Television -- Critical Methods and Applications-- Glossary

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abstract animation An aesthetic tenet of animation that sees animation as consisting of lines, shapes, and colors, abstract forms to be manipulated by the animator at will. The opposite of naturalistic animation.

act (segment) A portion or segment of the narrative presented between commercial breaks. Consists of one or more scenes.

actor movement Typically referred to by the theatrical term blocking.

actualities Events from the historical world used in news and sports programs.

additive color In video, the combination of red, green, and blue phosphors to generate all other colors.

ADR See automatic dialogue replacement.

Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) Formed in the early 1990s to set standards for U.S. digital television, including HDTV aesthetic A philosophy of the beautiful; criteria that define art (or television) as good or bad. Also used to refer to determining factors of television that are neither technological or economic.

ambient sound Background sounds of a particular room or location.

analog sound -- An electronic replica of a sound wave on audio or video tape; the sound wave is converted into an electronic copy or analog. This type of sound recording is being replaced by digital sound. Vinyl albums and audio cassettes create sound through an analog process; compact discs, DVDs, and digital audio tape (DAT) store sound digitally.

anamorphic -- A widescreen film process (under such trademark names as CinemaScope and Panavision) used to create an image wider than conventional television's. The aspect ratio of most films made with anamorphic lenses today is 1:2.35, while the conventional television image's aspect ratio is 1:1.33.

antagonist -- Character and/or situation that hinders the protagonist from achieving his or her goal(s).

anti-naturalist performance -- Performance style in which the viewer is kept aware that the actor is pretending to be a character.

aperture In terms of a narrative: an ambiguous ending. The opposite of closure. In terms of video and film cameras: the opening through which light passes.

arcing A term used in television studio production to refer to the semi-circular sideways movement of the camera.

aristocracy In Marxism, the most elite social class-consisting of individuals who do not work and hold power through inheritance: kings, queens, princes, princesses, and so on. According to Marx's analysis of history, the aristocracy controlled European countries until the bourgeoisie's rise to power in the decades after the Renaissance.

aspect ratio The ratio of height to width of a screen. The conventional ratio for television has been 1:1.33 (or 3:4), but that may change to 1:1.78 (or 9:16) with the advent of high-definition television.

ATSC See Advanced Television Systems Committee.

automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) The replacement of lines of dialogue during post-production. Also known as looping.

auteur theory Posits that directors are the authors of films/television programs in the same manner that writers are the authors of novels. Directors are seen as injecting their personal artistic visions into films/television programs, and, over time, certain stylistic and thematic tendencies are discernable in directors' work.

axis of action In the continuity (or 180°) system, the line of action around which the space of the scene is oriented.

back light In the three-point lighting system, the source of illumination placed behind and above the actor. Its main function is to cast light on the actor's head and shoulders, creating an outline of light around the actor to distinguish him or her from the background.

balance In video and film, the blending of three colors (red, green, and blue in video; yellow, magenta, and cyan in film) to produce a spectrum of colors. Different video processes and film stocks favor some colors over others, resulting in various types of color balance.

base In film production terms, the celluloid backing of a piece of film to which the emulsion adheres. In Marxist terms, a society's economic system, on which is built its superstructure.

blocking The actor's movement around a set; the director's incorporation of the actor into the mise-en-scene.

blue screens On a television studio set, areas of the background that are blue (or green), onto which live images or maps are substituted through the chroma key process.

boom operator The sound technician who physically operates the overhead boom microphone.

bourgeoisie In Marxist terms, the middle class; owners of the means of production and employers of the proletariat.

brand parity In the context of advertising, when all products are essentially the same. Contrast with a product's unique selling proposition.

Brechtian performance Anti-naturalist, confrontational performance style based in the theories of Ger man playwright Bertolt Brecht. He demanded that the viewer constantly be made aware of the fact that he or she is watching a play and that he or she should be distanced from the characters (see distanciation). brightness (luminance)

In the context of television's image quality, how bright or dark a color is.

broadcast standards and practices (BSP) The units within TV networks that make sure offensive material is not broadcast- TV's internal censors.

bug A small network or station logo superimposed in a corner of the frame.

camera obscure A darkened chamber with a hole in one wall through which light enters, creating an image of the outdoors on the opposite wall. It was the earliest form of a

'`camera," and is where the name derives.

camera operator The person who actually handles the camera.

cardioid microphone A unidirectional microphone with most of its sensitivity aimed toward the front, and a pickup pattern that resembles an inverted heart.

cathode ray tube (CRT) A television picture tube. The cathode ray excites the pixels to create the video image.

cause-effect chain In narrative structure, the way one event leads to (causes) another and is the result (effect) of a previous event.

cel (celluloid)

A transparent sheet of plastic, on which images are drawn and painted in the production of animation.

chiaroscuro A low-key lighting style, usually in reference to theatrical productions or the dark paintings of Rembrandt.

chrome See chrominance.

chrome key An electronic special effects process, specific to video, used to insert one image into another, often using blue screen making a single color (usually blue or green)

transparent so that one image may be inserted into another-as in weather maps with a forecaster superimposed over them.

chrominance The level of saturation of a color; the color's purity, how much or little grayness is mixed with it.

CinemaScope A widescreen, anamorphic film process with an aspect ratio of 2.35 to 1.

cinematographer The person overseeing all aspects of the film image-including lighting and the operation of the camera.

cinematography The process of making a film image, and the characteristics of the film image.

classical Hollywood cinema ( Hollywood classicism)

A conventional style of filmmaking with a particular model of narrative structure, editing technique, mise-en-scene, dialogue, music, etc. Narrative is presented in a clear cause-and-effect chain, with definite closure.

classical period In the history of theatrical cinema, the 1920s-1950s when the Hollywood studio system of film production held total power and evolved the classical style of filmmaking. In a genre's evolutionary pattern, the stage during which thematics, narrative structure, and audial/visual style are solidified into firm conventions, a recognizable cohesive unit.

close miking The positioning of a microphone very close to the performer's mouth -often used by radio and TV announcers.

close-up (CU) A framing that presents a close view of an object or person-filling the frame and separating the object or person from the surroundings. Conventionally, a TV close-up of a person is from the shoulders or neck up.

closure In terms of narrative: a fully resolved conclusion, in which all of the narrative's questions are answered. The opposite of aperture.

code A set of rules; an historically and/or culturally based set of conventions.

color announcer A type of television sports announcer; often he or she is a former athlete and/or coach, with first-hand expertise.

compositing The post-production combination of two or more video/film/digital sources in a single image.

computer-generated imagery (CGI) Images that are recreated digitally, usually through computer modeling with wire frame objects.

content analysis An empirical method of analysis that selects a specific textual component, counts and codes the number of occurrences of this component into a statistical form, resulting in quantifiable data that usually cannot be interpreted beyond the data itself.

continuity editing (invisible editing) A style of editing that creates a continuity of space and time out of the fragments of scenes contained in individual shots; the shots are arranged to support the progression of the story, thus editing technique does not call attention to itself.

Based on the 180' rule.

continuity person The person in a production responsible for maintaining consistency in all details from one shot to the next, including action, lighting, props, and costumes.

copyright The exclusive legal rights to perform or sell a song, book, script, photograph, etc.

To use copyrighted material (e.g., a piece of music) in a TV program, a fee or royalty must be paid to the copyright holder. If there is no copyright, the material may be used for free and is said to be in the public domain cost per mil ((PM) File advertising rate charged to TV sponsors, which is quantified per thousand viewers. "Mil" equals "thousand," from the Latin word mile. Thus, the CPM is the cost per thousand viewers.

CPM See cost per mil.

craning A movement deriving its name from the mechanical crane on which a camera may be placed. A crane shot is one in which the entire camera, mounted on a crane, is swept upward or downward.

cross-fade Akin to a dissolve, one sound fades out while the other fades in, resulting in a brief overlap.

CRT See cathode ray tube.

cultural studies (ethnography)

A critical approach that argues that viewers decode television texts based on their specific ideological position in society; it looks at the interaction between the ideological discourses of the texts and those of the viewers.

decoding In cultural studies, the reader/viewer's interpretation of a text that has been en coded with meaning by its creators.

deep focus When all planes (foreground, middle-ground, and background) of an image are in focus.

deep space blocking A type of blocking associated with single-camera productions, particularly those shot on location. The depth of the "set" is emphasized by the ability of one actor to be positioned near the camera and another far away; the actors may move toward one another, or participate in independent actions.

definition In terms of the image quality of television, film and definition refers to the capability to separate and depict detail. This is sometimes termed resolution.

demographics The characteristics of an audience, usually broken down in terms of age, gender, income, race, etc.; used with ratings to set advertising rates.

depth of field The range in front of and behind the focus distance that is also in focus.

Designated Market Area Cohesive metropolitan areas that ratings companies use to define television markets.

dialogue Speech among characters, which does not usually address the viewer. Also, a type of interview in which the voices of the interviewer and the interviewee are both heard, and both persons may be visible on camera.

diegesis The world in which the narrative is set. In other words, the world fictional characters inhabit.

diegetic sound Dialogue, music, and sound effects that occur in the diegetic space of the television program; that is, sound that is part of the characters' world.

diegetic space The physical world in which the narrative action of the television program takes place.

digital audio workstation (DAW) A computer-based system for digitally editing sound.

digital sound A technology (e.g., CDs) that converts sound into numbers; this allows computers to process and/or change the recorded sound. It has been replacing analog sound processes (e.g., vinyl albums and audio cassettes). digital television (DTV) Television broadcast in a digital format-in contrast to analog format such as NTSC and PAL. Permits HDTV, multicasting, and enhanced TV. digital video (DV) Any video format that relies on digital technology for recording and/or editing.

For example, video recorded with a digital camera or edited on a nonlinear editing system.

digital video effects (DVE) Special effects created with digital, computer-based technology. Compare with electronic effects.

director A person who is in charge of a television show, on the set or in a control booth, during the actual production process.

discourse Socially-based belief structures. The viewer brings discourses to the reading of the television text, which itself contains discourses that match or clash with the viewer's.

dissolve A special effect wherein simultaneously one shot fades out as the next fades in, so that the two images briefly overlap.

distanciation A technique of Brechtian performance style wherein actors retain the sense of themselves as actors; thus viewers and actors alike are distanced from characters rather than identifying with them.

DMA See designated market area.

dolly A wheeled camera support that permits a rolling camera movement. In conventional television usage, dollying refers to forward or backward movement and trucking (which is accomplished with a dolly) refers to sideways movement.

dominant ideology In Marxism, the system of beliefs about the world propagated and supported by the society's ruling class.

DTV See digital television.

dubbing The replacement of one voice for another.

DV See digital video.

DVE See digital video effects.

DVD A disc the size of an audio CD that can store a feature-length film and include interactive features. There's no consensus on what "DVD" stands for, but when it was introduced to the consumer market in 1997 it was known variously as the "digital video disc" and the "digital versatile disc." dynamic range A range of sounds from soft to loud. A measurement of the limits of microphones, recording and playback machines, and other audio equipment.

Editech The first electronic editing system for videotape-invented and marketed by Ampex.

effects theory A type of communication theory (e.g., hypodermic needle concept) that proposes that, because viewers are passive, television directly affects them.


electron gun A mechanical device, located in the rear of a television's picture tube, which fires an electron beam at the pixels, scanning line-by-line across the lines of the television image, causing the pixels to glow and create the television image.

electronic effects Special effects (including fades, dissolves, and keying) created on video using an analog special effects generator. Compare with digital video effects (DVE). electronic news gathering (ENO) The video recording of news events or actualities.

emotional memory Technique of method acting wherein the actor draws on memories of previous emotions that match the emotions of the character.

empiricism A theoretical approach that advocates the understanding of a problem through systematic and controlled observation/experimentation, with research results measured and expressed in numbers and formulas.

emulsion The mixture of photosensitive chemicals with a gelatin medium attached to the base of a piece of film.

encoding In cultural studies, the creation of meaning within a text by a cultural institution such as the television industry. Readers/viewers may decode these preferred meanings when exposed to texts, or they may take a position opposing them.

ENG See electronic news gathering.

enhanced TV In digital TV, the addition of interactive functions to standard TV programs.

epic theater Brechtian theory of theatrical presentation in which the viewer is alienated from the character.

establishing shot A long shot that positions characters within their environments, and helps to establish the setting.

expository mode Mode of television that presents an argument about the historical world; the "facts" of that world are assertively or even aggressively selected and organized and presented to the viewer in a direct address.

exterior scenes Scenes set outdoors, often in particular location settings.

extreme close up (XCU) A framing that presents a view closer than a conventional close-up-For example, a shot of an eye that fills the entire screen.

extreme long shot (XLS) A framing that presents a distant view of an object or person-For example, an aerial shot of a car on a street eyeline match An editing principle of the continuity system that begins with a shot of a character looking in a specific direction, then cuts to a second shot that shows the area toward which the character was looking.

fade out/fade in A special effect often used for scene-to-scene transition. In a fade out the image darkens until the screen is black. In a fade in, the image starts out black and then gradually becomes visible.

false consciousness In Marxist terms, a counterfeit image of the world determined by one's social class.

feminism A critical approach that concentrates on gender discourse, the manner in which the male-female relationship is portrayed.

fill light in the three-point lighting system, a source of illumination used to fill the shadows created by the key light. It is directed obliquely toward the actor from the opposite side of the key light, at approximately the same height (or a little lower), and is generally half as bright as the key light.

film stock The specific type of film used to record images.

filter-In lighting, a colored gel placed in front of a light source. In cinematography or videography, an optical device (colored, polarized, etc.) attached to the lens.

fine grain A type of Em stock in which the grain is smaller, resulting in a higher image definition.

flashback A disruption of the chronological presentation of events, in which an event from the past is presented in a program's present. See flash-forward.

Flash-forward--A disruption of the chronological presentation of events, in which an event from the future is presented in a program's present. See flashback flow Television's sequence of programs, commercials, news breaks, and so on. The overall flow of television is segmented into small parcels, which often bear little logical connection to one another.

focal length The distance from the lens' optical center to its focal point, usually measured in millimeters. There are three conventional types of focal length: wide angle, normal, and telephoto.

focal plane The plane within a camera where the light strikes the film or electronic pick-up.

focal point In a camera lens, that spot where the light rays, bent by the lens, converge before expanding again and striking the film or electronic pickup at the focal plane.

focus The adjustment of the camera lens so that the image is sharp and clear.

focus distance The distance from the camera to the object being focused on.

Foley A post-production process wherein sound effects are fabricated for a previously recorded scene while the Foley artist watches a shot projected on a screen.

format In film, refers to the film width itself and is measured in millimeters (e.g., super 8, 16mm, and 35mm). In videotape, the combination of the width of the tape, measured in inches, (e.g., 1/2", 3/4", and 1") and the process used to store the images on tape (e.g., VHS, Beta). framing Determines what the viewer can and cannot see due to the manipulation of the camera frame (the edge of the image). frequency response A range of sound frequencies from low to high. A measurement of the limits of microphones, recording and playback machines, and other audio equipment.

function In narrative study, a single action or character attribute. Based in Russian Formalism and the work of Vladimir Propp.

gel A piece of plastic or gelatin placed in front of a light source to change its color.

genre Groupings of television programs defined by their narrative structure, thematic content, and style of sound and image.

grain The silver halide crystals suspended in the emulsion of a piece of film. When struck by light and chemically processed, these crystals change color, resulting in the film image. The smaller the grain, the higher the definition of the image (i.e., the sharper the image). hand-held A technique in which the camera is held by the camera operator, rather than fixed to a camera mount such as a tripod or dolly.

hard light Direct, undiffused light; the result is the casting of harsh, distinct shadows.

hard news Refers to news stories that examine events that affect society as a whole (e.g., national politics and international relations). high angle A shot in which the camera is placed higher than the filmed actor or object, so that the camera looks down on the actor or object.

high-definition television (HDTV) A broadcast technology in which the number of scan lines of the video image is increased and the size of the pixels decreased (as well as reshaped )-resulting in a clearer, better defined image.

high-key lighting A lighting style in which the ratio in intensity of key light to fill light is small.

The result is an evenly lit set, with a low contrast between bright and dark areas.

historical world (historical reality)

The reality that is processed, selected, ordered, and interpreted by nonfiction television programs.

hypodermic needle theory--An effects theory that purports that viewers are passive, and directly and immediately affected by what they see on television.

hue A specific color from within the visible spectrum of white light: e.g., red, green, blue.

hypercardioid microphone--A highly unidirectional microphone, for which the pickup pattern is narrower than that of a cardioid microphone. So-called "shotgun" microphones have a hypercardioid pattern.

Icon--Generally speaking, an object that represents a theme or an aspect of the character or the like. In the specific context of semiotics, a type of sign, wherein the signifier physically resembles the signified. For example, a photograph (signifier) is a mechanical reproduction of what is photographed (signified). iconography The objects that signify character and themes of the narrative.

ideological criticism An area of television criticism, concerned with class and gender representation, that studies society's competing discourses and the position of the individual within society.

Illusion of depth The ability of the two-dimensional television image to create an illusion whereby space seems to recede into the image. A telephoto lens creates a small illusion of depth and a wide-angle lens creates a large one.

improvisation technique of method acting style used mostly in rehearsal; actors put themselves into the minds of the characters, place the characters into imagined situations, and invent-dialogue and action.

indexical sign (index)

In semiotics, a type of sign in which the signifier is physically caused by the signified.

For example, where there is smoke, there is fire. Thus the signifier (smoke) is physically caused by the signified (fire). Infrastructure See the Marxist definition of base interactive mode Type of television text in which the historical world is mixed with that of the video/film maker-according to Bill Nichols's approach to nonfiction television and film. This occurs in one of two ways: the social actor is brought into a television studio; and/or a representative of television enters the historical world to provoke a response from social actors. In another context, interactive is coming to refer to the capacity of the viewer to respond to or affect what is seen on television, for example, through home shopping services and video games.

Interior scenes--Scenes set inside, in particular on studio sets, though also including location interiors.

Intertextuality The intertextual, self-reflexive quality-as when one television text (e.g., a commercial) refers to another (e.g., a program or commercial) or to other types of media texts.

jump cut--An editing technique wherein one shot does not match the preceding shot, resulting in a disruptive gap in space and/or time.

key light--In the three-point lighting system, the main source of illumination and the most intense light on the set. It is normally positioned above the actors' heads and several feet in front of them.

Keyframe--In animation, the essential frames used to construct a character's movement. If the animation is computer aided, the animator designs the keyframes and the computer automatically generates the frames in between (see tweening). keying A special effects process, specific to video, in which an image or text is inserted into another image. See chroma key.

kinescope A film copy of a television program; made by aiming the film camera at a television screen. Used during the early years of television (before videotape) to record programs that were broadcast live.

laugh track A soundtrack of prerecorded laughter, usually added in the post-production pro cess to a comedy program with no studio audience.

lavaliere microphone A small microphone often clipped to a performer's tie or shirt.

lead In news stories, the reporter's opening comments-designed to capture viewer attention.

letterbox A process by which a widescreen film is presented on video. The top and bottom of the video frame is blackened, and the widescreen film frame is reduced to fit into this frame-within-the-video-frame. Also used to present high-definition video on conventional TV sets.

lighting color The color of a light source, which may be manipulated with gels.

lighting diffusion I he hardness or softness of a light source. Hard light casts a sharp, definite shadow.

lighting direction The positioning of lights relative to the object being shot. The norm for lighting direction is three-point lighting.

lighting intensity The power of a light source. Regarding the relative intensity of lighting sources, see three-point lighting.

linear perspective A method of drawing or painting that converts the three dimensions of reality into two dimensions. Originally developed during the European Renaissance, it formed the foundation for how lenses represent a visual field.

limited effects theory A type of communication theory (e.g., social learning theory, vicarious catharsis theory) that regards media as having conditional influences on the viewer; due to intervening variables, the effects of media on the viewer are limited.

lip sync Synchronizing a performance to recorded speech or music; most frequently found in music videos, wherein the performers mouth the words to the prerecorded song while they are filmed or videotaped.

live- on-tape A video production that is recorded live, with most of the editing done while the scenes transpire (rather than in post-production). location settings Pre-existing settings that are chosen as backgrounds for television programs.

long shot (LS) A framing that presents entire objects or persons-situating them in a setting.

loudness (volume)

low loud or soft a sound is. See dynamic range.

low angle A shot in which the camera is lower than the recorded actor or object; thus the camera looks up at the actor or object.

low-key lighting A lighting style wherein the key light is so much more intense than the fill light that there is a high contrast between bright and dark areas. The bright areas are especially bright and the dark areas are very dark.

Luminance--The brightness or darkness of a color. See chrominance and saturation.

magnetic tape--A ribbon of plastic with a coating on it that is sensitive to magnetic impulses created by electricity. In analog technology, these magnetic impulses are modulated on the tape in a fashion parallel to the sound wave's modulation. In digital technology, magnetic tape is used to record sounds encoded as a string of numbers that will later be converted into sound.

manifest content In a content analysis of a television text, the characters and their actions.

masking A non-anamorphic widescreen film process. In masked films, blackened horizontal bands are placed across the top and bottom of a 1:1.33 frame, resulting in a wider aspect ratio of 1:1.85.

match cut A principle of continuity editing that maintains continuity by fitting ("matching") the space and time of one shot to that of the preceding shot.

match-on-action A continuity-editing technique wherein a cut is placed in the midst of an action, so that the action from one shot continues to the next.

means of production Marx's term for the locations (factories and the like) at which goods are produced and men and women labor.

media text Any item in the mass media (e.g., a TV commercial or program, film, magazine, interview, public appearance, etc.).

medium close up (PACO) A framing in between medium shot and close-up.

medium long shot (MLS) A framing in between long shot and medium shot.

medium shot (MS) A framing that presents a moderately close view of an object or person.

Conventionally, a TV medium shot of a person is from the thighs or kness up.

Two common types of medium shots are the two shot and the three shot.

method Naturalist performance style that encourages the actor to become the character, at which point the gestures/dialects necessary for the performance will emerge organically; approaches used to achieve this union between actor and character are emotional memory, sense memory, and improvisation.

mise-en-scene The staging of the action for the camera. All of the physical objects in front of the camera and the arrangement of those objects by the director. The organization of setting, costuming, lighting, and actor movement.

mixer A machine that blends various sound sources.

mode of production An aesthetic style of shooting that relies on a particular technology and is governed by a certain economic system. Television's two principal modes of production are single-camera and multiple-camera.

mode of representation Manner in which a non-narrative television program depicts historical reality and addresses itself to the viewer about that version of reality; modes include expository, interactive, observational, and reflexive.

motion-caption device A system by which the movement of three-dimensional objects or humans is traced by a computer.

motivation In narrative structure, a catalyst that starts the story's progression -a reason for the story to begin (usually a character's lack or desire). MOW (movie of the week)

Industry shorthand for any film produced specifically for television and not shown initially in theaters.

multicasting In digital TV, individual broadcast stations may simultaneously transmit four or more programs.

multiple-camera production--A mode of production common in television wherein two or more cameras are used to record the scene, enabling simultaneous and/or post-production editing. The mode used in most sitcoms and all soap operas, game shows, sports programs, and newscasts.

multi-track recording--In the sound editing process, recordings are digitally or electronically divided into four (or many more) separate tracks. On each is a sound category (dialogue, music, effects) separated from the others, allowing the sound editor to manipulate individual soundtracks before producing a finished soundtrack.

music television--Generally refers to a system, such as a cable or satellite service (e.g., MTV, CMT), through which recorded music is delivered.

music video A visual representation of or accompaniment to a song or other musical selection that usually exists independently as a recording.

musical director Person who selects and arranges the music for a program.

mythic analysis An interpretive strategy of genre analysis that approaches genres in terms of archetypes, stories shared by large segments of a culture that offer the researcher evidence of that society's thought process.

narration (voice-over)

When a character's or omniscient narrator's voice is heard over an image.

narrative enigma A question that underpins a story and will (in classical films) or will not (in soap opera) be answered at the conclusion.

narrative function A specific action or an attribute of a character in a narrative-according to the narrative theory of V. I. Propp.

narrative image A particular representation of a program created by advertising and promotion in order to entice viewers.

National Television System Committee (NTSC) A committee established by various manufacturers of television equipment in order to develop a set of standards that would render color transmission and reception compatible to black-and-white television sets. The initials NTSC are also commonly used to refer to the 525-line broadcast standard used in the U.S. naturalistic animation An aesthetic tenet of animation that advocates that animation replicate live-action film/video as much as possible; cartoon characters should resemble objects in reality and our view of these characters/objects should resemble the view of a camera. The opposite of abstract animation.

naturalistic performance--Performance style in which the actor attempts to create a character that the audience will accept as a plausible and believable human being, rather than as an actor trying to portray someone.

negotiated reading In cultural studies, the interpretation of the text that partially accepts and partially rejects the meanings that the text emphasizes.

NLE See nonlinear editing.

nondiegetic sound--Sound that does not occur in the diegetic space (the characters' world), such as music that is added in post-production.

nonlinear editing (NLE) Editing performed on a computer, in which shots do not have to be placed one after the other (i.e., in a linear fashion).

non-narrative television Televisual texts (e.g., news and sports programs, game shows, some commercials)

that present reality to us without using conventional narrative structures. Instead, non-narrative television relies on expository, interactive, observational, and/or reflexive modes of representation.

normal lens A type of focal length that seems to most closely approximate the human eye's range of vision (in actuality the range of vision is narrower in a normal focal length lens, with less illusion of depth). NTSC See National Television System Committee.

objective correlative An object that comes to represent an aspect of a character-for example, Bart Simpson's skateboard representing his carefree and spontaneous lifestyle.

observational mode--Type of television text wherein a television producer's presence is not obvious to the viewer, and his or her manipulation of the historical world is minimal.

omnidirectional microphone A microphone that picks up sound equally from all directions.

180 rule A continuity-editing principle that dictates that cameras remain on one side of the axis of action in order to preserve the scene's spatial continuity and screen direction.

oppositional reading In cultural studies, the interpretation of the text that is wholly contrary to the text's dominant meanings.

overhead boom microphone Held on a long arm by a boom operator, positioned above the actors' heads and out of view of the camera, it is equipped with a hypercardioid microphone so that sound from the direction in which it is pointed will be recorded and ambient sound will be minimized.

package In television journalism, an 80-105 second news story shot in the field and filed by a reporter.

pan-and-scan (scanning)

A process by which a widescreen, anamorphic film (1:2.35) is reduced to television's smaller 1:1.33 aspect ratio. The most significant part of the original frame is selected, and the pan-and-scan frame can slide, or "scan," left or right across the original frame.

panning The action of physically rotating the camera left and right, on an imaginary vertical axis. Only the tripod head is moved, not the entire support. Pan also refers to the resulting horizontal movement of the image paradigmatic structure In semiotics, a manner in which signs are organized and meaning created. Paradigmatic structures create meaning through association, in contrast to syntagmatic structures that create meaning through sequence or chronological order. For example, in baseball, the players that might replace one another in the syntagmatic batting line-up are in paradigmatic relationship to one another.

Pedestaling--The raising or lowering of the camera on the vertical post of the camera support.

Pedestal is also the term given to the moveable camera support (the shaft in the center of a dolly) used in studio television production.

perfect fit In the study of television stars, a matching of a particular role's characteristics to a star's polysemy.

Phosphors--See pixels.

pickup pattern In microphones, the shape of the space in which the microphone is sensitive to sound. Common patterns include omnidirectional and cardioid.

pilot A program, sometimes an MOW that introduces a new series.

pitch How high or low a sound is. See frequency response.

pixels (phosphors)

Phosphorescent dots, arranged in horizontal lines on the television screen, which produce the video image when struck by a beam from the electron gun.

play- by- play announcer A television sports announcer, usually a professional broadcaster, who functions as narrator of the game's events, keeps track of game time, prompts the comments of the color announcers, reiterates the score, modulates the passage of time, and may lead into commercial breaks.

point-of-view shot--A shot in which the camera is physically situated very close to a character's position; thus the resulting shot approximates the character's point-of-view.

polysemy Literally, many meanings. Refers to television's ability to communicate contradictory or ambivalent meanings simultaneously. See structured polysemy.

post-production Everything (e.g., editing, sound effects) that transpires after the program itself has been shot.

preferred reading In cultural studies, the interpretation of the text that is stressed by the text itself.

Marxists presume this reading aligns with the dominant ideology.

pre-production The written planning stages of the program (script preparation, budgeting, etc.). problematic fit In the study of television stars, a complete mismatch of a particular role's characteristics with a star's polysemy.

product placement--The appearance of a trademarked product (e.g., Budweiser beer or Apple computers) in a program-when the sponsor pays for such placement.

Production--The shooting of the program itself.

Proletariat--In Marxist terms, the working class; this least powerful group works to survive, selling its labor to the bourgeoisie.

promotion A media text (e.g., an appearance on a talk show) generated by stars and their representatives in a deliberate attempt to shape the star's image.

pseudomonologue An interview in which the interviewer and his or her questions are not evident in the text; only the interviewee's answers are included.

public domain Material (e.g., a piece of music) that is not copyrighted, which may be used in TV programs without paying a fee or royalty.

publicity A media text (e.g., an unauthorized biography) that presents information outside the control of stars and their representatives.

pulling focus See racking focus.

racking focus (pulling focus)

Shifting the focus from foreground to background, or vice versa.

rating In the context of TV ratings, the percentage of all homes with television sets that are tuned to a specific program. Usually used in conjunction with ratings share.

ratings Based on a random sample of television viewers, the calculated amount and percentage of viewers watching a particular program on a particular station or network. Usually expressed in terms of rating and share.

reading The viewer's active interpretation of a text-whether written (e.g., a book) or visual (e.g., a television program or film). re-establishing shot A long shot that once again positions the character(s) within the environment of the scene, helping to re-establish character and/or setting; also used as a transitional device.

reflexive mode A non-narrative television text that draws the viewer's attention to the processes, techniques, and conventions of television production.

remote control device(RCD) A device that allows one to operate a television without directly touching it.

repertory--Naturalist performance style in which the actor constructs a performance by selecting particular gestures and spoken dialects.

Rhythm--The timing of speech, music, sound effects, or editing.

Rotoscope--A device used in animation wherein a single frame from a live-action film is rear projected onto a light table with a semi-opaque glass in the center; the animator traces the images cast by the film onto a cel; the tracings are re-photographed, resulting in an animated film that duplicates live-action images.

Royalty--A fee paid for the use of copyrighted material.

ruling class--Marx's term for the social class in control of a society's means of production; the class that controls the means of production controls the society overall.

saturation (chrome or chrominance)

In terms of television's image quality, the level of a color's purity (or how much or little grayness is mixed with the color). scan line Lines of glowing pixels that make up the television image. In the NTSC system used in the United States, there are 525 lines in the TV image. PAL, developed in Germany, and SECAM, from France, are 625-line systems. HDTV has a variety of formats; all of which contain hundreds of additional scan lines.

scanning See pan-and-scan.

scene The smallest piece of the narrative action; a single narrative event that occurs in continuous space over continuous time.

scientific method An empirical approach that advocates developing research questions and hypotheses based on an established body of theoretical knowledge, investigating them with replicable methodology, and explaining the results in terms of their contribution to the established body of knowledge.

Scopitones Produced in the 1960s, short films of performances by popular musicians presented on coin-operated machines akin to jukeboxes.

screen direction From the camera's perspective, the direction a character is looking and/or an object is moving in a shot.

screenplay Generally speaking, a written description of a program, wherein the action and dialogue are described scene-by-scene. (Terms used to describe different types of scripts vary considerably within the television and film industries.) screen time The duration of a program-which is normally shorter than the time represented in the program's narrative (that is, its story time). For example, the story time of one soap opera episode is typically a day or two, but its screen time is less than 60 minutes.

segue A transition from one sound to another. (Pronounced "WAY") selective use In the study of television stars, a use of selected parts of star's polysemy in a particular role.

self-reflexivity A program that refers back to itself or similar programs. In a genre's evolutionary pattern, the stage during which the genre turns inward and uses its own conventions for subject matter, often in the form of a parody.

semiotics An area of television criticism that breaks down all forms of communication into individual units of meaning or signs that are studied in terms of their singular characteristics as well as their interaction with other units of meaning.

sense memory--Technique of method acting style in which the actor draws on memories of physical sensations of an emotional event in order to generate emotional memory.

Serial--A narrative form of television that presents daily/weekly episodes, with a multiple set of recurring characters and simultaneous story-lines. Because each episode specifically links to the next, narrative closure is rare.

series A narrative form that presents weekly episodes, usually self-contained, with a defined set of recurring characters.

set designer (scenic designer)

Person who builds or selects elements in constructing the setting of a television program.

sexual politics In feminist studies, the power relationship between men and women.

shallow focus A small depth of field, with just one plane (foreground, middle-ground, or back ground) in focus.

shallow space blocking A type of blocking associated with multiple-camera, studio set productions, where, due to the shallow sets, the actors mostly move side-to-side, rather than up-and back.

share In the context of TV ratings, the percentage of homes with turned-on television sets that are tuned to a specific program. Usually used in conjunction with ratings.

shooting script--Generally speaking, a written description of a program, where each scene is described shot-by-shot. (Terms used to describe different types of scripts vary considerably within the television and film industries.) shot-counter shot (shot-reverse shot)

A continuity-editing principle that alternates shots, particularly in conversation scenes between two characters. It is a mainstay of the 180° rule.

sign In semiotics, the smallest unit of meaning-comprised of a signifier and its signified.

signified The meaning communicated by the signifier, can be an object, a concept, a visual field, and so on.

signifier The physical aspect of a sign, such as ink on a page, chalk on a chalkboard, stop sign, light emanating from a TV screen, etc.

signs of character The various signifiers-viewer foreknowledge, character name, appearance, objective correlatives, dialogue, lighting, videography or cinematography, and action- that communicate the character to the viewer.

signs of performance The actor's facial, gestural, corporeal, and vocal signifiers that contribute to the development of character.

simulcasts Programs that are simultaneously broadcast on both radio and television.

single-camera production A mode of production wherein one camera operates at a time and the shots are done in the most economically efficient order. On television, the main mode used in creating prime-time dramas, MOWs, music videos, and commercials.

social actor "Real" people as used in nonfiction television programs; people "performing" according to social codes of behavior in order to represent themselves to others.

soft focus An entire image that is slightly out-of-focus.

soft news--News stories that examine the personal, such as gossip, scandal, murder, mayhem, and "human interest stories." soft light A diffused light source, resulting in indistinct, blurred outlines and minimal shadows.

sound bite In a news package, a short piece of audio that was recorded on location.

sound editor Technician who, in post-production manipulates a program's soundtrack.

Soundies Produced in the 1940s, short films of performances by popular musicians presented on coin-operated machines akin to jukeboxes.

sound stage A large room designed for the recording of programs. Sets are arranged on the stage in a variety of ways, depending mostly on the presence/absence of a studio audience.

stand-up A feature of a television news package, in which the reporter stands before a site significant to the story while narrating it.

star image A representation of an actor that is fabricated through the media texts of promotion, publicity, television programs, and criticism.

Steadicam Registered trademark for a gyroscopically balanced camera mount that attaches to a camera operator's body, which produces smooth camera movement without the use of a dolly.

stereotype A conventionalized character type that is demeaning to a particular social group.

story time The amount of time that transpires within a program's narrative. See screen time.

storyboard A written description of a program consisting of small drawings of individual shots.

stripped syndication A programming strategy in which syndicated shows are scheduled Monday through Friday in the same time slot.

structured polysemy The organization and emphasis/repression of meanings within television's polvsemy.

studio set Three-walled, ceilingless set erected on a sound stage; this type of set is usually shallow, normally wider than it is deep, and rectangular rather than square.

subject In contemporary psychoanalysis, the human psyche-formed chiefly through the Oedipal Complex. In contemporary Marxism, an individual viewed as a psychological construct who enters the ideological world and must be considered in relationship to this ideology.

subjective shot -- A shot wherein the camera is positioned as if it were inside a character's head, looking out of his or her eyes.

subtitling The process in which the original dialogue of a film or television program is both heard and printed at the bottom of the screen. Subtitling is often used for foreign-language films. In television it is also used, as closed-captions for viewers with impaired hearing, on conventional programs.

subtractive color -- The process wherein, as white light passes through a piece of film, yellow, magenta, and cyan colors are filtered out, leaving the many colors of the spectrum.

sweeps Time period during which Nielsen Media Research conducts seasonal ratings of network television programs.

superstructure In Marxist terms, a society's ideological constructs, which grow out of its economic base.

Sweetening -- A post-production sound effects process wherein the sound technicians add more applause and laughter to those of the actual studio audience.

switcher A technical device that allows a director to change between various video cameras while recording a scene.

symbolic sign (symbol) In semiotics, a type of sign in which the signifier and the signified are connected solely through cultural convention. For example, Christianity (a signified) represented by a cross (signifier) or Judaism ( signified) by a Star of David (signifier).

sync (or synch) The synchronization of sound and image. See lip sync.

syndication The distribution or leasing of television programs to stations and networks by their production companies. It refers both to the second run of a program after a network's initial license period (e.g., I Love Lucy [1951-57]) and a program that was created specifically for syndication (e.g., Baywatch[1989-99]). See stripped syndication.

syntagm-In semiotics, a first level ordering of signs-for example, in narrative television, an individual scene. The sequence of scenes is their syntagmatic structure.

syntagmatic structure In semiotics, the manner in which signs are linearly and/or temporally organized.For example, the batting line-up in baseball is in syntagmatic order. See paradigmatic structure.

take A single shot, lasting from the starting to the stopping of the camera.

teasers On television news, brief announcements of upcoming stories used to maintain viewer attention.

Technicolor -- A type of color film process, used mostly from the late 1930s to the 1950s.

telephoto lens A long focal length that creates a narrow, but magnified view of an object or person.

Telescriptions -- Produced by Louis Snader in the 1950s, short films of musical performances that were marketed to television stations for use in variety shows or as filler material.

television apparatus The combined work of all of the various factions (bankers, media corporations, directors, scriptwriters) that create television programs and the viewing experience itself-including the psychological mechanisms at work during TV viewing.

television criticism Non-empirical, analytical methods (e.g., auteurism, genre study, semiotics, and feminism) employed to understand systems of meaning on television. The term is also used in the popular press to refer to evaluative reviewing of television.

televisual Characteristic of television. Also used by John Caldwell to refer to excessive or exhibitionistic style in television.

text A segment of the televisual flow, such as an individual program, a commercial, a newscast, even an entire evening's viewing. In semiotics, any coherent system of signs.

theatrical film Films originally designed to be shown in theaters, as opposed to made-for-TV films. See MOW.

three-point lighting An aesthetic convention in which an actor or object is lit from three sources or points of light of varying intensity. There is one main source of illumination (key light), one source filling shadows (fill light), and one source backlighting the actors (back light).

three shot The framing of three characters in a medium shot.

ticker Information moving across the bottom of the screen--such as sports scores and weather updates.

timbre (tone)--A characteristic of sound referring to the tonal quality of a note and/or voice.

tilting The action of rotating the camera up and down, on a horizontal axis in a stationary body. Tilt also refers to the resulting vertical movements in the image.

track An area along the length of recording tape (like the lanes on a highway) in a multi-track recording, in which speech, music, or sound effects are individually recorded. Similarly, computer-based, nonlinear editing (NLE) also relies on the metaphor of tracks of sound and image.

tracking Any sideways or forward/backward movement of the camera dolly-sometimes on actual tracks.

treatment A written description of a program, containing only a basic outline of the action; the first stage of the scriptwriting process.

trucking (crabbing) In television studio production, any sideways movement of the camera.

two shot The framing of two characters in a medium shot.

tweening A process in animation by which frames are created that constitute a character's movement. These frames come in between the keyframes the animator has designed and can be automatically generated by a computer.

typecasting When the star image perfectly fits the character he or she portrays.

unidirectional microphone A microphone that picks up sound from a specific direction.

unique selling proposition (USP) Rosser Reeve's term for that certain something that distinguishes one product from all the others.

uses-and- gratifications A research method that sees the viewer as an active user and attempts to chart the way that viewers employ television; this method quantifies how television fulfills viewers' emotional or intellectual needs.

USP See unique selling proposition.

vaudeville Anti-naturalistic performance style in which the actor reminds the viewer that the character is not a real person, often by directly addressing the viewer.

verisimilitude The impression of truth or reality.

videographer The person overseeing all aspects of the video image-including lighting and the operation of the camera.

videography The characteristics of the video camera.

volume How loud a sound is. One of three main characteristics of television sound. See pitch and timbre.

wide angle lens A focal length that generally provides a wide view of a scene and increases the illusion of depth, so that some objects seem to be far apart from one another.

widescreen An aspect ratio wider than television's original standard of 1.33:1 (that is, 4:3). Television widescreen (a part of the high-definition format) is 16:9 or 1.78:1.Common variations of widescreen in theatrical films are masked (1.85:1) and anamorphic (2.35:1).

wipe A special effect used as a transition device between scenes, in which a line moves across the screen, apparently erasing one shot as the next replaces it.

wireframe A stage in computer-generated imagery wherein the surface of objects is represented with polygonal lines (wires). The wireframe will be covered with surfaces when the animation is rendered.

zoom in or zoom out A function of the zoom lens wherein the focal length is varied from wide angle to telephoto (zoom in), thereby magnifying the object as the angle of view is narrowed -or vice versa (zoom out). zoom lens (variable focal length)

A lens with a variable focal length, allowing the operator to shift immediately and continuously from wide angle to telephoto (or vice versa) without switching lenses.

[Compiled by Rosemary McMahill]

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Updated: Monday, 2021-08-23 10:56 PST