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.
Panning shots refer to shots where the camera is moving horizontally from right to left or left to right while in a stationary position. Usually, this implies that the camera is attached to a tripod, and the operator is just physically turning the camera to capture the action. Panning shots are good for capturing sweeping locales or following the action while keeping a distance from the subject.
On most if not all digital cameras, there is some kind of digital onboard menu for you to control your camera’s settings. This is the picture profile, where you can change settings like your camera’s contrast, color tone, saturation, and sharpness. Most of these menus come with built-in picture profiles for you to choose from, but you will want to create and set your own depending on the stylistic look and feel you are choosing for each project.
POV shots, an abbreviation for “point of view” shots, are a type of shot that takes on the perspective of a particular character or subject.
The camera will usually be placed in the position of the character and will act as if the subject’s eyes, following the focus of that character’s vision. This can be by zooming in on an important detail, or by creating a handheld, shaky feeling to emulate a nervous character.
You could even add a filter to the image in the edit bay to denote that character’s state of mind, like a blurry vision effect to imply their vision is impaired in some way.
POV shots are great for implying a character’s point of view can’t be trusted, either when a character sees information with their own eyes that disputes another character’s point of view, or when the audience sees their point of view character’s perspective revealed to be flawed, untrustworthy, or flat out wrong through another character’s eyes.
Practical sources, or practicals, are sources of light that are actually seen on screen. This could be a lamp in the corner of a room or the actual sun. If the source of light is seen in the frame, it is considered a practical.
In cinematography, you should almost always aim to have some sort of practical in every scene, even if it’s just the sun or the moon. In fact, most light you add to a room should be made to look as if it’s coming from a practical source, even if that source is not seen on screen.
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.