a sample of a presenter or an actor's style, approach and suitability for a particular programme.

SEQUENCE - A dramatic unit composed of several scenes, all linked together by their emotional and narrative momentum.

SERIAL - An on-going story or stories in which each episode takes up where the last one left off. May be daily or 2 or 3 times a week over years in the UK. Also known as Soaps.

SERIES - A succession of programmes with a standard format, usually in the UK in a 6 or 8 week run once a week.

SET - An area of a studio that has been specially constructed for filming purposes.

SET BUILD - The physical construction of the set or stage of a studio in advance of filming by the technical and creative crews.

SHOT - Single run of the camera or the piece of film resulting from such a run. Basic element of shooting and post-production, representing the film exposed from the time the camera is started to the time it is stopped. Several shots are edited together to create a scene.

SHOWREEL - A tape compiled to promote the past productions an individual or company has been involved in. Showreels are important tools to help freelance production staff like Producer/Directors and Lighting Camera people get work.

SIGNED OFF - Final approval of the project in its current form from a senior production executive, like an Executive Producer or a Commissioning Editor. This usually happens once the programme has reached the later stages of editing.

CREATIVE SKILLSET - Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industry, with offices in London, the Nations and Regions.

SLATE - Clapperboard used to record a scene number, take number, and with synch point at the beginning (or end) of a shot.

SOUND TRACK - A programme's audio elements, including commentary (voiceover), music and sound effects.

SPARK - A Lighting Electrician working either at a studio or on location. Sparks report to the Gaffer, the most senior Lighting Electrician on the crew.

SPIN-OFF - A new programme or series linked to a previous successful production. An example would be a spin-off drama about a single character that featured previously in a larger drama series. Spin-offs can also refer to books and DVDs linked to a programme.

STAFFING UP - The pre-production stage when team members are being recruited to work on a project's production.

STAGES OF PRODUCTION - Programmes go through 5 common stages:

  1. Research and Development, including Writing, Pitching to Financiers or Commissioners or Broadcasters, and Finding Finance;
  2. Pre-Production: Production is definitely on and preparations are made;
  3. Production or Shoot: Filming;
  4. Post-Production or Post: Editing of Sound and Vision;
  5. Distribution.

STEADICAM - A stabilising mount for a camera worn on the body using a special harness. It separates the movement of the camera from that of the camera operator, so smooth and fluid shots can be filmed while the person is in motion. 

STEENBECK - Popular brand of film editing machinery, now very outmoded and replaced by non-linear editing.

STINGS - A short sequence or "bumper" acting as visual or sound punctuation between two sections of a programme or introducing a regular feature or strand within a multi-item show. An example would be a short graphics clip with theme music.

STUDIO FLOOR - A general term used to describe the main floor area of a studio where filming takes place.

SUBTITLED - Programmes with text captions added so their sound track can be understood by people who speak a different language. Subtitling is also sometimes provided by broadcasters for those with hearing difficulties.

SYNC SOUND - Sound and images that are recorded together (in "sync" with each other). An interviewee talking on camera is an example of sync sound.

SYNCHING or SYNCING - Lining up of sound and picture before editing a synch sound film.



TAIL SLATE or TAIL CLAPPER - Marking shot at end rather than the beginning, which may be necessary through nature of the shot or circumstances.

TALENT - On-screen stars like presenters or actors, or behind-the-camera "production" talent.

TALKBACK - A sound system which enables people working remotely to talk to each other. Used during studio filming so instructions can be communicated between the gallery, crew and talent working on the studio floor and other key departments like sound, lighting and transmission.

TALKING HEADS - Interviews with succession of specialists or experts.

TAPE LIBRARY - A collection of tapes including all the unedited "rushes" and any archive footage or graphics tapes that may be required during editing. Each tape is given a number so that it can be easily located and accessed whenever needed.

TARIFFS - Broadcasters assign a wide range of budgets to different programme types and slots. Some programming is a lot more expensive to produce, like drama or entertainment. Tariffs give an important indicator of what quality and type of productions Commissioning Editors are looking for.

TELECINE - A post-production process in which film is transferred to video. Much used in modern high end Television Production and Film as images can go from Negative to Video and thence to non-linear for editing. The term telecine is also used as a way of describing the Colour Grade process.

TERRESTRIAL CHANNEL - Channels that transmit their programmes via the traditional "analogue" method, using radio waves, usually from masts or towers. All terrestrial broadcasters are due to switch from analogue to digital transmission between 2008 and 2012. 

TILT - Vertical camera movement on its axis, up or down. Not to be called and Up or Down Pan, but Tilt Up and Tilt Down.

TIMECODE - An electronic signal that appears at the top or bottom of a recorded image, used to identify and locate each frame of video material.

TITLE SEQUENCE - A short sequence at the start of a programme that identifies it and usually includes music and graphics.

TO CAMERA - Presenter speaks to camera.

TONE - A 1,000 Hz sine wave at the beginning of a sound recording tape to provide consistent volume when transferring sound. Word is also used to describe Room Tone.

TOP AND TAIL - Shorthand for the start and end of a particular sequence, item or the programme itself. Graphics, titles or music may be added to the top and tail.

TRACKING - Involves the camera itself being moved smoothly towards or away from the subject in order to draw the viewer into the action, into a closer, more intimate relations with the subject. Tracking out tens to create emotional distance. The speed of tracking may also affect the viewer's mood. Rapid tracking is exciting; slow tracking relaxes interest. Camera movement parallel to the moving subject creates an idea of speed without revealing that the camera exists or is there. Tracking is done with the camera on a trolley, which runs on "tracks" like a mini-train track, hence the name tracking.

TREATMENT - A document outlining an idea for a new programme, series or format, submitted by a production company to a broadcaster, with the aim of acquiring a programme commission. Treatments (also called pitches or proposals) are usually brief and may include photographs or a screen-test or taster tapes (sample filming).

TUNGSTEN - Colour temperature of artificial light.

TX - Abbreviation for transmission - when the broadcaster transmits the programme either by analogue, digital, cable or satellite signal into viewers' homes. 



VIEWER VOTING - Interactive programming option that allows viewers to cast their vote and affect the programme's final outcome. Popular in entertainment shows and competitions, voting also raises a lot of revenue for the companies involved.

VIEWING FIGURES - Programme ratings compiled by a specialist organisation called BARB, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Viewing figures are the key indicator of how successful a programme has been. Strong ratings for programmes in key prime time slots are crucial in the fiercely competitive battle between the broadcasters for viewers.

VISUAL BRAND - The overall visual style and look of a programme or series. Giving a production a strong identity is an important way of making it stand out from other programmes.

VOICE OVER - A narration or commentary over a programme's images. This is spoken by a presenter, actor or interviewee who is heard by viewers but not seen on screen. If someone talks while visible in shot, the sound is described as "sync sound" or in the case of a presenter talking directly to the camera, a "piece to camera".

VOX POP - Vox Populi, Latin for the voice of the people. Same question is put to a range of people to give a flavour of what ordinary people think about an issue.

VT INSERTS - Previously recorded short sequences or items which are inserted into a live show. VT stands for video tape. 



WIDE LENS - Lens with focal length smaller than 25mm in 16mm or 50mm in 35mm.

WILD SOUND - Not synch, recorded without the camera running.

A WRAP or "IT'S A WRAP" - Golden words, said when filming is finished for the day, or for that particular set, or for the entire film. Usually "Wrap for the Day" is the phrase if it is not the absolute final day of shooting.



ZOOM LENS - Variable focal length lens.


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