What do all the different video editing terms mean?

What do all the different video editing terms mean?

The moment you venture into the world of digital video editing, you'll be bombarded with swarms of terms that come from film, tape-based video editing, and even still-image work. Here's a quick look at some of the language you should know as you get started with iMovie HD or embark on any other video-crafting voyage.




Coverage. "Extra" footage shot to ensure that at least some video is available for all possible scenes. Coverage shots may feature scenery, long shots of events, or other material that can be used during editing to "cover" scene changes.


Depth of Field. A measure of how much of your scene, from foreground to background, will be in focus. A shallow depth of field is good for highlighting particular subjects by keeping them in sharp focus while the background blurs.


Frames. Individual video images that compose a clip (see below). NTSC video - the US standard - is composed of 29.97 frames per second (fps).


Headroom. The area above a subject's head in a shot. Leave plenty of headroom for an effective shot.


Pan and Tilt. Rotation of a camera along an axis. A pan shot, usually done with the camera mounted on a tripod, moves smoothly from side to side to capture a landscape or to follow motion. A tilt shot moves up and down.


Timecode. Notation indicating the position of video footage in time (hours, minutes and seconds) and number of frames. Camcorders create timecode, and you can use it to identify your position within a recording once you import it into a video-editing app such as iMovie HD.




Aspect Ratio. The shape of the video fram, expressed by the ratio of its width to its height. Standard television uses a 4:3 aspect ratio, while widescreen and HDTV use a 16:9 ratio.


Clip. A portion (often a complete scene) of a video project. Clips can be combined, edited, or split to create larger or smaller segments of video. You can insert transitions and video effects between clips.


Codec. An algorithm that compresses and decompresses video. To play digital video, apps such as QuickTime Player or RealPlayer must have access to a codec that is compatible with the video's compression format.


Dropout. Missing audio or video. Dropouts occur during playback, either because the original video is flawed, or because the playback device (your old, low-RAM Mac, for example) can't process video information fast enough to display it in real time.


EDL, Edit Decision List. Notes and descriptions of scenes to be edited or cut. A proper EDL should specify the time at which important scenes and potential edits occur. Editors use the EDL to place scenes in their final running order.


Jog. To step slowly through video footage. The term comes from the mechanical jog dial used by pro videotape-editing equipment. In iMovie HD, you can job one or 10 frames at a time.


Lossy. Refers to a video-compression format that sacrifices some of the information in the footage in order to generate smaller files. Most video formats you'll run into, such as MPEG-4 and QuickTime, are lossy.


Real-time Preview. Live, full quality preview of a video clip, including effects or transitions that have been added and rendered.


Render. To apply video and audio effects, transitions, titles, and other such items to a video project. Once rendered, effects will be seen (or heard) when you play the movie in iMovie HD.


Rough Cut. A quick edit or arrangement of clips intended to roughly approximate the final project.


Scrub. To move through video footage in video-editing apps by dragging the playhead. Manually scrubbing through video lets you skim its contents.


Storyboard. A series of drawings that shows the intended sequence of a video project.


Timeline. An area in the iMovie HD or other video-editing-software interface containing video clips, transitions, effects, titles, still images, and audio - all the elements that will be part of the finished project.




Component video is split into three separate signals: one for luminance (roughly equivalent to brightness) and two for chrominance (color information). Component signals travel directly to a monitor or TV via three separate cables and connectors. Composite video, on the other hand, has been compressed so that only one cable (and one jack) is required - the yellow one in the red-white-yellow setup that most TVs, VCRs, and DVD players use. Component video provides higher quality than composite video.




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