Before proceeding with a study of the component parts of a photoplay, it is desirable that the beginner get a complete understanding of the meaning of the technical terms used in photoplay writing and in the studio. Below is a complete list of all technical words and phrases now in use. It is important to note that these terms are defined in relation to the photoplay, not according to their accepted meaning; there-fore, in many instances, the definitions differ from the common usage of the terms. The meaning given is that prevalent in studios.
ACTIONThe doings of the various characters, by which the plot is unfolded and the story told.
ADAPTATIONA photoplay taken from published fact or fiction.
ANGLE-SHOTA view of a scene taken from a different angle.
ART DIRECTORA studio member who sees that art objects in a “set” are correctly handled.
ATMOSPHEREDifferently interpreted; usually meaning the local color surrounding a scene or play.
AUXILIARY CHARACTERA minor character.
BUNCH LIGHTSClusters of incandescents used in photographing scenes.
BUSINESSAuthor’s instructions for a certain piece of acting.
BUSTObsolete for close-up.
“CAMERA”Just before the photographing of a scene begins, the Director calls “Camera,” and the cameraman immediately gets everything ready for the .beginning of the scene action, which opens when the director says “Shoot.”
CAMERA EYEPower of visualization.
CAPTIONObsolete for sub-title.
CASTAbbreviation of Cast of Charatcers.
CAST OF CHARACTERS List of characters appearing in a play.
CHARACTEROne of the fictitious persons in a photo-play.
CINEMATOGRAPHERThe cameraman, who operates the motion picture camera.
CLIMAXThe highest point of interest and suspense, from which all action descends; the untying of the “major knot”; the supreme crisis of a play.
CLOSE-UPScene photographed with the camera close to the action.
CONFLICT–Antagonism of characters; conflict is the indispensable element of plot.
CONTINUITYThe succession of scenes, sub-titles, and inserts, exactly as they are to be directed, acted, and photo-graphed.
CONTINUOUS ACTIONA scene in a single location acted by one set of characters; or action followed without interruption in a series of locations.
COOPER-HEWITTSThe mercury-vapor lamps used overhead in studios for interior scenes or night work. They give off a ghastly blue light making the face look swollen and purple in places.
CRANK-Meaning to photograph. See “Camera.” CRANKINGPhotographing.
CRANK-SPEEDSpeed at which the picture is to be photographed.
CRISISA critical moment in the development of a plot; a minor climax.
CUT-BACKTo return to a previous scene after introducing other scenes.
CUT SCENEA scene shortened after being viewed in the projection room. Also instruction to stop camera.
DENOUEMENTThat portion of a plot following the major climax; the ending; the explication.
DESCRIPTIVE TITLEA sub-title explaining anything not shown in the plot.
DIRECTOR–One who oversees the production of a photoplay.
DIRECTOR OF LOCATIONOne who finds suitable places throughout the country to be used as settings for plays.
DISCOVERMeaning a character is “on” when a scene begins.
DISSOLVETo blend one scene into another.
DOUBLE EXPOSUREA positive picture made from two overlapped negatives.
DREAM PICTUREAn improbable play, finally explained by saying that it was all a dream. ENTEREntrance into a scene.
EPISODEOne section of a serial play.
ESTABLISHTo make clear the relation of one character to the others; or to register, in a broad sense, as “establish” innocence, anger, or jealousy.
EXHIBITOROne who operates a motion picture theater.
EXIT, EXEUNTFormer, one character passing out of a scene; latter, two or more characters doing the same thing.
EXPLANATORY TITLESub-title clearing up a
vague part of the plot.
EXTRASActors or actresses engaged by the day to play minor parts.
FACTIONA set of characters working together for a common purpose.
FADEUsed in compound form; Fade-in and Fade-out; former, gradual appearance of a scene; latter, its gradual disappearance.
FAKINGMaking the impossible seem possible.
FEATUREAn unusual subject generally; sometimes an ordinary subject unusually handled.
FILMThree meanings : (1) A chemically sensitized piece of celluloid used in motion picture photography: (2) a photoplay ; (3) to turn a scenario into a finished play.
FILMINGProducing a photoplay.
FLASHShowing a scene or part of a scene on the screen for a moment.
FRAME(1) Each single picture in a photoplay; a series of scenes following each other quickly make the pictures seem to “move”; (2) part of the camera used to exhibit a photo-play.
FREE-LANCEA photoplay writer who submits his plays when and where he desires; not under contract with any one company.
GESTURERegistering by action; opposed to facial expression.
INSERT”Still” matter inserted in a playnot including a sub-title. Examples: letters, telegraphs, newspapers, and the like.
INTERIORScene supposed to take place indoors.
INTERPOSEInterrupt orderly procession of events.
INTRODUCTORY TITLESub-title introducing a character.
IRISDiaphragm regulating the aperture of the camera lens.
IRIS-INOpening the iris on a scene. IRIS-OUT: Closing the iris on a scene.
LABORATORY-Department of studio, wherein films are made into plays for exhibition after being filmed.
LEADPrincipal part in a play.
LEADERObsolete for sub-title.
LIGHTINGTinting a play to produce various night or day effects.
LOCATIONPlace outside of a studio whereat a scene or number of scenes are photographed.
LOCATION LISTItemized statement of locations to be used in a particular play.
LONG-SHOTA full view of a scene.
MAIN TITLEName of a play.
MATA plate put over a lens when a scene is photo-graphed to produce the effect of looking through a key-hole, field glasses, and so on.
MUTIPLE REELA photoplay of more than one reel.
NEGATIVEThe exposed film run through the motion picture camera. The “positives” all are made from the one negative.
OFFThe reverse of “On.”
ONWhen a character is “in the picture,” he is “on.”
PADInserting unnecessary matter in a play.
PAN OR PANORAMAMoving the camera from side to side or up and down while a scene is being photographed.
PANTOMINEAction by movement of the body or features to convey certain meanings.
PHOTO-DRAMATISTAnother term for photoplaywright.
PHOTOPLAYA story told in pictured action.
PICTURE STORYA photoplay.
PLOTA complete idea elaborated into situations according to the rules of plot-building. In a broad sense, plot is the scheme, plan, argument or action of a photoplay.
PORTABLE LIGHTSA rack of mercury lights which can be carried from one point of the studio to another.
POSITIVEA film printed from a negative; the finished photoplay as used by exhibitors.
PRINCIPALSThe major actors or actresses in a photoplay.
PRODUCEROne who causes a manuscript to be turned into a photoplay; usually the financial head of a company.
PROJECTION MACHINEMachine used by exhibitors to exhibit plays on the screen.
PROPSAbbreviations of properties; the objects used in preparing “sets.”
PROPERTY LISTItemized list of properties.
PUNCHAction calculated to arouse strong emotions on the part of an audience.
READEROne who assists the scenario editor in looking over submitted manuscripts.
REEL,(1) Metal spool on which film is wound for exhibition; (2) approximately 1,000 feet of film.
REGISTERTo portray emotions of anger, hatred, etc.
RELEASEA certain date on which a play is surrendered for exhibition.
RELEASE TITLEThe main title finally selected for a photoplay, (See working title)
RELIEFInconsequential action following a heavy dramatic scene.
RETAKEPhotographing an unsatisfactory scene a second time.
RETROSPECTTo revert to a former action.
SCENARIOAn outline of a photoplay describing in every detail the development of the plot exactly as it appears on the screen and showing all sub-titles and inserts.
SCENARIO EDITORHEAD of the scenario staff.
SCENARIO STAFFWriters and readers of photoplays under employment of a film company.
SCENEThat portion of a play’s action taken by the camera without stopping. A photoplay is made up of a series of scenes.
SCENE-PLOT–Itemized list of various scenes classified as “interiors” and “exteriors” for the convenience of the director.
SCREEN The white surface on which- films are exhibited.
SCRIPT Abbreviation of manuscript; a complete photo-play in typewritten form.
SEMI CLOSE-UP-A distant close-up or a close long-shot; “in between” a close-up and a long-shot.
SERIALA photoplay presented in instalments.
SEQUENCEA connected series of events.
SETArrangement of furniture, background, and the like, for a scene.
SHOOTWhen the Director is ready for the Cameraman to begin photographing a scene, he exclaims “Shoot.”
SILHOUETTEFigure or figures outlined.
SITUATION A temporary state of affairs at any point in the plot.
SLAPSTICK COMEDYComedy of a “rough” nature.
SLOW-CRANKINGUsually, when a picture is photo-graphed, sixteen frames are exposed to action per second. Often, however, only eight of twelve frames are photographed called “cranking eight” or “twelve”in order to make the action seem unusually fast when the picture is exhibited. This method is often used in comedies.
SPECTACLE A photoplay containing a majority of gorgeous scenes. “Intolerance” a fine example.
SPLIT REELApproximately 1,000 feet of film containing more than one subject; split reels have gone out of vogue.
SPOKEN TITLEA sub-title consisting of a quotation by a character.
STARA very well-known and popular player.
STILL-A photograph of a scene or a character in a play made with an ordinary camera. “Stills” are used for advertising purposes.
STRUGGLEThe contention resulting from opposition in the plot.
STUDIOThe place where photoplays are made.
STUNTSExtraordinary or hazardous effects, tricks, or actions.
SUB-TITLEA word, a phrase, or a sentence thrown on the screen during the action of a play.
SUSPENSEThe doubtful state of mind of the audience as to the outcome of events.
SWITCH-BACKSame as cut-back.
SYNOPSISAn abstract or summary of the plot. TECHNIQUEThe skillful putting of an idea into proper form.
TECHNICAL DIRECTOROne who is supposed to see that inconsistencies do not appear in the details of a set. A Technical Director would not allow electric lights to appear in a picture of ’76.
TELESCOPIC LENSLens for long distance photography.
THEMEThat which a plot is about.
THRILLSUnique action, often spectacular, dangerous, or unexpected.
TIME ELAPSE A sub-title, or a fade-out, or a combination of both, indicating the passage of time.
TINTINGPassing daylight pictures through pale colors to give them special effectsnight, fire, etc.when shown on the screen.
TRUCK-BACKThe act of moving the camera back from the scene while it is being photographed.
TRUCK-UPThe reverse of Truck-Back.
VIGNETTEA close-up of a face or article.
VISIONThe forming of mental actions not in the immediate scene.
VISUALIZATIONForming mental pictures of how a scene will appear on screen.
WIDE-ANGLE LENSSpecially wide-constructed lens for photographing scenes at short range.
WORKING SCRIPTThe manuscript used in a studio to produce a photoplay.
WORKING TITLEThe title of a photoplay used in the studio while the picture is being filmed. The working title may or may not be used as the play’s final title. (See release title)
Ms. or ScriptManuscript Pan.Panorama
m. g.Middleground f. g.Foreground
b. g.Background Int.Interior Ext.Exterior Props.Properties Photoplay @ WikipediaSetting In The Photoplay