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Video Production Glossary: 62 Essential Terms

May 10, 2023

by Sydney Wess

According to recent statistics, nine out of ten users prefer videos as their primary mode of obtaining business information. The average person spends 100 minutes of their day watching videos online, making it imperative for every company to start making videos of their services asap.

This glossary will help companies navigate the various essential tools and processes used by video production companies to create memorable stories for brands.

Are you looking for help creating a commercial or video ad? Find top video production companies on Clutch.


  • A-Roll: Also known as main footage, primary footage, hero footage, or principal shots. It includes the video’s key plot points, talking characters, or important interviews.
  • Analog Video: A traditional recording method where an electron beam is scanned across a phosphor and stored as a continuously varying voltage.
  • Aspect Ratio: The proportional width and height of an image.
  • Audio Recording: A process where sound is captured and stored onto a physical medium. Traditional examples include magnetic tape and optical disks.


  • Backlight: Also known as a hair light, this is a light source placed behind the main subject to act as an additional highlight to the subject.
  • B-Roll: This is supplemental or alternative footage joined in-between cuts in the A-roll to control the pacing of a sequence. They do not usually include any dialogue or essential actions.


  • Camera Angle: Refers to the camera's location concerning the subject of a shot.
  • Camera Lens: is more often known in the industry these days as main footage, primary footage, hero footage, or principal shots.
  • Camera Movement: A technique describing the movement of a camera in relation to the subject of a shot to enhance the storytelling further.
  • Close-Up: A type of shot that tightly focuses on the face of the subject, usually for purposes of relaying emotions or lack thereof.
  • Color Correction: A technique that uses color gels or filters to alter the overall light color of a scene to communicate a specific environment or atmosphere.
  • Color Temperature: Describes the appearance of light provided by a light bulb. It is usually measured in Kelvin.
  • Cutaway: Refers to an interruption in the primary sequence of events by inserting a shot of something else.


  • Depth of Field: Refers to the distance between the farthest and closest objects to the camera that still appear sharp in the image.
  • Diffusion: Refers to any material placed in front of a light source to expand the size of the light and create a softer quality.


  • Editing Process: Refers to the overall process of piecing together all the collected footage to create the overall storyline. This also includes the application of sound, visual, and special effects.
  • Establishing Shot: An image that provides the main context for the scene, usually by showing scenery where all the important or impactful events take place.

Additional Reading: “When to Hire a Freelance Video Producer vs. Video Production Agency


  • Focal Length: Refers to the distance from the center of the lens to the image sensor, usually measured in millimeters.
  • Foley: The process of recreating everyday sounds to be added as sound effects to a video production.
  • Frame Rate: Also known as frame per second (fps), refers to the number of images consecutively displayed during a single second. The higher the number the smoother the video.
  • F-Stop: Refers to the light-gathering ability of a camera lens or any optical system.


  • Gaffer: Also known as the chief lighting technician, they are responsible for the lighting plan for the production.


  • High Definition: Refers to the resolution and image quality of a video. While there are no set standards to determine high definition, anything more than 480 vertical scan lines can be considered in that category.

high definition vs standard definition example

Source: Vimeo

Discover how much a video production project costs with Clutch’s video production pricing guide


  • Image Sensor: This is a device within a camera that converts optical signals into electronic ones.
  • ISO: Refers to the camera’s sensitivity to light.


  • Jumpcut: An editing technique where a continuous shot is broken up into parts, and some footage is removed to give the impression of jumping forward in time.


  • Key Light: Refers to the primary light source in the scene, mainly used to highlight the form and dimensions of the main subject.


  • Lavalier: A tiny microphone usually used in theater clipped onto the subject to record better audio and leave the subject’s hands-free.
  • Light Source: Refers to the placements of lights relative to the subjects of a shot. The number and angle of different light sources can be changed to communicate a specific atmosphere.


  • Make-Up: A range of cosmetics used to make subjects closer in appearance to the desired outcome to compensate for the lighting used in the production.
  • Matte: A technique where two or more image elements are combined into one final image.
  • Medium Shot: Also known as a waist shot, is a camera angle where the main subject is shown along with their immediate surrounding environment.


  • Offline: The process wherein a copy of the original footage is made and only the copy is edited.
  • On-Screen: Everything that can be visually seen within the frame.


  • Pick-Up Shots: Also known as reshoots, these are shots filmed after principal photography has ended.
  • Pixels: Refers to the basic unit of measurement for an image shown on a screen display.
  • Point of View (POV): Refers to a shot wherein the camera angle is supposed to represent a character’s viewpoint.
  • Post Production: Refers to all stages of production that occur after principal photography has ended.
  • Preproduction: A process where all the planning for the different elements of the production are discussed and decided upon.
  • Principal Photography: The stage of the production process where the bulk of recording footage is done.


  • Room Tone: Also known as ambient sound, refers to the natural collection of sound in a given area where no dialogue is said.
  • Rough Cut: Refers to the first version of a video after preliminary editing.
  • Rule of Thirds: An image composition guideline where an image is divided into a grid of nine squares to help determine the focus of an image.

example of the rule of thirds

Source: B&H


  • Shot List: Refers to a continuous series of frames recorded during a specific period.
  • Sound Effects: Artificially created or enhanced sounds added to video production.
  • Special Effects: Refers to usually visual illusions added to video production to display an imaginary scenario.
  • Storyboard: A tool used to organize the storyline using illustrations and images arranged in consequential order.
  • Synchronization: The process where sounds and sometimes songs are combined with video.


  • Telephoto: A type of camera lens that allows videographers to focus in and out of certain points in the shot during a scene.
  • Timecode: A digital address that allows editors to track specific events in scenes for easy reference.


  • Video Editing: The overall process of combining different recorded footage sets to create a cohesive project.
  • Video File Format: A set of rules for storing video containers, codecs, and metadata on different devices.
  • Video Footage: Refers to the unedited footage recorded during principal photography.\
  • Video Frame: Refers to a single frame within the video footage.
  • Video Shot: Refers to a scene or sequence of frames within the video footage.
  • Visual Effects: These are techniques where visual images are manipulated outside what was shot during principal photography.
  • Voiceover: A process where a voice not part of the original recording is added to the project in post-production.


  • White Balance: the process of adjusting the intensity of colors in an image towards a desired effect or to make it look more natural.
  • Wide Angle: Refers to a shot that expands the camera’s field of vision, allowing the viewer to see more of the surrounding environment. This is done by using a camera lens with a shorter focal length.
  • Wide Shot: The product of a wide angle, this shot establishes the subject in some relation to its surroundings to communicate a desired effect.


  • XLR: Short for External Line Return, is an electronic connector designed to minimize noise when connected or removed so as not to interfere with any recording.


  • Zoom: A technique where the image is made to move closer to the subject within the recording sequence.

Understanding the Different Stages of the Filmmaking Process is a Good Start

There are many things going on behind the camera, and knowing about them will lead to a better understanding between you and your production partners. 

Only by getting this understanding will you be able to create videos and stories that will impact your audience.

Looking for a team to help you create a story to remember? Find the best video production companies on Clutch.

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