Camcorder Glossary

automatic exposure
Circuitry that monitors light levels and adjusts camcorder iris accordingly, compensating for changing light conditions.

automatic gain control (AGC)
Camcorder circuitry that adjusts incoming audio signal levels automatically, alleviating distortion of loud sound.


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Camera movement toward or away from a subject. Effect may appear the same as zooming, which reduces and magnifies the image, but dollying in or out maintains perspective while moving closer to or further from subject.

field of view
Extent of a shot that’s visible through a particular lens; its vista.

focal length
Distance from the center of a lens to the focal plane (usually the camcorder’s image-gathering CCD). Short focal lengths offer a broad field of view (wide-angle); long focal lengths offer a narrow field of view (telephoto). Zoom lenses have a variable focal length.

Camcorder’s lens opening, or aperture. Regulates the amount of light entering the camera.

long shot
Camera view of a subject or scene, usually from a distance, showing a broad perspective.

medium shot
Defines any camera perspective between long shot and closeup, whereby subjects are viewed from medium distance.

Horizontal camera pivot, right to left or left to right, from a stationary position. Follows a subject, redirects viewer’s attention from one subject to another, shows relationships between subjects and scans subjects too large to fit into one shot.

point of view (POV)
Shot perspective whereby the camera assumes subject’s view and thus viewers see what the subject sees as if through his/her/its eyes.

polarizing filter
Mounted at front of camcorder lens, reduces undesirable glare and reflections.

rack focus
Shifting focus during a shot in progress, typically between background and foreground subjects.

A unit of video recorded without interruption from a single camera view.

selective focus
Adjusting camera focus to emphasize desired subject(s) in a shot. Selected area maintains clarity and image sharpness while remainder of image blurs. Useful for directing viewer’s attention.

swish pan (whip pan)
Extremely rapid camera movement from left to right or right to left, appearing as image blur. Two such pans in the same direction — one moving from, the other moving to a stationary shot — edited together can effectively convey passage of time.

Automatic indicators on camera front and within viewfinder that signal recording in progress — seen by both camera subject(s) and operator.

Camera lens with long focal length, narrow horizontal field of view. Opposite of wide-angle, captures magnified, close-up images from considerable distance.

Camera rotation in a vertical direction, down or up, from a stationary position. Follows movement, contrasts differences in size between two subjects or gives viewer point-of-view sense of a subject’s height.

white balance
Electronic adjustment of camcorder circuitry to compensate for the color temperature of the dominant light in a given location. Necessary to retain truest colors of recorded image.

wide angle
Camera lens with short focal length and broad horizontal field of view. Opposite of telephoto, supports viewer perspective and tends to reinforce perception of depth.

Variance of focal length, making subject appear closer to or further away from the camera. Lens capability permits change from wide angle to telephoto, or vice versa, in one continuous move. "Zoom in" (movement toward telephoto) and "zoom out" (movement toward wide angle) are common terms.

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