A to Z Glossary of Cinematography Terms (2022)

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A to Z Glossary of Cinematography Terms (1)

Also known as the art and process of capturing visual moving images on camera for filmmaking, cinematography involves the use of several terms which might not be easy to understand for a beginner. Entertainism gives you an A-Z glossary of cinematography terms in this article.

Quick Fact:

ACinematographer is also known as theDirector of Photography on a movie set.

Defined by Webster’s dictionary as the art or science of motion-picture photography, cinematography makes use of a lot of technical elements, such as a lens, camera, lighting, movement, sound, etc. Cinematography is popularly assumed to be a slightly evolved version of photography, and is one of the most important and irreplaceable aspects of filmmaking.

For beginners and film enthusiasts, the terms used in the world of filmmaking might be a little confusing to understand, simply because they are very different from the terms we are generally used to coming across. However, it is vital that those aspiring to work in the filmmaking genre are familiar with at least a majority of the terms, if not all. For that very reason, we have explained some cinematographic terminology in this article. If we’ve missed any significant cinematography term, do feel free to let us know in the comments section below!


A & B Rolls
The negative of an edited film that is cut to correspond to picture, and is built into two rolls (A and B).

Accompaniment is the effects and/or music that is an accessory to the projection of a silent film.

Action Sketch
A rough sketch/drawing that implies the series or sequence of an action, mainly utilized during animated productions.

The recording of actual events without using actors or any other external effects.

Actual Sound
Using the sound of actual events or actions that are displayed on screen.

The technical term for ‘dubbing’, which is an addition or substitute to the existing location sound. A.D.R stands for Automated Dialog Recording.

Aerial View Shot
Taken from a “bird’s-eye view”, meaning from an airplane or helicopter, or from the top of a building. Commonly used to show a town or city on screen.

Equipment utilized to largely boost the power of electric signals from a small sound apparatus, like a tape recorder so that it can be played on a higher sound apparatus, like a loudspeaker.

Animated Viewer
Equipment that offers a larger moving picture that a normal projector, which enables easier examination of a film while editing.

Making a film using drawings, computer graphics, or pictures of objects which when shown quickly one after the other, give the illusion of movement.

Animation Board
A board used to display photographs or drawings quickly one after the other when making an animation film.

Answer Print
Corrected print made from the A & B Rolls that contains both picture and sound together.

A small opening in the camera lens which controls the amount of light that passes through.

Apple Box
A thick wooden box used to set up extra-large camera equipment or for the camera-person to stand up on.

Aspect Ratio
The proportions of the frame used to shoot a particular scene.


When the main source of light is behind the subject of focus, highlighting the subject. Backlights are often also used to create silhouettes.

Backward Take
Shooting a scene with the camera held upside down, or the camera recording in reverse to display normal motion as reversed.

Rewinding the film in the camera itself.

Equipment used to control light from going anywhere else apart from the desired place.

A kind of blanket used to cover up the camera in order to avoid or reduce noise made by the camera.

Big Close-Up
Zooming in on the subject very close in order to bring attention to the very little details.

A fiberglass case for holding a camera.

Blind Shot
Shot of sound effects taken in a manner that excludes portraying the source of those sounds.

Blow Up
Optical enlargement of a movie depending upon the instrument of measurement.

Bounce Card
Card used to bounce light off it in order to put more subtle light on the subject or object in focus.

(Video) A to Z Glossary of Cinematography Terms

Taking one shot from several angles for the desired effect.

Bridging Shot
A shot that covers discontinuity between successive scenes.

Bump In/Out
The immediate appearance and disappearance of a subject or an object in a film, for special effect.


Calling sequence used by the director of a film before beginning with the filming of a particular scene. Generally, the Call is somewhat like “Roll Sound!” “Rolling!” “Roll Camera!” “Rolling!” “ACTION!” with the director ordering each department to begin their work, and they answering in the affirmative.

Camera Angle
The angle at which the camera is held/set up for a take.

Camera Roll
Rolls used while filming. These are usually numbered according to scene to avoid confusion.

Excess color in a picture.

A transparent sheet made from a special kind of plastic for drawing and painting characters in animated films.

Close Up
A shot that shows a small detail of the subject clearly, such as the face, in order to bring attention to the lightest and mildest of expressions.

Color Temperature
Measuring the color of light in order to make it sensitive enough, and appropriate for the film.

Words accompanying a scene that does not require/contain dialogs.

A board with sporadic holes used for creating various shadow effects when placed in front of a source of light.

Crane Shot
Shot taken from a mechanical crane that carries the camera-person and the camera wherever needed.

Credit Titles
Written information about the entire cast and crew of the film that appears mostly at the very end.

Joining of two different shots together, as well as the continuous transition from one shot to the next.


Daylight Spool
A container made to hold the camera film in order to avoid it from being completely exposed while changing during an outdoor shoot.

Deep Focus
A technique that allows both objects that are very near as well as objects that are very far away to stay in focus at the same time.

Direct Sound Recording
Dialogs recorded as they are spoken during a scene.

When one shot fades out, and the next shot fades in immediately.

Dolly Shot
Shot taken from a camera placed on equipment with wheels, used mainly for moving shots.

Dope Sheet
A list of all the shots taken during a specified time period.

Dutch Tilt
Camera held at a tilted angle for a slanted shot.


Assembling and cutting final shots to the required length in order to achieve the desired results.

Effects Box
Box-like equipment covering the camera lens for creating special effects.

Establishing Shot
A long shot used to portray a new scene, a new subject, or new object that is important to the film for the first time.

Extreme Close-Up
Zooming in completely on only one detail so as to have it fill the entire screen.

Extreme Long Shot
May serve as an establishing shot, and is taken from quite some distance.

Exposure Index
Sensitivity of light to a specific film, used to measure film speed.

Eye Level Shot
Shot that portrays a subject’s view of another subject or object in the film, taken at the subject’s eye level.

(Video) Cinematography Terminology


Fade (In/Out)
Transitioning of a shot from color to gradually black (fade out) or the transitioning of a shot from dark to bright (fade in).

Fading Solution
Liquid solution used for fading on film.

Fast Motion
Technique that allows shooting at a slow speed and yet producing extremely fast motion.

Fill Light
Extra lights that are used to reduce the harshness of the original lights in order to include a variety of details in the shot which would otherwise become useless.

Film Horse
Frame used during editing to hang separate shots in a decided order.

Film Cement
A solution used for joining two pieces of film together.

Tinted sheet placed in front of/behind the lens to change the color of the shot for aesthetic purposes.

Transition from the current track of the story to its past tense.

Transition from the current track of the story to its future tense.

Uneven brightness in the film, sometimes deliberately created for effects.

Lamp producing soft light.

Focal Length
Length of the view provided by a particular kind of lens.

Length of the film running through the camera- a shot or a series of shots, measured in feet.


An opening behind the lens of a camera or projector for exposing/projecting a single frame.

Width of the film’s format.

Transparent plastic sheet used as a filter.


Hand-held Camera
A shot taken from a camera that is not placed on a tripod. Often used to show a moving, shaky scenario, especially in horror movies.

Head of the tripod/ The commencing of a shot.

Head Room
The room between the frame top and the top of a subject’s head.

High Angle Shot
Shot taken from above the subject.

High Key Lighting
Lighting used to produce images with almost negligible color contrasts.


Insert Shots
Close up of significant as well as insignificant details of the film, usually do not include any actors. Insert shots are mainly of objects.

Interior Shots
Shots taken indoors.

Technique to show more than one event taking place at the same time.

A copy of the film made for the purpose of making a large number of prints.

An opening in the lens that controls the amount of light passing through (very similar to aperture.)

A film’s sensitivity to light, and is also a number used to measure the speed of the film.


Jump Cut
A sudden cut between two unmatched shots that draws all attention to itself, and gives the effect of bad editing.


The scale used to measure color temperature.

Key Light
The primary source of light in a shot.

(Video) Basic Film Vocabulary


Lab Role
A very large roll made by the lab for printing, by joining together several camera rolls.

Light Leak
Erratic and accidental light penetrating into the camera, creating little fog-impressions in the film.

Lighting Ratio
The light and shadow ratio, or the relationship between the key light and fill light.

A place used for filming, usually outdoors and in natural surroundings.

Locked Cut
The final cut of the movie, after which no changes are to be made.

Long Lens
A lens providing a magnified view of an object far away.

Long Shot
A complete or full-body-shot of the subject along with his/her surroundings.

Low Angle Shot
Shot taken from below the subject.

Low Key Lighting
Lighting that creates a dark, dull, depressing atmosphere.


Macro Lens
Lens used for filming extreme close-ups of the subject/any other object of the film, such as a flower, a butterfly, etc.

Master Shot
A long shot of an entire scene, generally filmed in the beginning.

Checking the quality of two shots for smooth and flawless transitioning of one shot to the other.

Medium Shot
A shot that’s somewhere in between a long shot and a close up, typically taken from the waist up.

Fusing all soundtracks of the film into one with their appropriate volumes and after complete editing.

Equipment used to fuse all soundtracks.



Film used in the camera while shooting.

Neutral Density Filter
Filter used for controlling light passing through the camera lens without affecting the color.

Number Board
Board held in front of the camera before every shot with the film title, scene number, and number of takes.


Effects produced by the lab such as fading and dissolving of scenes which have originally been shot normally.

Film used in a camera when shooting.

Over The Shoulder
A shot of two subjects with the camera placed/held behind one person, and facing the second person.


Horizontal movement of the camera from right to left or vice-versa while shooting.

Parallel Action
Different occurrences in the film being represented simultaneously by intercutting.

Recording soundtracks in a studio for synchronizing with actions on screen later.

POV Shot
Also known as Point Of View Shot, a shot taken in a way that implies the scene being witnessed through the eyes of a character.

A copy of the film, usually ready for projection.

Pull Back Shot
A shot that zooms out from the subject to display the element of a particular scene.


Quick Release
Apparatus for fast and easy mounting and removal of a camera from a tripod.


Rack Focus
Changing focus in a shot in order to shift the audience’s attention from one subject (or thing) to another.

(Video) Cinematography Terms

Reaction Shot
A shot of a subject reacting to another subject’s actions or dialogs.

Reflector Board
A board used to reflect light on the desired subject.

Release Print
A positive print of the film that is fit for distribution.

Repeating a take because of not having achieved the desired results.


Safety Take
An additional take in case a backup take is required.

Shots that are selected for use before beginning with the editing to save time.

Shooting Ratio
Ratio of the length of the final movie to the length of the entire shooting before editing.

Shooting Angle
The angle at which the camera is placed for a shot in accordance with the subject.

Show Print
Similar to release print.

Synchronized sound effects with a picture.

Special Effects
Specially created illusions which are often too fantastic to be true.

An unmoving shot, a normal photograph of a subject or a thing in the movie.

Sub Titles
Words displayed in either a silent film, or for the purpose of translating a movie into several languages so as to reach out to a world audience.


The end of a shot

A recording of a shot.

Tracking Shot
Similar to Dolly Shot

Two Shot
A medium shot taken to include two subjects only, generally from the waist up.


Ultrasonic Cleaner
A cleaning machine used to clean negatives before printing.


Vault Box
Box created to hold rolls.

Voice Over
An unseen narrator’s voice in the movie.


Wild Soundtrack
Sound recorded independent of the film and added later.

Work Print
A copy of a positive used for editing purposes.

Term used to indicate the ending of shooting.


A bright lamp projecting daylight.


Changing the distance between the camera and the subject/object of focus without moving the camera itself.

That’s quite a long list of terms, don’t you think? Cinematographers and filmmakers and everyone else on a film set has a lot to remember! But don’t worry, we’re sure you’ll get familiar with all these terms, and the more advanced ones too, very soon. Good luck!

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What are the 7 cinematic elements? ›

Cinematography comprises all on-screen visual elements, including lighting, framing, composition, camera motion, camera angles, film selection, lens choices, depth of field, zoom, focus, color, exposure, and filtration.

What is cinematography easy words? ›

cinematography, the art and technology of motion-picture photography. It involves such techniques as the general composition of a scene; the lighting of the set or location; the choice of cameras, lenses, filters, and film stock; the camera angle and movements; and the integration of any special effects.

What are the 5 components of cinematography? ›

Any aspiring film makers should be aware of what enormous part cinematography and editing play in the making of a film.
  • Camera Angles. The camera angle is vital to a stories narrative and the camera positioning helps to drive the story forward. ...
  • Continuity. ...
  • Cutting. ...
  • Close-ups. ...
  • Composition.
26 May 2017

What are the five C's of cinematography explain? ›

The 5 Cs are Camera angles, Continuity, Cutting, Close-ups, and Composition.

What's a DP in film? ›

Directors of photography are responsible for the photographic heart of a production. They read the screenplay and work closely with the director to discuss the look and feel of a film.

What are the 3 basic elements of cinematography? ›

However, I think the most important duties of a director of photography or DP can best be distilled into 3 basic elements: exposure, lighting and camera positioning and movement. These three elements align with the three departments on a film set which the DP manages: the camera, lighting and grip departments.

What is another name for cinematography? ›

In this page you can discover 10 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for cinematography, like: filming, motion-picture photography, camera-work, mise en scene, special effects, musical score, choreography, Idziak, cinematographer and camerawork.

How can I learn cinematography? ›

Learn the Basics

You'll also need to study basic video compositional techniques, light and sound design, film and video editing, and many others. After all, cinematography is more than just about manning the camera—it's also about understanding how the entire process of movie production works.

How can I improve my cinematography? ›

If you want to grow in leaps and bounds, here are five essential things you should study in order to advance your craft.
  1. Study Silent Film. When you've only got visuals to work with, you'd better make sure your visuals are damned good. ...
  2. Study Cinematography. ...
  3. Study Your Equipment. ...
  4. Study Photography… ...
  5. Study Graphic Novels.
10 Sept 2014

What is the most important part of cinematography? ›

Composition. One of the most important choices that a Cinematographer makes for every single shot is its composition—or what will be seen in it 3. Composition refers to how each shot is framed and all the elements within that frame.

Which is the most important element of film making? ›

But as filmmakers, our overriding concern should be movement. Movement also has a double meaning: 1) the physical movement of the camera or objects within the frame and 2) moving our audience emotionally.

What are four aspects of cinematography? ›

Cinematographers who incorporate key elements of exposure, composition, camera movement, and color into their projects have the greatest likelihood of success with the motion picture projects that they create.

What is composition in cinematography? ›

Composition refers to how the elements on screen (actors, scenery, props, etc.) appear in respect to each other and within the frame itself. In the earliest days of cinema, film composition basically mimicked that of a stage play. Directors staged all actors and important information to face the audience.

What is continuity in cinematography? ›

Defined simply, continuity editing is the process of editing together different but related shots to give viewers the experience of a consistent story in both time and space.

What does CS mean in camera shots? ›

CS: Cowboy Shot. MCS: Medium Close Shot. WS: Wide Shot. EWS: Extreme Wide Shot. FS: Full Shot.

What does AC mean in film? ›

The first assistant camera (also called the 1st assistant camera, 1st AC, first AC, or focus puller) has one main job: they sit next to the camera during filming and operate the lens's focusing ring. The role of the focus puller is to keep the right subject in focus throughout each scene.

What is a camera man called? ›

The cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the person responsible for the photographing or recording of a film, television production, music video or other live action piece.

Is cinematography and DoP same? ›

What Is a Director of Photography? The director of photography, also known as the DP or cinematographer, is the person responsible for creating the look of a film. A good DP will elevate a director's vision, and introduce ideas and concepts the director may not have considered.

What are the 5 most important elements in filming and explain each of them? ›

With that in mind, here are the 5 most powerful elements of cinematography that you should be incorporating in all of your projects:
  • Exposure. One of the first things to consider when creating a shot is the exposure. ...
  • Composition. ...
  • Camera Movement. ...
  • Camera Angles. ...
  • Color.
2 Jul 2020

What is a cinematographer salary? ›

Low. High. Average: £1,751Range: £402 - £7,625. The average salary for Cinematographer is £34,891 per year in the London Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Cinematographer in the London Area is £1,751, with a range from £402 - £7,625.

Why are cinematic techniques important? ›

Film techniques are used in filmmaking to create different effects. Film editing, for example, can be used to emphasize a point or show contrast between scenes. The use of film techniques is one way filmmakers can manipulate the viewer's emotions and reaction as they watch the movie unfold on screen.

How do you use cinematography in a sentence? ›

How to use Cinematography in a sentence. He is single and his hobbies include cinematography, traveling, mountain biking and cooking. Technically, it's cheesy and very low-budget, with appalling editing lurid cinematography. This movie has some very eerie moments because of using a great cinematography.

What does cinematically mean? ›

1 : of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures cinematic principles and techniques cinematic special effects. 2 : filmed and presented as a motion picture cinematic fantasies a cinematic adaptation of a novel.

What's another word for photography? ›

What is another word for photography?
picture makingpicture taking
4 more rows

Can I learn cinematography on my own? ›

Well, the short answer is yes, you can learn cinematography on your own, but…

How can I practice cinematography at home? ›

How to practice cinematography at home - YouTube

Can I become a cinematographer without a degree? ›

A bachelor's degree is required for cinematographers, who can further their education in fine arts or technical colleges that provide courses in cinematography theory and practice.

What skills does a cinematographer need? ›

  • An eye for detail and a mind for fast invention.
  • Thorough understanding of lighting techniques, light colour, shade and manipulation.
  • Strong technical knowledge of cameras and the film production process.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Strong team management skills.
  • Excellent listening ability.
15 Jul 2022

What makes a good cinematographer? ›

Style – Being technical is great but having vision is what is important. The role of the cinematographer is both technical and creative. A good DP has to know both sides and be able to communicate in both languages if they are going to be successful but when push comes to show a DP is hired for their vision.

How do you shoot a cinematic shot? ›

7 Ways to Make Your Video Footage More Cinematic
  1. Think Before You Shoot. One of the easiest things that you can do before filming is plan, plan, and plan some more. ...
  2. Edit at 24 FPS. ...
  3. Shoot With a 180-Degree Shutter Angle. ...
  4. Add a Cinematic Crop. ...
  5. Choose the Right Music. ...
  6. Slow Things Down. ...
  7. Use Color Grading.
22 Jun 2021

What are the three types of sound in film? ›

Films are produced using three types of sounds: human voices, music and sound effects. These three types of sounds are crucial for a film to feel realistic for the audience. Sounds and dialogue must perfectly sync with the actions in a film without delay and must sound the way they look.

What is the role of cinematography? ›

The main role of a Cinematographer is to communicate the script visually with the audience in mind. It's visual storytelling at it's best.

Who is responsible for lighting on a film set? ›

Understanding the Responsibilities and Role of a Gaffer on a Film Set. On the set of a film production or television production, the electrical department manages and runs the lighting during every scene. Leading the electrical department is a person called the “gaffer.”

What makes a film successful? ›

However, a few of the common factors that contribute to a successful film include: a compelling storyline; a well written script; great actors who have a reach to the audience; a visionary director alongside a director of photography and editor and….. the list just goes on and on.

What are the 8 elements of film? ›

What are the key elements involved:
  • Film Type.
  • Shots.
  • Camera Angles.
  • Lighting.
  • Color.
  • Sound or Audio.
  • Editing.
  • Mise-en-Scene.
3 Mar 2021

What are the six formal elements of film? ›

  • Mise-en-scène. "put into the scene" This term includes elements of a movie scene that are put in position before the filming begins. ...
  • Cinematography. ...
  • Camera Angles. ...
  • Camera Distances. ...
  • Camera Movement. ...
  • Type of Lens. ...
  • Editing. ...
  • Establishing Shot.

What is the first element of film making? ›

The first Element of Film is the narrative. A narrative is similar to the plot of the movie but a narrative is talking about what the movie is, the characters and the world.

Who was the first cinematographer? ›

However, the invention of cinematography is often credited to Louis and Auguste Lumière, who created the first motion-picture apparatus—a camera and projector—which was first used publicly in 1895. From there, film evolved rapidly in the early 20th century.

What are different types of cinematic elements? ›

Movement and expression
  • Aerial perspective.
  • Aerial shot.
  • American shot.
  • Angle of view.
  • Bird's eye shot.
  • Bird's-eye view.
  • Boom shot.
  • B-roll.

What are the major elements of cinematic design? ›

Some major elements of cinematic design include development of costuming; development of decoration and setting; uses of colors, sounds and lighting; and uses of the camera.

What are the elements of film? ›

There are five elements of film which is narrative, cinematography, sound, mise-en-scene, and editing. These five elements help determine the film and a way to judge a film.

What are cinematic techniques used for? ›

Cinematic techniques are the methods filmmakers and videographers use to convey narrative and information. They include camera and editing processes, sound and visual effects, and even certain types of dramatic performances. These are seamlessly combined to present a film's narrative with maximum impact.

What are the 8 elements of film? ›

What are the key elements involved:
  • Film Type.
  • Shots.
  • Camera Angles.
  • Lighting.
  • Color.
  • Sound or Audio.
  • Editing.
  • Mise-en-Scene.
3 Mar 2021

What is the most important part of cinematography? ›

Composition. One of the most important choices that a Cinematographer makes for every single shot is its composition—or what will be seen in it 3. Composition refers to how each shot is framed and all the elements within that frame.

What are the 6 elements of cinematic composition? ›

Line, shape, lightness and darkness, color, perspective, balance, weight, height, depth -- these remain the words people use to talk about composition. As you saw in the video essay, elements like size, shape, color, and many other concepts of aesthetics, can change the way the audience reacts to a scene in your film.

What is the correct terminology for everything in the scene '? ›

The correct answer to ❝What is the correct terminology for `everything in the scene`? ❞ question is C. mise-en-scene.

What is the purpose of a low angle shot? ›

Low angle shots are often used to strengthen certain psychological effects in filmmaking and film editing, typically to make a subject look strong or powerful. That being said, there are many additional advantages low angle shots can bring to your filmmaking. You can also use them to: Capture different perspectives.

What is cinematic language? ›

Cinematic language is the methods and conventions of cinema that are used to communicate with the audience. What Are the Elements of Cinematic Language? The elements of cinematic language include camera angles, focus and movements, mise-en-scéne, lighting, sound and music, editing and performance.

What are the 4 elements of cinematography? ›

Cinematography is the way in which a shot is framed, lit, shadowed, and colored.

What are the four elements of cinematic? ›

In conclusion, The Big Four Elements of Film consists of mise-en-scéne, cinematography, editing and sound.

How can I improve my cinematography skills? ›

Top 10 Cinematography Tips:
  1. So get out there are and start shooting. ...
  2. Get out and find your style. ...
  3. Start building relationships now. ...
  4. Be true to your inner voice. ...
  5. Work like mad to learn all the tech and then give yourself the freedom to forget it all. ...
  6. Understand your role and that you are there to serve the director.

What makes a shot cinematic? ›

Cinematic shots are a series of frames that run uninterrupted in a visually appealing or unique way. Filmmakers often utilize cinematic shots to present ideas, narrative elements, movement, and emotion to the audience.

How do you identify film techniques? ›

Now that we know the different effects of different angles used in films, let's see how we can analyse them!
  1. Identify the shot angle in the scene.
  2. Identify the general effect of the angle. Identify the atmosphere in the scene. ...
  3. Ground your findings in the context of the film. Identify the film's themes. ...
  4. Write a TEEL paragraph.


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