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Video Terminology – Turn yourself into a digital marketing genius

Video Terminology – Turn yourself into a digital marketing genius

Video Terminology – Turn yourself into a digital marketing genius

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Lights, camera and action! Everyone is familiar with a director’s callout to start filming a scene, but would you get called out as a newbie if you didn’t use the right video terms? No worries, here’s a short list of terms that will have you talking like a digital video genius in no time flat.

Story board

A series of illustrations which combined tell the story of the video. It is used to show still images of key scenes and characters. For context, a snippet of dialogue is inserted beside the image. A full storyboard will contain the entire script accompanied by representative stills.

Pan, Zoom and Track

hese are types of shots that describe a camera in motion. Pan refers to the camera’s rotation right or left when mounted on a tripod. Zoom-in and zoom-out describe moving closer to or farther away from the subject in the shot. A camera man might be asked to zoom in on an actor’s lapel pin or zoom out to show that a character is standing in the middle of a field. A track shot is one in which the camera is set on something similar to a train track, and it’s often used to follow alongside the character as they move forward.


Going further than a storyboard, an animatic demonstrates character movements and transitions, as planned to be shown in the actual video, through animations. An animatic often also contains dialogue and background music that help the viewers visualize the storyboard as the final video.

Display Resolution

The number of pixels in the display based on height and width, such as a computer monitor that has a “1024 x 768” display. Similar to a computer monitor's display, the key ratios to remember are 16:9 widescreen format or 4:3 which is Apple’s standard on iPad.


We’ve all seen a cop drama in which the scene cuts away to an image of the Sears tower letting us know that we are in the city of Chicago. Typically for live action footage, B-roll refers to any additional location shots that help set the scene, including exteriors of buildings and other street scenes that enhance the video’s ambience or help tell a character's story. In our work at Rich Media, B-roll is often used to add depth to a character's persona without actually showing the character.

Close Up, Medium and Wide

“I’m ready for my close up Mr. Demille.” This is the famous line from Sunset Boulevard. We understand that a close up shot is similar to a photograph from shoulders up, but are there other types of shots that can be used? Sure. A medium shot shows characters from the waist up which is great for a dialogue scene between two people. A wide shot is an establishing shot which shows the entire height of the actor or actors along with the scene and the background surrounding them. Film geeks shorten the lingo to just: close-up, medium, wide.

Smash Cut

When a scene is cut abruptly without a smooth transition it is known as a smash cut. There is, thus, an element of surprise involved in a smash cut. A typical example could be an edited sequence where an intense car chase is abruptly discontinued and viewers suddenly see shots of a couple engaged in romantic conversation by a waterfront.


Export Format

Video files can be huge, especially now with the high resolution 4K format (4000 pixels horizontal resolution) winning out over HD video. Source video files can be gigabytes in size. Size matters when the file is sent out into the real world as a Youtube video or a mobile video. Large files may need to be compressed by changing the video's format. Before compressing a file, determine where the video will be played. If it is going to be released on multiple (browser) platforms, then consider exporting it as QuickTime (apple), MPEG or other WMV format. The goal should be to optimize the file size so that it doesn’t take too long to download.

That's a wrap!

Once all the shots on the director’s shot list are finished and they are satisfied with the actor’s performances, you’ll probably hear them say – that’s a wrap (we are all done, all wrapped up). This is the time to nod and say “Yes, that’s a wrap indeed.”

Now that you know the lingo, you can call yourself a digital marketing genius.

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