Basic film terms
Created by Kate Hallford
Writing it down
• After coming up with an idea for a movie, the next step
is to create a film treatment.
– A film treatment is a piece of prose, and is the step before
writing the first full length draft.
– They include details of directorial style, key events, and
characters- they read like a short story.
– Generally long and detailed.
• Anywhere from 30-80 pages in length-
– 12pt Courier New font
– The Terminator was 44 pages
• A written breakdown of
a movie story into its
individual shots, often
instructions. Used by the
director and his or her
staff during the
"FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF"
16 INT. BEDROOM
He walks across the room to his dresser. He opens his
underwear drawer. There's an old model of a submarine on
the top of the dresser. He picks it up.
In eighth grade a friend
of mine made a bong out
Of one of these. The smoke
tasted like glue.
He pulls out a pair of underwear. He gets dressed as he
• A previsualization technique in
which shots are sketched in
advance and in sequence, similar
to a comic strip.
• This allows the filmmaker to
outline the scene and construct
continuity before production
Sequence: A series of related scenes or
shots, as those taking place in one locale
or at one time, that make up one episode
of the film narrative.
Shot: A shot is the film exposed from the
time the camera is started to the time it is
stopped. (To film a scene)
Various kinds of film shots
• Establishing Shot: A shot offered at the
beginning of a scene indicating where the
remainder of the scene takes place.
– For example, an exterior shot of a large
building on a rainy night, followed by an
interior shot of a couple talking, implies that
the conversation is taking place inside that
Basic Film Shots
• Long shot long shot shows the entire object or
human figure and is usually intended to place it
in some relation to its surroundings
• Medium Shot: shot from a medium distance,
revealing the subject from the knees or waist
• Close up: A shot that tightly frames a person or
object. Most commonly used to frame actors
• Low angle shot: shot from a camera
positioned low on the vertical axis, often
at knee height, looking up.
– sometimes used in scenes of confrontation to
illustrate which character holds the higher
position of power
• High angle shot: is when the camera is
located high (often above head height)
and the shot is angled downward
– It is used to make the character look small
and also indicate that the character is weak
– if the shot represents a character's point of
view the shot can also be used to make the
character tall, more powerful or threatening.
Bird’s eye view shot
• The camera is placed overhead or
directly above the object or scene.
– Characters and objects are made to look
small and vulnerable. A character or object
could be followed at a different speed or
• Point of view shot: a short scene in a film that
shows what a character is looking at.
• A shot where both the foreground and
background are in focus.
• Overexposed shots: Too much light
enters the aperture of a camera lens,
causing the bleaching out the image.
– Useful for fantasy or nightmare scenes.
• Not enough light enters the aperture of a
camera lens, causing darkening of an
• The blurring of focal planes in sequence
forcing the viewers eyes to travel with
those areas of an image that remain in
• A camera movement with the camera
body turning to the right or left.
– Short for panorama
• A camera movement with the camera
body swiveling upward or downward on
a stationary support.
• An extremely fast movement of the
camera from side to side, which briefly
causes the image to blur into a set of
indistinct horizontal streaks
Zoom elements that
•The zoom shot uses a lens with several
allows the filmmaker to change the focal length of the lens
while the shot is in progress.
•We seem to move toward or away from the subject, while
the quality of the image changes from that of a shorter to a
longer lens, or vice versa.
The value of sound.
• Synchronous sound:
– Sound that is matched temporally with the
movements occurring in the images, as when
dialogue corresponds to lip movements.
• Sound and image match together.
– The norm for Hollywood films is to
synchronize sound and image at the moment
• Non-synchronous sound:
– Sound whose source is not apparent in a film
scene or sound that is detached from its
source in the scene
• commonly called off-screen sound.
• A type of film music that is
purely descriptive and
attempts to mimic the visual
action with musical
– Music that blatantly matches
– Often used in cartoons
• Steamboat Willie was, however,
the first sound cartoon to achieve
• When a voice, often that of a character in
the film, is heard while we see an image
of a space and time in which that
character is not actually speaking.
– Often used to convey the speakers thoughts
From the editors perspective:
• Cutting to Continuity:
– Editing in which shots are arranged to
preserve fluidity of an action with out
showing all of it.
• Fade in/Fade out:
– Fade out is the snuffing of normal brightness
to a black screen. Fade in is the opposite.
• A transition between two shots during
which the first image gradually
disappears while the second image
• Dissolves can be used as a fairly straight forward
editing device to link any two scenes, or in more
creative ways, for instance to suggest
• When one picture is placed on top of
another on a film strip.
• An abrupt transition between shots,
sometimes deliberate, which is
disorienting in terms of the continuity of
space and time.
• A transition between shots in which a line
passes across the screen, eliminating the
first shot as it goes and replacing it with
the next one
• A masking device that blacks out potions
of the screen, permitting only a part of
the image to be seen.
– Usually in the iris is circular or oval in shape
and can be expanded or contracted.
• A shot composed of a single frame that is
reprinted a number of times on the
filmstrip, when projected, it gives the
illusion of a still photograph.