Dictionary of Film Terms



Dictionary of Film Terms

ACTION ! Director’s signal for " begin the scene.” Also, “ movement ” in a Film.

ACTION STILL. A photograph of an action scene from a picture.

ADAPTATION. The alteration or adaptation of a book, play or story for screen purposes.

ADDITIONAL DIALOGUE. Extra screen dialogue.

AKLEY. A special film camera.

ANGLE. The scene from the camera’s point of view—i.e., camera-angle.

ARC or ARCS. Powerful carbon lights.


assists the cameraman.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. One who assists the director.


ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR. J men responsible for the settings.

ART STILL. Specially posed photograph of player or star.

“ BABY.” A small lamp used mostly for lighting a particular part of the face.

BACK LIGHTING. Special cameraman’s effect lighting.

BACK PROJECTION. Trick shot showing actors in front of a non-existent scene—e.g., sea, fire, rail, etc.

BASIN OF GEORGE. A cup of tea.

BELL (BUZZER). Bell sounded simultaneously with the lighting of a red light outside the stage to stop noise during the filming of a scene.

BELLY LAUGH. A big laugh caused by a funny scene.

В. & H. \ Bell and Howell Cinemato

BELL. J graphic Camera.

“ BLIMP.” Sound-proof box in which the camera-head is placed so that the working of the mechanism shall not be picked up by the microphone.

BOOM. A long stand and arm on which the microphone is suspended.

BOOTH. Small sound-proof box for the Sound Recorder. (See Mixer.)

BROAD. A special type of light used for camera work and lighting.

CAMERA BOX. Box containing lens, spare parts, diffusion discs, etc.

CAMERA JAM. Film entangled accidentally in the camera box.

CAMERA LEGS. The tripod or legs of a camera.

CAMERAMAN. The lighting and photographing expert.

CAST. Characters in a film.


selects the artistes for the picture and arranges the cast. His decisions however, have to be approved finally by the director or producer.

CHIPS. Carpenter.

CIRCLE IT ! " The scene is no


CLAPPERS. Two pieces of wood clapped together at the opening or close of a scene to synchronize the sound and action. (See Synchronization.)

CLIMAX. Big dramatic moment in film.

CLOSE UP. Close view of an artist on the screen.

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and Santa Fe.


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The above map shows the principal streets in the town of Hollywood and its suburb, Beverly Hills. The location of the principal studios and pleasure resorts is shown. For easier reference, especially in the crowded central district, numerals or letters have been used to indicate

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Plate 59

the various places. The numerals refer to film studios and a key is given at the top corner of plate 58. The letters refer to pleasure resorts and a key is given at the foot of plate 59. The positions of the more outlying studios are indicated on the map itself.


Plate 6o

I’alm-lincd Beverly Drive leads from Hollywood to fashionable Beverly Hills.

Dictionary of Film Terms

COMIC. A funny man.

CONTINUITY. The succession of scenes; the theme running through a picture; the actual writing of a screen play in terms of motion pictures.

CONTINUITY GIRL. British term for script clerk, who watches the action.


writes the continuity. (See Continuity.)

CRANE SHOT. Shot taken by camera placed on a specially constructed crane for moving and trick shots.

CREDIT TITLES. The names on the screen of the technicians responsible for the scenario, sound, art direction, etc.

CAMERA HOG. (See Lens Lizard.)

CROWD ARTIST. One who works in the crowds, an extra or super.

CUT ! Director’s command to stop the scene ; the camera and sound motors are “ cut ” and the scene stops.

CUTTER. A film editor.

CUTTER’S THEATRE. A small projection theatre in which the film editor sees the film he is cutting.

DARK ROOM. The room in which the film is loaded into the camera magazine cases.

DEBRIE. A special make of camera.

DECOR CHIEF. One who is responsible for the “ grooming ” of players.

DEVRIE. A special make of film camera.

with the superimposition of another scene which finally takes the place of the original scene.

DOLLEY. A small cart on which camera can follow or move about the set.

DOLLEY SHOT. A moving camera shot.

DOUBLE. One who is employed to take the place of an important player for fight scenes, long shots, or dangerous scenes.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE. Superimposition of one picture on another.

DUBBING. The sound is often “ dubbed ” in after the completion of several scenes—i.e., added later.

DUMB PAN. A dull or expressionless face.

DUNNING PROCESS. A process used in studios to produce the effect of a natural background, in much the same way as “ back projection.”

DUNNING BLUE. A special colour blue used for the special Dunning Background. (See above, Dunning,)

DUPONT. A special make of film stock.

EASTMAN. Special make of film.

EXEC. A film producer or executive of importance.

EXHIBITOR. One who exhibits films. Cinema owner or manager.

EPISODIC. Too choppy—bad continuity.

EXTERIORS. Scenes shot out of doors ; also outdoor scenes built in the studio.

DIALOGICIAN. A film dialogue EXTRA. A crowd player or super.

writer. EYEMO. A hand camera (full size

DIFFUSER. A special disc for soften- film).

ing lighting. FADE IN. \ The gradual fading in

DIFFUSER. A glass or silk frame FADE OUT. / or out of the picture ;

used on lamps to soften the lighting. the screen darkens or lightens. DIFFUSION DISC. A disc placed FAN. Film enthusiast.

over camera lens to soften the FEATURE PLAYER. Artiste either photography. supporting a star or sharing the

DIRECTOR. Executive chiefly honours with other artistes. (See responsible for the making of a Star.)

“FEED.” The second comic; or to DISSOLVE. The fade out of a scene “ feed ” a line to a comic.

Dictionary of Film Terms

FILM EDITOR. One who edits or cuts the film.

FILTER. Special glass discs placed in front of camera lens for special effects.

FILTER (COLOURED). A coloured glass used for special photographic effect—i.e., "cloud filter/’ etc.

FLASH ’EM. “ Put the lights on ! "

FLOOR (THE). Studio where picture is being filmed.

FLOP. A failure.

FOYER. The vestibule of a film theatre.

FREE LANCE. An artiste free from contracts.

FUNNY (TKE). The comedian.

GADGET BOX. A box containing properties for the camera, rags and odds and ends.

GAG. Comedy situation in a film.

GAGMAN. One who invents gags.

GATE. All movie cameras have a “ gate ” behind the lens. The film passes through the gate and is thus exposed.

GAUZE. Used for soft effects in front of camera lens; used for special photographic effects.

“ GET-OVER.” To register satisfactorily.

GOBO. (See Nigger.)

GRIPPS. Labourers who move heavy objects in the studio.

HALATION. The glare of light on a film, especially on glaring white clothes and bright metals.

HAM (A). An actor.

HEAVY (THE). The villain.

HIGH SPOT. Big dramatic or comic moment in a film; a climax.

INDIE. An independent picture or producer. ч

INKIE. A lamp used in studios.

IRIS IN 1 Gradual fading or

IRIS OUT. J illuminating of a scene on the screen through a widening or decreasing circle.

JAKE ! O.K. All right !

JUMP-CUT. A trick idea used by film editors when cutting the films.

“ KICK ’EM.” .

the fights.




off the fights.



LAMPS. Studio


LENS. Of a camera ; there are several sizes that go in front of the camera to focus distances.

LENS LIZARD. Artiste who continually tries to get his face before the camera.

LIGHT ’EM UP I Command to Hglit the studio lamps.

LIGHTS. The special fighting used in a studio.

MAC GOO PIE. A custard pie used in slapstick homedies.

MACK SENNETT. Something very broadly funny, gags, etc.

MAKE-UP. (a) Disguise for players to alter their appearance, (b) Application of preparations to the faces for better filming purposes.

MAKE-UP MAN. One who is in charge of make-up.

MAGAZINE CASE. Boxes containing film in magazines.

MAGAZINES. Film containers of a camera.

MASK OFF. Camera term to black off part of the screen for an effect.

MEG iTO). To direct.


MIKE. A microphone.

MITCHELL. A motion picture camera.

MIXER. Man who controls the volume of voice and sound—sound lecordist.

Dictionary of Film Terms

MODEL снпт 1 Shots of build-

MINIATURE ings, boats,

etc., made to scale on a small size.

MONTAGE. A word used to denote quick cutting climaxing in a mood or effect.

MOVIOLA. A little machine used by the film editor to see and hear the picture.

NIGGER. A camera board or screen used by the cameramen to mask off the glare from the lights. (See also Gobo.)

NUMBER BOARD. A board held in front of camera before scene starts. It helps the film editor to recognise the sequence when cutting. Reads, for example : " Married

Life.” Director : A. Smith. Scene 75. Camera : L. Brown. Date :

N. G. Marked on the back of the number board and held up to the camera if the scene is ” no good.”

O. K. for SOUND. " The scene was all right for recording—no sound flaws.”

O.K. All right—good ! All correct#

OVERHEAD RAILS. Enable smooth movement of camera and other objects over a fair distance; also used to transport heavy scenery.

PAINTER. One who paints the sets or'scenery.

PAN. To move camera head to follow someone, or move camera head up and down—camera itself remaining stationary.

PAN CAMERA. " Take a moving shot.”

PAN STOCK. Special Panchromatic Film Stock.


PANNING. A bad criticism.

POVERTY ROW PICTURE. A cheap picture ; a quickly made production

PIC. Film; picture.

PLASTERER. A man who works the plaster on the sets.

PLATES. The film used for photographs.

PLAY BACK (A). A wax record of the dialogue ” played back ” at the end of the scene.

PRE-RELEASE. A special showing before a general release.

PRE-VIEW. When a picture is “ tried out ” at a theatre to see how the audience likes it.


control of a company’s film-producing activities.


manager of one production.

PROJECTION BOX. The small room in a cinema where machines are situated that “ project ” the film on to the screen.

PROJECTIONIST. A man who works the projecting machines.

PROJECTION THEATRE. A small theatre where a picture is shown at the studios.

PROPS. Articles used in scenes, such as telephones, books, walking-sticks, etc.

PROP SMILE. False smile.

PROP MAN. Man in charge of props

PUBLICITY. The advertising of a star or a picture ; an organized plan to interest the public.

PUBLICITY MAN. One who organizes publicity.

QUICKIE. A cheap and hurriedly-made production.

RELEASE. The release of a picture ; the date when the film is shown in cinemas all over a country.

RUSHES. Work quickly developed and printed for the director’s inspection.

“ SAVE ’EM.” Command to turn out the lights. (See also Kill ’Em.)

SCENARIO EDITOR. One in charge of the scenario department.

SCENARIO. The actual film story complete and written in sequences suitable for filming.

Dictionary of Film Terms

SCENARIST. One who writes the scenario.

SET. Scene where action takes place —i.e., where the film is shot.

SCHUFTEN PROCESS. Special process for shooting trick or special scenes.

SCREEN CREDIT. (See Credit Titles.)

SCRIPT. A scenario.

SEQUENCE. An episode in the scenario.

SHOE STRING. Cheap outfit and cheap production.

SLAP STICK. Very broad comedy.

SLAVE DRIVER. An assistant director.

SOUP. The film developing mixture.

SPOOL. A reel on which film is wound.

STAND IN. One who closely resembles the star, used as a substitute for lighting and focusing.

STAR. Player whose name is given greater prominence than the title of the film and is considered a greater box-office draw than either the story or the direction. Many leading feature players are popularly referred to as stars when in fact they are not; typical examples are Clive Brook, Ricardo Cortez, and Irene Dunne. In publicity their names are not at the top of the cast, but either just below the title of the film or in smaller letters.

STATIC. A scene is static if it lacks movement.

STILL MAN. Photographer responsible for portraits, stills, etc.

STILLS. Photographs.

STILL CAMERA. Camera for taking stills.

SUB TITLE. A title occurring in the course of the story or film.

STUDIO. Place where films are made.

STUDIO MANAGER. One who is in

charge of studio floor and personnel.

SUPER. A giant production. Also an artiste playing a crowd part.

SUSPENSE. Dramatic incidents leading to a climax.


registering of sound and picture-talk with action, etc.

SYNOPSIS. Brief outline of a story.

TAKE IT BIG. To re-act to a scene in a very marked manner.

TECHNICAL ADVISER One who advises a film company on technical data—i.e., for a Naval Picture, a captain of the R.N.

TEMPO. The timing and mood of a film. •

TEST. The brief film made of artistes to test their suitability for a part.

TRACK. ) Camera moving along, up

TROLLY. I to or away from an

TRUCK. J object.

TRADE SHOW. A special performance of a film given for members of the Trade, Cinema Owners, Renters, Exhibitors, etc.

TRANSPARENCY. A special trick effect. (See Back Projection.)

TREATMENT. A condensed version of a film story written as if treated for the screen.

TURN ’EM OVER. The command to start the motors running the sound and camera.

UFA ANGLE. A weird angle or shot.

UP TO SPEED. The time when the camera and sound mechanism is ready for filming and moving at the right speed.

WAM ! Expression used in scripts when an object hits something. (See Zowie, Crash, Boom, etc.)

WAND-SHOT. A bar or “ wand ” passes across the screen, allowing another picture to appear. Also called “Sliding Parallel” “Wiper Dissolve.”

WAX RECORD. A record on which voices are recorded.

WIPER DISSOLVE. (See Wand-Shot).

ZOOM UP. When camera moves up quickly to an object.

ZOWIE. An expression of great force (See Warn !).

The world film encyclopedia, 1933

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