Video Production Terms For The Uninitiated - Top 5

By, Craig Bass • Creative Director

Being on a video production shoot comes with its own lingo. There are countless words that effortlessly flow out of our mouths, but that our clients have absolutely no reference to; or, have an entirely different understanding of. For this, we are sorry. Honestly, we just can't help it! This is the jargon that has been ingrained in our brains via film school, and too many hours hanging out on sets.

In an effort to promote mutual understanding, I have collected the top 5 video production terms that you are bound to come across with any production. The translation begins! 

During Preproduction...

Depth of Field

During the planning stages of your video, preproduction phase, you will work with your production company to determine a style, approach, script, wardrobe, location and more that will culminate with the creation of the best video possible. When working to develop the style and approach for a particular segment of your video the concept of "depth of field" may be thrown around.  Depth of field refers to the transition from points of unsharp to sharp ranges of focus. Look to the two example photos below to understand the difference between a shallow depth of field vs deep depth of field. 

Shallow Depth of Field

Shallow Depth of Field

Deeper Depth of Field

Deeper Depth of Field

While on set...

Stinger

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A "Stinger", as it is affectionately called, is nothing more than an extension cord. Not some sort of specialty heavy-duty, film-grade extension cord--just any old extension cord. This isn't to say that we do not often use heavy-duty extension cords that would put that snake's nest in your garage to shame; we just wouldn't differentiate it linguistically.  

Where did the name come from? Who really knows. I have never even had anyone attempt to explain the origin of this bizarre piece of jargon.  

 

C-47

Nothing more than your run of the mill clothespin. Why is it called a C-47? Like most film and video terminology, no one really seems to know. There are stories that range from the mundane: a old product number for clothespins issued by some manufacturer; to the more sensational: that it is the namesake of a special military plane. that was revered for it's multipurpose.

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I am pretty sure that neither is true, but the C-47 is certainly the special multipurpose military plan of the film or video set. We use these suckers for all sorts of things, from securing gels and diffusion (alter the color or softness)  to the front of lights, to surreptitiously holding an actresses hair out of her face.

 

Gaff

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Gaff is just a shorthand version of some of the most amazing stuff on earth: Gaffer's Tape. Gaffer's Tape is very simply a tough, cloth tape that generally does not remove the finish of what it is stuck to. I say generally because it can, and will, remove certain finishes--there is a story about a short film, a historical home and, a particular wood floor that I will save for another time. When in doubt, opt for something totally non-destructive, but weak as a kitten: Painter's tape.

We use gaff constantly to tape down cables (clients breaking their necks wouldn't be very good for business), to setting marks (place for the onscreen talent to stand) to... well... really anything and everything! 

During editing...

Rough Cut

Rough cut, also commonly referred to as the first cut is the first edited version of your video. We take all that raw video footage that we shot and hand it over to the editors to work their storytelling magic. It usually includes all the major assets and components that will be included in your final video. It still may be lacking of some minor components and in some cases just might be missing the 'finishing work." The rough cut will usually have a test music track; allowing clients the opportunity to see their video set to music without having to pre-decide what track the final video will use. At this stage a video is only two stages away from being complete so it is important that the over flow and feel of the video is correct.