Video Master Glossary A – Z


Editing from a single source VCR using a freeze frame as a transition from the source VCR to itself (source “A” to “A”).


Editing from two source VCRs to a third recording VCR. A switcher or mixer is used to provide effects such as dissolves.

ADO (Ampex Digital Optics)

Trade name for digital effects system manufactured by Ampex.

AGC (Automatic Gain Control)

A circuit that automatically adjusts audio or video input levels.


Undesirable video display effects caused by excessive high frequency video information. Three examples are: Jaggies or Stair-stepping – Stepped or jagged edges of angled lines, especially at the slanted edges of letters. Raster scan aliasing – e.g., twinkling or strobing effects on sharp horizontal lines. Temporal aliasing – e.g., rotating wagon wheel spokes apparently reversing direction.



An electrical signal using continuously varying electrical voltages. Analog video that is copied or edited several generations suffers from generation loss and is subject to degradation due to noise and distortion.



An 8-bit, gray-scale representation of an image used to create a mask for keying images.


Simple animation consisting of art work designed to beused as a video tape storyboard. Most commonly used for test commercials.


The process of electronically reducing aliasing, especially letters and genlocked graphic elements.

AM (Amplitude Modulation)

Amplitude modulation is a process used for some radio (AMbroadcast) and television video transmission. A low frequency (program) signal modulates (changes) the amplitude of a high frequency RF carrier signal (causing it to deviate from its nominal base amplitude). The original program signal is recovered (demodulated) at the receiver. This system is extensively used in broadcast radio transmission because it is less prone to signal interference and retains most of the original signal quality. See Frequency Modulation.



The video computer that created the desktop video revolution.


An adjustable opening in a lens which, like the iris in the human eye, controls the amount of light entering a camera. The size of the aperture is controlled by the iris adjustment and is measured in f-stops. A smaller f-stop number corresponds to a larger opening which passes more light. F-stop examples are F2, F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11. F-stops are logarithmic. Each stop admits 100% more light than the previous one.



Ratio of picture height to picture width in video and TV systems. The standard is 3:4.


An edit wherein all existing signals on a tape, if any, arereplaced with new signals. Assembly edits cannot be used for editing because since they erase the control track portion of the video tape. (See also Insert Edit)



Process of assembling an edited video tape on a computerized editing system  using an edit decision list.



Cutaway shots which are used to cover the visual part of an interview or narration. The term is often used in TV news.


The most common broadcast quality video format. Also Betacam SP, the enhanced version.


The obsolete home video format. Lost the format battle to VHS even though it was slightly superior. The cassette size, however, went on to become BETACAM.


A composite color video signal comprised of sync, color burst and black video. Used to synchronize (genlock) other video sources to the same sync and color information. Black burst generators are used in editing systems “lock” the entire facility to a common signal (“house sync” or “house black”).


Voltage in a video signal which corresponds to black.



Also known as the pedestal, it is the voltage level produced at the end of each horizontal picture line which separates the portion of the video signal containing the picture information from the portion containing the synchronizing information. This voltage makes the electron beam “invisible” as it moves to draw the next visible line.

BLANKING INTERVAL (Horizontal & Vertical)

The horizontal blanking interval is the time between the end of one scan line and the beginning of the next. The vertical blanking interval is the time between the end of one video field and the beginning of the next. Blanking occurs when a monitor’s electron beam is positioned to start a new line or a new field. The blanking interval is used to instantly reduce the beam’s amplitude so that the return trace is invisible. The screen goes blank for a fraction of second. (See VERTICAL INTERVAL SWITCHING)


A special effects procedure in which a subject is photographed in front of a uniformly illuminated blue or green background. A new background image can be electronically substituted for the blue or green during the shoot or in postproduction through the use of chroma key to convert analog video to digital form.

BNC connector

A type of professional connector used on some VCRs, cameras and video equipment providing twist-lock capability.


An overhead pole device used to position a microphone close to the actors, but out of the shot. A FISHPOLE is the portable version.


Music or music libraries in which a one-time fee enables the buyer to legally use the music in many productions without paying additional licensing or “needle drop” fees.



Charged Coupled Device. An integrated circuit which captures video images. It has largely replaced tubes in modern video cameras.


CCTV (Closed Circuit TV)

A video system used in commercial internal installations for security, medical and educational.



Close-up shot.


C.G. (Character Generator)

An electronic typewriter that creates titles for video.



Acronym for cable TV, derived from the older term, community antenna television.



The color information in a video signal, consisting of hue (phase angle) and saturation (amplitude) of the color subcarrier signal.



A device used to correct problems related to the chroma of the video signal, as well as color balance and color noise.


Noise which manifests itself in a video picture as colored snow.


The process of overlaying one video signal over another by replacing a range of colors with the second signal. Typically, the first (foreground) picture is photographed with a person or object against a special, single-color background (the key-color). The second picture is inserted in place of the key-color. The most common example is in broadcast weather segments where pictures of weather maps are inserted “behind” the talent.



The color portion of a video signal separate from the luminance component, representing the saturation and tint at a particular point of the image. Black, gray and white have no chrominance, but any colored signal has both chrominance and luminance. The higher the chrominance level, the stronger the color (e.g., a strong signal produces red, and a weak signal, pink). Color saturation level can be changed using a proc amp.


Electronically matting or inserting an image from one camera into the picture produced by another. Also called “keying.” The subject to be inserted is shot against a solid primary color background. Signals from the two sources are merged through a special effects generator.


The color portion of a video signal.


The electronic process of cutting off the peaks of either the white or black excursions of a video signal to limit the signal. Sometimes, clipping is performed prior to modulation, and sometimes to limit the signal, so it does not exceed the limits of the composite video signal (7.5 and 100 IRE units).


A standard cable consisting of a central inner conductor and a cylindrical outer conductor. Used for many video connections, especially the cable TV wire that comes into your home.


Compressor/decompressor. Any technology for compressing and decompressing data. Codecs can be implemented in both software and hardware. Some examples of codecs are: Cinepak, MPEG, and QuickTime to

convert analog video to digital form.


A standard video test pattern which includes samples of primary and secondary colors. Used to conform the colors in video monitors and other equipment.


The portion of a color video signal which contains a short sample of the color subcarrier used to add color to a signal. It is used as a color synchronization signal to establish a reference for the color information following it and is used by a color monitor to decode the color portion of a video signal. The color burst acts as both amplitude and phase reference for color hue and intensity. The color oscillator of a color television receiver is phase locked to the color burst.


A process in which the coloring in a television image is altered or corrected by electronic means. (See CHROMA CORRECTOR)


A device which divides a video signal into its basic color components. In TV and video, color decoding is used to derive signals required by a video monitor from the composite or Y/C signals.


The phase of the chroma signal as compared to the color burst, is one of the factors that determines a video signal’s color balance.



A method for measuring the overall color of a light source, measured in degrees Kelvin (deg.K). Higher numbers indicate bluer light, lower numbers indicate a warmer light. The color temperature of the lighting must match the color temperature of the camera. In video this is accomplished by setting the white balance of the camera. Sunny Daylight is approximately 5500 deg.K. Overcast daylight is higher. Fluorescent Lights are approx. 4100 deg.K. Indoor incandescent lights are 2800 deg.K and professional Movie Lights are 3200 Deg. K



The carrier frequency (3.58 MHz in NTSC and 4.43 MHz in PAL) on which the color information is impressed. Color TV sets use special circuits which decode the color component for accurate display.



A software language for linking computers, VCRs or edit controllers to allow bi-directional “conversation” between the units.



Video signal in which luminance and synch information are recorded separately from the color information. Formats such as Betacam, SVHS and Hi-8 use component signals to achieve maximum quality. Component video comes in several flavors: RGB (red, green, blue), YUV  (luminance, sync, and red/blue) and Y/C (luminance and chrominance). Y/C is also called S-Video used in the S-VHS and Hi-8 formats.



A video signal in which the luminance and chrominance elements have been combined in formats such as VHS.



A signal consisting of horizontal sync pulses, vertical sync pulses and equalizing pulses only.



The process of electronically processing video signals so that it requires less storage on a computer hard drive. A 5:1 compression requires more storage space, but yields better quality than a 10:1 compression. See Main Menu Desktop Video Handbook Part 1.


The degree to which luminance values contain very dark and very light values. A high-contrast picture has more black and white values with fewer values in between. A low contrast picture has more middle tones without very dark or very light areas.


Sony’s editing control protocol, also called LANC (Local Application Control), which allows two-way communication between a camcorder or VCR and an edit controller.



Panasonic 5-pin edit control protocol. Similar to Control-L, but not compatible.



Sony transport control protocol which duplicates a consumer VCR’s infra-red remote transport control. Unlike Control-L, Control-S does not allow the controller to read tape counter information.


Type of video editing that controls the in and out points of edits by counting pulses on a control track portion of the videotape. The pulses are counted by the edit controller to perform fairly accurate editing. Edit controllers which read time code make more accurate edits.



Online editing to create the final edit master. The offline edit master is used as a guide.



Controlling the elements in a shot to insure that edits will flow smoothly and produce a coherent motion picture story without jarring the viewer.



Text that moves horizontally across the screen.



The audio equivalent of the video picture dissolve. The first sound track gradually fades out while the second sound track simultaneously replaces it.



The interference between two audio or two video signals. In audio crosstalk this signal leakage may occur between the left and right channels. It can be caused by poor grounding connections or improperly shielded cables. In video, crosstalk between channels can be luminance/sync crosstalk or chroma crosstalk. Video crosstalk can cause ghost images from one source appear over the other.



A card with the actor’s lines written on it to enable the actor to read or remember his lines.



A shot of something outside the frame which can be used to hide an edit, e.g. during a testimonial.


A background where all corners and intersections are rounded.



Professional digital video formats. The D1 system uses component video. The D2 and D3 systems use composite video. There is no D4 format. Digital formats do not suffer from the generation loss inherent in analog formats.



Digital Video Effects. A shot can bend, twist and fold into various shapes. Before the advent of the VIDEO TOASTER, this was an expensive post-production special effect. Also, the trade name for a video system manufactured by NEC.


D.V.I. (Digital Video Interface)

Multimedia standard for computer generated text and graphicswhich cab be transferred to video.



Director of Photography


DAT (Digital Audio Tape)

An audio recording and playback format developed by Sony, with a signal quality capability surpassing that of the CD.


dB (Decibel)

A logarithmic unit which expresses the ratio between two amounts of electric or acoustic signal power. Used for measuring the strength of audio and video signals.



To separate a composite video signal into its component elements.


When an electronic signal travels through electronic circuitry or long cable runs, delay problems may occur. This causes a displaced image. Special circuits are used to correct the delay.



An electronic circuit which separates the audio and video signals from the RF carrier frequency.



The range of objects in front of a camera lens which are in focus. Smaller f-stops provide greater depth of field, i.e., more of the scene, near to far, will be in focus.



A system whereby a variable analog signal is broken down and encoded into discrete binary bits of ones and zeros. These numbers represent a mathematical model of the original signal. When copied, they do not degrade as an analog signal does. An analog-to-digital (A/D) converter chip takes samples of the signal at a fixed time interval known as sampling frequency. This digital stream is can be recorded onto magnetic media. Upon playback, a digital-to-analog (D/A) converter chip reads the binary data and reconstructs the original analog signal. Theoretically, this process should eliminate generation loss since every copy is an exact duplicate of the original. In reality, digital systems are not perfect and can introduce their own problems in maintaining the original signal. Digital signals are virtually immune to noise, distortion, crosstalk, and other quality problems.


DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norme)

An international connector standard. DIN connectors carry both audio and video signals and are common on equipment in Europe.



A video or film transition where one shot gradually fades out while a second shot fades in.



A device which splits and amplifies an audio and/or video source tape or

signal to several audio/video outputs. Used to duplicate one videotape to any number of VCRs with minimal loss of signal strength.


A compression/expansion (companding) noise reduction system developed by Ray Dolby, widely used in consumer, professional and broadcast audio applications. Signal-to-noise ratio improvement is accomplished by processing a signal before recording and reverse-processing the signal upon playback.



A camera platform on wheels. To dolly is to smoothly bring the camera closer or farther from the subject.



Electronically superimposing text or graphics over a scene (luminance key) or of placing one video image into another (chroma key). The Downstream Key signal must be genlocked to the other signals.



A defect on the videotape which causes a brief flash of a horizontal black line on the screen. Commonly found at the beginning and end of tapes. The quality of videotape is graded by the number of dropouts and priced accordingly.


A type of SMPTE time code designed to exactly match the real time of common clocks. To accomplish this, two frames of time code are dropped every minute, on the minute, except every tenth minute. This corrects for the fact that video frames occur at a rate of 29.97 per second, rather than an exact 30 frames per second (see Non-Drop Frame). This time code system is used in television to insure that broadcast times coincide with real time.



Duplicate copy of a videotape. Also called a dupe.



The timing specification standard for NTSC broadcast video equipment.



The process of combining analog or digital video signals, e.g., red, green and blue, into a composite signal.



A circuit that combines the primary red, green and blue signals into a composite video signal.



Extreme close-up shot.


E.D.L. (Edit Decision List)

A complete list of time code numbers for each shot and sound used in the offline edit master. These time code numbers are used to create the final online edit master.


A wide shot showing much of the location.



Federal Communications Commission. The U.S. Agency which governs radio and television broadcasting.



A video picture that gradually increases or decreases in brightness usually to or from black. Sound can also fade to or from silence.



One-half of a television frame, containing all the odd or even scanning lines of the picture. In NTSC 262.5 horizontal lines at 59.94 Hz. In PAL 312.5 lines at 50 Hz.



After the key light (primary light) is set, a fill light softens the shadows created by the key light.



Projectors, multiplexors and cameras, used to transfer film to video.



A measurement of the magnification of a lens indicated in millimeters. A zoom lens has a variable focal length which allows the camera to film closer or farther from the subject without moving the camera or subject. A 9mm – 100mm lens can makes its widest shot at 9mm, its closest at 100mm.



Personal sound effects, like footsteps, breathing or punches used to heighten realism.



Describes the video equipment and tape used. Popular formats listed in ascending order of cost and quality include VHS, SVHS, and Betacam.



A complete television picture made up of two fields, produced at the rate of 29.97 Hz (color NTSC), or 30 Hz (black & white NTSC).


A digital device designed to store and display a single frame of video as a freeze frame. (See also Still Store.)



Digital device which synchronizes two or more video signals. The frame synchronizer uses one of its inputs as a reference and genlocks the other video signals to the reference’s sync and color burst signals. By delaying the other signals so that each line and field starts at the same time, two or more video images can be blended, wiped and otherwise processed together. (A Time Base Corrector takes this a step further by synchronizing both signals to a stable reference, eliminating time base errors from both sources.)



The technician responsible for placing, rigging and adjusting lights.



Similar to duct tape, but vastly superior. Used extensively in film and video production.


Created when editing or copying one analog videotape to another videotape. Most apparent in less expensive video formats. Theoretically absent from digital video editing.



Device which allows computer text and graphics to be recorded or superimposed on video. Also includes a fader to fade video or computer graphics.



A system whereby the internal sync generator in a device, such as a camera, locks on to and synchronizes itself with a separate incoming signal.



Crew member who carries, sets up and strikes equipment.



Film or video production assistant often sent to “Go for” coffee or other essentials.



One who produces an effective video on a shoestring budget.



Type of light that creates brilliant highlights and sharp shadows.



Trade name of a sophisticated digital effects system by Quantel. Includes Quantel’s Paintbox digital effects generator.


A video format technically similar to SVHS which uses smaller cassettes. The regular 8 video format is a home format which is inferior to Hi-8.



An electronic edit in which the existing control track is not replaced during the editing process. The new segment is inserted onto a prerecorded black video tape. See also Assembly Edit.


A close-up shot used to hide an edit or to emphasize a detail.


The manner in which a television picture is composed scanning alternate lines to produce one field, approximately every 1/60 of a second in NTSC. Two fields comprise one television frame resulting in the NTSC television frame rate of approximately 30 fps.



Same as “that’s a wrap” to indicate that the scene or program which has been completed.



A jarring edit caused by the choice of shots rather than any technical imperfection.



The primary light used to illuminate a subject.



Also called a “hair light.” Placed behind the subject to create a glamorous halo effect on the hair or a rugged-looking highlight on the cheek. Helps separate the subject from the background.



Process of synchronizing a secondary time code generator with a selected master time code, e.g., using the time code generated by one camera to insert the identical time code on a second camera.



Also called “Kine.” A method of making a film copy of a television program in the days before the existence of Video Recorders. A movie camera was aimed at a specially designed television monitor. Before video recorders were invented this was the only means of recording TV programs. Many kinescopes are now over 40 years old and have the potential to outlast videotapes that were created much later.



A small microphone that is clipped to a person’s clothing.



Any place filming occurs except a studio.



A paper listing of the time code addresses of shots, scenes and takes. The log is an efficient way to find shots during editing.



Transferring the sweetened audio track back to the master video tape. See SWEETENING.


LTC (Longitudinal Time Code)

Type of time code recorded on one of the audio channels of video tape.

Requires tape movement to read. (See also VITC.)


The monochrome portion of a video signal.



Device for mixing television signals to a single video recorder.



An edit in which the source and record tapes pick up exactly where they left off. Often used to extend or correct a previous edit. Also called a “frame cut.”



“Mit Out Sound” a slang term for silent shooting actually from the German “mit out sprechen” (without talking).



A video display similar to a TV, but having superior visual quality and without a tuner. An audio monitor is a speaker. N.T.S.C. National Television Standards Committee created this first international television system for use in the U.S. and other countries. It produces pictures by creating 525 alternating lines across the TV screen for each frame of video. Since PAL and SECAM, the other two world systems, were developed later, they took advantage of better technology. Insiders joke that NTSC means “Never The Same Color.”



One billionth of a second. An indication of the precision required in the timing of video signals.



A type of SMPTE time code that continuously counts a full 30 frames per second. As a result, non-drop-fame time code does not exactly match real time. See also DROP FRAME.



The creative editing process which uses copies of the camera tapes on a typically “cuts only” inexpensive editing system. All creative decisions and approvals are made during this process.



The final technical editing process which uses the original camera tapes to repeat all decisions made in the offline editing process. Online editing uses a more sophisticated and expensive editing system capable of transitions like dissolves and wipes.



The magnetic coating on video and audio tapes that stores picture and sound information. Iron oxide is created by combining iron and oxygen. The more primitive form is called rust. P.A.L. Phase Alternation by Line. An international television standard.  (see N.T.S.C.)


P.O.V. Point Of View.

A subjective shot from the actor’s point of view. The 1946 film, “The Lady In The Lake,” holds the dubious distinction of being the only feature film in hich every shot is a point of view shot. The hero is seen only once in a mirror.



Movement of the camera on a horizontal axis. Also an unfavorable review.



A list of edits made entirely on paper by viewing Window Dub copies of the original camera tapes.



The complete editing process.



Processing amplifier that changes the video chroma and luminance signals feed through it. Also provides stable horizontal and vertical synch pulses.



The vital phase of production in which the script, budget, locations, actors and props are planned.



5 to 7 seconds of camera running time before a shot can be used. In editing, this refers to a similar amount of automatic backspacing the edit decks perform to insure a stable edit.



The actual filming and creation of the raw elements as required by the script.



event that the master is lost or damaged.



Trade name of a computer graphics system manufactured by Quantel. Used to create two-dimensional graphics, transform objects and change colors. The computer graphics generator for Quantel’s Harry system.



Red, green & blue, the primary color components of the additive color system used in color television.



A shot of a person reacting to dialogue or action.



Credit rolls consist of video text moving vertically up or down the screen, usually from bottom to top.


The area of a TV picture tube that is scanned by the electron beam. Also the active area of visual display on a TV, monitor or any cathode ray tube (CRT).


Automatic updating of an Edit Decision List after making a change to the list. “Ripple the list.”



Super VHS. A video format developed by JVC which has largely replaced the 3/4 inch format for low budget productions.


Electronic or physical markings on camera viewfinders and video monitors as the area that will be visible on most TV screens. Defined as 90% of the screen area measured from the center.


The area on a monitor defined as 80% of the screen area measured from the center. Keeping the title within this area insures that the complete title will be visible on ALL TV sets.


Also called a demo reel or tape. Contains samples of a person’s or company’s best video work for the purposes of marketing. SECAM (Systeme Electronique Pour Colour Avec Memorie). The color television system developed in France. Used there and in most of the former communist-block countries and a few other areas including parts of Africa.


A highly directional microphone that may be hand-held or mounted on a boom.


A board on which script information, such as scene and shot numbers, is written. The slate is then filmed at the beginning of each shot to make the editor’s job easier.



Light which is diffused and creates very soft shadows.



Device which stores individual video frames, either in analog or digital form, allowing extremely fast access time.


A series of drawings to indicate different shots to be filmed. Used extensively in big-budget commercials and feature films.


Audio postproduction where audio is corrected and enhanced. Music, narration and sound effects are mixed with original sound elements.


Device with a series of video inputs that permits one or moreselected inputs to be combined, manipulated and sent out on the program line or edit VCR.


A device to correct timing errors which can cause unstable edits. These errors are caused by the slight mechanical defects inherent in the playback of video tape machines. Essential for online editing and duplication. This device can “clean up” a consumer VHS video so that it meets F.C.C. “broadcast quality” standards.


An individual shot. When time and budgets permit, many takes may be filmed of the same shot.



The intended viewers. Successful business videos must define and address this audience.



Movement of the camera on its vertical axis.


A system of numbering each frame of video with a unique address divided into hours, minutes, seconds and frames. There are 30 video still frames per second. See also DROP FRAME, NON-DROP FRAME, VITC, LTC.



Device for transferring motion picture film to video tape.



A camera move which films the subject from side to side.


SMPTE standard for 1-inch non-segmented helical video recording format.


Trade name for the 3/4 inch video format developed by Sony. ¾ SP is an enhanced version. Formerly the standard for broadcast-quality, still used at many cable TV stations.


Trade name of a high-quality special effects system similar to a chroma key switcher. Electronic version of the blue screen technique used for motion picture special effects.


Special video monitor that can reduce the size of the video image so the four outer frame edges can be viewed in their entirety.



Portions of VITC and LTC (time code) reserved for recording information of the user’s choosing, e.g., date, scene numbers.


Video Cassette Recorder.


Video Home System. The most popular consumer video format used in the majority of home VCRs.

V.I.T.C. (Vertical Interval Time Code pronounced vitSEE) This type of time code is recorded in the vertical blanking interval above the active picture area. Can be read from video tape in the “still mode.” See also LTC (Longitudinal Time Code).


Video Tape Recorder.


An oscilloscope designed to monitor and tweak the color portion


Indicates the vertical blanking period between each video field. Contains additional scan lines above the active picture area into which non-picture information (captioning, copy protection and other control signals) may be embedded.



Synchronizing pulses used to define the end of one television field and the start of the next, occurring at a rate of approximately 59.94 Hz.



Software/hardware developed by NewTek for the Amiga Computer. Made special effects affordable for the low budget producer.


A video photographer who specializes in events like weddings.


Oscilloscope designed for monitoring and adjusting luminance and all other parts of the composite video signal. See also vectorscope.


A color camera function which determines how much red, green and blue is required to produce a normal-looking white. Shots made with improper white balance will have an abnormal color tint.


Sound recorded after the visuals and edited into the master to enhance realism.


Also called a “burn in.” A copy of the original camera tape with time code numbers visually displayed. A window dub that is made in the VHS format can be viewed, logged and edited on paper with a home VCR to save editing expenses.



A visual transition between shots in which the first shot is replaced with the next via a moving pattern.



A video signal in which the luminance (“Y”) and the chrominance (“C”) are separate and travel over 2 wires instead of one. In composite video, the luminance and chrominance are combined into one signal.



To vary the focal length from one size to another. Professionals most often use the zoom to set rather to make a shot.



One who indulges in the gratification of zooming in and out to the torment of viewers. Common in home movies.

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