Film Editor's Dictionary: A helpful glossary of film editing related terms

Academy Leader - An Academy Leader is a standard picture leader that is placed at the beginning of a reel of film. The leader gives the film projectionist a start mark to cue up into the projector before screening.   This start mark can also correspond to a sound leader so that sound and picture can be synced for projection or viewing on a flatbed.  An Academy Leader has a numbered countdown, with the start mark (hole punch and/or X) being the number 12, and counting down to 0, which is the first frame of picture action on the reel.

Avid Media Composer - Avid Media Composer is a digital editing system for full-featured offline, film, and online editors requiring top quality and maximum choice of effects. It delivers dual-stream compressed and uncompressed 601 images, real-time 3D Effects, plus real-time 9-stream hardware multicamera capability. For more information on Avid products, visit .

Clapper - A clapper is the slate which has two sticks that are clapped together within the camera's view at the beginning of each take for the purpose of synchronizing picture and sound in the editing room. Clappers that come at the end of the take before camera and sound cut are called tail sticks.

Coding / Coding Machine - Once the picture workprint and magnetic sound print are placed in sync using camera slates and sound clappers, the "sunk" rolls are coded using a coding machine that stamps matching colored edge numbers on the edge of the prints so that sound and picture can be easily kept in sync after the film is cut.

Conforming - Conforming is done either in the editing room when digital cut lists are produced from an offline digital editing system such as an Avid, or by the negative cutter when the film is "locked" or completely cut. Conforming is the process of cutting the editor's film workprint to match the editor's offline digital cut, and is usually done using either code numbers made by a coding machine or by using key numbers.

Cutaway - A cutaway is the interruption of a continuously-filmed action by inserting a shot of something else. It is usually followed by a cutback to the first shot.

Dailies (also known as Rushes) - Dailies are film prints made immediately after a day's shooting that are usually viewed the following day by directors, editors, cinematographers and other crew members. Viewing dailies the day after they are shot can be helpful in case a director is not happy with an actor's performance, if there is a camera issue such as soft focus or negative scratches, and also crucial to the editor to be able to see what the "coverage" is for each scene. If needed, an editor can suggest additional or "pickup" shots to be filmed that will help with telling the story.

Dissolve - A dissolve is a gradual transition from one image to another, where both images can be seen overlapping each other.

Establishing Shot - An establishing shot is a short shot or group of shots at the beginning of a scene indicating where the remainder of the scene takes place. For example, an exterior shot of an office building, followed by an interior shot of two co-workers talking, implies that the conversation is taking place inside that building. Many times, if a film is filmed inside of a sound stage, a crew will go out and shoot an establishing shot, or sometimes stock film houses will provide stock shots of buildings and locations.

Fade-in - A fade in is a shot which begins in total darkness and gradually lightens to full brightness. Sound and music can also fade in.

Fade-out - the opposite of a fade-in.

Keying - Keying is an informal term for compositing two full frame images together, by discriminating the visual information into values of color and light.

Master Shot - A master shot (also called an establishing shot or long shot) is a filmic recording of an entire scene, start to finish, from an angle that keeps all of the main actors in view. Usually, the "master shot" is the first shot recorded during the shooting of a scene. The master shot is ordinarily supplemented with other shots recorded fom different angle - groupings of two or three of the actors at crucial moments, close-ups of individuals, insert shots of various props, and so on.

POV (Point of View) Shot - A POV shot is a shot that is filmed from the character's point of view, or what that character is looking at, from their view. POV shots can be from the view of an animal, a character, a robot, and so on.

Rough cut (also known as a First Assembly) - A rough cut is a first assembly or first cut / first pass of a film which the editor builds from selected takes, in script order. Sometimes rough cuts will have "holes" or gaps where visual effects shots or scenes that have yet to be filmed will eventually go in the story order. Most editors will insert a visual title or banner in these holes that says "Scene Missing".

Slate - A Slate is the board upon which important information about a shot is displayed. The slate is filmed by the camera either at the head or tail of a shot to provide crucial information to the film lab and to the editor, such as scene and take numbers, name of the show, name of director and director of photography, sound roll and camera roll numbers, and sound timecode if the slate is digital. If the shot is slated at the tail of a shot, the slate will be held upside-down, and is called "tail sticks".

Sync pop (also known as a 2-pop) - A sync pop is a single frame of sound tone placed on the soundtrack that corresponds with the visual picture "2" frame on the SMPTE or Academy leader.

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