Shooting in Tongues, Vol. I: Video Vocab to Help You Gab with the Crew
No question, the entire video production world shares a language all its own. At Bottle Rocket Media, we find ourselves constantly using words and phrases that most people outside the industry would cock their head at. So, for those interested in knowing just what-in-the-hell those crew members are saying on the set or in the edit of your next brand video, here’s part one of our ‘Shooting in Tongues’ series to help you gab with the crew.
“Let’s ADR that in post,” said many a director. It’s a nice, easy-to-remember abbreviation for additional dialogue recording, which usually gets inserted during the final editing stages. Not every line or sound is recorded cleanly—sometimes there are unexpected background noises or performances that require do-overs. AND sometimes swear words will need to be replaced for family-friendly platforms. We’re pretty sure “Yippee kay yay, Mr. Falcon!” was not the original line in ‘Die Hard 2.’
You’ve probably heard this term a few times in your life. In fact, you’ve most likely viewed b-roll hundreds of times without even knowing it. In a nutshell, b-roll is the secondary imagery within a given scene used to underscore the main messaging. For example, fast food commercials can use all the celebs they want as spokespeople (a-roll), but they would be ineffective without classic cutaways to flaming burgers on a grill or hungry dudes chomping down on overstuffed subs. Still, confused? Click here for a funny tutorial.
*Did you know? Back in the day, the term “b-roll” referred to a literal roll of film. Continue the history lesson at b-roll.net.
First off, it’s not “depth of feel” as many out there seem to think (perverts). It’s a term extremely familiar to anyone shooting through a lens, from landscape photographers to movie directors. When all is in sharp focus, from foreground to background, we classify the frame as having a deep depth of field. However, when only one area of the frame is in focus compared to an otherwise out-of-focus frame, the depth is considered shallow.
When we ‘cut to’ something in video, we are essentially just shifting our viewpoint from one source of imagery to another – from camera to camera, or from shot to shot. The general idea is for these transitions to be smooth. A jump cut, however, happens when two, back-to-back shots from the same perspective reveal a passage of time without any continuity; suddenly a shirt is unbuttoned, or a pair of legs have been crossed without any explanation. Generally, this is not a desirable outcome, and can really take the viewer out of the scene. Having secondary cameras or solid b-roll to cut to can really fill out and save a jumpy sequence.
Of course, if you are Wes Anderson making the ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ jump cuts could work to your benefit. Here’s Luke Wilson in a jump cut bonanza.
Fitting that this term would conclude our first ‘Shooting in Tongues’ blog. At the end of a really, really long day, when your feet are aching and your mind is overloaded, there is practically nothing better than an ice-cold martini. No surprise, then, that the final shot before a production wraps for the day has become known as the ‘martini shot.’ According to film slang aficionado and author, Dave Knox, it was so dubbed because “the next shot is out of a glass.” Damnit, they’re onto us!
More video vocab on the way! In the meantime, click here for help with your next brand video.