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Let’s say you are on the set of production and someone asks you to grab a stinger. Would you know that they are asking for an extension cord? Probably not. Lingo for production equipment and different processes can feel like an entirely different language for someone who is just breaking into the film or video production industry. It is certainly worthwhile to become familiar with the jargon and lingo if you’re planning to work on set. There are many situations where you will need to understand the commonly used jargon in order to quickly grab or operate a piece of equipment.
Every production needs tools, accessories, and equipment to ensure that the final product looks the way the director imagined. Here are some of the most common equipment lingo companies use.
C-47: While a C-47 is a term used for a military transport aircraft, on a production set it is a wooden clothespin. This small tool comes in handy in a variety of situations. There are a surprising amount of possible uses for these during production including clipping colored ‘gels’ or diffusion to lighting equipment.
Stinger: A stinger can also be referred to as an AC cord or power. A stinger is an extension chord. During production, there are almost always lights, cameras, and other equipment that need extension chords in order to receive power at a greater distance from the power source.
Apple Box: An apple box is actually not used for apples on set. It is simply a wooden box used to prop up and support other equipment.
Barn Doors: Barn doors are metal doors on the face of production lighting. These are then adjusted to direct light or prevent light from spilling into a specific area.
Sticks: This is a tripod. this piece of equipment has 3 legs, or “sticks” used to stabilize and lock down the camera. Sometimes when using a miniature version it is called “baby sticks.”
C-Stand: A C-Stand is an adjustable metal stand that is used for lighting equipment, audio equipment or other tools to help create the perfect set.
Sandbag/Sand: These are literally bags of sand. Sandbags are basically a “paperweight.” Just in case a piece of equipment is wobbly or needs stabilization.
Gel/Gels: A gel in film or video production is simply a transparent and often times colored filter. People place gels over a light to change the color or color temperature. People use gels to achieve a creative look. This could even compensate for undesirable light conditions on location.
Scrim: This used to modify different properties of light in still photography and film. A scrim is typically made from steel or fabric.
Slate/Clapper/Clap Board: This is the clapping board that you’ve most likely seen in a lot of movies. The slate has the scene, take, and other information placed in front of the camera and recorded. This device helps the post team know what the following scene will be and where it should be placed within the editing process.
The next includes the terms used for the production process on set. Some of these terms you may have heard of, some maybe not. I’ll go into depth describing these to ease any confusion.
Talent: These are actors, models, voice artists, musicians or other subjects being filmed or photographed.
Blocking: This can be confusing to hear at first. If “blocking” gets mentioned on set or location, it means that the scene or shot needs to be rehearsed without the camera recording.
Striking: If someone yells “striking!” they are turning on a light. This has the potential to be incredibly bright and hurting your eyes – make sure to turn away from the light or close your eyes until they adjust to the brighter light. I definitely have made that mistake before.
B-Roll: B-roll is footage supplemental to the primary action or subject matter being filmed.
Call-Sheet: A call sheet is incredibly important for everyone working on a set or production. This document will let cast and crew members know when they need to arrive on set and what things will be happening at what time.
M.O.S: This acronym originally stood for motion omit sound. In other words, it means the video records without an audio track.
Room Tone: Room tone relates to audio processes on set or on location. Directors record sounds when on-location. A consistent sound is present for the duration of a scene or segment.
Rough Cut: A rough cut is generally a term that relates to post-production or editing. This is essentially the 1st assembly of a video for the editor. Next comes the fine edit and then the final edit.
Tilt: A tilt is when a camera moves when recording. This will always be vertical, or up and down.
Pan: A pan is when a camera moves. This will always be horizontal or side-to-side.
Terms for production can feel like an entirely different language for someone who is just breaking into the film or video production industry. It is certainly worthwhile to become familiar with the jargon and lingo if you’re planning to work on set. The best way to learn is to go out and experience first hand!
Here is a video we created to help visual learners understand different equipment terms.
This video was made by our very own Madison Mackay for our UWIPP group. They're a group by women for women in production and photography. For more information about UWIPP, visit their home page!
Utah Women in Production and Photography was founded by women for women. Their mission is to advocate for women in their respective industries. Women provide unique perspectives, skills and insight, making impactful decisions on set. BW Productions is proud to represent a dedicated group that advocates for and collaborates with women.