TV Jargon Explained



AGC. Automatic Gain Control. ( Auto exposure control) Electronics designed to keep signals at an acceptable level by amplifying signals that are too low or reducing signals that are too high.
AFM recording Audio Frequency Modulation recording. An audio signal is frequency-modulated and recorded on the video track together with a video signal, enabling multi-channel audio recording and better reproduction.
Amplitude The strength of an electrical current or voltage signal.
Ambient Light or sound. That which already exists, before you perhaps add lights to a scene. Available light.
Analogue A signal that varies continuously over a range of amplitudes. A digital signal by contrast has only two values, representing 1 or 0.
Aperture. The opening in a lens, controlling the amount of light that passes through the lens.
Analogue Data presented as a continuously variable signal or quantity which steadily flows and changes. Not digital which comes in digits.
Analogue to digital The conversion of data or information from analogue to digital
anamorphic A type of lens adapter designed to produce a wide screen image from an equally condensed image on the film
Animation Making still images appear to move on the screen.
Anti-aliasing Specific programming designed to reduce or eliminate the jagged edges and lines that sometimes appear in computer drawn diagonal or curved lines
Aperture The opening of a lens which controls the amount of light reaching the surface of the pickup device. The size of the aperture is controlled by the iris adjustment. By increasing the f stop number (f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2.8 etc.) less light is permitted to pass to the pickup device
Aspect ratio The proportions of a projected picture area. in terms of relative height and width values. In the U.K., standard video aspect ratio was four units wide by three units high, usually shown as 4:3 - but is becoming 16;9, '16 by 9'.
Assemble Editing - In linear tape editing, with assembly editing, you add new material to the end of a previously recorded portion.
Astigmatism The uneven foreground and background blur that is in the image
Attenuate Decrease the level of a signal
Audio track The portion of a video tape which carries the audio signal
Auto-conform The process of making an edited master using an EDL or edit list from the off-line edit.


Background Setting behind scene
Back-light Light from behind. The main function of the back light is to separate the individual subjects from the background and give them depth and dimension - eg to separate the interviewee, visually, from the background.
Bandwidth The range of frequencies in a channel
Barn doors Moveable black metal panel attached to the sides of a lighting fixture with which to control the light coverage
Barrel distortion The distortion of a scene which sometimes occurs when a wide-angle lens is used; edges appear rounded and out of proportion with the centre of the image
Base and fill lights Base and Fill Lights. Sometimes referred to as "scoops" provide a soft-edged field of light which is used to provide basic illumination of the subject. To fill in the areas not highlighted by the key light, to illuminate the background and to soften shadowed caused by key lights
Betacam SP A Superior Performance version of Betacam. SP uses metal particle tape and a wider Bandwidth recording system. The interconnect standards are the same as Betacam
Bezel The frame or housing around a television or monitor screen that hides a small amount of transmitted information, information not meant for viewing
Bias A direct current or high frequency alternating current signal fed to a magnetic recording head with the audio in order to minimise distortion
Big Close Up (BCU) Very close shot cutting off the top of a head. Also a very close detail shot of an object.
Binary code The base two numbering system. All numbers are formed by a combination of zero and one; or a high or a low condition for a voltage or current. the basic numbering system used in all digital electronic devices
Binary digit A numeral in the binary system of notation
bit Binary digit, a 0 or 1; the smallest piece of information a computer understands. Eight bits form a Byte
Bit mapping A method of graphic display, described in terms of pixels
Bit stream transmission The method of transmitting characters at fixed time intervals
Bits per second (bps), Quantity of bits per second transmitted over data transmission lines
Black level The level of the video signal that corresponds to the maximum limits of the black areas of the picture
BNC Connector A locking type of industrial connector commonly used in professional video systems
Board An internal plug-in sub-system consisting of a printed-circuit, wiring and components
Boom A camera, light or microphone mount on a long extension, usually to reach difficult places, often for high camera shots or for arranging for a microphone to be placed over a speaker's head
Brightness Achromatic intensity, relative lighting without regard to color; light emitted from a surface such as a screen measured in foot-lamberts, foot-candles, or lux.
Brightness ratio The difference between the brightest and darkest object in a scene. Too extreme a difference can lead to an unacceptable contrast ratio
Brightness signal Same as the luminance signal (Y); the signal which carries information about the amount of light at each point in the image broadband A circuit which can operate over a wide range of frequencies
Broadcast Quality An accepted standard for broadcast television. In the U.K. it is 625 lines of video picture information at a rate of 50 Hz
Bandwidth. The amount of audio or radio spectrum required or used by a signal or waveform.
Barn door. A metal flap or group of metal flaps attached to the front of a lamp housing to prevent light from spilling outside a desired area.
Betacam. A component broadcast system using half-inch tape. Betacam SP is the older analogue system. Digital Betacam, or Digi-beta is the new digital system
BNC connector. A connector with a bayonet lock used with coaxial video cable.
Brightness Lightness of an image above completely black level. Sometimes called lift, affects the darker areas of the picture.
Buffer An area of memory used to store information temporarily.
Burst In colour TV reception, the signal that serves as the colour reference - it occurs during video blanking


C-Mount A C-Mount is generally the standard mounting means for attaching a lens to a camera.
Camcorder A lightweight, hand-held camera/recorder
Camera Card Personalised shot list for studio cameraman
Camera-left, and Camera-right To the right or to the left, as seen from the camera position.
Camera Script Script written by the director which includes all the details of shots, lighting, sound etc.
Candlepower The unit measure of an incident light
Capacitor A component in circuitry which stores and releases voltage within the circuit
Capstan A rotating shaft or spindle which moves tape at a constant speed during recording or playback in tape recorders and players. A pressure roller squeezes or pinches the tape tight against the capstan to provide traction
Caption Graphics image on screen
Casting Matching actors with roles.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT), The video display tube used in many video monitors and receivers, radar displays and video computer terminals. Contains a cathode (-ve electrical terminal) and heater element at one end which produces electron beams which hit a phosphor coating on the face of the tube and make it glow or hit an oxide coating and produce voltage
CCD Charge-Coupled Device, semiconductor device - a solid state imager which converts input light levels into electrical charges. More compact and efficient than older cathode ray tubes
CCTV Closed Circuit Television
CCU Camera Control Unit
CD Compact disc or compact audio disc. A 12 cm laser-encoded optical disc that contains information encoded digitally in the constant linear velocity (CLV) spiral format. Has music on it! (Yes or digital pictures etc)
CD-ROM Compact disc-read only memory.
character generator Reproduces recognised font styles from a computer type keyboard-usually provides multiple screen storage and is capable of background colourisation from video display
Chroma. The characteristic of a colour which refers to its saturation or intensity. The colour information contained in a video signal, consisting of hue (phase angle) and saturation (amplitude) of the colour sub-carrier.
Chroma key (or CSO) Replacing part of the picture with an electronic picture from another source.
Chrominance. The colour portion of the television signal, relating to the hue and saturation but not to the brightness or luminance of the signal, e.g. black, grey and white, have no chrominance, but any coloured signal has both chrominance and luminance.
Cinemascope One of the first wide screen movie formats, presenting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a 2:1 anamorphic squeeze
Clapper board Board used to mark the point for synchronising the vision and sound when shooting film, and to number the take.
clipping The process of shearing off the peaks of either the white or the black excursions of the video signal
Clock cycle The rate at which a computer executes an operation
Close-up Shot showing person's whole head from shoulders and collar, upwards. Close shot of an object
Coaxial cable. A cable having a centre conductor surrounded by insulation and a grounded shield.
Colour balance Ensures camera combines the 3 primary colours in correct proportions, so picture isn't blue or orange
Colour bars A test signal which can be displayed as vertical bars of different colours on a colour video monitor. It is used to check chrominance functions of colour television and camera's.
Colour burst A few (8 to 10) cycles of 3.58MHz colour subcarrier which occur during the back porch interval.
Colour correction A process in which the colouring in a television image is altered or corrected by electronic means. Care must be taken to insure that the modified video does not exceed the limits of subsequent processing or transmission systems
Colour temperature The colour tint expressed in degrees Kelvin (K) of the light source. The higher the Colour temperature, the bluer the light; the lower the temperature, the redder the light
Component The normal interpretation of a component video signal is one in which the luminance and Chrominance are sent as separate components
Component video The separation of chrominance and luminance parts of the video signal. These two component signals are recorded separately
Composite A composite video signal is one in which the luminance and chrominance information have been combined using one of the coding standards: NTSC, PAL, SECAM
Composite video signal A signal that consists of video (luminance and colour sub carrier), sync (horizontal and vertical), and colour burst signals. The complete visual wave form of the colour video signal composed of chromatic and luminance picture information.
Compositing The process of building a screen image including background matte, subject, data, animation, titling and graphics
Compress To reduce certain parameters of digital information or while preserving the basic information content by using variety of algorithms and other techniques for archiving or transmission
Compressed video A video image or segment that has been digitally processed using a variety of algorithms and other techniques to reduce the amount of space required to store the digital information
Compression The process of reducing certain parameters of digital information or while preserving the basic information content by using variety of algorithms and other techniques for archiving or transmission
CSO Colour separation overlay see Chroma key.
Commag 'Combined magnetic' film - old film where the sound is recorded on a magnetic stripe laminated onto the celluloid next to the picture.
Condensation is moisture condensation usually on the head drum, which cases the tape to stick to the drum, resulting in damaging the tape and possible malfunction of the recorder.
Contrast. The difference in illumination between the brightest and darkest parts of a scene or picture.
Contrast range The range of greys in a video image, usually a ratio of light to dark
Contrast ratio The ratio of brightness of the brightest possible area to the darkest possible area of an image
Control track. Electronic 'sprocket holes' to keep tape in time. A reference signal recorded on videotape and used to control the path of the video heads across the tape on playback.
Crawl The smooth movement of text on a TV screen, either horizontally or vertically. The term is generally used to mean a steady controlled text movement.
Crab Sideways movement of camera.
Credits List of people involved in the making of the programme.
Crossfade To dissolve images
Crossing the Line Reversing the flow of action in successive shots thus confusing the viewers sense of direction.
Cue A signal for action.
Cue control A device for rapidly advancing or rewinding a tape or film to sample the contents or find a desired section
Cut To terminate a program, image or scene abruptly; to make a sudden and complete change from one to another
Cutaway (C/A) Shot used to avoid a jump cut.


D1 Digital video tape format using the CCIR 601 standard to record 4:2:2 component video on 19mm tape. Currently the highest quality video tape format generally available. The first digital video tape format, hence D1.
D2 Digital video tape format using the 4fsc method to record composite digital video. Uses 19mm tape and a cassette similar to D1. The second digital video tape format, hence D2.
D3 Digital video tape format using 4fsc composite signals like D2, but recorded on 12.5 mm (1/2-inch) tape. The third digital video tape format...
D4 Doesn't exist. The number 4 is considered unlucky in Japan.
D5 Digital video tape format using CCIR 601, 4:2:2 video. Uses the same cassette as D3.
DAT Digital Audio Tape
Data rate The speed at which data is transmitted
DB. Decibel. A unit used to compare the relative levels of electrical signals on a logarithmic scale.
DC Direct current; A electric current flowing in one direction
Decibel (dB), A logarithmic measure of the ratio between two amplitudes: voltages, currents, sound intensities
Decoder A device used to recover the component signals from a composite or encoded source
Definition The sharpness/resolution of a picture
Degauss To demagnetise recording and playback heads, tape.
Depth of field Area of a shot in sharp focus. The front to back zone in a field of view which is in focus.
Digital A form in which everything is defined by a series of numbers, which can be manipulated precisely, instead of a fluctuating electrical signal.
Digital Betacam Digital video tape format using the CCIR 601 standard to record 4:2:2 component video in compressed form on 12.5mm (1/2-inch) tape.
Digital recording A method of recording which involves a sequence of pulses or on-off signals; advantages are increased frequency range and lower tape noise
Digitising Taking digital rushes off tape and storing onto disk for editing.
Dissolve. The gradual change from one picture to another, allowing the pictures to be superimposed during the transition.
Distortion. Any undesirable alteration in an audio or video signal.
Docu-Drama/ Drama-Doc A close relative to the documentary is the "docu-drama" which is based on a historical events but includes elements of fiction to add to the dramatic effect of the incidents addressed.
Documentary Filmed or videotaped stories that are based on actual facts, people or events. The genre is based on the French word "documentaire" first used in the January 1924 issue of Cineopse
Dolly. A wheeled device attached to a tripod to allow smooth movement of a camera. Also a camera movement toward or away from the subject (dolly forward, dolly back).
Dub, Dubbing To copy by playing back on one machine and recording on another. Sound Dub Mixing the commentary with the FX and music.
Duct tape. A shiny adhesive tape designed for holding metal heating and cooling ducts, but also commonly used as a substitute for gaffer tape, a general purpose tape used in television and film.
DV Digital Video/Domestic Video. Originated as a consumer product, but being used professionally as exemplified by Panasonic's DVC-Pro, and Sony's DV, and DV Cam.
DVD xxx Digital Video Disk (or Digital Versatile Disk). A new format for putting full length movies on a 5" CD using MPEG-2 compression for "much better than VHS" quality.
DVE Digital Video Effects. A "black box" which digitally manipulates the video to create special effects. Common DVE effects include inverting the picture, shrinking it, moving it around within the frame of another picture, spinning it, and a great many more.


EBU European Broadcasting Union. Established by broadcasting and related organisations in Europe.
Edit To link one piece of audio or videotape to another, or to create a master tape of a audio or video program, usually from a variety of source media.
edit decision list EDL, A computer program that allows the user to re-create or modify a audio or video program
Effects (Sound) Recorded noise other than music or speech.
EFP. Electronic Field Production. Production of a television programme by using portable video cameras, and sound equipment outside the studios. EFP is characterised by generally higher production quality than ENG.
Encoding Changing electrical signal from the camera into another format for storage or propagation.
End board Sync point marked by clapper board at end of shot - when using film, and unable to mark the top.
ENG Electronic news gathering. The use of light-weight video cameras, and sound equipment for the production of daily news stories and short documentaries.
Establisher Usually a wide angle shot that establishes a location, its contents and characters. GV's or general views are often used to establish a location or scene.
Exposure Amount of light transmitted through a lens to a camera chip or piece of film. Usually expressed as an f-number - aperture - though affected by (apparent) shutter speed also, as in still photography.
Exterior Any out of doors shooting.
Eye-line The direction a person on camera is looking..


F /number The size of the aperture in a lens, given in f-numbers. The lower the f-number, the more light passes through the lens. It is the ratio of the lens focal length to the actual diameter of the aperture opening. Called T-stop on film lenses
Fade Varying the strength of a picture either from black to full strength (fade in) or from full strength to black (fade out)
Feedback The regeneration of sound caused by a system's microphone pickup of output from its own speakers causing a ringing sound or high-pitch squeal
Fibre optic cable A transmission cable designed to pass signals in the form of pulses of light. Fibre optic cable can carry many TV signals/channels, and is noted for its properties of electrical isolation and resistance to electrostatic and electromagnetic interference
Field. One scan from the top to the bottom of the television frame, tracing alternate horizontal lines and taking one sixtieth of a second. The frame (25 pre second) is made up of two fields - 'interlaced'.
Fill light It is the job of the fill light to fill to some degree the shadow created by the key light, for 3-d modelling.
Filter. A flat piece of glass or gel to control the colour or intensity of light.
Filter. An electrical device used to reduce the transmission of signals in some frequency ranges and allow transmission of signals in other frequency ranges. Frequently used in audio.
first generation The first time the signal is recorded on tape, that tape is called first generation
Flag. A metal flap used near a lens to keep lights from shining directly into the lens and causing lens flare.
Flare Unwanted dark or coloured images caused by very bright lights or extreme reflections coming into the lens.
Flicker A video effect on a still or frozen frame caused when the two fields that make one video picture Frame are not identically matched, thus creating two different pictures alternating every 1/60 of a second
Fluid head tripod A tripod whose camera-mount consists of two metal plates separated by a layer of Fluid; movement is very smooth
Flutter Rapid change in frequency of an audio or video signal due to variations in tape or disk speed. Wow is usually considered a lower frequency speed variation
FM Frequency Modulation A method by which sound frequencies are carried in radio transmission; more noise free and generally with a broader frequency range than AM (Amplitude Modulation) transmissions
Fps Frames per second, as used by the motion picture industry
Focal length. Gives the magnification power of a lens. The distance from the optical centre of a lens to the focal plane.
Focal plane. The plane perpendicular to the lens axis at which parallel rays striking the lens are converged to a point. Where the chip or film is sited!
Focus. To cause a sharp image from a lens to be projected onto the focal plane
Formats, video Formats include Digibeta, Beta SX, Dvcam, DV (or miniDV) DVC Pro, C, U-Matic, Betacam SP, DI, D2, D3, , VHS, Hi8, and S-VHS ….
Frame. A complete television picture consisting of two interlaced fields of video.
Frame store A device that stores one complete video frame
Freeze frame. The continuous repetition of a single frame of video. Also called still frame.
Frequency The rate of repetition in cycles per second (Hertz) of musical pitch or electrical signals. Low frequencies are bass; high frequencies are treble
Frequency Modulation FM A method by which sound frequencies are carried in radio transmission; more noise free and generally with a broader frequency range than AM (Amplitude Modulation) transmissions
Fresnel. A special light-weight lens used in focusing beams of light. Originally used in lighthouses, now also used in high-quality studio and theatrical lights.
F-stop. The size of the aperture in a lens, given in f-numbers. The lower the f-number, the more light passes through the lens. It is the ratio of the lens focal length to the actual diameter of the aperture opening. Called T-stop on film lenses.
Fuse. A device designed to interrupt an electrical circuit in the event of an overload of that circuit.


Gaffer Chief set electrician
Gaffer tape. A strong adhesive tape used in for just about everything in film and television production.
Gain. Degree of amplification. The difference between the signal level at the input of a device and the level at the output, usually expressed in 'dB'.
Generation loss The reduction in picture quality resulting from the copying of video signals for editing and distribution
Generations The number of times a video clip is copied or processed. In older analogue systems, efforts are made to keep generations to a minimum, since each copy adds noise and other artefacts. In digital systems this does not matter so much.
Genlock Genlock is a process of sync generator locking. To line up 3 cameras shooting the same scene.
GHz Gigahertz; billion cycles per second
Graphics All visuals prepared for a production
Grey scale A series of tones which range from true black to true white, it is usually expressed in 10 steps
Grid A cross hatch of metal pipes for hanging lights in a studio. Any overhead lighting system.
Grip. The crew member principally responsible for the transportation, maintenance and mounting of the camera.


Hard drive A high-density magnetic storage device capable of storing a large amount of data. Hard drive systems are usually built into a computer but can be made removable to interchange between editing systems
Hardware The electric, electronic and mechanical components used for processing data
HD High Definition
HDTV High Definition Television. One of the coming standards in the future of television technology.
A TV format capable of displaying on a larger screen and at higher resolution.
Head. The uppermost portion of a tripod or pedestal which provides for the ability to pan and tilt the camera.
Head record head. A small electromagnet which places magnetic signals onto a video or audio tape as it moves by; also reads those signals off a tape. Heads must be positioned or aligned correctly so they follow the correct path across the tape
Hertz. The standard unit of measuring frequency. One Hz is equal to one cycle per second. Car rental company!
Hi8 Video An extension of the Video 8 format.
Hiss. The background noise generated in an audio system which is internally generated by microphones, amplifiers, and tape.
Horizontal resolution The capability of a video camera or a display unit to resolve detail in the Horizontal direction. Usually expressed as the number of vertical lines which can be distinguished in the reproduced image of a test chart.
Hue Distinction between colours. Red, blue, green, yellow, etc. are hues. White, black, and grey are not considered hues
Hum. Unwanted low frequency audio noise caused by the power supply - improperly shielded or improperly grounded audio cables and circuits.


Impedance Resistance to the flow of alternating current electricity measured in ohms low impedance circuits are 600 ohms or less, and high impedance may be 50K ohms or more
Inductive loop A wire loop connected to the output of a tape recorder, phonograph or PA system that produces an electromagnetic field within and adjacent to the loop
Infrared (IR), Wavelengths just beyond the visible spectrum; often filtered out to reduce heat on film or slide
INSERT IGNORE edit A type of edit in which new video and/or audio material is INSERT IGNOREed into any point of a pre-existing recorded material on the master tape
Integrated circuit (IC), A complete electronic circuit; chemically produced on the surface of a single chip of semiconductor material
Interactive media Media which involves the user as a source of input to determine the content and duration of programme material
Interactive video A video program and a computer program running in tandem under the control of the user
Intercom A device or component of a system that permits two-way communication
Interference Energy from an outside source which interferes with a specific signal
Interlaced The process of scanning whereby the alternate lines of both scanned fields fall evenly between each other
Interlacing Increasing video resolution by doubling the number of horizontal scan lines. NTSC video Is interlaced
I/O Input/Output
IR see Infrared
Iris The amount of light transmitted through a lens is controlled by an adjustable diaphragm, or iris, located in the lens barrel. The opening is referred to as the aperture, and the size of the aperture is controlled by rotating the aperture control ring on the lens barrel. The graduations on the lens barrel are expressed as the f-number


Jack A receptacle or a plug connector for the input or output circuits of an audio or video device.
Jitter Small and rapid variations in a waveform due to mechanical disturbances, changes in the characteristics of components, supply voltages.
JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group
Jump cut A jarring edit that can result from slight shifts in camera angle, frame size or movement of a subject. An edit on the same subject that doesn't work


K 1024 bytes. The term "K" (Kilo) is used because it is roughly 1,000 bytes. 64K is actually 65,536 bytes
Kelvin Also expressed as Kelvins or K, the unit of measurement of the temperature of light. In colour recording, light temperature affects the colour values of the lights and the scene that they illuminate
Key. A video special effect in which the level of a video signal is used to allow selective substitution of picture information from one source with picture information from a different source. Luminance Keyers use the amplitude of the monochrome portion of the signal, while chroma keyers use the amplitude of a specific colour or hue.
Key and back Lights Key and Back Lights provide the main source of illumination on the subject from the front, side and rear
KHz kilohertz
Kilohertz (kHz) 1000 Hertz


LASER Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, An amplifier and generator of coherent energy in the visible or invisible region of the electromagnetic spectrum
LCD Liquid Crystal Display. Liquid crystals exist in an intermediate state between liquid and solid, and realign under electrical stimulation
LED Light Emitting Diode, a semiconductor diode that converts electrical energy into visible electromagnetic radiation
Laser disc (LD) A reflective optical videodisc
Latent image. The image retained after the source of that image is removed. Seen after filming or looking at bright lights!
Lavalier. Personal mic. A microphone worn on the body and held in place with a clip fastened to clothing. The frequency response of a lavalier microphone is skewed toward the higher frequencies to compensate for the low frequency sound transmitted directly to the microphone by contact with the body.
Leader Blank audio or video tape or film attached to tape or film; may be colour coded
Legal signal A video signal in which each component remains within the limits specified for the video signal format
Lens hood. Also lens shade. A cone fastened to the front end of a lens to keep incident light from striking the lens elements and causing lens flare.
Lens speed Refers to the ability of a lens to pass light expressed as a ratio: the focal length of the lens divided by the (effective) diameter
Limiter. An amplifier designed to limit or compress signals over a desired level, thus reducing the chances of distortion and keeping the range of signal levels within the range that can be recorded. Unlike an automatic gain control, a limiter does not augment or boost low levels.
Location In video and film production, a place where material is filmed or videotaped an environment that represents the real world
Longitudinal time code Time code information recorded as an audio signal, on track two or three of the videotape
Loss The difference between the energy, power and quality of an original signal and its reproduction
Luminance signal A signal that determines the brightness of the picture. Also called Y signal.
Lux The metric measurement of light quantity. The measurement is taken from the reflection off the object illuminated. One foot-candle equals 10.76 lux. A lux equals one lumen per square meter


Master The original, as in a recording
Matte A film term sometimes used in video production work to denote a keyed effect, an INSERT IGNORE of video signal information keyed from one source into a second video signal
Megabyte One million bytes
menu The display of user options at any given point in a program
MHz Megahertz; millions of cycles per second
Microphone A device that converts sound into electrical signals usable by other pieces of audio equipment. Microphones vary in sound quality, generating system used, directional patterns and impedance
Microsecond One-millionth of a second
Mixer. An electronic device for combining the outputs of several sound sources, with separate control over the volume or quality of each.
Modulation A process whereby information is converted to some code, and the code is made part of a transmitted signal
Moiré‚ A wavy or satiny effect produced by the convergence of lines. It usually appears as a curving of the lines in the horizontal wedges of a test pattern. It is a natural optical effect when converging lines in a television picture are nearly parallel to the scanning lines. Also optical disturbance caused by interference of similar frequencies
Monaural Single channel audio. Mono.
Monitor A CRT or RGB screen which can accept either video signals or computer display information
Monitor/receiver A combination of monitor and TV receiver capable of accepting composite video signals directly from VCRs, cameras, or broadcast video signals
Monochrome signal A single colour video signal; usually a black and white signal or, sometimes, the luminance portion of a composite or component colour signal
MPEG Motion Picture Experts Group. A standards committee of the International Standards Organisation working to set standards for digital compression, storage and communication of video and audio information
Multimedia The delivery of information, via personal computer or interactive player, that combines text, graphics, audio, still images, animation, motion video from a CD or DVD, magnetic disk, optical disc, video or audio tape


NTSC National Television System Committee: The Colour TV system in North America.
ND filter Neutral Density filter. ND filters reduce the amount of light equally across the entire visible wavelength range without affecting colour.
Nanosecond One billionth of a second
Noise. Any unwanted signal interfering with the clarity and intelligibility of desired signals. The background of static inherent in many recording or amplifying device, generally forty to sixty db below the peak output level of the device. In video it refers to random spurts of electrical energy or interference
Noise & cancelling A microphone designed to cancel ambient noise 50 it will not be broadcast or recorded. The housing of the microphone allows noise to reach both sides of the diaphragm simultaneously, thereby cancelling each other out
Non-Linear Editor An editing system based on storage of video and audio on computer disk, where the order or lengths of scenes can be changed without the necessity of re-assembling or copying the program, as in older linear tape editing.
NTNC (National Television Standards Committee) Video format using 525 scan lines, tape running at about 30 frames per second. This format is mainly used in North America.


Omnidirectional microphone. A microphone which picks up sound equally well from all directions.
Off-Line Editing Suite A low resolution computer and disk based edit system in which the creative editing decisions can be made at lower cost and often with greater flexibility than in an expensive fully equipped on-line suite. See also Non-Linear Editor
On-Line Editor An editing system where the actual video master is created. An on-line bay usually consists of an editing computer, vision mixer, audio mixer, 1 or more channels of DVE, character generator for captions, and digital video tape machines.
Optical fibre A long, thin thread of fused silica or other transparent substance used to transmit light. Since it has a capacity approximately 1000 times conventional cable and it is light-weight and non-corrosive - it's being used a lot now.
Overscan Deliberate scanning in a television set or monitor in which the active display area of the image is filled with slightly less than the complete video image.


PAL Phase Alternate Line. The television and video standard in use in the UK, Ireland, Western Europe, Scandinavia, South Africa and Australia. Consists of 625 horizontal lines at a field rate of 50 fields per second. (Two fields equals one complete Frame). The phase alternation makes the signal relatively immune to certain distortions compared to NTSC
Palette The total number of colours available on a display screen in a given application or program
Peak white The whitest portion of a picture signal
Phono plug Jack or plug type most often used with audio amplifiers, also known as RCA Plug
Phosphor The material which coats the inside face of a CRT - a TV 'tube'. When struck by an electron beam, it glows, providing the image. The higher the quality/composition of the phosphor, the brighter and more vivid the image
Pixel Short for Picture Element. The basic unit from which a video or computer picture is made. Essentially a dot with a given colour and brightness value. The more pixels the higher the resolution of the picture.
Parabola. A parabolic dish used to reflect sound waves, concentrating them on a microphone, allowing sound to be picked up from greater distances than with even a normal unidirectional or shotgun microphone.
Parallax. The difference in view caused by looking at a scene from two slightly different locations.
Patch bay. Patch panel. A control panel where all the video and audio lines used in a studio are brought together and terminated in connectors allowing any combination of lines to be wired together as desired by patching in short lengths of cable.
Pedestal. A camera support generally restricted to studio use having a single elevator column mounted on a tricycle base.
Pickup tube. Used before chip cameras came along. A light-sensitive electron tube which is scanned by an electron beam to convert an image focused on the face of the tube into an electronic signal.
Pop. Microphone distortion caused by speaking certain consonants (especially "p") into a microphone placed too close to the mouth.
Power pack Rechargeable dc power supply or battery pack
Pre-amplifier (Pre-Amp), An amplifier that strengthens weak signals such as those from a microphone, magnetic playback head, photo cell to a level sufficient to drive a power amplifier
Primary colours Colours, usually three, which are combined to produce the full range of other colours within the limits of a system. All non-primary colours are mixtures of two or more of the primary colours


Quadruplex Quad A 4 head videotape system using 2" magnetic tape with heads mounted around the rotating head wheel.
Quartz-halogen. The light designed to maintain correct colour temperature and uniform output throughout its life. Provides much higher output than conventional tungsten light of the same power consumption and has a life up to one hundred times that of common tungsten photographic lights. These lamps are sensitive to shock and handling and should never be touched with bare hands.


RGB Red, Green, Blue. The primary colours of light. Computers and digital component devices use separate red, green, and blue colour channels to keep the full bandwidth and therefore the highest quality picture.
Radio mic. Transmitter mic or wireless mic. A microphone connected to a small radio transmitter, used in situations where cables would be cumbersome or impossible to use.
raster The rectangular pattern of scanning lines upon which the picture is produced. The illuminated face of the TV monitor without the video information present
raw tape A term sometimes used to describe tape that has not been recorded. Also called virgin or blank stock
Receiver An electronic device for collecting broadcast transmissions and decoding them for output
Reference video signal A video signal which contains a sync signal or sync and burst signals, used as a reference for synchronisation of video equipment.
Reflected light The scene brightness or the light being reflected from a scene
Registration An adjustment associated with colour sets and projection TVs to ensure that the electron beams the three primary colours of the phosphor screen are lined up correctly.
Resolution A measure of the ability of a camera or television system to reproduce detail. That is the number of picture elements that can be reproduced with good definition
RF (Radio Frequency) That part of the frequency spectrum in which it is possible to radiate (transmit) electromagnetic waves. Any part of the broadcast band, including radio and television.
Roll-off. The gradual reduction of frequencies above or below a certain point. Filters which roll off the bass frequencies are often included in unidirectional microphones to compensate for proximity effect.
RGB Red, Green, Blue, the chrominance information in a video signal
RGB Video Computer video output which can be analogue or digital.
ROM Read-Only Memory, permanent memory which can be read by the CPU but cannot be written to. Rpm Revolutions per minute


S-VHS yields better resolution and less noise than standard VHS
saturation Quantity of pure colour, how deep the colour is, which is diluted when mixed with white
Safe area. In television graphics or film shot for television, the area which is almost certain to be displayed on any television set. About 80% of the scanned area.
Scanning The rapid movement of the election beam in a pickup device of a camera or in the CRT of a television receiver.
Scrambling Controlled distortion of a transmitted image in order to control reception; an decoder is used to unscramble the picture on the receiving end
SECAM (Systèm Electronique pour Couleur avec Mémoire) Video Format at 625 scan lines, tape runs at 25 frames per second. Used in France Russia and eastern parts of Europe.Sensitivity. The ability of a device, such as a camera or microphone, to sense intelligible information and convert it into a usable electronic signal.
Servo. An electronic circuit used to control the speed of a motor which drives a videotape recorder head assembly drum, which must be controlled with great precision.
Servo lock In a VTR, to lock (or synchronise) the operation of the servomechanisms to a reference sync signal.
Shutter speed The length of time for which the shutter stays open. The higher the shutter speed is, the more clearly a moving object can be shot. Digibeta cameras have an adjustable 'electronic shutter'. Good to use a faster shutter speed when shooting watersports.
Shock mount. A support for a microphone which used rubber of foam supports to isolate the mic from vibrations which can appear as low frequency rumble in the audio.
Shotgun microphone. A unidirectional microphone with a narrow pickup pattern.
S/N Signal-to-Noise ratio. The relation of the strength of the desired signal to the accompanying electronic interference, the noise. If S/N is high, sounds are reproduced with less noise and pictures are reproduced clearly without snow.
Slave A device or piece of equipment completely controlled by another device or piece of equipment, usually working in conjunction with that piece of equipment. Often a slave records signals from a master, as in tape duplicating
Sound Dub Mixing the commentary with the FX and music.
Split screen A special effect utilising two or more cameras so that two or more scenes are visible simultaneously on each part of the screen
Stereo equipment with separate signals and channels for the left and right audio information
Superimposition. The adding or mixing of two video signals to produce and image with two or more pictures visible simultaneously. Used when a keyer is not available to add graphics to video. Sometimes used to refer to a key.


TBC. Time base corrector. To stabilise pictures. A device for making the unstable video output of a videotape recorder conform to the rigid timing of a signal generator, allowing videotape to be used as a picture source in combination with other sources driven by the signal generator.
tape transport The motor and mechanism which moves the tape at the correct and constant speed and tension past the heads.
Telecine A video camera system specifically designed to pick up for viewing standard slides and motion picture film
Teleprompter The a prompting device used on TV
Television camera tubes An older camera pickup tube for translates the light focused on its target into electronic scanning lines for recording or reproduction on a picture tube
Television receiver A device for reproducing both pictures and sound from broadcast television signals or a modulated cable system
Television receiver/monitor A television configured to accept both line input and broadcast RF signals
Time code A digitally encoded signal that is recorded on videotape to identify each frame of video by hour, minute, second and frame number. EBU time code is applied to PAL and SECAM systems, and SMPTE time code to the NTSC system..
Time code lock To synchronise the built-in time code generator of video equipment such as a VTR to an external time code.
Tint Saturation; amount of white in a colour
Titles. Graphic information appearing at the beginning of a program, generally including the title, author, producer, writer, director, and major personalities.
Tone Amount of black shade and white tint in a colour
Tracking control. The control used to maintain alignment of the video head with the tracks of video information on a tape.
Tracking The angle and speed at which the tape passes the video heads
Tripod A three-legged stand on top of which a camera is mounted
Tripod Head The top portion of a tripod where its legs meet and the camera is mounted; friction or fluid-head tripod designs are available
Tuner. The demodulator section of a radio, television set, or videotape recorder.
Tweak Fine-tune, adjust


UHF. Ultra High Frequency. Radio frequencies from 300 to 3,000 megahertz.
U-matic. The older format for 3/4 inch videocassette recorders. This format has a maximum record/play time of one hour and two discrete audio channels. Comes in Low-band and High-Band, quality variations.
User's bits A total of 32 bits are provided in time code which you can use to record such information as date, scene number, or reel number on videotape.
Ultra Violet (UV), Rays just beyond the visible spectrum; ordinarily filtered or blocked to prevent eye damage


Video gain Amount of amplification for video signals, expressed in decibels (dB)
video projector A device which projects the video image on to a screen
VITC (Vertical Interval Time Code): This is the same information as the SMPTE time code. It is superimposed onto the vertical blanking interval, so that the correct time code can be read even when a helical scanning VCR is in the Pause or Slow mode
Volt. The standard unit for measuring the difference of electrical potential between two points in a circuit.
VITC Vertical Interval Time Code. A time code recorded on videotape in two horizontal lines during each vertical blanking period of a video signal.
VCR Video Cassette Recorder
VHF Very High Frequency, television transmission on channels 2 through 13
VHS A 1/2" video cassette format
video distribution amplifier A special amplifier for strengthening the video signal so that it can be supplied to a number of video monitors at the same time
Video waveform The pictorial display on a special oscilloscope of the various components of the video signal. used to check the integrity of the signal and signal components
VU Meter, volume unit meter A device for Sound Systems or Recorders to indicate the relative levels of the various sounds being recorded or played.


Watt. Unit of electrical power equal to one volt across a resistance of one ohm, or one volt at a current of one ampere.
Waveform monitor. A specialised oscilloscope designed to display the video waveform with great stability and high resolution. Essential in determining and setting correct levels for the luminance (monochrome) and sync portions of the composite video signal and useful in evaluating critical timing relationships.
White balance adjustment And adjustment to get the colour 'temperature' correct by changing the white levels of the R, G, and B channels of a colour camera so that any white object shot in that light is reproduced as a truly white image. See also Colour temperature.
Wind screen. A thin soft foam cover for microphones which reduces the noise made by wind striking the microphone.
Wipe. The transition between television picture sources in which each picture source is displayed on only a portion of the screen, that portion being determined by an electronically generated pattern which can be sized and positioned using a special effects generator.
Wow A low rate periodic disturbance in sound usually caused by regular variations in the rotation of some mechanical component of the system. Usually Wow and Flutter are combined


XLR or Cannon connector A very sturdy and secure 3 pin connecting jack, usually used in professional "balanced" type audio systems. Incorporates three terminals, two for the signal and one for the system grounding


Zebra pattern In a video camera, striped patterns which appear in the viewfinder screen to indicate areas of the image where the video level is higher than a certain value.
Zoom To gradually change the field of view of a camera lens from wide to narrow angle (zoom in) or narrow to wide angle (zoom out).
Zoom lens. A lens with a variable focal length.
Zoom ratio. The ratio of the longest focal length to the shortest focal length of a zoom lens.

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