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An A to Z of Film and Animation

‘Hand me the fluffy’ I was once asked on set when I first started out in television production. I had no clue whatsoever what the camera operator was on about - this wasn’t covered in my film degree (which was based mainly in theoretical analysis of German expressionism and Ealing comedies)! 

When working for a creative agency within the film and animation department, there are lots of moving parts and new terms that even the best of us can find challenging to keep up to speed with! 

The film and motion team at Whitenoise have put together a go-to glossary of all the terms you may need to know when it comes to a career in the world of the moving image. The 21-year-old me has just about recovered from her squirmish on-set encounter - go to ‘F’ for fluffy enlightenment…



An autocue is a piece of kit that displays the script (see S) or lines to the person in front of the camera. The lines move down the screen and can be changed to suit the speaker’s speed of delivery. This is helpful when there is a long piece to camera (see P) or when people feel a little nervous.


Animation is the act of creating moving images from still parts, like shapes and drawings. For example here (hyperlink to:

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Creative Suite is a collection of software deigned by Adobe which covers a range of disciplines, such as photography, film, motion graphics, video editing and more. 

After Effects

A software within the Adobe Creative Cloud that is widely used for animation. 

Aston strap

An aston strap is normally used to display any information that the scene may require such as a person’s name, job title, location or even a date on screen.

Audio description

Audio description is a voiceover explaining what is happening on screen. This is to ensure accessibility for people who are living with sight loss. 


Accessibility is important to consider when creating any output and means that your content can be accessed by as many people as possible, e.g. people with sight or hearing loss.


An animatic is created before full scale animation takes place and is a series of drawings accompanied by audio. 


Boom mic

A boom mic is a microphone on the end of a long pole which records audio from a distance.

Back up

It’s important to always back up your content as soon as possible. Some cameras even record footage on two cards at the same time so that there is always a second copy. 


Batteries are what power your cameras and lights on location. Tip: make sure your batteries are charged before a shoot and bring extras, including some standard household batteries…just in case! 


This is the amount of money a production has to cover all costs and make their output. This is particularly important for the Producer to know as they can make allowances for how much time can be given to produce a project.



Composition refers to how the action on screen is positioned, for example the Rule of Thirds (see R) refers to how a shot is composed.


Concepts are the initial ideas for a project which are then pitched to a client.


This is a back-up plan in the event that something puts the production off course e.g. it starts raining and you need a sunny shot. 


Food is one of the most important things to consider when organising a team - they need fuelled!

Call to action

A call to action is when a person makes a request of the audience when speaking straight to the camera e.g. a charity appeal. 

Call sheet

A call sheet is a document which is shared with the crew, detailing schedule, contact details, location, call times, cast etc. This is the go-to document to ensure that production runs smoothly.


The team working on the production, most often used on a film set or location.


A contributor is someone who is taking part in the filming, usually in factual content.

Colour Grading

Colour-grading is improving the appearance and ‘feel' of film by adjusting colouration and contrast in editing.


A fictional character included in the film or animation, which is either played by an actor or animated on screen.



The deadline is the date which your client needs your content. This is very important to clarify with your client and bear in mind throughout the production process.



Editing is the technique and skill used to choose the best clips and content then stitch together in a sequence that tells the narrative.


An explainer animation or film tells an audience what you do, the services you offer and for who. This can be a really effective way to promote your organisation in a quick, creative and engaging way.

End slate

This is the short frame that you see at the end of a film or animation which can be used to reiterate your message on screen with text, your logo and/or strapline.


Exposure is the amount of light allowed into the camera when filming or photographing.



F-stop, or F-number controls the aperture of your camera lens.


The one you’ve been waiting for… A fluffy is a - you guessed it - fluffy covering over a microphone which can come in all sizes. This acts as a shield for wind and background noise to ensure the audio is recorded at the best quality.

Final Cut

Final Cut is a popular editing software which is widely used and is an alternative to Adobe Premier Pro.  


This is the short frame that you see at the start of a film or animation which can be used to kick off your narrative, telling the audience who you are and what your message is.



A gimbal is a small pivoted support which you attach to a camera to give a steady rotating action while filming. 


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation which must be adhered to when handling anyone’s personal information. You can find out more about GDPR when filming here:


Hard drive

All of your content and pre-production work should be backed up regularly on a hard drive, which is a fixed disk for storage.



ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. 


Illustration is the process of drawing when creating a storyboard and developing characters for animation.


An interview involves asking a contributor (see C) questions. The set up of an interview is usually on the third (see R: Rule of Thirds), with the interviewee looking off camera.



A jib is a is a boom device with a camera on one end, and a counterweight and camera controls on the other.


Kit hire

There may be times when you need additional equipment and this can be hired.



The location is where the filming will take place and can also be referred to as a set (see S).



This is crucial to the purpose of the project and the term is used more in factual productions. The key messages need to be agreed and incorporated into the film or animation to ensure the client receives a final product that is fit for purpose.


A microphone is the equipment used to record audio, generally using either a lapel mic (clipped to clothing), radio mic (small and handheld) or boom mic (see B).



This is similar to messaging (see M) but is used more so in factual productions. This is the story line that runs throughout the film and reinforces the purpose/message of the film.


On-screen motion graphics

Motion graphics are animated graphics that can be overlaid on film to create the illusion of motion or rotation.


Piece to camera

A piece to camera refers to someone speaking directly to the camera.


This is the process in which briefs are discussed, ideas are generated, storyboards are created, locations sourced and talent is auditioned etc. Everything that has to happen before the camera starts rolling, or the animation starts to be made is called pre-production.


When filming anyone on screen and their identity is shown, you are required to get their permission for usage. You can download general permission forms online but they must be in accordance with GDPR legislation. They must also be stored and disposed of securely.

Premier Pro

A software within the Adobe Creative Cloud that is widely used for video editing. 


Quick Release

A latching device for quickly mounting and removing the camera from the tripod. 


Risk assessment

A risk assessment is a health and safety document which factors all possible risks throughout a production and puts plans in place to avoid them. 


A runner is an entry-level position that generally lends a hand with the shoot.

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds states that a screen should be split into nine equal sections - three lines horizontally and three vertically. The focal points or action should feature either on the lines or at the intersection of these sections. For example, an interviewee’s body should be placed on the vertical line of either the 1st or 3rd section, depending on which direction they are facing, with their face on the intersection with the horizontal line.



It’s important to ask your client what their expected timeframe is. This will inform your pre-production and production schedules.


A tripod is a three-legged stand which holds your camera steadily on top.


Transitions are a technique in editing which changes the way a frame moves into the next. This is usually a straight-forward cut but the transition can be chosen to deliberately alter the mood of the film. 


A trailer is an advertisement for a film which shows selected scenes to entice the viewer to watch the entire film.


This refers to when content is aired on television e.g. you may arrange for a transmission of the final edit to air at 8pm.



The set is where the filming will take place - usually fictional productions, and can also be referred to as a location (see L).


This is the running order of the film production process and details the start and end time of scenes, breaks and wrap.


Sound is one of, if not the most important element of moving image projects. This is the audio recording which can provide context and help sculpt the narrative (see N).


Whether it’s an animation, factual or non-factual production, a script is the language or copy that underpins the output and provides a reference point for the team. It provides key messaging, context and builds a story.


A storyboard is part of the pre-production process and illustrates the creative ideas for the output. This takes the form of several stills, either drawn or created digitally for the client to provide their comments on. 


Subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen and are the transcript of the dialogue which is not seen on-screen. This enhances the accessibility (see A) of the content as people can read along or use screen readers to enjoy the film. 


A showreel is a portfolio or showcase of work, which can be used to pitch to clients and provide a good overview of your skills and experience. For example:


Universal symbols

These are symbols that represent an idea or concept the world over, for example a heart symbolises care, affection or love.



A voiceover is what is says on the tin. It is a voice recording placed on top of video footage. This is usually to provide context to a film or animation or to add a call to action.

Visual effects

Also known as VFX and is the process of creating effects on screen that are computer generated e.g. virtual environments, animation and compositing. 

Vox pop

A vox pop is when you approach members of the public to speak on camera, usually in an ad-hoc manner and on a subject matter.


White balance

White balance is a process in which you balance the colours in your screen with what the camera recognises as white. Once your camera has technically assessed what white is (either by you placing a white page in front of the camera or manually choosing the setting) what you see in the frame will appear more natural. Of course, if you want to be more experimental you can play with these settings.



Ok, we cheated a bit with this one but… execution of great ideas and designs is crucial to delivering the best content for your client. You need to be able to follow through on your brief and produce something to be proud of!


Yaba Dabba Doo  

What Fred Flinstone says when he's happy. This was put in here to see if you were paying attention.



Resting and reflecting upon the work you’ve produced is important and allows you to take learnings into the next project. After all of that, you deserve a lie down!

If you think we’ve missed any out, drop us a line and we’ll be sure to add it on!

Jordan Whitefield


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