This glossary contains brief definitions for screenwriting and film
production terms. Some but not all of these terms are found in Final
Draft as SmartType choices or macros. It is not and was not intended to
Used to emphasize a specific object in a shot to indicate that a
different camera angle is to be made of a previous shot.
BACK TO / BACK TO SCENE
The camera reverts to its original shot position from another.
Any action or object(s) which is secondary to the main action and
which appears far away to the main action, and which serves as a
backdrop for that action. Usually abbreviated in lowercase letters with
periods after each letter.
In a screenplay, this term is used to indicate a pause in a
character's speech or action. Also refers to actions or incidents
Camera shot that includes only the head and shoulders of a
character. Always typed in capital letters.
Camera shot that closely emphasizes (isolates) a detail in a person,
animal or object. Always typed in capital letters and is usually
CUT / CUT TO
Instantaneous transition (change) from a scene (or a shot, or
another person) to another. Always typed in capital letters.
DOLLY IN / DOLLY OUT
Camera movement towards or away from a subject, involving physical
movement of the camera. Always typed in capital letters.
Denotes a shot taken out of doors.
EXTREME CLOSEUP (E.C.U.)
Camera shot that is extremely close to a subject, used to emphasize
some particular detail. Usually typed out in full in capital letters.
EXTREME LONG SHOT
Camera shot usually taken from a long distance away from the
subject. Always typed out in full in capital letters.
FADE IN / FADE OUT
Smooth, gradual transition from complete blackness to a scene (fade
in); gradual transition from a scene to complete blackness (fade out).
Always typed out in full in capital letters.
The area of the scene (objects or action) which is closest to the
camera. Usually abbreviated in lowercase letters with periods after
Camera direction (which is really an optical printing, or other,
effect) where a single frame is repeated over time to give the illusion
that all action has stopped.
Refers to shots taken in both an interior and an exterior location.
For example, a police chase where we start inside a car and the camera
moves outside the window when the character leans out to shoot a gun.
A shot within a scene which calls attention to a specific piece of
information, usually an inanimate object.
Denotes a shot taken indoors.
Tight focus on an object or person.
An exaggerated acceleration of natural action achieved by removing
from a scene footage that provides continuity of action, camera
position or time. For example, a shot of man starting frame left and
walking right who, in the blink of an eye, is next seen almost at frame
right would be a jumpcut. He appears to have "jumped" to the right edge.
Transition used in Stage format, denoting the beginning and
discovery of a scene by the illumination of lights onto a particular
area of the stage.
Camera shot that is taken at a considerable distance from the
subject, usually containing a large number of background objects.
Always spelled out in capital letters.
Shorthand for "Magic Hour," the short period of time around sunset.
An edit in which physical elements or actions in the first shot
greatly resemble actions or physical elements in the next shot. One
classic example of this is from Hitchock’s North by Northwest
in which a shot of Cary Grant pulling Eva Marie Saint up off Mount
Rushmore turns into a matching shot in which he pulls her up into a
bunk bed. Another is the match cut from the shower drain to Janet
Leigh’s eye in Psycho.
MEDIUM SHOT (MED. SHOT)
Camera shot often used to describe a shot of character approximately
from the waist up.
Scene heading which indicates a rapid succession of shots.
MOVING / MOVING SHOT
Camera shot which follows whatever is being filmed.
Off-screen commentary, which is heard over the action. Also referred
to as a voice over.
Indicates that the character speaking is not visible in the frame.
Always abbreviated in all capital letters and enclosed in parentheses.
Camera shot (from the word panorama) where the camera moves
gradually from right to left or left to right, without stopping; to
slowly move to another subject or setting without cutting the action.
POINT OF VIEW (P.O.V.)
Camera position that views a scene from the viewpoint of a
particular character. Always abbreviated in capital letters with
periods after each letter.
The effect of showing one image over another. Always typed in
Camera shot of two people, usually from the waist up.
VOICE OVER (V.O.)
A Character Extension in which a character’s voice is heard over a
scene, as in narration, a tape-recorded voice, or a voice heard over
the phone. Always abbreviated in capital letters with periods after
each letter and enclosed in parentheses next to the Character Name,
capitalized and spelled out in the script.
See Long Shot.
A wide variety of patterned transitions in which images seem to move
(or push) other images off the screen.
ZOOM IN / ZOOM OUT
A quick transition from a long shot to a close shot or the reverse,
usually achieved by manipulating the camera’s lens.