Film Terms





1. Long Shot (LS)

2. Establishing Shot (ES)
To set a scene and show how the characters are related to a scene.
This is used in the beginning of the movie to give the viewer a sense of where the scene is taking place.
Shawshank Opening Scene
3. Close-up (CS)
The object or subject takes up nearly 80 percent of the screen space and therefore appears to be very large.
The close-up forces the viewer to look at only what the director intended.
Pride & Prejudice
At around the 1:53 mark.
4. Medium Shot (MS)


5. Soft focus

6. Rack focus
Camera shifts focus between characters/objects in foreground and background
Directs viewer's attention; emphasizes change in perspective, power, authority, etc.
The Time Machine
7. Deep focus
Subjects in the fore and background to be in focus
Allows all the depth of space to be used. This shot also lets the viewer choose what they want to look at and decide what they think is most important, making it more realistic.
Jurassic Park
Camera Angles:

8. Low angle (LA)
A shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis, anywhere below eye level, looking up. The camera is below the subject. May be used to denote power, size, and strength.
A professor may be shot using a low camera angle to denote hierarchy over students in a classroom.
Kindergarten Cop Low Angle
9. High angle (HA)

10. Eye level (EL)
Camera angle is on an even level with the character. This is also considered a "neutral shot" because it has no immediately recognizable significance.
Looking subject straight-on. Could be used after series of high-angle shots to show growth of character
This clip from The Shining shows eye level shots of Danny Torrance.
11. Dutch angle (aka, "canted" angle)


12. Diegetic
(pronounced "di-uh-je-tik") Any sound that could logically be heard within the movie environment, including background noise, traffic, dialogue between characters, etc.
A character coughing; a cat growling; a baby crying
Top Gun Diegetic Music
13. Non-diegetic
sound whose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action: narrator's commentary, sound effects which is added from the dramatic effect, or mood music.
Usually used to tell us something that characters don't know (narration), a sound/music that will show the mood of how we should be feeling or anticipating to happen, or background music.
Jaws when the shark is approaching around 30 seconds.

14. Low-key
Like high-key lighting, low-key characterizes an overall scene, creating another experience for the audience in terms of the film. In Low-Key Lighting, the only source of light is derived from 1 key, small, light source, dimming all other forms of light.

The main priority is to produce shadows for uncertainty, suspicion, mystery, and danger. This kind of lighting is mostly seen in horror, film noir, and detective films.

15. High-key
This form of lighting is open and bright and lacks shadows and contrasts between dark and light.
Used to enable viewers to watch characters and whole scenes easily. Common in romantic comedies, musicals and dramas.
Wizard of Oz
16. Neutral
Lighting is balanced between "dark" and "bright;" natural lighting
Used simply to light a scene without adding illumination or emphasis to any particular person or thing
(clip includes some violent content but nothing graphic)
17. Bottom/side
In this case the lighting is either coming from the side, so it would only light half the subject's face, or from underneath, which can cause distortion.
Often used to create the effect of creatures or people appearing evil. An example would be holding the flashlight under your chin while telling scary stories.
This Clip from Psycho shows side lighting on Norman Bates face around the :46 mark.
A Photo from Sunset Boulevard that demonstrates bottom lighting.
18. Front/rear
front-lighting near the camera and directs light towards the target object.
rear-lighting placed behind the subject and lights from the back.
Provide definition and highlights on the subject from either the front or rear.
any scene from fight club. period.
Camera Movement:

19. Pan
When the camera pivots along the horizontal axis while following the action or subject.
Often used to introduce the setting of the film.

Opeing Clip show various pans in and outs setting the set of the movie in NYC
20. Tilt
The camera remains stationary as the camera head moves up and down the vertical axis.
Used to reveal an object slowly or to follow an object as it moves up or down.
This is a 15 second video showing the camera moving up a tall building to reveal its height.

Tilt Shot
21. Zoom
The focal length of the lens changes, which makes the object seem to move closer or further away. The camera doesn't actually move. One way to tell the difference between zooming and dollying is to see if the background changes in relation to the objects and flattens a bit (which means zoom).
The audience is directed to a detail that the director does not want them to miss.
This .gif is from Arrested Development.
22. Dolly
(Tracking) The camera moves through space on a wheeled track (or dolly), but stays in the same place of focus.
Because the movement is smoother when transitioning between different scenes, such as having two characters go into a house from a balcony. The camera literally glides with the movement of the characters.
This is the opening shot from the movie Selena (my personal favorite). When the camera is following the carriage and scanning the audience it is attached to a dolly for a smooth take.

Editing Techniques:

23. Fade
Occurs when a scene brightens and becomes clearer from black to normal light or brightness decreases and becomes black.
Signifies the beginning of a new scene or the end of a scene.
The opening of the music video "Issues" by Princeton Ave uses a fade in editing technique to open the video.

24. Dissolve
Method of making a transition from one shot to another by briefly superimposing one image upon another and then allowing the first image to disappear.
This is used because it serves as a stronger form of transition than a cut and indicates a distinct separation in action.
Examples of dissolve in many classic movies.
25. Crosscutting
Switching the POV to different characters with each shot in a short string.
This is used to show all the angles of a situation, but also to show what each character is doing at the same time.
Friday the 13th, start at 74:30
26. Flashback
Interrupts the present action to show the viewers what happened before/a past event.
This is used to show the audience a character's motivations, what they're thinking, what made them the way they are, and helps the audience catch up without using another half an hour to show in present time what really happened.
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, start at 15:20, this movie is totally retarded, so prepare yourself
27. Eye-line match
A film editing technique in which the audience is shown what the character on-screen is looking at by cutting the shot of "character looking at something" and then joining it with a shot of said object.
This technique provides continuity for the viewer, as when we view a character looking at something that is off-screen, we expect to find out what it is they are looking at.
La Sindrome di Stendhal
A quick example. Woman stares at painting, intensity ensues.