Glossary Of Film Making Terms - S




“Safety” – An additional take, done after a successful one, as a backup.


Sandbag – A cloth bag with two chambers filled with sand, used as a weight on the legs of a light stand for additional stability.


Scene – A scene is really just a single shot. But often scene is used to mean several shots, which is more to do with the word’s origin in theater. It is sometimes clearer to say “sequence” for several shots, so as not to confuse the filmic and theatrical meanings of the word.


Scratch – Damage to a film in the form of a long gouge of either the emulsion or the base. A scratch on the emulsion is pretty much unfixable, since part of the image itself is missing. A scratch on the base can be alleviated with Wet Gate printing. Scratches on your workprint don’t really matter at all, since you will go back to the pristine camera original for your final print.


Scratch Mix – A mix with little correction of the sound, that is usually done before the final mix in order to screen the film with all the sounds in place, to determine if there are any changes to be made. Typically this is not done on lower budget productions, as the added cost would be self-defeating.


Scratch Test – A scratch test is done before shooting, by running either a foot or two of the beginning of a roll of film, or a dummy roll of film, and checking for scratches, to insure that neither the camera nor the magazines are scratching the film.


Scratch Track – A sync recording made under conditions that make the sound useless, except for reference to the sound editor or to the actors for dubbing.


“Second Sticks!” – If the clapper on the slate was not visible when the shot was being marked the camera person might call out “second sticks!” to tell the person with the slate to mark it a second time.


Selects – Sometimes it is useful to separate out all the shots you are going to use before beginning to edit. These are known as selects.


Sharpie – A permanent felt-tipped marker useful for labeling the cans of exposed rolls out on a shoot and in the editing room for labeling your leader. Sharpie is a brand-name of the most common of these markers.


Shooting Ratio – The ratio of how much film shot compared to running time of the finished film. For instance a 5 minute film for which you shot 30 minutes of footage would have a shooting ratio of 6 to 1.


Shortends – The unexposed remainder of a roll of film in a magazine that is clipped and placed back into a can for use later. Unlike recans a shotend is something less than 400 feet.


Shot – A shot is the film exposed from the time the camera is started to the time it is stopped. Shot and Scene are interchangeable terms.


Silent Camera – This term is often a little confusing because it does not mean a camera that is itself silent, and therefore usable for sync sound, but it means a noisy, unsilent camera, usable only for shooting silent, M.O.S. scenes.


Silent Speed – 18 frames per second. A slightly archaic notion left over from the time when 16mm was used exclusively for home movies. It is not always that easy to find a projector that will project at 18 frames per second and so films shot at silent speed will often be speeded up slightly, whether the filmmaker intended this of not.


Single Perf – 16mm film with a row of perforations along one edge. On the film can this will be indicated by 1R appearing on the label.


Single Reel – In 35mm a reel is 1,000 feet of film (or usually a little less).


Single System – Single System refers to recording, editing or projecting sound and picture together on the same piece of film. Cameras used for tv news would record the sound on a magnetic stripe as well as photograph the picture. Also super-8 sound. Single system has some distinct editorial disadvantages, hence the more common use of Double System for shooting and editing.


The Slate – A board with two hinged sticks attached. The slate is used to record a scene number and sync point (via the clapstick) at the beginning of a shot.


Slop Print – An untimed black and white dupe print of your workprint, used for projection in a sound mix. A slop print is used because splices can jump and cause the film to go out of sync, and a slop print will have no splices.


Slug – A rather unattractive sounding name for Filler.


S.M.P.T.E. Leader – Another term for Academy Leader.


Soft Light – A type of light with a built-in surface to act as a bounce card, providing soft, indirect light on the subject.


Sound Blanket – Basically just a quilted mover’s blanket. Often it is thrown over the camera (and the camera operator) to cut down on camera noise, as a sort of improvised Barney.


Sound Fill – see Filler.


Sound Reader – A playback head for reading mag stock, mounted on a bracket that snaps onto a synchronizer. It is pugged into the squawk box.


Sound Speed – 24 frames per second. The normal speed for filming and projecting.


Sound Slug – see Filler.


Spacer – A metal cylinder with a flat plate at one end and a hole through the center, used between reels on the spindle of a rewind to space out the reels the same distance as the gangs of a synchronizer. Although it is a little shorter, in a pinch you can use cores as spacers.


Specifics – In sound editing, these are any effects that directly relate to the picture, where we see a thing happen and hear it too. Backgrounds, ambiance and speech are not specifics.


“Speed!” – This is what the cameraperson or sound recordist will call out to acknowledge that they are rolling. It comes from the days when it took a few seconds for certain equipment to reach proper speed.


Split Screen – see Matte Shot. Typically a split screen is a matte shot divided down the center of the shot.


Spider – Another, less commonly used, term for Spreader.


Spikes – Spikes are a term that comes from theater. They are little pieces of tape placed around the legs of furniture, or the tripod legs, before they are moved, making it easy to return things to their original position.


Splice – A method of joining two peices of film so they can be projected as one continuous piece. There are three methods: the Tape Splice (usually used for editing), the Cement Splice (used for original material), and the far less common Ultra-Sonic Splice (used for Polyester Base film).


Splicing Tape – A special type of clear tape, not interchangeable with scotch tape, used to splice film. It comes in perforated (for use with a Rivas) and unperforated (for use with a Guillotine). Transparent splicing tape is used for picture and white splicing tape for sound.


Split Reel – A very handy reel, the two halves of which may be unscrewed and film on a core placed between. Once screwed back together (but not too tight, or it will never open) your film on a core has quickly been converted into film on a reel.


Spool Down – Winding an unexposed 400 foot roll down onto four 100 foot daylight spools for use in a camera that will only take 100 feet of film. Spooling down can only be done in complete darkness. 42 turns on a rewind per daylight spool will divide a 400 foot roll pretty evenly. Also, it is vitally important that the film be wound all the way through once and then spooled down, otherwise the edge numbers will be on the wrong side, and not printed onto the workprint.


Spot Meter – A type of meter for taking a Reflective Light Reading with a short telescopic sight that enables you to take a very specific reflective reading of a small, well-defined area.


Spreader – A piece of gear consisting of three arms on a central hub attached to the bottom of a tripod to keep the legs from collapsing outwards.


Spring Lock – A round spring-loaded clamp that goes on the end of a rewind to allow several reels to turn together.


Sprocket – The teeth on a roller designed to engage with the perforations in film. Sometimes sprocket holes are referred to as sprockets too.


Sprocket Holes – The same as Perf.


Spun – Spun glass diffusion material. see Diffusion.


Squawk Box – A small amplified speaker used on an editing bench and receiving sound from the Sound Reader.


Streamer – A grease pencil mark on the workprint indicating either a fade or a dissolve, called so because when projected it resembles a streamer trailing across the screen.


Steenbeck – A popular brand of flatbed. The word is sometimes used interchangeably with flatbed.


Sticks – 1.: The tripod or the tripod legs. 2.: The clapper on the slate.


Stinger – an endearing term, used by electricians, for an extension cord. Not a very commonly used term on the whole.


Stripe – 35mm mag stock that contains a stripe of magnetic tape rather than the complete coating found on Fullcoat. Stripe mag will also have a balance stripe to prevent warping.


Super 16 – A format using single perf 16mm film on which a wider image is exposed than is the case with regular 16mm, using the area that would normally have the soundtrack. Super 16mm was conceived specifically for blow up to 35mm, and is typically rather inconvenient for anything else.


Super Speed – Just a fancy way for Zeiss to describe a fast prime lens, typically with a T-stop of 1.3.


Superimposition – The same as Double Exposure, but often used expressly to describe a double exposure done through optical printing, as in superimposed titles, etc.


Sync – The degree to which sound and picture are lined up, in-sync being lined up exactly, and out-of-sync not so exactly. It can be applied to any specific sound and picture relationship, not just voices and not just sync-sound, but any type of specific effect too.


Syncing – The actual lining up of sound and picture before editing a sync sound film. This also involves cutting the excess sound between takes, and adding filler, so that the picture and sound are now in sync for beginning to end.


Sync Mark – 1.: The point at which the clapsticks come together at the beginning of a shot, and the accompanying sound on the sound track. 2.: An “X” mark on a single frame at the beginning of a reel of picture that lined up with a second sync mark on a roll of sound (May also be used anywhere where needed). Sync marks are also used at the beginning of A&B rolls.


Synchronizer – A very helpful tool of the editing room, a synchronzier is a device with a center axle and several sprocketed wheels attached to it. The wheels are called gangs. Film may be clamped into the gang, so that it can be measured with a footage counter on the front of the synchronizer. One revolution of the synchronizer equals one foot of film. Several elements, such as film and sound, A&B rolls, can be run in tandem can easily cut to the same length. It is used by the negative cutter for the assembly of A&B rolls, as well as for logging, measuring footage, syncing, and checking sync in the editing room.


Sync Sound – Sync sound is sound recorded while shooting picture. Usually it involves footage of people speaking, and is thus sometimes called lip sync. It must be recorded with either crystal or cable sync to line up and not drift out of sync.

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