Photo by EvgeniyShkolenko via iStock
While making videos is certainly a creative process like photography, it also has a very technical side (just like photography!).
That means that when you're just starting out and exploring the possibilities of video, there are some essential videography terms with which you'll need to be familiar.
Below, I've outlined some of the most basic videography terms that you'll encounter as you explore filmmaking.
Aspect ratio refers to the relationship between the width and height of a video, and is expressed in a ratio.
Common aspect ratios for shooting videos with a DSLR or mirrorless camera include 4:3 and 16:9. Common aspect ratios for feature films include 1.85:1 and 2.39:1.
In these ratios, the first number refers to the width and the second number refers to the height.
See the difference between these and other aspect ratios in the video above by Camber Motion.
When shooting video, having a monitor that conforms to the selected aspect ratio can help you ensure that the footage is framed in the safe zone - or the area within which action and titles need to be contained for viewing on a screen.
Models like the Ikan Delta D7C shown above have this and many other features that are helpful for video production.
For example, you can toggle between mono colors (gray, red, green, and blue) and use color peaking for adjusting focus.
Additionally, frame markers allow you to superimpose a center crosshair as well as different frame lines over the image so you can perfect the composition of the shot.
B-Roll is supplemental footage you shoot that adds more details to the story. B-Roll also helps transition from one scene to the next such that it makes visual sense.
For example, if you're shooting an interview, and the interviewee is talking about a record-breaking fish they recently caught, B-Roll might include sequences of that person fishing that display while the voiceover of the interview is played.
Bitrate refers to the amount of data that is used per second in the video. Bitrates are measured in megabits per second (mbps). The higher the bitrate, the better the quality of video.
Kellen Reck explains more about bitrates in the video above.
Photo by mokuden-photos via iStock
Close-ups refer to footage that is shot with very tight framing of the subject.
These types of shots are used to provide richer detail to the video and bring a greater level of intimacy with the subject than medium and wide-angle sequences.
Color temperature refers to the tones of the color of the visible light in video footage.
Color temperature is measured in Kelvin, where a lower value indicates warmer tones - oranges and yellows - while a higher value indicates cooler tones - blues and purples.
Crop factor refers to the ratio of a camera's sensor size to a 35mm sensor.
Since 35mm sensors are full frame, they have a crop factor of 1:1. But many cameras have a crop sensor that might have a crop factor of anywhere from 1.3x to 2x.
For example, Nikon cameras that have a crop sensor have a crop factor of 1.5.
It's important to know the crop factor of your camera because it influences the effective focal length of the lenses you use.
So, if you have a 35mm lens, but you shoot with a camera with a 1.5x crop factor, that 35mm lens will have an effective focal length of around 53mm.
In the images above, you can see the view a 35mm lens might offer on a full frame camera (top) and what it might look like on a crop sensor camera (bottom).
Depth of Field
Photo by borchee via iStock
The depth of field refers to how much of the frame is in focus.
If you want the viewer to see everything in the shot in sharp focus, you need a large depth of field, as shown above.
Photo by fotostorm via iStock
On the other hand, if you want to bring attention to a specific element in the shot, minimizing the depth of field to maintain focus on the subject while throwing the rest of the shot out of focus is the way to go.
Manipulating the aperture of the lens is one factor that influences depth of field - the larger the aperture opening, the shallower the depth of field will be.
Photo by gradyreese via iStock
Exposure refers to the amount of time that the camera's sensor is exposed to light. The longer the exposure time, the more light that hits the sensor and the brighter the footage will be.
The exposure settings for video are the same as for photography - aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, which form the exposure triangle.
Checking the exposure on your camera's LCD can be tricky because they are both small and inaccurate in terms of displaying the exposure levels.
Instead, using an external monitor kit like the Ikan Delta D7C-DK gives you the ability to examine the exposure levels on a large, clear, and bright screen.
What's more, external monitors like this have false color and zebra bars for easy exposure reference as well as a histogram for making precise evaluations of the exposure.
For example, the histogram is a graphical display that shows you the number of pixels that are shadows, midtones, and highlights. If the graph is skewed to the left, there are many dark pixels, indicating that the footage is underexposed. If the graph is skewed to the right, there are many bright pixels and the footage is overexposed.
Get more details on how to use a histogram.
False color is a setting on video monitors that displays luminance values as different colors.
This tool is handy for seeing the exposure levels of each part of the image, say, to determine if any clipping (i.e., blown-out highlights) is occurring.
Learn more about false color and the benefits of using it in the video above by Ikan International.
Frame rate refers to the speed with which the shutter opens and closes in a one-second period.
Common frame rates include 24, 25, 30, 50, 60, and 120. These frame rates are denoted in frames per second (fps).
The higher the frame rate, the smoother the footage will be. So, a frame rate of 16fps will look choppy, but 30fps will appear very smooth. At 120fps, footage has a slow-motion look to it.
Photo by zmanL via iStock
A medium shot, also known as a waist shot, frames the subject's upper body.
This type of shot is intended to direct the viewers toward the subject or subjects while still showing some of the environment around them.
Panning refers to the act of moving the camera from left to right (or right to left) from a fixed position.
Think of panning like turning your head from one side to the other while keeping your body fixed in position.
Picture profiles offer different parameters that change a video's characteristics, such as the color, saturation, contrast, sharpness, and gradation (or how bright or dark the video appears to be).
These picture profiles are selected from a menu on the camera and allow you to customize the look and feel of the footage that's recorded.
For example, if you're filming a horror scene, you might manipulate the gradation to make the footage very dark and creepy.
Video profiles vary from one camera manufacturer to the next. Sony, for example, offers an S-Log profile while Canon offers a C-Log profile.
Many videographers use Look Up Tables, or LUTs, in conjunction with picture profiles to create specific looks.
LUTs are applied in post-processing and are a quick way to customize how the video footage appears.
Check out the video above by Peter McKinnon for more details about picture profiles.
One of the most basic videography terms you need to know is resolution.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels contained in a video. This number refers to horizontal and vertical pixels, such as 640x480 (standard definition) or 1920x1080 (high definition).
In some situations, resolution is expressed as a single number, or the number of vertical pixels. In that case, the resolution would be expressed as 480p or 1080p.
Kingston Technology offers a quick and easy-to-understand tutorial on modern video resolutions in the video above.
A shot list is simply a list of the types of shots you want to include in your video. By making a list of the desired footage and sequences, you ensure that you get everything you need before wrapping up shooting.
Photo by smolaw11 via iStock
Storyboarding involves mapping out the specific scenes in the video.
In other words, many filmmakers will draw out the scenes and organize them in sequence, that way they can see how the film will unfold before a single frame of video is shot.
Making shot lists and storyboards helps define the direction of the video and will help you create a cohesive production.
Tilts involve moving the camera up and down from a fixed position. Think of a tilt as moving your head up and down without changing the positioning of your neck or the rest of your body.
Photo by stockstudioX via iStock
Also known as full shots or long shots, these types of sequences show the subject in its entirety as well as its surroundings.
These types of shots are meant to introduce the audience to a subject by showing how it relates to the environment, people, and actions going on around it.
Typically, videos have a mixture of wide shots, medium shots, and close-up shots to enhance the visual interest of the video.