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Technology: Video terminology 101

Technology: Video terminology 101

Technology: Video terminology 101

We take a look at some essential video terms for beginner videographers

Mastering video for recording your house of worship’s activities is one of the most powerful ways to share, captivate and engage your congregation but it’s a field that demands lots of practice – not to mention its own vocabulary. For ease, the most essential video terms have been broken down here into four specific categories: video editing; angles and special effects; colour and lighting; and video formats.

Video editing terms

A split edit: this phrase is used to edit the video and audio portions of a clip separately so that they start or end at different times. For example, you might want to use audio cross-fading so that the audio can lead in or fade out independently from the cut in the video.

Rolling edit: the rolling edit is another common edit trick, where you can adjust and trim two adjacent clips. When you roll the cut point between the adjacent clips, the durations of the two clips are adjusted to keep the overall programme duration unchanged.

B-roll: this is probably the most commonly used of video terms and ultimately means additional footage. Having spare footage gives you more flexibility and creativity to tell a story. It should nearly always be considered as part of your HOW video footage plan as it can ensure smoother scenes, particularly if your main footage is patchy. It can also create more variety in your videos and help set the scene. Artfully mixing in B-roll with your main footage can also help you create the visual illusion that time has passed, or that a location has changed.

Marker: this is essentially a bookmark, where you can mark a specific timecode in a video sequence. It’s a very important tool for keeping track of changes, events or synchronisation points in a longer sequence.

Shot list: a shot list is a checklist of all the shots that you want to include in the final production. By planning shots ahead of a shoot, you can be more efficient with your time and the video equipment you may be renting, which can save your HOW both time and money.

JVC's GY-HM200HW 4KCAM live stream video cameras were used to record a live concert at Springs Community Church
JVC's GY-HM200HW 4KCAM live stream video cameras were used to record a live concert at Springs Community Church

Storyboard: a storyboard is a term commonly used in virtually all creative production fields, from creating advertisements to film documentaries. It consists of drawings that illustrate all of the scenes in your production video, from start to finish. It’s a really organised and basic way to visualise what needs to be shot or animated, and can be a handy reference point so that all people involved in a video production understand the order in which the story needs to be told and how it needs to look.

A/B editing: a popular style of video editing in which you edit clips together in pairs, typically A and B with a transition from one to the next. This style is particularly useful for assembling a programme with a simple drag-and-drop convenience. Single-track editing, on the other hand, is a style of editing in which the timeline is condensed to a single row per track.

Crop: frequently used in editing still images, a crop means to make an image physically smaller by trimming away one or more edges. This reduces the dimensions of the image and reduces the size of the computer file.  

Trim: unlike a crop, a trim means you are completely cutting out a segment of a clip by removing frames from the beginning and/or end or adjusting the in or out points of a clip to identify the portion to be used in the final production.

Postproduction: any video production activity performed after the main recording of a video is classed as postproduction – from editing to the addition of background music, narration, sound effects, titles and various electronic visual effects.

An example of a typical video control room with PTZ remote video camera control and a Blackmagic ATEM 1 M/E switcher
An example of a typical video control room with PTZ remote video camera control and a Blackmagic ATEM 1 M/E switcher

Angles and special effects

There are several video effects and tips you can use to enhance the viewing experience of your congregation, from filters to building up moving lights and haze on a stage, depending how sophisticated your video editing software and stage setup is. Some of the most popular effects now include split screen, fast motion and jump cuts.

Motion blur: the effect of tracking a speeding object and blurring the background because of the motion is a well-known effect but one that can create a really strong impact, with minimum effort.

Animate: used to describe movement and manipulation of an object over time, such as a title, a superimposed logo or a transition between frames.

Keyframe: this is used to record a point along a timeline that defines where and how the settings for an effect will change. One or more settings can then be interpolated from keyframe to keyframe to create the appearance of a smooth change over a series of frames or along a motion path.

Scale: scale is something that you will regularly need to play around with in order to reduce or enlarge an image or video sequence by squeezing or stretching the entire image to a smaller or larger image resolution.

Filter: filters are a layer or several layers that are applied to a video or audio clip to enhance it or create a visual or auditory effect.

Gradient: this is the gradual change from one colour (or intensity level) to another. Gradient colours can also become opaque or transparent, varying in translucency from one side to the other.

Wide angle: wide-angle lenses have short focal lengths with respect to the body of the lens. These lenses include more of the subject than a normal lens of the same size at equal distances (away from the subject). Be aware, if you are using a wide-angle lens when filmmaking, your subject may appear distorted.

Pan and zoom: this is when you slowly zoom into your subjects and pan from one subject to another, and is mostly widely used when video footage is not available. It is otherwise known as the Ken Burns effect, who was a documentary maker. A classic example of pan and zoom might be used to look back in history by zooming into an old static photograph and moving across the image to create movement in the video and keep the viewer engaged.

Colour and lighting

Aspect ratio: this is a useful term to understand how the width and height of your video relate to each other. It is the ratio of the width to the height of an image or a screen, so it makes no difference what the size of the picture is.

White balance: a proper white balance is characterised by the whites in an image truly being the colour white. For instance, in an improper white balance, the whites may have tints of yellow, green, red or some other colour. White balance is the process of gathering the accurate colours for the light that is available. Your camera may come with a white balance menu and an auto white balance feature. Colour temperature is measured in the unit Kelvin and the scale ranges from cool to warm. Colour temperature refers to the visible light in a shot and needs to be controlled depending on what effect you wish to create in your production.

Three-point lighting: this is where three lights are set up in a way that eliminates the majority of shadows to balance the image and have appealing contrast. These three lights are commonly called fill, key and backlights.

Luminance: this refers to the black and white portion of a video and represents picture contrast and brightness. Gamma – a display setting related to the brightness of the middle tones of an image – is another setting that can be adjusted to manipulate an image’s colour or appearance. You can adjust the gamma of an image to lighten or darken the mid-tones (the mid-grey levels) without significantly changing the dark and light areas.

Video formats

There are numerous video formats, ranging from DV – a digital video tape and compression format – to PC formats such as FireWire, and multimedia and streaming formats such as QuickTime and RealMedia.

Other common video file types include Microsoft programmes such as Windows Media Video, known as WMV. Another video format you will come across, which has gone through several versions, is MPEG. Defined by the Moving Pictures Expert Group, this multimedia file format was originally designed for use on CD-ROMs and has now taken on several more advanced versions – namely MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-3 and finally MPEG-4 – and is a digital multimedia compression format that works for all video, audio and interactivity and can be used for web and wireless video streaming.

Compression refers to the storage format of your media. For video, motion-JPEG is often used. Compression is likely to be referred to as ‘lossy’, which means that the original picture or data cannot be reconstructed exactly. The video format you choose will depend on the video equipment you use and how you wish to distribute your house of worship content across your platforms.

This article was first published in the May-June 2019 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at

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