Film and Culture USF

Flashcard maker : Lily Taylor
cinematic language
The accepted systems, methods, or conventions by which the movies communicate with the viewer.
cutting on action
A continuity editing technique that smoothes the transition between shots portraying a single action from different camera angles. The editor ends the first shot in the middle of a continuing action and begins the subsequent shot at approximately the same point in the matching action.
dolly in
Slow movement of the camera toward a subject, making the subject appear larger and more significant. Such gradual intensification is commonly used at moments of a character’s realization and/or decision, or as a point-of-view shot to indicate the reason for the character’s realization. See also zoom-in. Compare dolly out.
duration
The time a movie takes to unfold onscreen. For any movie, we can identify three specific kinds of duration: story duration, plot duration, and screen duration. Duration has two related components: real time and cinematic time.
editing
The process by which the editor combines and coordinates individual shots into a cinematic whole; the basic creative force of cinema.
fade-in/fade-out
Transitional devices in which a shot fades in from a black field on black-and white film or from a color field on color film, or fades out to a black field (or a color field). Compare dissolve.
formal analysis
Film analysis that examines how a scene or sequence uses formal elements to convey story, mood, and meaning.
implicit meaning
An association, connection, or inference that a viewer makes on the basis of the given (explicit) story and form of a film. Lying below the surface of explicit meaning, implicit meaning is closest to our everyday sense of the word meaning.
low-angle shot
Also known as low shot. A shot that is made with the camera below the action and that typically places the observer in a position of inferiority. Compare high-angle shot.
point of view (POV)
The position from which a film presents the actions of the story; not only the relation of the narrator(s) to the story but also the camera’s act of seeing and hearing. The two fundamental types of cinematic point of view are omniscient and restricted.
shot
One uninterrupted run of the camera. A shot can be as short or as long as the director wants, but it cannot exceed the length of the film stock in the camera. Compare setup.
theme
A shared, public idea, such as a metaphor, an adage, a myth, or a familiar conflict or personality type.
cinematic invisibility
The techniques and strategies employed by the filmmakers that are hidden from the audience due to the passive experience and fast moving pictures of the film medium.
cultural invisibility
Just as the techniques of filmmaking can go unnoticed during a casual viewing of a movie, so too can the cultural mores and prejudices lurking under the surface of a movie. These are employed by the filmmaker to reinforce the casual viewer’s subconscious beliefs or worldviews.
explicit meaning
Everything that a movie presents on its surface. Compare implicit meaning. exposition The images, action, and dialogue necessary to give the audience the background of the characters and the nature of their situation, laying the foundation for the rest of the narrative.
protagonist
The major character who serves as the “hero” and who “wins” the conflict. Compare antagonist.
antirealism
A treatment that is against or the opposite of realism. However, realism and antirealism (like realism and fantasy) are not strict polarities.
apparent motion
The movie projector’s tricking us into perceiving separate images as one continuous image rather than a series of jerky movements. Apparent motion is the result of such factors as the phi phenomenon and critical flicker fusion.
cel
A transparent sheet of celluloid or similar plastic on which drawings or lettering may be made for use in animation or titles.
content
The subject of an artwork. Compare with form.
critical flicker fusion
A phenomenon that occurs when a single light flickers on and off with such speed that the individual pulses of light fuse together to give the illusion of continuous light. See also apparent motion.
editing
The process by which the editor combines and coordinates individual shots into a cinematic whole; the basic creative force of cinema.
form
The means by which a subject is expressed. The form for poetry is words; for drama, it is speech and action; for movies, it is pictures and sound; and so on. Compare with content.
freeze-frame
Also known as stop-frame or holdframe. A still image within a movie, created by repetitive printing in the laboratory of the same
mediation
An agent, structure, or other formal element, whether human or technological, that transfers something, such as information in the case of movies, from one place to another.
narrative
A cinematic structure in which content is selected and arranged in a cause-andeffect sequence of events occurring over time.
overlap editing
An editing technique that expands viewing time and adds emphasis to an action or moment by repeating it several times in rapid succession.
persistence of vision
The process by which the human brain retains an image for a fraction of a second longer than the eye records it.
phi phenomenon
The illusion of movement created by events that succeed each other rapidly, as when two adjacent lights flash on and off alternately and we seem to see a single light shifting back and forth. See also apparent motion.
realism
An interest in or concern for the actual or real; a tendency to view or represent things as they really are. Compare antirealism.
scene
A complete unit of plot action incorporating one or more shots; the setting of that action.
sequence
A series of edited shots characterized by inherent unity of theme and purpose.
verisimilitude
A convincing appearance of truth; movies are verisimilar when they convince you that the things on the screen—people, places, and so on, no matter how fantastic or antirealistic—are “really there.”
parallel editing
Also called crosscutting and intercutting, although the three terms have slightly different meanings. The intercutting of two or more lines of action that occur simultaneously, a very familiar convention in chase or rescue sequences. See also crosscutting and intercutting. Compare split screen.
light
A tool that encompasses a variety of techniques and forms that can be used to evoke certain emotions, tones, symbolism or a character’s state of mind.
illusion of movement
The ability of our brains being tricked into thinking we are seeing fluid movement on screen when in fact we are watching a quick succession of 24 frames per second. The moving pictures in movies don’t actually move.
manipulation of space and time
On a movie screen, space and time are relative to each other and we can’t separate them or perceive one without the other.
digital animation/CGI
Animation that employs computer software to create the images used in the animation process (as opposed to analog techniques that rely on stop-motion photography, hand-drawn cels, etc.).
direct cinema
An approach to documentary filmmaking that employs an unobtrusive style in an attempt to give viewers as truthful and “direct” an experience of events as possible.
factual film
A documentary film that, usually, presents people, places, or processes in a straightforward way meant to entertain and instruct without unduly influencing audiences. Compare instructional film, persuasive film, and propaganda film.
generic transformation
The process by which a particular genre is adapted to meet the expectations of a changing society.
genre
The categorization of narrative films by form, content, or both. Examples of genres are musical, comedy, biography, Western, and so on.
instructional film
A documentary film that seeks to educate viewers about common interests, rather than persuading them with particular ideas. Compare factual film, persuasive film, and propaganda film.
persuasive film
A documentary film concerned with presenting a particular perspective on social issues, or with corporate and governmental injustice. Compare factual film, instructional film, and propaganda film.
propaganda film
A documentary film that systematically disseminates deceptive or distorted information. Compare factual film, instructional film, and persuasive film.
stream of consciousness
A literary style that gained prominence in the 1920s in the hands of such writers as Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Dorothy Richardson and that attempted to capture the unedited flow of experience through the mind.
narrative
A cinematic structure in which content is selected and arranged in a cause-andeffect sequence of events occurring over time.
documentary film
A nonfiction film that presents the filmmakers’ perspective on actuality. Documentary films take many forms, including factual, instructional, persuasive, and propaganda. Regardless of approach, every documentary is shaped by the filmmaker’s intent and subjective interpretation of ideas and actual events.
experimental film
Also known as avant-garde film, a term implying a position in the vanguard,out in front of traditional films. Experimentalfilms are usually about unfamiliar, unorthodox,or obscure subject matter and are ordinarilymade by independent (even underground) filmmakers,not studios, often with innovative techniquesthat call attention to, question, and evenchallenge their own artifice.
theme
A shared, public idea, such as a metaphor, an adage, a myth, or a familiar conflict or personality type.
presentation
A genre convention that features certain elements of cinematic language to communicate tone and atmosphere. (Ex: low-key lighting and deep shadows in horror films)
character types
An actor’s part that represents a distinctive character type (sometimes a stereotype): society leader, judge, doctor, diplomat, and so on.
story formulas
A movie’s structure or plot that helps viewers determine what genre it belongs to.
stars
Actors who star in genre films factor in how the genre is classified, analyzed, and received by audiences. Most avoid being typecasted, but some thrive in specific genres.
gangster
A film genre dealing with organized crime, often the Mafia.
film noir
A film genre that describes the stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.
science fiction
A film genre that focuses on humanity’s relationship with science and the technology it generates.
horror
A film genre that deals with fear and is intended to shock or terrify the audience.
western
A film genre that deals with cowboys and the old American west.
musical
A film genre that adapts the song and dance routines from stage plays.
hand-drawn animation
An animated film that uses 24 hand-drawn or painted cels to create one second of footage.
stop-motion animation
An animated film that records the movement of objects frame-by-frame.
uncanny valley
A hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s human likeness.
antagonist
The major character whose values or behavior are in conflict with those of the protagonist.
storyboard
A scene-by-scene (sometimes shot-by-shot) breakdown that combines sketches or photographs of how each shot is to look and written descriptions of the other elements that are to go with each shot, including dialogue, sound, and music.
exposition
The images, action, and dialogue necessary to give the audience the background of the characters and the nature of their situation, laying the foundation for the rest of the narrative.
denouement
The resolution or conclusion of the narrative.
diegetic elements
An element—event, character, object, setting, sound—that helps form the world in which the story occurs. Compare nondiegetic element.
diegesis (adj. diegetic)
The total world of a story—the events, characters, objects, settings, and sounds that form the world in which the story occurs.
nondiegetic elements
Something that we see and hear on the screen that comes from outside the world of the story (including background music, titles and credits, and voice-over narration). Compare diegetic element.
subplot
A subordinate sequence of action in a narrative, usually relevant to and enriching the plot.
cinematic time
The imaginary time in which a movie’s images appear or its narrative occurs; time that has been manipulated through editing. Compare real time.
protagonist
The major character who serves as the “hero” and who “wins” the conflict. Compare antagonist.
cinematic conventions
Accepted systems, methods, or customs by which movies communicate. Cinematic conventions are flexible; they are not “rules.”
omniscient
Providing a third-person view of all aspects of a movie’s action or characters. Compare restricted.
restricted
Providing a view from the perspective of a single character. For example, restricted narration reveals information to the audience only as a specific character learns of it. Compare omniscient.
direct-address narration
Narration when a character breaks the “fourth wall” (the assumed barrier between the characters on the screen and the audience) to address us directly.
mise-en-scene
Also known as staging. The overall look and feel of a movie—the sum of everything the audience sees, hears, and experiences while viewing it.
design
The process by which the look of the settings, props, lighting, and actors is determined. Set design, decor, prop selection, lighting setup, costuming, makeup, and hairstyle design all play a role in shaping the overall design.
composition
The process of visualizing and putting visualization plans into practice; more precisely, the organization, distribution, balance, and general relationship of stationary objects and figures, as well as of light, shade, line, and color, within the frame.
chiaroscuro
The use of deep gradations and subtle variations of lights and darks within an image.
framing
The process by which the cinematographer determines what will appear within the borders of the moving image (the frame) during a shot.
kinesis
The aspect of composition that takes into account everything that moves on the screen.
moving frame
The result of the dynamic functions of the frame around a motion-picture image, which can contain moving action but can also move and thus change its viewpoint.
point of view (POV)
The position from which a film presents the actions of the story; not only the relation of the narrator(s) to the story but also the camera’s act of seeing and hearing. The two fundamental types of cinematic point of view are omniscient and restricted.
offscreen space
Cinematic space that exists outside the frame. Compare onscreen space.
onscreen space
Cinematic space that exists inside the frame. Compare offscreen space.
open frame
A frame around a motion-picture image that, theoretically, characters and objects can enter and leave. Compare closed frame.
closed frame
A frame of a motion picture image that, theoretically, neither characters nor objects enter or leave. Compare open frame.
blocking
Actual physical relationships among figures and settings.
cinematography
The process of capturing moving images on film or some other medium.
shot
One uninterrupted run of the camera. A shot can be as short or as long as the director wants, but it cannot exceed the length of the film stock in the camera. Compare setup.
take
An indication of the number of times a particular shot is taken (e.g., shot 14, take 7).
gaffer
The chief electrician on a movie production set.
best boy
First assistant electrician to the gaffer on a movie production set.
grips
All-around handyperson on a movie production set, most often working with the camera crews and electrical crews.
widescreen aspect ratio
Any aspect ratio wider than 1.33:1, the standard ratio until the early 1950s.
key light
Also known as main light or source light. The brightest light falling on a subject.
fill light
Lighting, positioned at the opposite side of the camera from the key light, that can fill in the shadows created by the brighter key light. Fill light may also come from a reflector board.
depth of field
The distance in front of a camera and its lens in which objects are in apparent sharp focus.
establishing shot
Also known as a master shot or cover shot. A shot that ordinarily serves as a foundation for (and usually begins) a sequence by showing the location of ensuing action. Although usually a long shot or extreme long shot, a master shot may also be a medium shot or close-up that includes a sign or other cue to identify the location. Master shots are also called cover shots because the editor can repeat them later in the film to remind the audience of the location, thus “covering” the director by avoiding the need to reshoot.
deep space composition
A total visual composition that occupies all three planes of the frame, thus creating an illusion of depth, and that is usually reproduced on the screen by deep-focus cinematography.
shooting angle
The level and height of the camera in relation to the subject being photographed. The five basic camera angles produce eye-level shots, high-angle shots, low-angle shots, Dutch-angle shots, and aerial-view shots.
pan shot
The horizontal movement of a camera mounted on the gyroscopic head of a stationary tripod; like the tilt shot, the pan shot is a simple movement with dynamic possibilities for creating meaning.
tracking shot
Also known as traveling shot or dolly shot. A shot taken by a camera fixed to a wheeled support called a dolly. When the dolly runs on tracks (or when the camera is mounted to a crane or an aerial device such as an airplane, a helicopter, or a balloon) the shot is called a tracking shot.
Stanislavsky system
A system of acting, developed by Russian theater director Konstantin Stanislavsky in the late nineteenth century, that encourages students to strive for realism, both social and psychological, and to bring their past experiences and emotions to their roles. This system influenced the development of Method acting in the United States.
method acting
Also known as simply the Method. A naturalistic acting style, loosely adapted from the ideas of Russian director Konstantin Stanislavsky by American directors Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg, that encourages actors to speak, move, and gesture not in a traditional stage manner, but in the same way they would in their own lives. An ideal technique for representing convincing human behavior, Method acting is used more frequently on the stage than on the screen.
typecasting
The casting of actors because of their looks or “type” rather than for their acting talent or experience.
screen tests
A filming undertaken by an actor to audition for a particular role.
stand-ins
An actor who looks reasonably like a particular movie star (or at least an actor playing a major role) in height, weight, coloring, and so on, and who substitutes for that actor during the tedious process of preparing setups or taking light readings.
character roles
An actor’s part that represents a distinctive character type (sometimes a stereotype): society leader, judge, doctor, diplomat, and so on.
bit players
An actor who holds a small speaking part.
cameos
A small but significant role often played by a famous actor.
alienation effect
Also known as distancing effect. A psychological distance between audience and stage for which, according to German playwright Bertolt Brecht, every aspect of a theatrical production should strive by limiting the audience’s identification with characters and events.
improvisation
1. Actors’ extemporization—that is, delivering lines based only loosely on the written script or without the preparation that comes with studying a script before rehearsing it. 2. “Playing through” a moment—that is, making up lines to keep scenes going when actors forget their written lines, stumble on lines, or have some other mishap.
ensemble acting
An approach to acting that emphasizes the interaction of actors, not the individual actor. In ensemble acting, a group of actors work together continuously in a single shot. Typically experienced in the theater, ensemble acting is used less in the movies because it requires the provision of rehearsal time that is usually denied to screen actors.
Analog
Film is an analog medium in which the camera creates an image by recording through a camera lens the original light given off by the the subject and stores this image on a roll of negative film stock. Opposite of digital.
Processing
The second stage of creating motion pictures in which a laboratory technician washes exposed film (which contains a negative image) with processing chemicals. Processing is preceded by shooting and followed by projecting.
Projecting
The third stage of creating motion pictures, in which edited film is run through a projector, which shoots through the film a beam of light intense enough to project a large image on the movie-theater screen. Projecting is preceded by shooting and processing.
Exposure
Also known as film stock speed or exposure index. The rate at which film must move through the camera to correctly capture an image; very fast film requires little light to capture and fix the image; very slow film requires a lot of light.
Resolution
The capacity of the camera lens, film stock, and processing to provide fine detail in an image.
Pixels
Short for “picture elements,” these are the small dots that make up the image on a video screen. The dots (denoted by the binary numbers 0 and 1) are meaningless in themselves; but when they are arranged in order, like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, they form a picture.
Preproduction
The initial, planning-andpreparation stage of the production process. Preproduction is followed by production and postproduction.
Production
The second stage of the production process, the actual shooting. Production is preceded by preproduction and followed by postproduction.
Postproduction
The third stage of the production process, consisting of editing, preparing the final print, and bringing the film to the public (marketing and distribution). Postproduction is preceded by preproduction and production.
Producer
The person who guides the entire process of making the movie from its initial planning to its release and is chiefly responsible for the organizational and financial aspects of the production, from arranging the financing to deciding how the money is spent.
Director
The person who (a) determines and realizes on the screen an artistic vision of the screenplay; (b) casts the actors and directs their performances; (c) works closely with the production design in creating the look of the film, including the choice of locations; (d) oversees the work of the cinematographer and other key production personnel; and, (e) in most cases, supervises all postproduction activity, especially the editing.
Photography
Literally, “writing with light”; technically, the recording of static images through a chemical interaction caused by light rays striking a sensitized surface.
Camera Obscura
Literally, “dark chamber.” A box (or a room in which a viewer stands); light entering (originally through a tiny hole, later through a lens) on one side of the box (or room) projects an image from the outside onto the opposite side or wall.
Series photography
The use of a series of still photographs to record the phases of an action, although the actions within the images do not move.
Zoopraxiscope
An early device for exhibiting moving pictures—a revolving disk with photographs arranged around the center.
Fusil photographique
A form of the chronophotographic gun (see revolver photographique)— a single, portable camera capable of taking twelve continuous images.
Kinetograph
The first motion-picture camera.
Kinetoscope
A peephole viewer, an early motion-picture device.
Sound track
A separate recording tape occupied by one specific type of sound recorded for a movie (one track for vocals, one for sound effects, one for music, etc.).
Boom
A polelike mechanical device for holding the microphone in the air, out of camera range, that can be moved in almost any direction.
Automatic dialogue replacement (ADR)
Rerecording done via computer—a faster, less expensive, and more technically sophisticated process than rerecording that is done with actors.
Fidelity
The faithfulness or unfaithfulness of a sound to its source.
Diegetic sound
Sound that originates from a source within a film’s world. Compare nondiegetic sound.
Nondiegetic sound
Sound that originates from a source outside a film’s world. Compare diegetic sound.
Internal sound
A form of diegetic sound in which we hear the thoughts of a character we see onscreen and assume that other characters cannot hear them. Compare external sound.
External sound
A form of diegetic sound that comes from a place within the world of the story, which we and the characters in the scene hear but do not see. Compare internal sound.
Foley sounds
A sound belonging to a special category of sound effects, invented in the 1930s by Jack Foley, a sound technician at Universal Studios. Technicians known as Foley artists create these sounds in specially equipped studios, where they use a variety of props and other equipment to simulate sounds such as footsteps in the mud, jingling car keys, or cutlery hitting a plate.
Overlapping sound
Sound that carries over from one shot to the next before the sound of the second shot begins.
Editing
The process by which the editor combines and coordinates individual shots into a cinematic whole; the basic creative force of cinema.
Splicing
Also known as cutting. The actual joining together of two shots. The editor must first cut (or splice) each shot from its respective roll of film before gluing or taping all the shots together.
Flashback
A device for presenting or reawakening the memory of the camera, a character, the audience—or all three—in which the action cuts from the narrative present to a past event, which may or may not have already appeared in the movie either directly or through inference. Compare flashforward.
Flash-forward
A device for presenting the anticipation of the camera, a character, the audience— or all three—in which the action cuts from the narrative present to a future time, one in which, for example, the omniscient camera reveals directly or a character imagines, from his or her point of view, what is going to happen. Compare flashback.
Ellipsis
In filmmaking, generally an omission of time—the time that separates one shot from another—to create dramatic or comedic impact.
Montage
1. In France, the word for editing, from the verb monter, “to assemble or put together.” 2. In the former Soviet Union in the 1920s, the various forms of editing that expressed ideas developed by theorists and filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein. 3. In Hollywood, beginning in the 1930s, a sequence of shots, often with superimpositions and optical effects, showing a condensed series of events.
Continuity editing
A style of editing (now dominant throughout the world) that seeks to achieve logic, smoothness, sequential flow, and the temporal and spatial orientation of viewers to what they see on the screen. Continuity editing ensures the flow from shot to shot; creates a rhythm based on the relationship between cinematic space and cinematic time; creates filmic unity (beginning, middle, and end); and establishes and resolves a problem. In short, continuity editing tells a story as clearly and coherently as possible. Compare discontinuity editing.
Discontinuity editing
A style of editing—less widely used than continuity editing, often but not exclusively in experimental films—that joins shots A and B to produce an effect or meaning not even hinted at by either shot alone.
Master shot
Also known as establishing shot or cover shot. A shot that ordinarily serves as a foundation for (and usually begins) a sequence by showing the location of ensuing action. Although usually a long shot or extreme long shot, a master shot may also be a medium shot or close-up that includes a sign or other cue to identify the location. Master shots are also called cover shots because the editor can repeat them later in the film to remind the audience of the location, thus “covering” the director by avoiding the need to reshoot.
Axis of action
Also known as the imaginary line, line of action, or 180-degree rule. The fundamental means by which filmmakers maintain consistent screen direction, orienting the viewer and ensuring a sense of the cinematic space in which the action occurs. The system assumes three things: (a) the action within a scene will always advance along a straight line, either from left to right or from right to left of the frame; (b) the camera will remain consistently on one side of that action; and (c) everyone on the production set will understand and adhere to this system.
Shot/reverse shot
One of the most prevalent and familiar of all editing patterns, consisting of parallel editing (crosscutting) between shots of different characters, usually in a conversation or confrontation. When used in continuity editing, the shots are typically framed over each character’s shoulder to preserve screen direction.
Parallel editing
Also called crosscutting and intercutting, although the three terms have slightly different meanings. The intercutting of two or more lines of action that occur simultaneously, a very familiar convention in chase or rescue sequences. See also crosscutting and intercutting. Compare split screen.
Jump cut
The removal of a portion of a film, resulting in an instantaneous advance in the action—a sudden, perhaps illogical, often disorienting ellipsis between two shots.
Iris shot
Optical wipe effect in which the wipe line is a circle; named after the iris of a camera. The iris-in begins with a small circle, which expands to a partial or full image; the iris-out begins with a large circle, which contracts to a smaller circle or total blackness.
Split screen
A method, created either in the camera or during the editing process, of telling two stories at the same time by dividing the screen into different parts. Unlike parallel editing, which cuts back and forth between shots for contrast, the split screen can tell multiple stories within the same frame.

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