Video Terms & Concepts

This is a running list of terms and concepts that I will be compiling as I run across them! There are a lot of terms & concepts in video so I will do my best to keep this list happy, healthy and alphabetized!

  • 10 second rule – You only have about 10 seconds to capture a viewer’s attention so make those first few seconds really count!
  • 20:1 ratio – You can roughly expect to shoot about 20 minutes of footage for 1 good minute of edited video. This doesn’t really apply to something like a webinar or a full event recording. Anything you’re trying to digest into a short time limit will often fit pretty closely to this rule, though.
  • 3-point lighting – A technique that uses 3 separate lights to illuminate a subject while also reducing the presence of shadows.
  • B-roll – Extra video clips spliced into the main storyline that accents what is going on and gives a video a more film-like feel. I shoot TONS of b-roll and often don’t have quite enough or the right shots. The BEST b-roll is shot after piecing together your main story and shooting additional footage that describes it. Is your subject talking about reading a book? Shoot them reading a book. Are they talking about doing cartwheels with penguins while wearing a diving suit? If you can shoot that, for the love of Santa, please do because I want to see it!!
  • Clip – When editing video, these are the snippets you drag around to build your story.
  • Diffusion – The process of softening up your light so it isn’t so harsh on your subject, casting shadows everywhere and exaggerating imperfections.
  • Export – The process of sending your video out of your editing software to be stored on your computer, posted somewhere like YouTube or Vimeo or otherwise shared such as in DVD format.
  • Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) – My editing software from 2011-early 2013. Highly recommended by me after over a year of use ane especially now that the price point has dropped!
  • FPS – “Frames Per Second” or the number of individual frames (that used to be the separate blocks on film) move across the screen per second. 24fps is the traditional frame rate for TV and video, it translates well to the web.
  • Import – The process of bringing your video from your camera into your computer so you can edit it. This is generally done through a direct cable from your camera or by plugging your memory card into your computer.
  • Monopod – It’s like a tripod but instead of three (“tri”) legs, there’s just one which is great for hand-held shots. It’s amazing how much more stability this brings to your shooting.
  • Non-destructive editing – This is a sort of complicated concept that refers to an editing style that doesn’t mess with the original clips you imported from your camera. Instead of having to save revision after revision after revision of your video your source files stay the same and you basically edit in a super magical editing land that’s kind of like a copy floating above your originals. It uses something called an Edit Decision List (EDL) to keep track of your changes and you don’t have to save every 3 seconds! This was a learning curve for me in FCPX and it takes a fairly powerful computer to keep up with but I grew to trust and love it.
  • Photo clips: Large clamp-like clips that allow you to hang things like sheets to diffuse lights or attach heavier things to other things. It’s real technical. Sometimes just clothespins will do.
  • Transition – A way to move between shots in your video that isn’t just a quick cut from one to the next. You can use effects like cross-dissolves, fades, wipes or other animated actions to get from one clip to the next.
  • White balancing – a process of setting your camera to recognize “true white” and compensating for any colors that may be cast by the light spectrum in your video.