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  1. 1. Glossary A Glossary of Technical Terms Asynchronous Sound Sound not matched to the images on the screen, although usually related. This mismatch can be caused by poor sound editing or by the intentional addition of sound, such as an unexpected train whistle, to cause surprise. It also can refer to voiceover narration. Backlighting Light that originates from behind figures in a scene. This type of lighting creates silhouettes of people’s shapes, often to sinister or frightening effect. Blue Screen A process in which actors are filmed while standing in front of a blue screen. In post-production different backgrounds are added where the screen was to create an illusion of the actors physically being in that location. Today, this screen is often green. Canted Framing A tilt, either to the left or to the right, that slants objects or people diagonally within the frame. Cinema Vérité French for ‘cinema truth,’ this documentary style movement emphasised the use of available light, hand-held cameras, and long takes. Drama shot in this style tends to strive for as much realism, and as little director intervention, as possible. 7. Glossary Continuity Editing A style of editing that emphasizes the continuous and seemingly uninterrupted flow of action in a story. It constructs the illusion of events happening in real time, and avoids drawing attention to cuts and edits. Crane Shot A very high angle shot taken with the use of a crane. Generally, these shots give an overhead view of a scene. (See hospital shot in Cutting It.) Cross Cutting Cutting between two separate sequences as they unfold in order to show a relationship between them. Frequently used to show parallel action, or simultaneous events, but sometimes also used to show time elapsing. Cut An editing transition, or change, from one shot to another. Cutaway A quick shot that temporarily redirects audience attention away from the main action in order to provide commentary, to construct the illusion of continuity, or to hint at an impending change. Cut-in A quick shot that moves away from the main action to provide a close up of an object, such as a clock. Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009 135
  2. 2. Glossary Depth of Field The part of a scene that is in sharp focus within an image. In photography, this is determined by the distance of the camera, the type of lens used, and the size of the camera’s aperture. In a shallow focus shot, only areas closest to the camera are in sharp focus; a deep focus shot is one in which everything, including the far background, is sharply focused – made more possible through digital technology. (See the 1922 Oliver Twist extract for an example of shallow focus.) Diegetic Any element, usually sound, that originates from action within the frame or the immediate world of the drama. Dissolve One image fades out while another fades in so that the two are briefly superimposed. Often used to signify passage of time, or changes in mood or mental state. A variety of editing transitions such as wipes, keyholes, page turns etc can also be used between scenes. Ellipsis The compression of time within a moving-image narrative. The viewer fills in the narrative gaps, using cues from editing transitions such as wipes, dissolves, and fades. Time can also be expanded, using editing devices such as slow-motion, parallel action, or montage. Establishing Shot A shot that provides us with a view of the setting, to establish the location for the action. Eye-Level Shot A shot taken with a camera placed at approximately the same eye-level as the film subject, not the equipment operator. This type of shot places the viewer on the same level as the subject. (See the BBC version of Oliver Twist.) Eyeline Match A cut between two shots that creates the illusion of a person in the first shot looking at something or someone in the second shot. Fill Light Part of the three-point lighting system, this lower-powered light helps erase or soften shadows created by the key light. Fly-on-the-Wall A phrase used originally in documentary referring to a filmmaker’s role as an unobtrusive observer. (The fight sequence in Criminal Justice arguably ‘borrows’ this effect.) Hand-Held Shot A shot taken with a camera held in an operator’s hand, usually appearing wobbly or unsteady as a result. A convention of news reporting and documentary and frequently used in realist drama. (See The Cops.) High Angle A shot taken from above the subject, usually from overhead. (See the Oliver Twist extracts.) High Contrast Sharp delineation between the bright and dark areas in a scene. High-Key Lighting A type of lighting with bright, even illumination and minimal shadows. Often used in musicals and comedies. 136 Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009
  3. 3. Glossary Incidental Music Music specifically composed to accompany the action of a drama or to fill intervals between scenes. Intercut An editing technique that intersperses two perspectives on the same scene; for example, a couple talking at a cafe table and a killer setting a bomb in the corner. Location The physical place or setting (outside a studio) where a film or TV sequence is shot. Low Key Lighting A lighting style using only one key light which creates a high contrast or chiaroscuro effect accentuating shadow, drama and a sense of alienation. Often used in horror, film noir, or suspense; frequently associated with the visual concept of Expressionism. (See the David Lean Oliver Twist extract for a classic example.) Master Shot An establishing shot used as a cover for an entire scene, into which further more specific shots are edited to draw attention to detail, point of view, etc. The master shot is returned to throughout the scene, thus creating a sense of coherence and avoiding lack of continuity. Non Diegetic Any element, usually sound, that does not originate from action within the frame or the immediate world of the drama; for example, background mood music, a voiceover from a later or earlier date commenting on action. An important way of building atmosphere or mood. Nonsynchronous Sound A situation when the soundtrack fails to match the image on the screen; for example, we see a person open his or her mouth in a scream but we hear a train whistle instead. Pan A shot in which the camera moves from left to right or vice versa in order to follow the action. Parallel Editing A type of editing that cuts between two sequences taking place at different locations and possibly different times. (See Cutting It.) Point of View The perspective from which the camera sees the action. The point of view can be either objective (from the standpoint of a spectator outside the narrative) or subjective (from the standpoint of a particular character experiencing events in the story). Point of View Shot A PoV shot shows the scene subjectively, from the perspective of a character, as above. Production Design The overall look and visual style of a moving image text, including all aspects of set design and locations, costume and styling, lighting, colour palette, special effects and art direction. A hugely important aspect of the emotional and visual impact of a narrative, involving collaboration with director, producers, director of photography, and editor. (See Skins trailer or Oliver Twist extracts.) Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009 137
  4. 4. Glossary Rule of Thirds An aesthetic guideline drawn from art and photography which suggests that the most important points of interest within an image, shot or frame should be situated about 1/3 of the way down. For example, a horizon looks best 1/3 from the top or bottom of a shot, rather than bang in the middle; in a close-up shot or portrait, the eyeline looks most pleasing a third of the way down the frame. Shot Reverse Shot An editing convention used frequently in dialogue where A is shown looking (often off- screen) at B, and then B is shown looking ‘back’ at A. A and B are shown facing in opposite directions; thus the viewer assumes that they are looking at each other. This is a feature of the ‘classical’ Hollywood style of continuity editing, which aims to ‘disguise’ editing transitions to create the effect of a continuous action that develops linearly, chronologically, and logically. (See Cutting It.) Synchronous Sound Sound that appears to match the image on the screen, such as a person’s lips moving as we hear dialogue; or a music score, bridge or motif cut to time with action. Sequence A series of shots linked by time, place, and action that forms a coherent unit of narrative with a specific start, middle, and end. Shallow Focus A shot focusing sharply on a small area of the frame while the rest of it is blurry. Steadicam A professional harness supporting a camera and counterweights worn by a camera person that allows the camera to be moved anywhere with graceful, gliding movements. Frequently used in both drama and documentary to acquire a 360-degree shot, it can create a sense of freedom, disorientation or surveillance. (Possibly used in the Skins’ trailer.) Three-point Lighting A system of lighting that uses light from three sources: one bright (called ‘key’), one behind (called ‘backlight’), and one fill. Tilt The upward and downward movement of the camera. Tracking Shot A shot taken while the camera moves on a wheeled platform. Two Shot A medium shot with two people in it. Wide Angle Lens A type of lens that exaggerates the disparity between the foreground and background within a film frame. Objects in the foreground become disproportionately larger, while those in the background become disproportionately smaller. Widescreen Any image ratio greater than 1.33:1. Academy standard, a type of widescreen image, is 1.85:1, the one used in most 35mm pictures. Wipe A visual effect in which one image replaces another by seemingly pushing it off the screen. 138 Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009
  5. 5. Bibliography Books Casey, Calvert, French and Lewis: Television Studies: the Key Concepts (Routledge, 2002) Cooke, Les: British Television Drama (BFI, 2003) Creeber, Glen (ed): The Television Genre Book (BFI, 2001) Day-Lewis, Sean: Talk of Drama: views of the Television Dramatists now and then (ULP/John Libbey Media, 1998) Fiske, John: Television Culture (Methuen 1987) Holland, Patricia: The Television Handbook (Routledge, 2007) Martin, Roger: TV for A Level Media Studies (Hodder, 2000) Nelson, Robin: State of Play: Contemporary High-End TV Drama (MUP, 2007) Points, Jeremy: Teaching TV Drama (BFI, 2006) Branston and Stafford: The Media Students’ Book (Routledge, 2007; 4th 8. Bibliography edition) Weblinks The BBC Portal for the BBC’s databases on TV and radio drama: Excellent source of promotional material and links to microsites for past and present BBC drama output: Fascinating insiders’ glimpse into BBC audience research and commissioning practices: marketresearch/ Broadcast Magazine The website of the trade magazine for the television industry is well worth an occasional (pricey) trawl through the print version to identify what’s coming up, identify current institutional issues, budget and production trivia, and industry gossip: Channel 4 Microsites, clips, interviews, blogs, and downloadables for a range of popular C4 dramas: See also and for more of the same, including the Skins website. Off the Telly Lively site covering a range of drama review, topics and debates: MediaMagazine The website of the English and Media Centre’s MediaMagazine contains an archive of over 400 articles, including material on The Sopranos, Lost, Ugly Betty, Shameless, Six Feet Under, Bleak House, examples of textual analysis of TV drama, and examiners’ guidance: Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009 139
  6. 6. Bibliography BFI An extensive and well-documented TV archive and commentary site, with many useful background articles: Television Heaven Archive of material on popular TV programmes past and present with useful links to reviews, a television history resource site, a forum, features and downloadables: TV Cream Fan site for archive TV coverage which includes YouTube features, blogs, links and clips: http:// The National Media Museum A range of useful film and TV online resources and images: The Guardian Indispensable source of industry news and analysis, critical debates, previews, reviews etc: See also Charlie Brooker’s ‘Screenburn’, Lucy Mangan’s ‘Cable Girl’, the TV and Radio blog, Gareth McLean’s TV blog etc. Weblinks checked March 2009 140 Doing TV Drama © English & Media Centre, 2009