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Film. The Life of a Film Film Terms and Techniques. The Life of a Film. Pre-production (Obtaining / Developing) Production (Shooting) Post-production (Editing). Pre-production: the planning stage. Development: person / company buys the rights to a literary work (screenplay or outline)

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The Life of a Film

Film Terms and Techniques

The life of a film
The Life of a Film

  • Pre-production (Obtaining / Developing)

  • Production (Shooting)

  • Post-production (Editing)

Pre production the planning stage
Pre-production: the planning stage

  • Development: person / company buys the rights to a literary work (screenplay or outline)

  • Scriptwriters are hired to improve the work

  • Once the owner decides to film… personnel is hired

    • Director, business manager, talent, talent agents, lighting designers, sound engineers, accountants, special effects coordinators, etc.


  • Dailies: the day’s (or night’s) shooting

  • Each night the director and staff review the dailies

  • Problems: bad weather, talent forgetting lines, technical glitches (ie. Uncontrollable outside noise or equipment malfunction)

  • Music is composed and recorded (The Score)

  • Computer generated special effects designed

  • Publicity strategies are mapped out

Post production editing
Post-production: Editing

  • Splicing: film is cut and arranged

  • Director and editor must decide on the order of the shots

  • Transition techniques:

  • Cut – piece of film literally cut and spliced to another piece of film

  • Dissolve – current shot gets lighter and fades away while the next shot appears and gradually takes over the screen

Adding sound
Adding Sound

  • Ambient sounds: sounds that occur naturally in the course of a scene’s action

  • Looping: actors watch themselves on a small screen in a recording studio and speak their lines; they’re lip-syncing with themselves

  • The Score

Promotion and distribution
Promotion and Distribution

  • Trailers: coming attractions

  • Print ads: Advertisements appearing in newspapers and magazines

  • Posters

  • Previews

Film terms and techniques

Film Terms and Techniques

Cinematography: how the film was photographed


  • Frame: an individual picture, or exposure, on a strip of film. Film passes through camera at 24 frames per second (fps)

  • Shot: the basic unit of film; any continuous piece of unedited film (average length is 20 –30 seconds long)

  • Scene: a group of interrelated shots taking place in the same location

  • Sequence: a group of interrelated scenes that form a natural unit in the story. For example, an elevator scene, a fight scene, and a car chase may all be part of an escape sequence.


  • Long Shot (LS): shows the main visual subject of the shot in its entire surroundings (ex: a swimmer in a public pool showing the entire pool) ; also called ‘establishing shot’

    • Extreme Long Shot (ELS): For example, a shot taken from a helicopter

  • Medium Shot (MS): shows the main subject in its immediate surroundings (ex: the swimmer in the pool with only a portion of the pool visible

  • Close-up (CU): shows just the main subject (ex: only the swimmer is visible)

    • Extreme Close-up (ECU): For example, just the swimmer’s face

Establishing shot or extreme long shot
Establishing Shot (or Extreme Long Shot)

  • Shot taken from a great distance, almost always an exterior shot, shows much of locale

  • ELS

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

Long shot ls
Long Shot (LS)

  • (A relative term) A shot taken from a sufficient distance to show a landscape, a building, or a large crowd

Austin Powers and

the Spy Who Shagged Me

Medium shot ms
Medium Shot (MS)

  • (Also relative) a shot between a long shot and a close-up that might show two people in full figure or several people from the waist up

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Close up cu
Close-Up (CU)

  • A shot of a small object or face that fills the screen

  • Adds importance to object photographed

Under Pressure

Extreme close up ecu
Extreme Close-Up (ECU)

  • A shot of a small object or part of a face that fills the screen

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Saint In London

Over the shoulder shot
Over the Shoulder Shot

  • Usually contains two figures, one with his/her back to the camera, and the other facing the camera

Hollow Man

Cast Away


  • Low angle (LA): camera is lower than the subject and looks up at the subject (makes the subject look powerful)

  • Extreme low angle (ELA): camera is directly below the subject looking straight up at it

Low angle l a
Low Angle (l/a)

  • Camera is located below subject matter

  • Increases height and powerof subject

The Patriot

Angle continued
Angle (continued)

  • Flat angle (FA): camera is at the same level as the subject (eye-level shot); these are neutral shots and don’t convey any particular sense about the strength or weakness of the subject.

  • High angle (HA): camera is higher than the subject and looks down at the subject; makes the subject look inferior and insignificant – conveys weakness and / or defeat

    • Extreme high angle (EHA): camera is directly above the subject looking straight down at it

Eye level

  • Roughly 5 to 6 feet off the ground, the way an actual observer might view a scene

    • Most common

High angle h a
High Angle (h/a)

  • Camera looks down at what is being photographed

  • Takes away power of subject, makes it insignificant

  • Gives a general overview

Without Limits

Bird s eye view
Bird’s Eye View

  • Camera is placed directly overhead

  • Extremely disorienting

  • Viewer is godlike

Beverly Hills Girl Scouts

Oblique angle
Oblique Angle

  • Lateral tilt of the camera sothat figures appear to befalling out of the frame

  • Suggests tensionand transition

  • Sometimes used asthe point of viewof a drunk

The Matrix


  • Pan: camera remains in place but swivels from side to side; used to survey a scene or capture horizontal motion (example – camera is located in the middle bleacher section, pan left as the swimmer passes by in the pool)


  • Track: entire camera actually moves to the left or right, also capturing horizontal movement.

    • Motion of the camera is parallel to the motion of the subject.


  • Zoom: camera remains in place, but the lens of the camera is manipulated to create the appearance of moving closer or farther away from the subject; used for dramatic effect

  • Dolly: camera moves toward or away from the subject; differs from a zoom in that it leaves more of the background visible than the zoom


  • Tilt: camera remains in place but pivots up or down; gives the viewer a trip up or down a building, person, or other vertical object

  • Boom: camera, usually mounted on a crane or hydraulic arm, moves up or down; can also move sideways while moving up and down


  • Subjective: camera shows what the character sees

    • The camera is meant to take the place of the character’s eyes. Subjective shots often are not perfectly smooth; they might bounce up and down a little to show that the character whom we’re seeing through is walking (also known as point of view [POV])

Point of view pov
Point of View (POV)

  • A shot taken from the vantage point a particular character, or what a character sees


  • Transition between scenes when one scenes ends and another one begins

  • Most common


  • A gradual transition in which the end of one scene is superimposed over the beginning of a new one.

Fade out fade in
Fade-out/Fade in

  • A scene gradually goes dark or a new one gradually emerges from darkness


  • An optical effect in which one shot appears to push appears to push the preceding one from the screen.


  • An optical effect in which one shot appears to emerge from a shape on the screen.