Revelation Sight & Sound


Film making has a whole vocabulary of its own. It came about because people making films needed to be able to describe exactly what they mean. It could be confusing if the director said something like, "move the camera round during this shot". What exactly does this mean? So there are special words for each way the camera might move. When a director says, "pan" everyone knows exactly what is meant.

Here are some words which will help you to get started in your film making. They will not only help you to be accurate when working together, they will also give you ideas to use when you are filming.

When filming:

This means deciding where to put the camera so that the picture is well balanced and includes everything you want it to. Just as a photographer composes his still image and an artist composes his picture so a film camera person must make each shot look good.

Long shot
This is a distance view, perhaps of a building or a landscape. It is often used as an establishing shot so the audience knows where the action is going to take place. You can also use long shots to make a person seem small or isolated.

Bird's eye shot
The camera is looking vertically down on the subject.

Mid shot
A view of a person from the waist to their head so you can recognise them and see what they are doing with their hands.

Medium close up
A view of a person from their chest to their head.

Close up
This shot includes head and shoulders only. It is good for showing a person's expression.

Extreme close up
This shot can almost make you see what the person is thinking. It is from just above their eyebrows to just below their mouth. It can also be used to make them seem threatening.

Point-of-view shot
This shot shows the view as if seen through the person's own eyes.

Reaction shot
This shot shows a person's expression as they react to something that happens or is said.

Camera position:

Low angle shot
The camera is held quite low so that it is looking upwards. This makes a person seem large, grand or threatening.

High angle shot
The camera is looking down. This makes a person seem vulnerable or insignificant.

Camera movement:

The camera moves along with the subject. It is often used to follow a car or a person as they move. The camera may be in front of, beside or behind the subject. They are all tracking shots.

The camera moves in an arc or circle around the subject.

Crane shot
The camera moves vertically up or down during the shot.

Hand-held shot
This shot, often used by amateurs, is where the camera is held in the hand. It is best to avoid hand held shots because they are jerky, moving shots. However, they can be used effectively to convey a sense of immediacy.

The camera swivels from left to right (or vice versa) so that it moves across a scene or follows a moving subject as it goes past.

Whip pan
This is a sudden, fast pan. The image is blurred as the camera whizzes across.

The camera tilts vertically up or down. In other words, it starts by pointing down and then it gradually moves until it is pointing up (or vice versa). It is the same as a pan but vertical.


High key lighting
This is bright, flat lighting that illuminates everything well.

Low key lighting
Less intense lighting produces strong shadows and dramatic contrasts.

Lighting from below
Often used in horror films, this can make a subject appear threatening or horrifying.

This gives a 'halo' effect around edges of a person or object making them appear darker or in silhouette.


Warm colours
Orange or yellow lighting and scenery conveys warmth and comfort. The light at sunset is naturally warm.

Cold colours
Bluish lighting and scenery is cold and can be used to convey a sense of alienation. It is also good for machinery or technology.

Black and white or sepia
This can be set in some cameras or you can set it in Revelation Sight and Sound during the editing process. It can be used to indicate that a scene is in the past or being imagined.

This is the process of compiling your shots into a film. It makes the film appear continuous even though the different shots may have been taken on different occasions.


This is the name given to the way one shot changes into the next.
There are many transitions in Revelation Sight and Sound for you to choose from. Here are a few common transitions with notes as to how to use them.

One shot is immediately replaced by the next. This is the most commonly used transition and is the one you should use most, especially for almost all of the shots in a scene. Other transitions tend to work best between scenes or when you want a special effect.

One shot dissolves into the next. This can create a relaxed atmosphere or indicate that the time or place has changed.

Fade up
The screen begins black (or white or any colour) and the first shot fades in. (Also called 'fade from black' or 'fade from white', etc.)

Fade out
The shot fades out and is replaced by a plain black, white or coloured screen. (Also called 'fade to black' or 'fade to white', etc.)


Natural sound
This is the sound which is recorded by the camera at the same time as the pictures.

This is the name given to background sounds which fit the context or the scene you are filming. They help to build the mood or atmosphere in the shot. For example, birds singing or people talking are atmos sounds. They don't have to be recorded at the same time that you are filming the shot. It's a good idea to have a selection of atmos sounds that you can add to your shots at any time. Use a camera to record suitable background sounds and keep them ready to use.

This is the name given to sounds you don't want. They include an aeroplane flying overhead or a door banging in the background. A common wildtrack is the rustling sound you get when the microphone is touched or moved.

Incidental music
This is background music that you include to set the scene.

Sound effects
These are artificial sounds that you add to enhance your shots. If you deliberately add the sound of a door banging at an appropriate point then it is a sound effect and not wildtrack.

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