Filmmaking Glossary: What you need to know to best communicate with your filmmaker

By WellcomeMat Blog
November 27, 2013

Thanks for checking out our growing glossary of useful filmmaking phrases.  Hopefully this list helps you communicate more effectively with your filmmaker.  If you would like any other terms defined feel free to leave a comment with your request!

  • Apple Box - A wooden box that can be used to stand on, set things on, and generally alter the elevation of anything on set.  Movie magic at its finest.

  • Artistic style - A shooting style which uses multiple camera set-ups, a variety of different techniques and a wide range of equipment.  This style allows the filmmaker to be creative while showcasing the artistry of a property, neighborhood or branding video. 

  • Dead Kitten - A fuzzy sock that is placed on a microphone to alleviate wind distortion in outdoor shoots.  Frequently feels soft….like a dead kitten. Also known as a windscreen.

  • Depth of field - The vertical plane that is in focus within a shot.  This is affected, primarily, by light.  Lots of light, the larger the depth of field and less light, the smaller the depth of field.

  • DSLR - Not just a photographers go-to camera.  Many of the higher-end DSLR cameras shoot great video.  Generally more affordable than the most commonly used cinematic cameras (see: RED CAMERA) while still shooting beautiful footage.  Many real estate videographers will shoot on a Canon 5d mark III.

  • Establishing shot- A wide angle shot that gives a viewer a clear idea of what the close up shots are going to explore.  It creates context for future shots.  For example in a property tour the establishing shot would be of the front of the home.

  • Fisheye - A type of extreme wide angle lens that distorts the image in order to capture more space.  

  • Gaff Tape - The king of tapes.  This tape is a staple on all film sets and can frequently be considered currency between filmmakers.  It is a cloth tape that does not leave a sticky residue.  It is frequently used to tape down cables or McGyver magic solutions to problems on set.

  • GoPro - Small, lightweight camera that can go on a drone helicopter to achieve aerial shots.  With casing, it can also shoot underwater.

  • Human scale - Using a person in a shot to give perspective on size.  This is especially useful in property tours to allow viewers to picture themselves within a home.

  • Jib - A long boom arm on a balance point with the camera on one end and weight on the other to counterbalance.  This gives the camera a sense of weightlessness and allows the camera to move both vertically and/or horizontally in a smooth manner. 

  • Panning and tilting - Camera movement generally created when a camera is on a tripod. Your vision when you shake your head ‘no’ is essentially what the camera ‘sees’ when panning.  Nodding your head ‘yes’ is what the camera ‘sees’ when tilting.  

  • Quadcopter - Small, remote controlled helicopter drone which uses 4 sets of blades to provide additionally stabilization and control. A GoPro camera can be attached to the device to capture aerial footage and photography.  The legality of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) is hotly contested, so check the laws in your area before using a quadcopter. **Check out this WellcomeMat discussion on aerial filmmaking for more info:

  • Rack Focus - A type of shot that plays with the depth of field, or the area is focus.  By changing the focus plane while filming/recording a filmmaker can bring attention to different areas of a shot. 

  • Red Camera - Digital cinema camera that shoots at an extremely high resolution, producing stunning footage in a RAW format.  Many Hollywood films are using RED cameras today.  This camera will make your video look good.  There are real estate filmmakers who shoot on the RED cameras, however, given the $20,000 price tag of this camera your filmmaker may cost a premium.

  • Shotgun Microphone - A microphone that picks up sound in one direction only.  Shotgun mics are frequently fixed to the camera to pick up any audio that the camera ‘sees’.

  • Slider - Rails that can be placed on a tripod or a flat surface.  The camera can smoothly glide along these rails to produce a short track effect.

  • Steadicam/glidecam - Stabilization tools that allow a filmmaker to shoot scenes where the camera appears to be gliding through space.  Most filmmakers need these types of tools to prevent extensive shaking when shooting handheld shots.

  • Sticks - Colloquial term for a tripod.

  • Three Point Lighting - The most common lighting when shooting 1 subject (for example: an interview) that utilizes 3 lights of different sizes to clearly light and highlight a subject.  A key light is generally places in front of the subject to one side to provide the main lighting. A fill light is less powerful than the key and fills in the other side of a subjects face while still allowing for shadow.  And a backlight or hair-light gives depth to a subject by separating the subject from a background.

  • Walkthrough style - A shooting style for property videos that mimics exactly what it is like for a potential buyer to quickly walk through a property.  Most importantly it gives a viewer the correct spatial, connect-the-dot representation of a home’s interior and exterior.  Usually achieved using a steadicam or glidecam with a wide angle lens. 

  • Wireless Lavalier - A small microphone that can be hidden within clothing to get clear audio without revealing the mic. This microphone includes a wireless transmitter and receiver so that the wearer has freedom of movement.

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