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Cinematic Techniques & Sound Terms - Film Production
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Cinematic Techniques & Sound Terms (Performing Arts)

In this chapter some aspects of film production are discussed including cinematic techniques and sound terms.


horizontal camera movement; commonly used o look across a very panorama that doesn’t fit within the camera frame or to see what a character is looking at


vertical camera movement; use to look at tall objects/people


camera moves through space and watches the world go by; a natural camera movement as we can also do this. generally uses some kind of platform with wheels and tracks if available. also, steadicam and/or nice, steady, handheld grip


frame transitions form a wide shot to a close up (or vice versa) without moving the camera; an unnatural camera movement because our eyes cannot do this. varying the speeds of zooms can be used to draw attention to objects and add dramatic effect

Pull Focus

focus on something close or far away while maintaining other subject out of focus then adjust the focus to switch between subjects


any method for switching from one image to another


simplest transition; maybe subtle or harsh


gradually layers a new image over the old one


slowly change from an image to color (or vice versa); black: most common, other colors used for symbolism/imagery i.e. white: ascending to heaven or explosion, blue: ocean, red: blood or love

Montage Sequence

specific sequence of images in a film usually without dialogue and set to music; used to express the passage of time or a sequence of events with little or no dialogue

Framing Terms

subjects can be actors and inanimate objects; directors capture a collection of master shots, medium shots, and close-up to provide a variety of footage during editing. Use the rule of thirds and provide breathing room in close-ups unless you are creating a sense of claustrophobia

master/establishing shot

reveals where the scene is taking place and helps orient the audience; usually a wide shot

full shot

shows the full subject in relation to its surroundings; usually head to toe

medium shot

usually shows a character from belly button to slightly above the actor’s head; more intimate than a full shot but provides more breathing space than a close up

medium close up

shows a subjects head and shoulders without getting uncomfortably close

close up

shows a subjects neck to just slightly above the top of his head; creates a sense of intimacy and reveals intense emotions

extreme close up

camera goes in tighter than a close up-i.e. subjects eyes, spoon cutting through a delectable dessert

dramatic angle

high angle; characters feel diminished; low angle; characters feel tall & powerful

tilted horizon

tipping the camera slightly to the side in order to create tension/imbalance in a scene; more effective when there are strong horizontal and vertical lines present in the shot

Cinematic Techniques & Sound terms

point of view

the audience sees exactly what the character sees; used to increase the audiences emotional attachment to the character

cross cut

cut backs and forth between separate scenes that are occurring in different places usually at the same time; shows the relationship between the scenes


a cut away from the main action in a scene to something of importance in the scene (i.e. an object); often used to hide mistakes


single still image (letter)


single continuous recording made by a camera (word)


a series of related shots (sentence)


a series of scenes which together tell a major part of the story (paragraph)


adding dialogue and sound effects after filming is completed, in post production


correctly aligning the visual and audio portions of a film so that the omage and sound are heard and seen simultaneously


the nickname given to the earliest sound films because the actors spoke out loud rather than acting without sound as they had done in the movies of the “silent” era


all the words spoken in a film, offscreen and onscreen, whether by the characters or by a narrator


a technique for conveying story information that is not part of the dialogue


any part of the filmmaking process that occurs after filming has been completed


a large, soundproofed room in which a film set is built


sound recorded on the set but not in synchronization with the camera


anything that takes place where the audience cannot see it


a linear sequence of notes that make up the most recognizable part of a piece of music


the relative highness pr lowness of a musical note


the process of setting levels of dialogue, music and sound effects and combining them into one continuous whole


a regular, repeated pattern formed by a series of notes of differing duration and stress which gives music its character

source sound

sound that appears to come from an object onscreen, such as radio or television, animal or actors

point of audition

sound as it might be heard by a character within a film


refers to “visible” sounds; means that the sound and image match


refers to “invisible” sound; sound is detached from its source


sounds the characters can hear


sounds the characters cannot hear, for example the musical score


sounds effects technique for synchronous effects or live effects in which foley artists match live sound effects with the action of the picture