Annie Bourgois


GLOSSAIRE en deux parties


Bibliothèque Angellier

(Première partie : liste de 117 termes)

A glossary of terms used in criticism of films (technical terms)

1. Accelerated Montage : a sequence edited into progressively shorter shots to create a mood of tension and excitement.
2. Actual Sound : sound whose source is an object or person in the scene shot.
3. Aerial Shot : a shot taken from a crane, a plane or helicopter.
4. Ambient Light : the natural light surrounding the subject (usual. Soft)
5. Auteur: a term describing a film-maker who is considered to be an artist or the author of his films.
6. B-movies: films made cheaply by Hollywood studios to support the main feature film.
7. Backlighting : the main source of light is behind the subject, silhouetting it and directed
8. toward the camera.
9. Boom : a travelling arm for suspending a microphone above the actors and outside the frame.
10. Camera angle : the angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject, low, high or tilt.
11. Cause and effect: a technique used in Classical Hollywood Narrative films, which means that every scene is linked and motivated. Nothing is included in the narrative that is not relevant, for example if a close-up of a tea cup is shown then it means there is something wrong with the teacup. At the end each scene cues are given for the next, e.g. a character might say they need to investigate something and the next scene would show them in a library. (The journey to the library would not be shown.)
12. Change-over cue : a small dot or mark in the top right-hand corner of the frame, often in series, that signals the projectionist to switch from one projector to another.
9 Chiaroscuro : the technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation, the arrangement of light, shade and dark elements.
10 Cinematography: a term that describes everything related to the camera in filming: film stock, film speed, framing, distance, level, angle of the camera, the movement of camera.
11 Classical Hollywood Narrative: the system of narrative used in Hollywood films made between the 1930s and the 50s. It was made of a number of narrative conventions that made film easy to follow for a mass audience.
12 Close-up : denoting a short distance between the camera and the subject/object filmed A shot of the subject’s face only, a close shot.
13 Closure: a Classical Hollywood Narrative term that describes how all the loose ends of a plot are tied up so that the narrative can be brought to a close.
14 Commentative Sound : sound whose source is outside the scene being shot (musical score).
15 Continuity editing: the system of editing used in Classical Hollywood Narrative films. It consists of a number of techniques that maintain spatial and temporal continuity even when a narrative moves between lots of locations or cuts out big chunks of time. This technique is usually motivated so that they are not noticed or disruptive. It enables the spectator to concentrate on the narrative.
16 Contrast : high-contrast lighting shows a stark difference between blacks and whites; low-contrast (soft contrast) lighting mainly emphasises the midrange of greys.
17 Crane shot : a shot taken from a crane.
18 Crawl : the rolling credits common to T.V., usually at the end of the program.
19 Credits : the list of technical personnel, cast and crew of a film.
20 Cross-cutting : intermingling the shots of two or more scenes to suggest parallel action.
21 Crosslighting : lighting from the side.
22 Cut : a switch from one image to another. An edit that simply splices two shots together.
23 Cutaway : a shot inserted in a scene to show action at another location, usually brief, and most often used to cover breaks in the main take, as in T.V.
24 Decoupage : the design of the film, the arrangement of its shots ( découpage classique is used for Hollywood style of seamless narration).
25 Deep focus : a technique in which objects very near the camera as well as those far away are in focus at the same time.
26 Depth field : the range of distances from the camera at which the subject is acceptably sharp.
27 Detail shot or very close shot : a shot of a hand, eye, mouth or any other similar small detail.
28 Dissolve : the superimposition of a fade out over a fade in (lap dissolve).
29 Dolly : a set of wheels and a platform upon which the camera can be mounted to give it mobility (crab-dolly).
30 Dolly shot :
31 An establishing shot : a continuity editing technique that requires each scene of a film to start with a long shot that shows the audience the general location of the scene that follows, providing essential information and orientations.
32 Extreme close-up : detail shot.
33 Extreme long shot : a panoramic view of an exterior location photographed from a considerable distance.
34 Eyeline-match: a continuity editing technique. An eyeline-match occurs when a close-up of an actor’s face is followed with a shot of another person or object. Even though the subject/object are not physically in the frame together, the spectator makes a mental link and accepts that the actor in the first shot is looking at the person or object in the second shot. This creates a three-dimensional space for the film’s action from two-dimensional images.
35 Fade in : a punctuation device. The screen is black at the beginning, gradually the image appears. This edit signals the beginning or end of a scene.
36 Fade out : the opposite.
37 Filler light, fill light : an auxiliary light, usually from the side of the subject that can soften shadows and illumine areas not covered by the key light.
38 Film noir : a term given by french critics to a genre of Hollywood films made in the 40s and 50s, usually set in urban criminal underworld. A dark and shadowy style.
39 Flag : a device placed in front of a light to cast a shadow.
40 Flare : when the light source is pointed directly at the camera, the optics of the lens often produce in the image a haze, glow or aura (flare).
41 Flashback : a scene or sequence inserted into a scene in ‘present ‘ time and that deals with the past.
42 Flashcutting : editing the film into short shots that succeed each other rapidly.
43 Flashforward : scenes or shots of future times.
44 Focus : the sharpness of the image (deep, shallow).
45 Focus in, out : a punctuation device. The image gradually comes into focus or goes out of focus.
46 Follow shot, tracking shot or zoom : the camera follows the subject as it moves.
47 Forms, open or closed : Frames; closed ones suggest a coincidence between the limits of the frame and the limits of reality.
48 Frame : 1) Any single image on the film
2) The size and shape of the image on the film
3) Unit of film design
49 Full shot : a shot of a subject that includes the entire body and not much else.
50 Gaffer : in charge of the lights.
51 German Expressionism: an avant-garde movement in Germany in the 10s and 20s which exaggerated and distorted the objects it depicted in order to reflect the angst of the artists. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
52 Grip : the person in charge of props.
53 High angle: a term used to describe a shot taken from high up, looking down.
54 High key : a type of lighting arrangement in which the key light is very bright.
55 Iconography: a term denoting the visual motifs/objects associated with particular genres of film. For instance, the iconography of the gangster film consists of guns, cars, smart suits and cities.
56 Insert, insert shot : a detail shot providing necessary information ; ex. a letter, a tell-tale physical detail.
57 Iris in, out : an old technique of punctuation.
58 Jump cut : a cut that occurs within a scene to condense the shot and eliminate dead periods.
59 Key light : the main light on a subject. Usually placed at 45° angle to the camera-subject axis. High key light, low key light.
60 Long shot : a long shot includes at least the full figures of the subjects, usually more (full shot, extreme long shot).
61 Low angle: a shot taken from low down, looking up.
62 Mask : a shield before the camera lens to block off a part of the image.
63 Master shot : a long take of an entire scene, generally a long shot that facilitates the assembly of component closer shots and details.
64 Match cut : a cut in which the two shots joined are linked by visual, aural or metaphorical parallelisms (cf. the end of North by Northwest).
65 Match-on-action : a continuity editing technique, when an edit takes place in the middle of an action. For example, shot one might show a person sitting down while shot two shows him standing. The cut occurs during the movement from sitting to standing. This ensures that the edit goes unnoticed because the spectator is distracted by the act of movement itself ;
66 Medium shot : a shot intermediate between a close-up and a full shot. E.g. the body from waist up.
67 Mise en scène: describes everything in the image that has been put in front of the camera for filming: set design, location, costume, make-up, props, actors, acting style and lighting effects.
68 Mix : sound effects, the work of the sound editor.
69 Model shot : using miniatures instead of real objects (to stage great disasters).
70 Montage : editing.
71 Out of Synchronization : a-synchronization of sound and image.
72 Overlapping sound : a continuity editing technique that links scenes together. As one scene ends and the next begins any music playing in the first scene is carried over to the start of the next scene. The cut in the soundtrack is not synchronous with the cut in the image.
73 Over- the- shoulder shot : a shot used in dialogue scenes in which the speaker iis seen from the perspective of a person standing just behind and a little to one side of the listener; head and shoulders of the listener are in the frame plus head of the speaker.
74 Pace : the rhythm of the film.
75 Pan : movement of the camera from the left to right or right to left around an imaginary vertical axis that runs through the camera. (see Tilt, Roll). A panning shot is different from a tracking shot.
76 Parallax : an apparent change in position of a viewed object, caused by different perspectives, point of view. It provides a sense of depth and depends on the moving camera.
77 Parallel action : parallel montage: two scenes are observed in parallel by cross-cutting.
78 Parallel editing: a style of editing developed in the early days of cinema, whereby a film cuts between two different pieces of action taking place simultaneously, for example cutting between the heroine tied to the railway track and the hero racing to save her. It is usually used to create suspense;
79 Parallel sound : sound that matches its accompanying image.
80 Point of view shot : a shot which shows the scene from the point of view of a character.
81 Pull- back shot : a tracking shot or zoom that moves back from the subject to reveal the context of the scene.
82 Pushover : a type of wipe in which the succeeding image appears to push the preceding image off the screen.
83 Rack focusing : using shallow focus (shallow depth of field) to direct the attention of the viewer forcibly from one object to another. Focus is pulled, or changed to shift the focus plane, sometimes several times in the shot.
84 Representation: a term that describes the cinematic presentation of ideological constructs such as genders, race, age, class and sexuality.
85 Reverse Angle : a shot from the opposite side of a subject ; in a dialogue scene, a shot of the second participant.
86 Roll : the movement of the camera around the axis that runs longitudinally from the lens to the subject.
87 Scene : a complete unit of film narration. A series of shots or a single one that take place in a single location with a single action.
88 Score : the music of a film.
89 Screenplay : the scenario, the script of a film, shooting script. It is produced from the script and includes instructions for the camera and the actors.
90 Scrim : an opaque plate placed in front of a light in order to cast a particular shadow (illusion of natural lighting).
91 Sequence : a basic unit of film construction ( one or two scenes) that form a natural unit.
92 Sequence shot : a long, complex shot including complicated camera movements and action. Plan sequence.
93 Set : the location of a scene .
94 Shallow focus : a technique that utilises shallow depth of field to create a shallow focus plane to direct the attention to the subject or action.
95 Shot : a single piece of film, long or short, exposed continuously, without cuts (see: scene, sequence, take, close-up, camera angle, pan, zoom, detail, full, long, medium, extreme long, establishing, two, aerial, point of view, master, follow, stock, dolly, tracking shots).
96 Soft focus : filters, vaseline used to soften the delineation of lines and points.
97 Sound : ( cf. actual, asynchronous, contrapuntal, commentative, synchronous, overlap, parallel, concrete, direct sound).
98 Sound effect : all these sounds that are not dialogue or music.
99 Sound track
100 Special effects : wide range of devices and processes and stunt men.
101 Split screen : two or more separate images within the frame not overlapping.
102 Star system: describes the way a star’s image is promoted in order to sell a film.
103 Still : a single photograph (photogram).
104 Storyboards : drawings and caption showing the planned shot divisions and camera moves.
105 Studios: the studios, e.g. Warner Brothers, MGM and Paramount, controlled the whole process of film production from the 20s to the 50s. The studio system describes the way in which the studios organised the production, distribution and exhibition of their films.
106 Superimposed: where one or more images are placed on top of each other so that they can all be seen at once.
107 Swish board : ( flick pan, zip pan, whip pan) A pan in which the scene moves too quickly to be observed, approximates the movements of human eyes moving from one subject to another.
108 Take : a version of a shot ( une prise).
109 Tilt shot : the camera tilts up or down, rotating around the axis that runs from left to right through the camera head (see pan and roll).
110 Track : the rails on which a camera moves.
111 Tracking shot : any shot in which the camera moves from one point to another either sideways, in or out. (on tracks or dolly or hand-held), travelling shot, trucking shot.
112 Trailer : a short publicity film.
113 Two-shot : a shot of two people.
114 Voice-over : the narrator’s voice when the narrator is not seen, especially in T.V. commercials.
115 Voyeurism: a term used to describe the pleasurable act of watching someone, usually when they are not aware they are been watched.
116 Wipe : an optical effect, the image wipes off the preceding one (cf. fade out, dissolve, iris out).
117 Zoom : a shot using a lens whose focal length is adjusted during the shot.


(Deuxième partie)
Glossary of film terms.

Vocabulary related to the shot

1. Take : The length of film exposed between each start and stop of the camera. Also, when the same shot is filmed more than once, each repetition is called a take.
2. Shot : A take, in part or in its entirety, used in the final edited version of the film. Within a single shot there is no temporal or spacial discontinuity. Description of shots is categorised by distance ( ECU, CU, MCU, MS, ML, L, EL), by camera angle ( low, high, eye-level), by content ( Two-shot, three-shot, reaction shot, establishing shot), and by camera movement, if any (pan, track, dolly, crane, tilt). The average full-length film contains between 400 and 1000 shots.
3. Scale : The ‘bigness’ of the subject in a given shot, determined by the camera’s distance from it.
· Extreme close-up (ECU) : a single detail occupies most of the screen. e.g . a part of a face, ( see an insert shot.)
· Close-up (CU) : The camera is close to the subject, so that when the image is projected most of the screen shows a face and its expression, or a hand, or some relatively small part of a larger whole ( metonymic device).
· Medium close-up ( MCU) : shot whose scale is between MS and CU ; a character shown from the chest up, for ex.
· Medium shot (MS) : The camera is nearer to the subject than in a long shot, but further than in a MCU. A human subject in MS is generally shown from the waist up.
· Medium long shot (MLS) : Human subject is shown from the knees up. Also called an American shot, because Hollywood movies of the Thirties and forties used it often.
· Long shot (LS) : The camera is a considerable distance from the subject being filmed. The whole human figure from head to feet, for instance, is included in the frame with part of the background as well.
· Extreme long shot (ELS) : The camera is very far away from the subject, e.g. in Westerns. Establishing shots.

4. Camera angle: The position of the camera ( in terms of height from the ground in relation to the subject being shot.)
· Low-angle shot : The camera is positioned below the subject, and shoots upwards at it (Ex. Gregg Toland in Citizen Kane).
· Eye-level shot : The camera is located at normal eye level ( five to six feet from ground level ) in relation to the subject.
· High-angle shot : The camera is positioned somewhere above the subject and shoots down at it. In a bird’s eye shot, the camera is placed directly over the subject.
· Dutch or oblique angle : The camera is tilted so that on screen, the horizon appears to be tilted. Often used as a subjective shot to indicate stress, such as when a character is drunk or drugged.
· Side angle : The camera is positioned from 30 to 90 degrees from the front of the subject.

5. Content :
· Two-shot : MS or MLS of 2 characters.
· Three-shot : MS or MLS of 3 characters.

6. Movements :

Moving shot : produced when the camera moves. The first moving shot was probably the one taken by a Lumière cameraman who was shooting from a gondola in a Venice canal (1897) .
· Crane shot : shot taken from a crane or boom (a sort of huge mechanical arm), which carries the camera and cameraman, and can move in virtually any direction, including vertically, forward, backward, transversely, or a combination of those.
· Tracking shot : the camera is mounted on a dolly or truck, and moves on wheels or railroad-like tracks to follow along horizontally the action being filmed.
· Dolly shot : The camera is mounted on a dolly and moves forward (dolly-in) or away from (dolly-out) the subject.
· Pan shot : The view sweeps from left to right or from right to left. Differs from the tracking shot in that the camera is not mounted on a movable object, but stays fixed. It pans on a horizontal axis.( short for ‘panorama’) Flash pan : the movement is very rapid, so that the filmed action on the screen appears as only a blurred movement.
· Tilt : The camera tilts up or down on its axis along a vertical plane.
· Zoom shot : Technically not a moving shot because the camera itself does not move, the zoom is made by the zoom lens, which has variable focal length. The zoom became a popular device in the Sixties. On screen a zoom-in resembles a dolly-in, but its telephoto optics as it moves in on the subject differ from the ‘normal’ look that a dolly shot retains.
· Process shot : See special effects.

Stock shot : A shot ‘borrowed’ from the archives of a studio. Generally, this would be a shot made for another film ( ex : The New York Skyline, the White House, WWII battleships in the Pacific)
Subjective shot : Also called a point-of-view shot : the camera is positioned at an angle, or has something about its content (distortion through the manipulation of focus or lens filters or colour, etc.) to suggest that the shot is seen from the viewpoint of a particular character in the film.
Long take : A shot that lasts a long time (as distinguished from a long shot where ‘long’ refers to camera distance).
Establishing shot, reaction shot : see next section.


Mise-en-scene : In general, concerns everything within a shot as opposed to the arrangement of shots : e.g . camera mvt, set design, props, direction of the actors , composition within the frame, lighting, etc.

- Editing and Sequences
· Cross-cutting : cutting back and forth between shots from 2 or more scenes or spaces. This alternation suggests simultaneity.
· Cut : The most immediate, and common of transitions from shot to shot. It is effected in the laboratory. Simply by splicing one shot onto the other. On screen the appearance of the second shot immediately replaces the first. To cut also means to edit ; in addition, to cut means to stop the camera.
· Editing : The joining together of shots to make a sequence or a film. This also includes the process of matching the soundtrack and the visuals. The European word for editing is montage ; see below.
· Establishing shot, also called master shot : A long shot usually at the beginning of a scene, to establish the spatial relationships of the characters, action, and spaces depicted in subsequent closer shots.
· Insert : A shot of a static object, such as a book, or letter, or clock, or building, inserted during the editing process.
· Jump cut : A break or cut in a shot’s temporal continuity, caused by removing a section of a shot and then splicing together what remains of it . On screen the result is abrupt and jerky ; in certain films it is deliberate. Also, a jump cut is a transition indicating a break in temporal continuity between two adjacent shots. E.g. , a shot of a character opening a car door followed by a shot of him driving the car : we don’t see the character actually getting into the car, starting the engine, beginning to drive.
· Match cut : A transition that involves a direct cut from one shot to another, which ‘ matches’ it in action, subject matter, or actual composition. This kind of transition is commonly used to follow a character as he/she moves or appears to move continuously. Film continuity is often dependent on match cutting.
· Montage : 1) Editing : putting together shots and creating a ‘film reality’.
2) A short , impressionistic sequence used to show either the passage of time or an accumulation of objects or events used descriptively. Also called Vorkapiching ( Citizen Kane : montage of Susan’s opera career).
3) In critical terms, montage is often opposed to mise-en-scene, to refer to the creation of a film reality through piecing together fragments of reality (or shots). Montage is all that happens between shots. A filmmaker who stresses this tendency has a montage style or world view ; a filmmaker who tends not to cut, who favors long takes, open framing etc. is a mise-en-scene director.
· Parallel editing : Same as cross-cutting.
· Reaction shot : A shot showing the reaction of a character to something or someone seen in the previous shot.
· Reverse angle shot : In filming conversations, an alternation or cross-cutting of shots filmed from an over- the- shoulder position of each character in turn is reverse angle shooting. Each shot shows the face of one character and the back of head and shoulder of the other.
· Scene : A portion of the film in which all of the action occurs in the same place (set) and in the same time span. A scene may be composed of a number of shots.
· Sequence : Any section of a film that is self-contained enough to be intelligible when viewed apart from the rest of the film.
· Splice : the point at which two shots are joined by glue or tape.( a splicer)

- Transitions
· Burn in, out : fading from or to white.
· Cut : the most immediate, and common of transitions from shot to shot. On screen, one shot immediately replaces the previous one.
· Dissolve : The end of one shot merges slowly into the next as the second shot becomes distinct, the first slowly disappears.
· Fade-in : Slow brightening of the picture from a black screen, to normal brightness.
· Fade-out : Reverse of the fade-in. The shot gradually darkens to blackness.
· Iris-in : is a shot that opens from darkness in an expanding circle of light ( use of an adjustable diaphragm (iris) in the camera.) Used in silent movies.
· Iris-out : is the opposite, ending a shot with a progressively narrower iris.
· Jump cut : see section above.
· Match cut : Idem.
· Wipe : Transition from one shot to the next, in which the second appears and wipes or pushes off the first, like a windshield wiper.

- Photographic and technical properties of film.
· Aspect ratio : The proportions of the frame. For 16mm film, it is usually 4:3 (the ratio of the width to the height of the image area). For 35mm film, it is 1 :1.85. For wide-screen, the aspect ratio may range from 1.65 : 1 to 2.55 :1. All film gauges are wider than they are high, a factor that affects formal composition within the frame.
· Deep focus : The technique in photography which permits all distance planes to remains clearly in focus, from close-up range to infinity.
· Depth of field : The zone of acceptably sharp focus in depth, determined by the width of the camera lens opening. Shallow depth of field : a very narrow zone of depth is in focus at one time, and everything closer and further from the camera is out of focus.
· Film stock : The ‘raw’, unexposed, chemically treated strip of celluloid that is loaded into the camera for shooting.
· Focus : The degree of acceptable sharpness and clarity in a film image. ‘Out of focus’ : the images are blurred and lack linear definition.
· Footage : Exposed film stock.
· Frame : 1) the boundary of the film image on the screen 2) An individual image on a strip of film.
· Lenses of the movie camera : 1) Wide angle : A lens with short focal length, having a wider than normal field of view. Has the effect of expanding space, and can cause distortion in vertical lines. Wide-angle photography is used extensively in Citizen Kane. 2) Telephoto : A lens with a long focal length, that compresses depth in space, giving the image a flattened effect (opposite effect of wide-angle photography) and also gives narrower than normal field of view. 3) Zoom : Lens making it possible to move toward/away from the subject without moving the camera.
· Optical printer : An elaborate mechanical device used to create special effects in a film print, such as fades-in and fades-out, dissolves, and superimpositions.
· Overexposure : A shot brighter and more contrasted than normal, resulting from too much light having entered the lens and reached the film.
· Projection speeds :A shot records, and the projector projects at different rates ( for silent and sound films. Silent speed : the film goes through the projector at 16 frames per second ; sound speed : 24 frames per second.
· Rack focus : The zone of sharp focus changes from foreground to background or vice versa during a single shot.
· Soft shots : shot in which the image is softened by diffusing the light and reducing the sharpness of the lens.
· Superimposition : The printing of two different shots on the same strip of film. A dissolve contains a brief superimposition.

- Special effects.
· Special effects : shots in which movement is distorted or in which an illusion is created that does not exist in reality.
· Animation : The process of filming anything one frame at a time. Fast-motion : The camera films at a speed lower than 24 frames per second ( for sound film) When the film is projected at normal speed, the action appears to be accelerated.
· Freeze-frame : An optical printer is used to duplicate a single image many times over. When a shot is composed of these duplicated frames, the effect is as if a still photograph were projected. E.g. ? the last shot of Marion in Psycho’s shower sequence.
· Glass shot : A painting or photograph on part of a large sheet of glass is incorporated into a set, so that the camera will film both the painting or photograph and the props or characters visible through the unpainted areas of the glass.
· Matte shot : A way of combining two different kinds of subjects (e.g. , a miniature set and live actors) by exposing the film two or more times, each time using an opaque plate or matte to block out parts of the image desired from exposures. If one of the two different kinds of subjects is a moving subject, the process is called a ‘travelling matte shot’.
Model or miniature shots : Small scale models are filmed in such a way that they appear to be full-scale or larger. E .g., in the 1932 version of King Kong, an 18-inch model was used to create the impression of a 30-foot ape.
· Pixillation : Animation using real people or objects rather than drawings. Movements are jerky and the subject appears to twitch and jump as if ‘pixillated’.
· Process shot or rear projection : A screen is placed on the set and film is projected on it from behind (rear projection). The camera then films both the projected film and any live action occurring in front of it. e.g., Arbogast falling down the stairs in Psycho.
· Reverse motion : Action is seen backward, as if the film were moving through the projector backward. Done by the optical printer.
· Schufftan process : A way of using mirrors to combine full-scale objects and miniatures in the creation of an illusion that the shot is of uniform scale.
· Slow motion : the camera films at a speed higher than 24 frames per second (for sound film). When the film is projected at normal speed, the action appears to be slowed.
· Stop-motion : While filming, the camera is stopped in the middle of a take. The set is then changed in some way (often something is added or taken away) before the filming is resumed. Melies often used this technique to make objects or characters suddenly appear or disappear on the screen.

Other terms.
Exterior : shot out of doors ( it may be simulated in the studio or filmed on location).
Interior : An indoor scene, filmed on a set in a studio.
Lighting : front-lighting, back lighting, side, top, cross lighting. High lighting, flat, high-key lighting, chiaroscuro, low-key lighting .
Voice-over : The voice of a narrator is heard although the character is not visible. If present, but with lips not moving, it’s a conventional device to indicate that it is his thoughts we are hearing on the soundtrack.