Glossary of Filmmaking Terms



A&B rolls – Rolls of negatives of an edited film, cut to correspond to picture that are separated into two rolls, A and B. This allows for invisible splices, instant changes of the timing lights and fades and dissolves without the need for opticals. The A roll has the odd numbered shots, with black leader in place of the missing shots. The B roll has the even numbered shots; with black leader in place of the shots on the A roll. The negative is printed in three passes through the contact printer, one for each roll and another for the soundtrack.

Academy aperture – Sometimes called the Full Academy Aperture. This is the full frame (35 mm) exposed by the camera, with an aspect ratio of 1.33. When the film is projected there is a mask in the projector’s gate to change the aspect ratio to 1.85 or 1.66, cropping the top and bottom of the image. Older films should be projected without a mask as they were not shot to be masked.

Academy leader – Sometimes also known as S.M.P.T.E. leader, this is a  standard countdown leader, counting down 8 to 3 and then with one frame of 2, at which point there is a single frame beep on the sound track. It is used at the beginning of a film for the lab to line up sound (using the beep) and later for the projectionist to know when to turn on the lamp and hopefully not miss the opening of the film.

A.D.R. – Automated Dialogue Recording. This is dubbing, done as a substitution or in addition to Location Sound. The term A.D.R. obscures the fact that there was dubbing when it appears in the credits of a film.

Anamorphic – This is a method of creating a wide screen image with standard film, using a special lens on the camera and projector that compresses the width of the image that is exposed on the film and then when projected, expands it .

Answer print – The first corrected print made from the A&B Rolls that is printed with the optical track. Often called a married print , it is the first time that picture and sound is blended together on the same  print stock. It could also be called the First Answer Print, and when there are further corrections in timing the next print is known as the Second Answer Print, followed by the Third Answer Print, etc.

Aperture – See the definition for the Iris.

Apple box – A wooden box that is often helpful on the set to raise up equipment. The cameraperson can stand on it if the tripod is up high. Sometimes people will use them as seats. There are also half apples and quarter apples which are not as thick.

Arm – Attached to a C-Stand, this metal rod can be extended.

Aspect ratio – Refers to the proportions of a frame; the width of the frame divided by the height. In 16mm and 35mm the camera photographs a slightly square image, with an aspect ratio of 1.33 to 1. In 35mm 1.33 is known as the Academy Aperture. In 35mm the image is usually shot with the Academy Aperture and then masked in the projector to produce a wider image that is 1.85 (U.S.) and 1.66 (Europe.)

A.S.A. – The sensitivity to light of a certain type of film. A.S.A. is the number used to measure film speed. A.S.A. stands for American Standards Association, the organization that standardized the scale of measurement of film speed. It is the same as I.E. and I.S.O.

A-Wind and B-Wind – The emulsion position of the film. There are two sides to a piece of film, and there are also two possibilities — camera original is B-Wind, while a print struck from it will be A-Wind — because film is printed emulsion against emulsion. In order to tell if a piece of film is A-Wind or B-Wind, one holds it up with the emulsion facing you. The image will read correctly if it is A-Wind, but if it is B-Wind it will appear as a mirror image. You can’t mix A-Wind and B-Wind material, unless you want things to appear as a mirror image or soft in focus as a result of being printed base-to-emulsion.

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