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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Outdoor Filming Dictionary

Campbell Camera's Outdoor Filming Dictionary

We've put our heads together with some of the biggest names in outdoor production and come up with some of the most popular terms, and definitions used in outdoor videography.

Aerial Shot - A shot from high above a subject. Often achieved with a helicopter, these shots can also be taken with drones. Most often these shots are used to place a scene at a particular location. For example, watch this.

AGC - Automatic Gain Control. By utilizing this on your camera, it controls how much gain is added to the footage depending on the availability of light. However, this can cause problems when more gain is unwanted.

Aperture - A multi-bladed disc that can open and close. Its used to control the amount of light that reaches the image sensor of a digital camera. This is the same as an Iris. For more info, watch this and read this blog.

Aspect Ratio - The relationship between the height and width of an image frame (i.e.. 16x9, or 4x3)

Attenuation - This is the act of reducing the volume of audio before it overloads the input. This is done before the audio is recorded in the signal chain. Attenuation is most often needed when recording a very loud audio signal, so as not to distort the input.

Auto Iris - Auto Iris is a mode on most cameras that puts the control of the iris in the hands of the camera. If a videographer is concerned about keeping a certain depth of field, this is not a good mode to film in.

B-Roll - Supporting footage used in post production. Most often, B-Roll consists of area shots and clips not necessarily of the main character or subject, but important to the story line. Check out some B-Roll Packages here.

Back Focus - If a camera lens is having problems holding focus between both ends of its zoom range, it may need a back focus adjustment. This is normally done by a qualified camera tech as it often involves disassembly of the camera. When adjusting the back focus, a tech is changing the distance between the sensor and the rear element of the lens.

Blooming - Blooming refers to an instance where the pixels on an image sensor are overloaded with information. This results in an image that appears overexposed, blurry and less detailed.

Card Class - A media cards class describes its ability to write data. A higher class card, like a class 10, will write data faster than a class 4. These higher data rates are required for cameras that create larger files, like the Canon XF305 and Sony PMW-200.

CCD - Charge-coupled Device. This is one of two image sensors often found in video cameras today.

Chroma Key - A post production technique used for compositing two or more images together based on color hues. Often referred to as "green screening," this something you see the weatherman do every evening on the news.

CMOS - Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor. This is one of the two image sensors often found in video cameras today. These are normally used in DSLRs.

Depth of Field - The distance between the nearest and farthest objects in frame that appear in focus. For more info, read the inFOCUS blogs on Depth Of Field.

Drop Frame - A mode of timecode that drops 2 frames every minute to help 29.97 frames per second play back at 30 frames per second and stay on time.

DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera. Most commonly used to produce high quality images and video with the ability to use interchangeable lenses. Need help understanding the difference between a video camera and a DSLR? Read this inFOCUS blog.

Dolly - A piece of equipment that holds a camera, and rides on tracks. Its used to move a camera sideways and to and from a subject. Do not confuse these motions with panning or zooming. The look is very different. For an example, watch this.

Dutch Roll - A dutch roll is actually spinning the camera on its side moving it away from parallel to the ground. For an example, watch this.

Dynamic Range - the ratio between the largest and smallest values of light in an image. Normally measured in stops (10 stops, 13 stops, etc), the larger the number, the wider the dynamic range. Images with a wider dynamic range (13 stops and up) create raw footage that looks dull and flat, but these images have huge advantages when color grading.

Filter - an optical device thats placed in front of the lens to change the amount, type, or color of light that passes through to the image sensor. Get the filter size of your camera here.

Focal Length - This is a measure of how strong an optical system focus's light. Often thought of as Front Focal Length, it can be the distance between the front glass of a lens to the point where the entering light focuses to its tightest point.

Format - Often used to describe a type of media used for recording (i.e.. tape, AVCHD, XDCAM). It can also be used to describe an erasing of media in preparation for more filming.

Frame - A term normal used to describe the display of a scene through a camera.

Frame Rate - The number of frames per second a camera uses to capture a video image. Popular frame rates are 24p, 25p, 29.97, 30p, 60i, and 60p. The "p" stands for progressive scan. The "i" stands for interlaced scan.

Gen Lock - A technique used to when multiple video signals and their time codes are synchronized together.

Global Shutter - Image acquisition where an entire frame is exposed for the same time window.

Horizontal Resolution - The number of pixels across the horizontal axis of an image frame.

Hot Shoe - An accessory mount on top of many cameras that also transmits power, or receives an electrical signal (often used to mount flashes, lights, remotes, microphones, etc). Check out hot shoe adapters/extenders here.

Infra Red - a spectrum of light with a longer wavelength than visible light. For an example, watch this. Check out video equipment that has infrared technology here.

Interchangeable Lens
- A lens that can be attached and removed from a camera as needed.Video cameras with interchangeable lenses: Sony NEX-FS100UK, Sony PMW-EX3, Sony PMW-320K, Sony PMW-350K

Interlace - Interlaced filming is when the each frame is actually blended with the frame next to it. This creates a very smooth motion in the footage.

Iris - A multi-bladed disc that can open and close. Its used to control the amount of light that reaches the image sensor of a digital camera. This is the same as an Aperture. For more information, watch this.

ISO - Traditionally, ISO indicated how sensitive a particular film speed was to light (400, 800, etc). The lower the sensitivity, the clearer the picture. Today, ISO measures the sensitivity of the imaging sensor in a digital camera. But, the same rule applies. The lower the sensitivity, the clearer the picture, and the higher the sensitivity, the less light is needed. For more information, read this blog on understanding lowlight and ISO here.

Jib - A piece of equipment that attaches the camera at the end of a long arm, allowing swooping shots from high in the air and low to the ground. To see an example, watch this.

Luminance - This term is often used to describe the emission or reflection of light from flat or diffused surfaces.

Lux - A measure of lumens that is often used to measure the light sensitivity of a camera.

Macro Focus
- Focusing on something very very close. Many lenses have a limitation on how close they can focus on a subject (i.e.. 2 feet). For an example, check out this image.

Macro Lens - A lens that can focus on an object very close to the objective. For an example, watch this.

Moiré - an often undesired artifact of images produced by digital imaging that resembles two patterns superimposed and rotated at an angle. For an example, watch this.

Monitor - A viewing device normally larger than a standard viewfinder. Often used to allow hours of filming with less fatigue, or when operating a camera when the viewfinder is not accessible (i.e.. jib operation). Check out available camera monitors here.

Mono - Mono audio only involves one track of audio from one microphone. Although it can be played through multiple speakers, its the exact same signal with no audible depth.

Mono Chrome - Images in one color or shades of color. Most often, black and white. For an example, check out this image.

NTSC - National Television System Committee. Its the analog television system used throughout the United States.

PAL - Phase Alternating Line. A color encoding system for analog television used throughout many areas in the world, outside of the North America.

Pan - The left to right, or vis versa, motion of moving the camera while filming. For an example, watch this.

Pixel - A picture element. This is a physical point in an electronic image, and the smallest part of a display device. Each pixel is a small sample of the full image.

Prime Lens
- A lens that has a fixed focal length. It has no zoom. But, they do have much more control over depth of field, allowing a producer to fine tune the look of an image as they please.

- Progressive scan filming is when each frame is independent of the one next to it. This creates a very "cinematic" type look to the footage. For an example, watch this.

Pull - The act of moving the camera away from the subject along a track. Don't confuse this with zooming out. They look very different.

Push - The act of moving the camera towards the subject along a track. Don't confuse this with zooming in. They look very different. For example of the differences between zooming in and a push shot, watch this.

Rack Focus - The act of adjusting focus, generally from a near object to a far object or vis versa. For an example, watch this.

Remote - A small control unit that can be used to dictate actions for the camera from a distance. Click here for available remotes.

Resolution - The number of pixels on a screen both horizontally and vertically.

Rolling Shutter - Image acquisition where each frame is recorded by scanning across the frame either vertically or horizontally. Not all parts of the image are recorded at exactly the same time, even though the whole frame is displayed at the same time during playback. This produces distortions of fast-moving objects or when the sensor captures rapid flashes of light. Also known as jello-cam, this is in contrast with global shutter in which the entire frame is exposed for the same time window. For an example, watch this.

Rule of Thirds - a common technique for framing shots in photography and video. Key points of interest are placed along lines as if the frame was divided into thirds both vertically and horizontally. For more information, read this blog to understand the rule of thirds.

Saturation - A perceived intensity of color.

Shutter - a timed mechanical device that limits the passage of light.

Shutter Speed - the time it takes to open and close the shutter, and how often it opens and closes every second. For more information, read this blog.

Signal to Noise Ratio - Its a way to measure the level of desired signal to the level of background noise. Microphones all have whats called "self noise." When the desired signal (i.e.. someone talking) is to quiet, and you turn the volume up, you begin to hear more "self noise" at the same time. The only way to overcome this problem is to start with a strong signal to noise ratio (i.e.. tell them to speak up)

Slider - A small version of a dolly used with smaller cameras and DSLRs. Most often, the plate that holds the camera is fixed to the track and rides on ball bearings or teflon. They can be as long as 3 ft, and are easily packed into situations where a traditional dolly is too big. To see what this looks like, watch this. View available sliders.

SMPTE Time Code - a standard timecode defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Stereo - Stereo audio involves two audio channels. A right side, and a left side. Each channel is played through its own speaker as well. By utilizing two independent microphones like two human ears, stereo audio more effectively adds depth to an audio track.

S Video - an analog video transmission that carries standard definition video.

Sync - A short term for synchronization. The act of aligning multiple video signals along the same time frame.

Telephoto - A type of lens that is used for photographing an object at long distances. These lenses are often very large, and usually require additional support. Check out this image shot using a telephoto lens.

Three Point Lighting - A standard system for lighting a subject. It most often utilizes a Key light, a fill light, and a back light. For an example, watch this.

Time Lapse
- The fast motion of slow moving objects over time. For an example, watch this.

White Balance - The act of essentially telling the camera what "white" is. Once the camera knows this, it can generate all other colors in the spectrum. A white balance will change under different light sources, so it must be changed often as conditions change.

Wide Angle - A lens that can capture more of a scene from a closer distance. Many times these lenses will have distortions along the edges of the frame. An extreme version of a wide angle lens is a "Fisheye" lens. For an example, check out this wide-angle image.

Outdoor Filming Dictionary
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