Have you ever been on set and listened to the crew talk? With lingo like “Grab the sticks” and “Can I get a stinger?” it sounds like they are far from making a video! Filmmakers have a language of their own, so you may be left feeling confused if unfamiliar with their strange expressions. Here are ten production terms that will have you talking the talk in no time.
A boom microphone is connected to a retractable pole, extended over a subject, hidden just outside of frame, and often operated by an audio technician or held by a stand. This type of microphone is more focused (more directional) and allows for picking up clear audio, which makes it great for interviews.
B-roll is the supplemental footage, the action or scenes, that helps to visually tell the story. Interview footage is considered a-roll (though you will rarely hear it called this). When a video cuts away from a person speaking on screen, we cut to b-roll to add visual variety and support the topic.
This may be an easy one, but the production staff on set is referred to as the crew. A crew can come in different shapes and sizes. Members of the crew that you may encounter could include the director, producer, DP, audio technician, gaffer, grip, hair & makeup artist, etc.
Speaking of the DP or “Director of Photography”, this is the crew member who essentially shapes the look of the production, from lighting, to lens choice, to camera movements. The DP works closely with the director to define a project’s aesthetic and bring the vision to life. They may also be referred to as cinematographers or videographers, depending on the type of production.
A grip is a crew member in charge of setting up and moving gear, lights, and stands, and overall helps maintain the equipment. There may be one or a number of grips, depending on the type of production. If there are multiple grips, there may then also be a key grip, who oversees the team of grips.
“Camera speeds” is a line you may hear on set. This indicates that the camera is rolling, and prompts the director to call for action. The same goes for audio if being recorded separately. “Audio speeds” indicates that the audio technician is ready and rolling sound.
Sticks refers to a tripod or the camera’s legs. “Let’s shoot this on sticks” or a similar phrase means the shot will be captured using a tripod.
You may hear someone yell out “striking” which indicates that a light will be turned on. This announcement warns those on set to mind their eyes as to not to get caught off guard by the sudden bright light.
Talent refers to actors, models or interviewees on set. Hopefully they are talent with talent!
One of our favorites: “That’s a wrap!” This phrase signals the conclusion of the shooting day and is usually followed up with a round of applause, and possibly drinks.
Bonus: These bonus terms are some of the strangest. And what’s better than strange on a Friday, the 13th!
In production, a C-47 is a clothespin. It seems that saying “C-47” actually takes more time than “clothespin” but that’s the name it was given. While you may not hear the term that often, you will likely see the tool itself. It is versatile and commonly used on set.
This is a fuzzy cover that covers a boom mic to help minimize wind noise, and its furry body resembles...well...a dead cat. Despite its name, its function is critical in capturing audio during outdoor shoots.
A stinger is an extension cord. There are different types of stingers, ranging in size and function, but is the general terms used for an extension cord.