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Screen & Stage
For now, I'm going to focus on television terminology that relates to capturing and using images on film and video. Before TV, there were the movies; and in the early days of television, there was the shooting and editing of pre-recorded programming – stories filmed for newscasts or half-hour shows like westerns and police shows taking their cues from Hollywood, which had decades of experience in shooting and editing films.
Whether a film or video piece is going into a newscast, a gritty cop drama, a corporate video production, or a full-length theatrical release, it will be composed of a series of shots (scene changes) edited together into a sequence to tell a story. There are three basic shots all film/video makers use to capture images.
Long Shot (LS)
Medium Shot (MS)
Close Up (CU)
While these are the three basic shots, there's another that's used from time to time. It's called an Extreme Close Up (ECU). It brings the viewer right up close to the action. In the case of the spider in the garden, an ECU might focus on just the spider's eyes.
The next time you're watching a newscast, a drama program or a movie, notice how these basic shots come into play. While you're watching, also begin to pay attention to how sequences are edited together.
In addition to the basic shots listed above, there are some camera moves that you need to understand.
Now let's look at some terminology or lingo that relates to sound.
Natural Sound (Nat Sound)
Sound on Video Tape (SOVT) or sometimes Sound on Tape (SOT)
Voice Over (VO)
In television, corporate and industrial videos, and documentary productions, it's critical to understand these basics because you're not just writing for film or video, but you're writing to film or video!
Writing to film or video means the words you write have to relate to what's being seen on the screen. You'll also have to learn to write in a different format than that used for print.
Newscasts, documentaries, and corporate and industrial film or video productions are written in a two column format – one column on the left for video (visuals) and a column on the right for narration and other sounds, such as nat sound and music beds.
The next time you're watching a newscast, a documentary, or a corporate or industrial video, notice and consider how the writer or writer/producer put the story together. You can learn by doing, but you also can learn a lot by watching. Don't just watch for enjoyment, watch to learn. Make your TV set a learning laboratory.
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