Film Terminology

As Film Composers, we were often invited by the director or producer to have “Spotting Sessions.” This is an important meeting for the composer, the chance to get through and understand the movie. The composer may discuss anything related to music, such as genre, moods, scenes that needed music, etc. Therefore, we cannot always use musical terms to communicate with Film Director, Film Producer, Film Editors, etc. In fact, we have to use their terms to communicate such as close up, wide shot, crane shot, etc.

Sometimes, composers might need to prepare or perform some sketch music to the director or producer while watching the film. 

Some directors or producers only can describe the feeling or mood that they want, therefore the more you use these film terminology terms, the more the director and producer trust you, simply because you understand the film.

But there are also some exceptions, where you can use any musical terminology such as instrumentations, keys, etc to the directors. 

So, what does this film terminology mean? Let’s figure out some of the common terminologies together.

  1. Bird’s eye view – A shot in which the camera photographs a scene from directly overhead, imagine from the bird’s eye perspective.
  2. Close-up/ Close shot – A detailed view of a person or object, usually without much context provided.
  3. Dolly shot, tracking shot, trucking shot – A shot was taken from a moving vehicle. Originally tracks were laid on the set to permit a smoother movement of the camera. Today even a smooth hand-held traveling shot is considered a variation of the dolly shot.
  4. Establishing shot – Usually an extremely long or long shot offered at the beginning of a scene or sequence providing the viewer with closer shots.
  5. Extreme close-up – A detailed view of an object or person. Usually includes only the actor’s eyes or mouth.
  6. Extreme long shot – A panoramic view, often as far as a quarter-mile away.
  7. Over-the-shoulder shot – A medium shot, often used in dialogue scenes, where one actor is photographed head-on from over the shoulder of another actor.
  8. Point-of-view shot – Also known as a first-person view. 

Hope this helps you understand more about film terminology/language! 

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