Shooting Terms Jargon


(verb) (pedestal) Vertical camera move (“boom up,” “boom down”) often making use of a boom or a jib.


Visual make-up of a scene, including such variables as balance, framing, field of view and texture, which are all aesthetic considerations. Good composition techniques create an image that’s pleasing to view.


Shot of something other than the principal action that is shown while the principal action continues. A cutaway is frequently used as transitional footage or to avoid a jump cut.

depth of field

(DoF) Range in front of a camera’s lens in which objects appear in focus. The DoF varies with subject-to-camera distance, focal length of a camera lens and the aperture setting.


Camera movement toward or away from a subject. Dollying in or out results in a more dramatic change in perspective than zooming in or out.

field of view

Width of a shot that is visible with a lens set at a particular focal length.

follow focus

Controlling lens focus to maintain sharpness and clarity despite camcorder or subject movement.


Act of composing a shot in a camcorder’s viewfinder for desired content, angle, exposure, depth of field and field of view. [See also: composition]


Space between the top of a subject’s head and a frame’s upper-screen edge. Too much headroom makes the subject appear to fall out of the frame. Too little may cut the top of the subject’s head out of the frame when the image is shown on TV sets.

long shot

(LS) Camera view of a subject or scene from a distance, showing a broad perspective.

medium shot

(MS) Defines any camera perspective between long shot and closeup, viewing the subject from a medium distance. Usually includes the head and shoulders.

nose room

The distance between the subject and the edge of the frame in the direction the subject is looking. Also called “look room.”

over-the-shoulder shot

View of the primary subject with the back of another person’s shoulder and head in the foreground. Often used in interviews.


Horizontal camera pivot from a stationary position. Panning left makes the subject appear to move from left to right across the screen. Panning right makes the subject appear to move from right to left across the screen.


(POV) Shot taken from a subject’s point of view enabling viewers to see what the subject sees.

rack focus

Shifting focus between subjects in the background and those in the foreground, drawing a viewer’s attention from subject to subject.

rule of thirds

Composition technique that places important subjects or objects on the lines, or at the cross points, in a tic-tac-toe pattern imagined over the viewfinder.


In the language of moving images, a sequence of related shots usually constituting action in one particular location. [See also: shot]

selective focus

Technique of adjusting focus to emphasize the subject in a shot while making the remainder of the shot blur. Selective focus is useful for directing the viewer’s attention. [See also: rack focus]


Intentional, isolated camera views, which collectively comprise a scene. [See scene]


Vertical camcorder pivot (“tilt up” or “tilt down”) on a single axis, as on a tripod. Tilting up makes the subject appear to move from the top to the bottom of the screen. Tilting down makes the subject appear to move from the bottom to the top of the screen.


Lateral camcorder movement that parallels a moving subject. In the classic tracking move, the camcorder maintains its distance from the subject.


Camera view including two subjects, often used in interview situations. Simularly, a three-shot includes three subjects.

whip pan

(swish pan) Extremely rapid pan that creates a blur on the screen. Two such pans in the same direction, edited together — one moving from, the other moving toward a stationary shot — can convey the passage of time or a change of location.


(verb) Vary the focal length of a lens from wide angle to telephoto or vice versa, to enlarge or shrink the subjects and show more or less space around them in the frame.

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