TV Production Terms: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask.

September 15, 2009

Picture for Post #23Hang around on set during a TV production and you’ll likely scratch your head once or twice wondering what a “Best Boy” is. In TV, there are lots of unusual names for the people and things behind the scenes of each commercial being brought to life.

Having been on set hundreds of times, I often hear the same questions again and again from clients who are also attending the shoot. 

I’ve compiled a list of terms here:

DP: Director of Photography

AC: Assistant Camera

AD: Assistant Director / PA: Production Assistant

Gaffer: The chief lighting technician for a production who is in charge of the electrical department.

Key Grip: The chief grip who works directly with the gaffer in creating shadow effects for set lighting and who supervises camera cranes, dollies and other platforms or supporting structures according to the requirements of the director of photography.

Best Boy: The assistant chief lighting technician or the assistant to the key grip.

Slate: The identifier placed in front of the camera at beginning of a take.

Key Light: The main light on a subject. (Lighting)

Dolly Shot: Any shot made from a moving dolly. These may also be called tracking or traveling shots.

Pan: A horizontal movement of a camera on a fixed axis.

Gate: The aperture assembly at which the film is exposed in a camera, printer, or projector. This should always be checked before moving on to a new shot to make sure no hairs or dust particles got inside the camera. These things can ruin a shot.

Apple Box: A box built of a strong wood or plywood, which is capable of supporting weight. These may be of various sizes, the smallest of which is also known as a ‘pancake’ because it is nearly flat. (Lighting/Grip)

Rough cut: A preliminary trial stage in the process of editing a film. Shots are laid out in approximate relationship to an end product without detailed attention to the individual cutting points.

Food Stylist: An artist who works on set to perfect the look of food being shot.  This is a specialist, who concentrates on food preparation and presentation.

MOS: A term in TV commercials when you’re shooting subjects but not recording sound.

VO: Voice Over. The narrative voice you hear in TV spots.

Super: Refers to type on screen that supports a sales offer.

There you have it. Memorize these and you’ll impress everyone on set next time. Again, these are some of the most commonly terms used. If you’d like to learn oodles more – and by oodles I mean hundreds – click here: Filmland

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Giving Retail TV Commercials the “Film” Look Without the Film

September 14, 2009

Companies who want their TV commercials to look national often hone in on the “look.” And the biggest commonality among commercials produced by major brands comes down to a four-letter word: FILM.

Major advertisers overwhelmingly choose film for their commercials for all kinds of reasons. Ask the country’s top commercial film directors and they’ll go on and on. Film has warmth. Film makes ideas seem more credible. Film makes a commercial seem more important to the viewer. Film provides a glow and softness that makes the viewer forget that there’s a camera and crew in the room.

Problem is, not everybody can afford to shoot on 35 mm film or even 16 mm film. Fortunately, there are viable options that didn’t exist a few years ago.

First up is the Veracam, a video camera that simulates the look of film. This one has been around and works beautifully.

Another option is the “Red” – one of the newest cameras on the market. This camera is entirely digital and simulates the look of film. And many say it’s the best at doing so. 

The Red also comes with another plus. Because it shoots everything digitally – and at a VERY high degree of quality – the images can be used in print applications like ads and brochures. (Do that with film and everything’s fuzzy.)

In both the Veracam and the Red, there is no film stock to buy…and no expensive telecine lab needed for color correcting. However, final shots selected for your commercial will still need color correction, which can be done easily by the editor or the director.

Without getting too mired in technical data, why not judge for yourself.  Can you tell which was shot on film and which was shot digitally (Red Camera)?  If you can’t … do you think you customers will?  

Picture for Post #22

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