Taken from A Viewer’s Guide to Film by Richard M. Gollin.
and other sources
abstraction: a picture’s formal characteristics, its lines, shapes, masses, shadings, colors,
textures, and their relationships, stripped of all representational meaning and signifying
nothing; also, particular ideas when stripped of their particularity and restated as general
categories and principles
academy ratio: the “golden mean” relationship of a picture’s width to its height estab-
lished by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 4 to 3, standard before 1950
and still used for TV
A.C.E.: American Cinema Editors, the guild which many professional film editors belong
adaptations: filmed versions of works originally produced in other media, typically liter-
ary or theatrical
ADR editor: the technician who operates “automatic dialogue replacement” dubbing or
A.S.C.: American Society of Cinematographers, the self-selecting guild or union of most
of the best (in Britain, B.S.C.)
ambient sound: "live" background sounds creating the illusion that we are seeing and
hearing a real world, such as the sounds of distant birds or cars, supposedly incidental but
in fact functioning to enhance the drama.
American shot: a three-quarter shot showing a human figure from the knees up, implying
the ability to move at will, so-called by the French.
animation: drawings, clay figures, and sand swirls, or various objects seemingly “anim-
ated” or brought to life, made to seem to move by photographing them one frame at a
time, with slight changes in position introduced between frames, then projecting these
frames at regular speeds
antagonist: any character or force opposing the protagonist's desires, making for diffi-
culties or dramatic conflict; in U.S. films usually though not always a bad guy.
art documentary: a nonfiction film appreciated more for its style, or for its aesthetic qual-
ities, than for its subject, message, or truth
aspect ratio: the screens' width in relation to its height, classically 1.33 to 1, more re-
cently widescreen's 1.85 to 1, or, if an anamorphic ratio, 235 to 1.
assistant director: one of several director's helpers as needed to assist with set-ups, sec-
ondary shots, car or crowd cueing and control, preliminary rehearsals of lesser per-