Monday, September 04, 2006

Getting Our Terms Straight

Filmmaking - Definitions

I just spent a day with a guy teaching a new digital
video program. He uses a lot of "new" terms, which
to me are just the "old" terms, used incorrectly.

Somebody has to say something, and today it's me.
Here's a list of filmmaking terms, and their
proper definitions. Learn 'em.

Thank you.



  1. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I'm curious. What are some examples of some "new" terms that this young fella used incorrectly? I can relate to what you're saying. I hate the word "Blog", but here we are. A blog is something I like to call an "online journal". Times change and terms become corrupted.

  2. Yes, like "random" now has at least 7 new, incorrect meanings.

    People say "random" when they mean "funny," or "astonishing," or they just can't think of the right word, apparently.

    Video Editor guy boasted he has "mad edit skills," when, to be charitable, he's only "mediocre at Photoshop or After Effects image manipulation."

    As cool as "visual effects" (like "wire removal" or "compositing" or "traveling-matte cinematography") are, they're distinct from "Editing."

    "Editing" a movie is choosing the length and duration of its shots, as well as their sequential order.

    Film Editing is an art, which can't be done without learning and practice.

    You don't get Feature Film Editing chops by making music videos. Different skills.

    You can always spot a doomed Indy movie. Its (first time) Director insists on being the (first time) Editor too.

    Luckily, Distributors weed out most doomed Indy movies, just by a look at those particular credits.

    (Seriously. Talk with a Distributor sometime.)

    We weren't taught Editing there, anyway. Just "how to use sparkly digital 'transitions' between sequences." Yuck.

    Feature Movies only use "straight cuts," or occasionally, a "dissolve."

    Digital transitions at each cut, look stupid, and distract from the storytelling.

    In Editing, "dissolves" are only done when you can't find good footage to cut to.

    "If you can't solve it, dissolve it." -- Old Editing saying.

    There are many dumb new meanings for terms that have been around for a century. Software writers give new names to established procedures. Dumb.

    A "flop," as in "to flop an image," replacing it laterally, left-for-right, was a "mirror" when they first brought out Adobe Premiere. Due to Editors' outcry, it's now a "Flop." Yay! They fixed it.

    "Kinestasis," which dates from the 1920's, is now a "Ken Burns shot," because Ken did lots of 'em, in his Civil War documentary, to make footage from stills. Literally, a "moving picture."

    Happy Editing!