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Join Me for Free Hollywood Event On November 2, I'll be on the panel to discuss "Finding Your Place in Hollywood in an Ever-Changing Industry"

Movie Construction Kit template Outline template for making a movie

Male First Names for Writers Sample list of male character first names

WriteRoom for Microsoft Word Writing tool for Word users

What is Vodcasting? Explanation of vodcasting technology

Faking a Painted Masterpiece Create a faux prop painting

Video Podcasting or Vodcasting Introductory Tutorial

Last Names for Writers Sample list of character last names

Generate Date-Time for Podcast, Vodcast, or RSS Feed

Making a Prop Sword Look Real to the Camera

Screenwriter Jumpstart poster

Character traits for Writers

Documentaries for Art Directors / Production Designers

Interview with screenwriter Jack Sekowski Also includes free download of a produced script

Dan's Top 10 Tips for Short Film Makers

Free Script Templates

Film glossary of common terms

My Living Memory free short script

Production Tips and Techniques

Frame ratio template

Location Scouting template

No-cost teleprompter

Depth of Field spreadsheet


. Film > Tips and Techniques

"12 by, 10 by, 8 by, 20 by"

"Specifies the size of diffusion material to fit a frame such as 12' x 12', 10' x 10', 8' x 8', or 20' x 20'."

180 degree line

An imaginary line that intersects the actors that is used to make sure shots match in editing

3:2 Pulldown

Process of conversion from 24 frames per second to 30 fps.


Standard motion picture film type. Generally a 35mm negative is cropped to a ratio of 1.85.


Type of Kodak Vision film


Type of Kodak Vision film


Type of Kodak Vision film


"Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR), also known as looping or dubbing, records dialogue in a studio to match the footage shot during principal photography."


"The American Film Institute is a popular string of schools, the most famous of which is located in Los Angeles."


Special set of shoot and projecting lenses that create an extra wide picture (2.35 ratio).

Antihalation backing

Dye used on the back of most films to absorb extra light that passes through the emulsion. Prevents light from reflecting back into the camera.


The iris of the lens through which the light passes to expose the film. Aperture settings are denoted in T-stop and F-stop settings. Greater the stop number (i.e. f/22) the smaller the aperture.


An apple box is a sturdy wooden box that is used for everything from keeping cables off the ground to giving an actor a heightened place to stand.

Art Dog

Generally used as an affectionate term for someone in the Art Department.


Film light sensitivity specification that is the same as ISO

Aspect ratio

The ratio of width to height for a shooting or display format.


A type of 1K light fixture that uses a Fresnel lens.

Baby stud

An adapter that provides a 5/8 inch stud to which a light can be mounted.


A ballast is the power supply for an HMI light.There are two primary types of ballast: electronic and magnetic.

Barn doors

Metal doors attached to the face of a light that allow control of the light throw pattern.

Baseball bat

A long and narrow flag.

Beaver board

A wall plate attached to a pancake apple box.


Black metal sheets similar in feel to very thick aluminum foil. Blackwrap can be placed on surfaces that will be hot (such as light housings) and will prevent light leaks.

Bleach bypass

"A technique during development of the film negative that creates a blacker, desaturated final image. Known under a variety of names including silver retention, skip-bleach, CCE, skip bleach, NEC, and ENR."


A type of Tungsten light rated at 2000w


A flag that is positioned to cut off the bottom cast of a light.

Break-away glass

A type of fake glass that is made to shatter without injury to a person or property.


A clothes pin


"A standard clothespin. Typically used by electricians to attach a gel to the front of a light. Also called a C47, CP47, or a bullet."

Candy glass

"Also known as break-away glass, made to be broken safely on skin"


"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"


"Computer Graphic Imagery defines any type of computer-enhanced scene, but is most commonly used to describe 3D graphics footage."


"Arranging objects in a frame so it enhances the composition of the shot, despite the fact that may not be in real life. "

Chicken coop

Overhead soft light for top lighting that usually includes 6 100w globes (bulbs).


An attachment to the front of a light that makes the light soft and warm. Essentially a more flexible and more expensive version of a soft box.

Chroma Blue

Chroma Blue is the specific bright color of blue that is used in blue screen or compositing applications. Chroma Green is the green used for green screen applications.

Color timing

Process of setting and locking in the colors as they will appear on the final film print.


The act of combining two or more pieces of footage into a single run of footage. Most commonly used to combine actors and objects shot against a blue or green screen with other background footage or CGI images.

Courtesy flag

"Flag placed to block the wind or the sun, generally provided for the camera crew."


A clothes pin


Specifies the crab-like movement setting on a camera dolly


Short lengths of 2 x 4 that are kept on the taco cart and used with wedges to level various things such as dolly track.


Color Temperature Blue (CTB) is a particular type of gel that is used to modify the color of light toward the blue range.


Color Temperature Orange (CTO) is a particular type of gel that is used to modify the color of light toward the orange range.


Process of editing a scene so that the various runs of footage fit together properly to tell a visual story.

Dance floor

"Piece of smooth wood, generally plywood, used to allow a dolly with wheels to steadily move over the surface."


Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is the most common format used for recording audio for a film.


A wheeled vehicle that holds the camera to allow for moving shots. There are numerous types of dollies from simple platforms (doorway dollies) to advanced motorized dollies with camera mount arms and hydraulic lifts.

Doorway dolly

Simple type of dolly that is essentially just a platform with wheels. A tripod or other camera mount can be placed on top of the doorway dolly for shooting.

Dulling spray

Spray used to dull reflective surfaces to avoid highlight flares or reflection of the camera crew into the lens.

Dutch angle

"Tilting the camera so that the horizon is not a level horizontal line, but instead a sloped diagonal. Generally used to give the viewer a sense of unease."


"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"


The direction an actor is looking in relation to the camera. Usually record in the script supervisor's notes to make certain eye contact is maintained during reversal shots in a dialogue sequence.


Small camera that provides a special P.O.V. such as that of a small animals or machine.


Used to refer to the J.L. Fischer brand of dolly

Flat makeup

Makeup that is used to make the actor or actress appear normal in the footage.


"A type of 4' x 4' flag that has an extra flap of 4' x 4' black material attached to it by Velcro. When the flap is extend, a flag 4' x 8' is created."


A type of lens that magnifies the light beam. A Fresnel light allows the bulb to be moved back and forth in relation to the lens so that the light throw will vary between flood (near the lens) and spot (distant from the lens).

Full apple

Full size apple box

Furni blanket

"Furniture blanket or pad is used to cover items for moving, to prevent damage, or to dampen noise (such as placement over the camera). Also used as a makeshift pad if an actor needs to fall to the ground."


Plugs into a single female power outlet and provides multiple female outlets. Used like a traditional power strip except generally built more ruggedly and designed to handle larger power loads.

Gary Coleman stand

The smallest size of C-stand.


A piece of translucent plastic that is generally placed over a light source to change the color of the light. Most commonly CTB and CTO gels are used.


Short for generator.


Most common way on a set to refer to a light bulb.

Golden hour

Hour near dusk where the light is perfect for shooting soft beautiful footage.


Make illegible. The Art Department generally has to greek labels of products such as beer to avoid any legal difficulties of that product being used in the movie.

Grip Clip

"Steel spring clip that comes in three basic sizes: 1, 2, and 3."

Half apple

Half size apple box


Brand name of popular DAT tape for on-set sound recording.


Camera mount that is a piece of plywood with a mount for a camera head on top. Used when the camera needs to be placed in an odd location such as ratchet strapping it to the top of a ladder.


Type of light that provides very bright daylight temperature source for relatively low power.

Hollywood it

"Also known as 'floating it', to have someone hold something in place rather than securing it on a C-Stand or light stand."


Small amount of footage such as a hand placing a wallet into a pocket that provides either additional information to the scene or exists as a cut-away from the main action.


"Exposure value for a particular type of film stock. The higher the ISO number, the faster (the less light required) the film."

Kodak Vision film

The Kodak Vision film line is the staple of the motion picture industry in the United States. Vision 500T is the most popular type of film for indoor shooting.


"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"

Lens flare

An optical artifact when a light source shines directly into the lens of a camera. Reflections occur on the individual pieces of glass in the lens to create small circles.


A flag that operates with much the same purpose as a matte box -- to shield the optics of the camera from a light source.


Type of clamp that looks like two right angles. Mafer clamps are excellent for holding poles such as speedrail.

Martini shot

The last shot of the day.


A light fixture that holds a grid array of bulbs in a 3 x 3 configuration for a total of 9 par lights. Also know as a 9-light. Each par globe can be turned on and off separately.

Meat axe

Rectangular type of flag.


A type of Tungsten light rated at 200w


Specifies a scene will be shot without sound. Generally held to have originated from German filmmakers who said 'mit out sound'.


"Reflective material most often seen in party balloons. Available at party stores or on the Internet, Mylar is generally available on rolls. Used on film set as a reflector."


Type of analog sound recording equipment that was generally the standard method of recording pre-DAT.


Neutral Density is a type of gel or filter that decreases the light level while not affecting the color temperature. ND filters are commonly used on exterior shoots on bright days.


"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"


Plastic diffusion material that softens the light. Often mounted on a 4' x 4' frame.


Smallest type of apple box


Production assistant. The PA is the lowest position on a set and usually acts as a gofer for everything from food to supplies.


The term PAR refers to a specific type of light bulb (parabolic reflector bulb) where the reflector is sealed into the bulb such as a household flood bulb.


Pepper is a brand name of lighting products. Usually refers to small accent lights.

Platypus clamp

Type of clamp that looks light two hand-sized metal plates attached to the jaws of a vice-grip tool. Generally used to hold reflectors and bead board.

Power balancing

The process of balancing power on a generator that has multiple phases. General rule of thumb is to keep all legs within 50 amps of each other.

Prep day

"The day before principal photography where the electrical staff organizes the equipment, the truck, and all of the gels."

Quarter apple

Quarter-size apple box


A type of Tungsten light rated at 800w.

Reversal film

"Also called positive film (as opposed to negative), reversal film captures the actual image instead of a negative version of the image. Common slide film is an everyday example of reversal film."

Room tone

The background noise of the room when no one is talking. The soundman must take about 30 seconds of room tone to make sure that in post-production work (such as an ADR session).


Type of dolly that is like a doorway dolly only bigger and more rugged.


Used to cut the amount of light from a light without diffusing it. Usually consists of a steel frame with a tight weave metal grid inside.


Popular brand of light meter.

Selective focus

Using an aperture setting to provide shallow depth-of-field thereby keeping only the selected actor or object in focus while blurring the foreground and background.

Silver retention

"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"


"Process that desaturates color, crushes blacks, and increases contrast"

Soft box

"Light box fixture that casts a soft warm light. Soft boxes are often hand-made by the DP and are used to provide flattering wraparound light for the actor's faces, eye lights, or light reflective surfaces."

Soft focus

The image captured is diffuse and slightly fuzzy. This technique generally uses a special filter and is often used either for a dream sequence or to soften the lines and wrinkles of an actress or actor.

Sound blanket

Generally known as a furni-blanket or furni-pad

Specular highlight

A reflective area that provides a bright reflection on the footage with little or no detail.

Spot meter

"Type of light meter that will take a reflected light reading for a very small area, usually a 1 or 3 degree cone."

Straight makeup

Plain or flat makeup


"40% more image area than 16mm, single perf, negative cannot be directly edited, Ratio 1:1.66"

Taco cart

"Special cart for grip that holds gel frames, flags, apple boxes, C-stands, wedges, mounting hardware, and expendables."


Broadcast standard television in the United States has a ratio of 1.33.


A flag that is positioned to cut off the top cast of a light.


A type of Tungsten light rated at 650w

Video village

Location of 1 or more monitors that show the camera image. Often set up for the director to examine framing or when a small set is being used and a minimum of personnel can be near the shooting.


Type of Kodak Vision film


Type of Kodak Vision film

Wall plate

"Also called a pigeon plate or nail-on plate, a wall plate mounts to a surface with nails or screws and provides a mount for a light fixture, camera, or clamp."

Wall spreader

Steel mounts that are placed at each end of a piece of timber that is wedged between two walls creating a mounting surface for lights.


Piece of wood in a wedge shape that is kept on the taco cart. Wedges are most often used with cribbing to level a dolly track.

Western dolly

Type of platform dolly that is larger than a doorway dolly and smaller than a Russian dolly.

Wild track

Sound footage that is taken without accompanying film footage being shot. Often a wild track is extra dialogue (such as 'Look out below!') that occurs off camera and will be added in post-production.


Type of extremely bright arc discharge light that provides light in the daylight color temperature range. Generally used for shafts of very bright light.