Last week, we began our journey through the linguistically obscure world of production speak, a world of words and phrases our team constantly relies on to communicate quickly and effectively. In order to help you keep up the dialogue with the seasoned crew on your next brand video, Bottle Rocket Media proudly presents the second installment of our ‘Shooting in Tongues’ series:


In pubs across Europe, this term has a very different meaning than it does in the world of production. When it comes to video, using a “lav,” or lavalier, simply refers to a small microphone that is discreetly placed somewhere on the talent’s clothing. Whether attached snugly to a lapel or shirt pocket, these cutting-edge, powerful mics are designed to capture the subject’s words without picking up on ambient noise. They are perfect for either crisp interviews or dialogue-heavy scenes shot at long range.


Although this term has nothing to do with actual blocks, it is a technique used when building scenes. Before any professional director rolls, he or she needs to know exactly where the actors’ marks are, when the locations will change, and where the lighting/camera equipment needs to be at all times. Therefore, the cast and crew will often “block out,” or rehearse, all movements to avoid wasting time and resources once “Action!” is called.

Alan Smithee

In the late 1960s, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) created the pseudonym for directors looking to distance themselves from films they did not have creative control over (prima donnas). Al Smith? Too common. Al Smithe? Closer. Alan Smithee? Just offbeat enough to avoid a lawsuit from an actual person. In a strange twist, the name was almost completely abandoned by Hollywood after a 1998 film poking fun at the concept bombed, ironically, at the box office.

*Click to watch a trailer from An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn

Magic hour

It looks just like it sounds. Just before the sun rises, and just after it sets, our sky is illuminated clearly – yet, not too brightly. An even distribution of light during these times allows for highly captivating outdoor action shoots. If you’ve ever seen a Terrence Malick or Michael Bay movie, you’ve witnessed the warm colors and textures of magic hour. Here, the Coen brothers give us their impression in a classic scene from No Country for Old Men.

Shot list

Both a director’s – and bartender’s – best friend, this term refers to a vital list of all camera shots scheduled for a particular production. In a sense, it’s a technical script: no dialogue – just a meticulous spreadsheet of angles, movements, and locations. Of course, once the entire shot list has been completed, it’s onto another one at our favorite Chicago haunts, Aberdeen Tap

Stay tuned for more video vocab! In the meantime, click here for help with your next brand video.