This video glossary covers the terminology and defines the meaning of common video terms related to cameras, codecs, lighting, film set lingo, post-production workflows, and everything else you ever wanted to know about film and video production.
An optical zoom refers to a zoom that happens via a lens, as opposed to a digital zoom that is applied later on in post. Optical zooms are created when a lens changes its focal length, either getting longer when zooming in or getting shorter when zooming out. Lenses that are built for zooming optically are referred to as zoom lenses, while lenses that can’t zoom at all with a fixed length are referred to as prime lenses.
Over the shoulder shots, commonly abbreviated as OTS shots, are shots taken from the perspective of the camera being behind a subject’s shoulder. These can be dirty, where the subject’s shoulder is seen in frame, or clean, where the shoulder is not in frame.
OTS shots are great for dialogue scenes where two characters are having a conversation back and forth. Depending on how they are used, they can create a feeling of intimacy or a feeling of distance from the subjects depending on how they are shot and used.
Shooting a dirty OTS on a long lens could make you feel like an observer spying on a subject from afar while shooting a clean OTS on a shorter lens makes you feel like you’re right next to the action.
Grant Harvey is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. When he’s not working on his own feature-length screenplays and television pilots, Grant uses his passion and experience in film and videography to help others learn the tools, strategies, and equipment needed to create high-quality videos as a filmmaker of any skill level.
About the author:
Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He’s the owner of filmdaft.com and of the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.