Yutree’s Essential Guide to Film and Media Jargon

Nov 13, 2018

Yutree are leaders in Media Insurance solutions. We’ve compiled an essential guide to film and media jargon that we’ve learnt over the years! We’re sure there’s more but hope you find it useful.

Above-the-Line Expenses

The major expenses committed to before production begins, including story/rights/continuity (writing); salaries for producers, director, and cast; travel and living; and production fees (if the project is bought from an earlier company). Everything else falls under below-the-line expenses.

Action vehicles

Vehicles supplied to production companies for use within films & TV productions. We cannot place the RTA cover aspect but can provide public liability for the vehicle being used on a closed set.


Automatic dialogue replacement is where actors go back into the studio to retake audio scenes.


Storage of old film, tape and new digital media.


A company who supplies weaponary props to films, theatre productions and the like including swords, axes, guns etc.

Art Director

The person who oversees the artists and craftspeople who build the sets. 

Assistant Director

Despite the ‘director’ tag, this is more of a logistical than an artistic role: the assistant director is primarily responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly during the shooting, that schedules are kept to and that everyone is where they’re supposed to be. On larger productions, there may be grades of assistant director – usually, the second AD is responsible for supervising principal cast while the third AD handles extras and other background artistes.

AV (Audio Visual) Company

A company that supplies, hires or installs audio visual equipment such as LED screens, plasma’s etc.


Manufacturer of a popular non-linear editing system used by post production companies.


A large, undeveloped area on studio property used for constructing large open-air sets or for filming wilderness scenes.

Below-the-Line Expenses

All physical production costs not included in the above-the-line expenses, including material costs, music rights, publicity, trailer, etc.

Boom Microphone

A long pole with a microphone on the end. The boom is extended out near the actors.

Call Sheet

A listing of which actors will be required for which scenes, and when they will be required. For production insurance, we will need to check these every day of the production for hazardous scenes and other referral triggers.

Camera crane

An extendable crane which allows filming above actors or at a distance. The cameras are fitted to stabilised heads at the end of the crane.


The process of hiring actors to play the characters in a script, typically done by a casting director, but with some input from a director, producer, or studio.


A hand drawn sheet representing a single animation frame, usually made of a clear material like cellulose or mylar to allow several layers of composition.


AKA: Computer Generated Imagery
The use of computer graphics to create or enhance special effects.


A person who plans and directs dance sequences within a movie.


The person whose job it is to set up both camera and lighting for each shot in a moving image text. The cinematographer has perhaps paramount influence over the look or tone of a shot or scene, and is often held in as high esteem as the director. Cinematography is therefore the art of positioning a camera and lighting a scene. The chief cinematographer for a movie is called the director of photography.


Animation of models constructed from clay or plasticine.


An image artist who, during post-production of a movie or television show, utilizes computer-based alteration/correction programs to go through the movie/show frame by frame to insure colour and light continuity.


A producer who performs a substantial portion of a creative producing function, or who is primarily responsible for one or more managerial producing functions. A co-producer has less responsibility than a producer for the completion of a project.


The combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images (or sequences of images), often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene. Examples might be incorporating rendered 3D images (CGI) into filmed material, or extracting elements shot in front of blue/green screen.


AKA: Continuity Error
The degree to which a movie is self-consistent. For example, a scene where an actor is wearing a hat when seen from one camera angle and not from another would lack continuity.

Costume Supervisor

The person in charge of costumes, usually preparing them for use and making sure they are accurate and faithful to the designs.


AKA: Rushes
The first positive prints made from the negatives photographed on the previous day. During filming, the director and some actors may view these dailies as an indication of how the filming and the actors’ performances are progressing.


The person responsible for the physical creation of a film or television programme, who is often the final decision-maker with regard to creative matters.


The middle section of the chain of production-distribution-exhibition in the film industry. The distributor buys, then re-sells or rents a film property. They are crucially responsible for marketing individual films or videos.

Digital Imaging Technician

A person who provides on-set quality control, image manipulation & colour correction, production continuity, trouble shooting and consultation to assist in fulfilling the requirements and vision of the cinematographer in film-style digital production. Also referred to a DIT on credits.


AKA: Dolly Shot, Dolly Up, Dolly In, Dolly Back, Pull back.
A dolly is a small truck which rolls along dolly tracks carrying the camera, some of the camera crew and occasionally the director. “Dolly” is also the action of moving the camera towards (dolly up/in) or away from (dolly/pull back) the object that it is pointing at.

Dolly Grip

A grip that moves a dolly.

Dry hire

The hire of technical equipment to a third party without an operator. We need to check the client has rigorous hirer checks in place to minimise the risk of theft by fraudulent hirer. Checks would include credit checks, references, proof of ID, utility bills and the like.


The practice of adding a soundtrack to pre-existing film.


The process by which shots are put together into sequences or scenes. Usually described according to rhythm or pace (i.e. the varying lengths of the shots in the sequence) and type of transition (e.g. cut, fade, dissolve or mix, wipe).


AKA: British Actors Equity Association, BAEA, Actors Equity
A trade union for actors. In the UK, an actor must belong to Equity before being allowed to perform in any “legitimate” theatre or film.

Film Stock

The physical medium on which photographic images are recorded.


A lightweight timber frame covered with scenic canvas, or plywood. Flats are used to provide a lightweight and easy to move and re-configure backdrop to a stage set. Flats sometimes have windows or doors built into them to provide extra flexibility, for use in realistic settings.

Focus Puller

AKA: B Cameraman
A member of the camera crew who adjusts the focus of the camera during filming.

Foley track & foley artist

The construction or approximation of sound effects using sources other than those represented on screen. Examples would include a knife piercing a watermelon to approximate a stabbing sound, or the use of coconut shells to approximate the sound of horses’ hooves.


AKA: Chief Lighting Technician
The head of the electrical department, responsible for the design and execution of the lighting plan for a production.


A grip is a skilled person responsible for the set up, adjustment and maintenance of production equipment on the set.


A gobo is a piece of metal or glass which blocks some areas of light so that a pattern or silhouette is created on the projected surface. This could be the company logo, shape or text and they can be used in conjunction with intelligent lights and projectors.

Green Screen

These screens are used during filming to allow the visual effects team to add the required backgrounds and visual effects.


Not as interesting as it sounds! Usually a trailer, or truck and trailer combination outfitted for and used as the dressing room for actors when on location shoots away from permanent soundstages.


The arm of a mechanical crane.

Key Grip

Head grip in charge of setting up equipment – including cranes, dollies and platforms – to facilitate the camera crew’s shot.


An optical device used by a camera to focus an image onto film stock or image sensor.

Lighting Desk

A lighting desk is the control desk which houses various switches that are connected to lights in the theatre, music venue etc. Modern lighting desks are computer controlled where scenes are saved into the computer’s memory so that the light can automatically change.

Line Producer

A producer who is responsible for managing every person and issue during the making of a film. Line producers only work on one film at a time.

Location Filming

AKA: Location, On Location, Location Shooting.
Filming which occurs at a place not constructed specifically for the production.

Location Manager

A person who manages various aspects of filming a movie on location, such as arranging with authorities for permission to shoot in specific places.

Motion Capture

An animation technique in which the actions of an animated object are derived automatically from the motion of a real-world actor or object. Think Gollum from Lord of the Rings!

Negative Cutter

A person who matches the negative of a movie and conforms (matches) it to the final version of the film as decided by the filmmakers.

OB (Outside Broadcast)

A broadcast made from outside a television studio, often live, usually by means of portable cameras linked to an Outside Broadcast van, which contains the necessary equipment for broadcasting them back to the production company.

Off-line editing

The process of preliminary editing done in a lower-cost editing facility, to prepare a list of edits for on-line.

On-line editing

The process of final editing and preparation for distribution of film, with edits often from a list of changes created during off-line.

Pickup shots

Any footage shot after production wraps. Can be due to poor quality of initial recording, required extra scenes etc.


AKA: Postproduction, Post Work performed on a movie after the end of principal photography. Usually involves editing and visual effects.


AKA: Preproduction, Pre Arrangements made before the start of filming. This can include script editing, set construction, location scouting, and casting. Our clients will need cover under a production package at the start of pre-production.

Previsualisation Artist

A designer who uses low resolution proxy models, quick OpenGL hardware renderings, and other 3D FX systems to completely conceptualise a sequence that requires either visual FX or character animation with the goal of to producing usable data that will help streamline the production process.

Principal Photography

The main photography of a film and the time period during which it takes place. (Production)


The person ultimately responsible for the creation of a film or programme. Usually involved right from the start, the producer will either devise or purchase the original idea, calculate the likely budget, pitch the idea to financiers to raise the money, hire the necessary creative personnel, supervise all stages of production and marketing, negotiate deals with prospective distributors or broadcasters and be the first point of contact for anyone interested in the production in question.


Anything an actor touches or uses on the set; e.g. phones, guns, cutlery, etc. Movie animals and all food styling (food seen or eaten on set/screen) also fall into this domain.


A member of the crew with expertise in pyro’s, fire or explosions.


Workers responsible for the setting, hanging and focussing of lighting instruments and constructing scaffolding used in making film sets, at theatres, concert venues, exhibition halls etc.


A person who makes the costumes.

Second Unit

A small, subordinate crew responsible for filming shots of less importance, such as inserts, crowds, scenery, etc.


A large area (usually in a studio) where elaborate sets may be constructed. Soundstages allow filmmakers greater control over factors such as sound, lighting, temperature, spectators, and security.

Special Effects

AKA: SFX, Special Effects Assistant, Special Effects Technician.
An artificial effect used to create an illusion in a movie. Refers to effects produced on the set, as opposed to those created in post-production. Most movie illusions are created in post production.


A small explosive device, which – when detonated – will simulate the effect of a bullet/puncture wound or small explosion. When worn by actors, they typically include a container of blood which bursts upon detonation.

Stage Drapes (Stage curtains)

Stage drapes are large, heavy pieces of cloth or velour type material that block out backstage areas.


A form of animation that seeks to create the impression of moving three-dimensional objects by filming one or two frames, moving them, filming another one or two frames, and so on (Wallace & Gromit!)


A camera attached to a camera operator via a mechanical harness which reduces or eliminates the unsteadiness of the operator’s motion.

Still Photographer

A person who photographs the action (often alongside the camera) to be used in publicising the movie.


A series of drawings illustrating the way that a director plans to visualise film sequences, showing how each shot will appear.

Surround Sound

A sound system which creates the illusion of multi-directional sound through speaker placement and signal processing. Brands include Dolby, SDDS, DTS, THX.


The process of transferring moving images from film to a video signal, including frame rate and color corrections.

Theatre Rigging (Fly Systems)

A theatre rigging system is a system of lines and blocks which allow the staff to hoist curtains, lights and scenery seamlessly onto the stage during a performance.

Time Lapse Photography

A form of animation in which numerous single frames are filmed spaced at a given interval to show a process that would take a very long time to occur. i.e. a flower blooming, or the motion of the stars.

Tracking Shot

When the camera physically moves along a track in order to follow an action or reveal a scene.


An abridged script; longer than a synopsis. It consists of a summary of each major scene of a proposed movie and descriptions of the significant characters and may even include snippets of dialogue. While a complete script is around 100 pages, a treatment is closer to 10.

Vehicle tracking

Actors and vehicles are filmed whilst moving on a low loader trailer or by another vehicle travelling alongside the action vehicle with crew & directors in the support vehicle.

VFX (visual effects)

VFX is a term used for computer based graphic effects used extensively across Film & TV production and undertaken in edit suites and. Once only seen on major Hollywood blockbusters, effects are on a vast array of productions and can include green screen filming.


A person who works in the video medium — recording moving images and sound onto linear analog or digital tape, non-linear digital disc, or any other digital recording media, such as memory cards. On a set, he or she may be responsible for the lighting as well as the audio and images captured by the video camera/camcorder.


Indicates that dialogue will be heard on a movie’s soundtrack, but the speaker will not be shown.

Voice over booth

Usually located within an audio post production house, the booth is sound proofed to a very high standard for voice over work.

Wet hire

The hire of technical equipment by a company with their own operator to a third party.

Working Title

The name by which a movie is known while it is being made. This is sometimes different from the title with which it is released.

To find out more about Media and Entertainment Insurance please contact Yutree on 01638 660651

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