Glossary of Video Terms

aspect ratio
Proportional height and width of a picture on screen. The current NTSC standard for conventional receiver or monitor is four by three (4:3); 16:9 for HDTV.

audio dub
Recording audio over prerecorded videotape soundtrack, or a portion, without affecting prerecorded video images.

automatic exposure
Camcorder circuitry that monitors light levels and adjusts camcorder iris and/or shutter speed accordingly, compensating for changing light conditions.

.AVI (Audio-Video Interleave)
The PC file extension of the Video for Windows format.

character generator
Device which electronically produces letters, numbers, symbols and other graphic displays for on-screen video titling.

Portion of video signal that carries color information (hue and saturation, but not brightness); frequently abbreviate d as "C." [See luminance]

component video
A video signal in which the luminance (brightness) and chrominance (color) components are kept as separate signals to improve image quality.

composite video
The standard video signal that combines the luminance and chrominance into one signal.

Instantaneous change from one shot to another.

Shot of other than principal action (but peripherally related); frequently used as transitional footage or to avoid a jump cut.

depth of field
The area between the nearest object to the camcorder in focus and the furthest object in focus.

Sony’s camcorder technology which records Digital Video on standard 8mm and Hi8 tapes. [See DV]

The process of converting a continuous analog video or audio signal to digital data (ones and zeros) for computer storage.

Device that captures and imports video scenes into a computer by converting it into digital information. for capturing moving video.

Image transition effect of one picture gradually disappearing as another appears.

Videotape signal voids, viewed as fleeting white specks or streaks. Usually result of minute "bare spots" on a tape’s magnetic particle coating, or tape debris covering particles and blocking signals.

Digital Videocassette. A consumer tape format that records signals digitally for increased resolution and better color reproduction. Also nearly eliminates generation loss when recording to another tape or onto a hard drive using the IEEE 1394 connector. [See Digital8]

Process or result of selectively recording video and/or audio on finished videotape. Typically involves reviewing raw footage and transferring desired segments from master tape(s) onto new tape in a predetermined sequence.

edit controller
Electronic control device used in conjunction with VCRs and camcorders to facilitate automated videotape editing with speed, precision, and convenience.

Compact videocassette format, popularized by camcorders, employing 8-millimeter-wide videotape. [See Hi8.]

Gradual diminishing or heightening of visual and/or audio intensity. "Fade out" or "fade to black," "fade in" or "up from black" are common terms.

flying erase head
Accessory video head mounted on spinning drum, incorporated in all 8mm and Hi8 camcorders and VCRs and in newer VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, and S-VHS-C camcorders and VCRs to eliminate glitches and rainbow noise between scenes recorded or edited.

focal length
Inside a camera, the distance from the lens’s focal point (its optical center) to its focal plane (where the image falls on the CCD imaging chip) with the lens focused on infinity. 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.

frame rate
The number of frames in a second of video. Thirty Frames Per Second (FPS) is considered full-motion.

Relationship between an original video recording and its duplications. Original footage from a camcorder or other video source is called first-generation video. A copy (all or part) of the original footage constitutes second-generation video. A copy of a copy is third-generation, and so on.

generation loss
Degradation in picture and sound quality resulting from duplication of original video footage. Each successive generation compounds generation loss.

Space between the top of a subject’s head and a monitor’s upper screen edge. Always leave some headroom.

Hi8 (high-band 8mm)
Improved version of 8mm videotape format characterized by higher luminance resolution, yielding a sharper picture. Similar to S-VHS. [See 8mm.]

horizontal resolution
The amount of discernable detail across a screen’s width. Measured in lines, with higher numbers corresponding to increased picture quality.

interlaced video
Process of scanning frames in two passes, each painting every other line on the screen, with scan lines alternately displayed in even and odd fields. NTSC is interlaced; most computers produce a noninterlaced video signal. [See noninterlaced]

jump cut
A distracting, instantaneous video transition between two scenes that have identical subjects in slightly different screen locations. Makes subject appear to jump within the screen. Remedied with cutaway.

linear editing
Analog, tape-based editing. Called linear because once the program is edited scene lengths can not be changed without re-editing all scenes that follow it. Compare with nonlinear editing.

Black-and-white portion of the video signal, which carries brightness information representing picture contrast, light and dark qualities; frequently abbreviated as "Y." [See chrominance]

noninterlaced video
Process of scanning complete frames in one pass, painting every line on the screen, yielding higher picture quality than that of interlaced video. Most computers produce a noninterlaced video signal; The NTSC signal is interlaced. [See interlaced]

nonlinear editing
Digital "cut and paste" editing that uses computer hard drives instead of tape to store images. Random access allows easy arrangement of scenes in any order. Also eliminates the need for rewinding and allows for multiple dubs without generational loss.

NTSC (National Television Standards Committee)
Group formed by Federal Communications Commission to regulate U.S. television broadcasting specifications. NTSC refers to all video systems conforming to this 525-line 30-frame-per-second signal standard.

Shorthand for "picture element." A camcorder’s CCD consists of several hundred thousand pixels, each one building up a tiny charge of electricity in response to the light that falls on it. More pixels on a CCD will improve resolution.

post production (post)
Any video production activity following the initial recording. Typically involves editing, addition of background music, voiceover, sound effects, titles, and/or various electronic visual effects. Results in completed production.

rendering time
The time it takes a video-editing computer to compute and create a wipe, DVE or computer generated effect.

The number of pixels in a computer screen. Expressed like 640×480, which would be a screen 640 pixels across and 480 pixels vertically. [See horizontal resolution]

rule of thirds
Composition rule stating that a scene is most appealing to the eye if its primary elements appear at certain points on the screen. It divides the screen into thirds vertically and horizontally, like a tic-tac-toe game.

Series of sketches illustrating key visual parts of a production, accompanied by corresponding audio information.

To be able to receive data as it is sent. With Internet video, it allows you to watch a movie as it is downloading.

Super-VHS (S-VHS, S-VHS-C)
Improved version of VHS and VHS-C videotape formats, characterized by higher luminance resolution, yielding a sharper picture. [See Hi8.]

S-video (Y/C)
A method of transmitting the chrominance and luminance portions of a video signal separately to keep quality high by avoiding modulating and demodulating the signal between various components in a system. Available on Hi8 and S-VHS machines.

time code
Data embedded in a video signal that assigns an identification number to each frame in a video, in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames.

VHS (Video Home System)
Predominant half-inch videotape format developed by Matsushita and licensed by JVC. [See Super-VHS.]

VHS-C (VHS compact)
Scaled-down version of VHS using shorter tape inside miniature cassettes; compatible with full-size VHS equipment through use of adapter. [See VHS.]

white balance
Adjustment of camera’s circuitry in response to different light sources to retain truest colors on recorded image.

To change the focal length of a lens, from wide-angle to telephoto, and vice versa.

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