Broadcast Terms

Here are some common terms you may not know or may need to know when dealing with video systems

16:9: Commonly known as the widescreen, aspect ratio of widescreen

4:3: Referred to as SD or Standard Definition television, Aspect ratio of SD video.

50 ohm Coax: Coax cable used to handle wireless frequencies such as wireless mics

75 ohm Coax: Coax cable used to carry video signals such as composite, SDI, and RGB.  There is also a version of AES audio that uses 75 ohm coax

AES: Digital audio standard used for both 75 OHM coax and 110 audio cable.  Carries 2 channels of audio.

Alpha Key: This is a separate video feed that just shows a gray scale. When connected with actual video, the information received by the switcher from the gray scale knows when to cut out the video forming a keyed layer on the screen.

Black levels: This is a reference to the contrast of the image and how deep the colors look. This can be adjusted to make the camera look more saturated or washed out. This adjustment is made on the paint boxes.

BNC: The connector used for transferring video signal down coax

Broadcast: A combination of wide room and tight shots used to give views a feel of the room. The purpose of switching for broadcast is to bring the viewer to the room the show is in.

Camera: The device that takes light and turns it into an electronic video signal.

Camera Director: A specific director that directs the cameras during a live event. They work directly with the Technical director during an event but don’t operate the switcher

CCD: Charged-coupled device.  The chips in the cameras that convert light to an electronic image.  This comes in different sizes 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 inch.  The bigger the chip, the more light can be converted.

CCU (Camera control unit): This is a unit used to control the camera from a great distance. It is used to adjust color, iris levels, black levels and much more. Most commonly used by the shaders during events.

Chroma Key: An effect in which video from one source replaces video of a specific hue in a second video source. The blue and green hues are most commonly used for chroma keying.

CG: Character Generator. This device puts text and graphics into a video signal that can be used to key over video or take full screen.

Clip Server: A file based server that records and plays videos, this usually has multiple channels

Cross Hairs: The plus pattern in the viewfinder of your camera that shows center.

Cut: An instantaneous switch from one video signal to another.

DDR: Digital disk recorder.  A stand alone unit that acts like a VTR that records and plays video onto a hard drive

Dissolve: A transition from one video signal to another in which one signal is faded down while the other is simultaneously faded up. The term “mix” is often used interchangeably with “dissolve”.

Downstream Keyer (DSK): A keyer that places a key “downstream” of the MLE effects system output. This “top level” effect usually consists of a character generator title.

DVR: Digital video recorder: A device that records video onto a hard drive, this usually can record and play out simultaneously.

Fade-to-Black: A controlled change of the on-air picture signal level down to the black level.

Field: There are 60 Fields per second of video, by piecing together the fields you are able get frames. Different methods of piecing fields together will allow different frame rates

Fly over: During a pull or a push, tilt the camera up and go over the subject’s head to add an effect to the transition from one camera to another.

Frame: One complete picture consisting of two fields of interlaced scanning lines.

Frame Rate: How many frames per-second of video such as: 24, 30, 50, 60.

Frame Sync: Times a non gen-lockable video signal so it can be used in a production. It also is used to up convert a signal from, composite, component, S-video, or even SDI.

Focus: This is an adjustment that needs to be made to make the subject as sharp as possible.
FOH (Front of house): this is where lightning, audio, and some camera people are placed.
Full screen: Graphics that cover the whole screen.
Gain: Electronically enhancing the image during low-light conditions to boost the cameras brightness.
Gen-Lock: (AKA: Black burst, sync, Reference) Black video sent to all sources to align the fields in a video signal so all sources are timed together for seamless operation.
Graphics: Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting

Head-room: This is the amount of space between the top of the camera frame and the subjects head

Hot: This is a complicated one, most commonly it will be used to describe your iris level and will be followed by instructions like iris up or iris down, it can also mean that the audio levels are too high or peaking. It also can be used in place of the word live.

Hot Spots: When a camera is raised too high you will see exploding areas of light where light is hitting an object.
Hue: The characteristic of a color signal that determines whether the color is red, yellow, green, and blue, purple, etc. (the three characteristics of a TV color signal are chrominance, luminance, and hue). White, black, and gray are not considered hues.

IMAG: Stands for Image Magnification, a zoomed-in shot of what you see on stage displayed on the projection screens.

Iris: The ring on the camera that controls the aperture, the aperture controls the amount of light that the camera lens lets in so the image doesn’t get washed out or too dark.

Jump Cut: This is when there are quick cuts put together, usually done too fast. You jump to one source and then the other faster than seams reasonable for the viewers. (most often time it’s a mistake)

Key: An effect produced by “cutting a hole” in background video, then filling the hole with video or matte from another source. Alpha or Key source video cuts the hole; fill video fills the hole. The video signal used for cut and fill can come from the same or separate sources.

Lead-Room: The amount of space between the subject and where they are looking, see compositing section for more information on lead room.

Left Thirds: Graphics that take up the left third of the screen

Lens: allows you to zoom, focus and change incoming light levels into the camera

Live: Your Camera is on program or it is on the projection screens for IMAG.

Look-Room: The amount of space between the subject and where they are looking, see compositing section for more information on lead room.

Loosen up: Zoom the camera out just a little bit to create a wider shot of the subject

Lose left or right: pan the camera either left or right to loose the subject

Lower Thirds: Graphics that take up the lower third of the screen.

MLE: An abbreviation for multi-layer effects.

NTSC: National Television Science Commission:  The US standard for Video.  Refers to frame rate of 30fps and 60 FPS.  Commonly used when referring to composite 525 video

Paint boxes: This is a remote control unit used to control the camera from a great distance. It is used to adjust color, iris levels, black levels and much more. Most commonly used by the shaders during events. Also called an RCP or OCP

PAL: The European video standard.  Frame rates are usually 25 and 50

PAN: Moving your camera left or right.

Pan Friction/ Drag: An adjustment that can be made to the side-to-side motion of the tripod head to allow smooth side to side movement.

Pan lock: This adjustment prevents the tripod from moving side to side when an operator isn’t present or if the operator doesn’t need to pan

PGM Output (Program): The on-air video output of the system

Producer: The person managing the service and keeping everyone on task as well as looking ahead to what is coming next in the service.

Pull: Widening your shot out slowly for an effect.

Match Cut: When a technical director goes from one camera to another that both look relatively the same.

Push: Zooming your shot in slowly for an effect.

PV Output (Preview): A switcher output that shows the scene that will go on-air when the next automatic or manual transition takes place.

Rack Focus: Purposely going in and out of focus for an effect

Ready: Another phrase for Standby. Also alerts camera operators, and/ or graphics operators to be ready for there shot or image to be live on program.

Reset: start your shot over again from the beginning

Return video: a button that allows you to see in your viewfinder what is live on the side screens. (Only a few cameras have this ability)

SDI: (Serial Digital Interface), a digital video signal sent down a single coax line providing perfect quality

Shade: Open or close the irises of a camera.

Shader: The person that adjusts the iris levels on the cameras from the control room

Soft: Out of focus a little bit so everything looks a little bit blurry and not as sharp as it could be.

Stage Left: When on the stage looking at the crowd this is your left

Stage Right: When on the stage looking at the crowd this is your right

Standby: A Phrase that is said to a cameraperson to be ready for their shot to be taken by the technical director.

Switcher: Takes the inputs from sources and allows you to go back and forth between inputs. This is usually run by a Technical director.

Take: A phrase said during cuts or a transition to tell a cameraperson they are live.

Technical Director/ Director (TD): The putting video sources on the main outputs . This person sits at the switcher and makes everything happen.

Tighten up: you are a little wide on the subject zoom in to create a tighter shot

Tilt: The movement of your camera in an up or down motion.

Tilt friction/ Drag: An adjustment that adds tension to the up and down motion of the tripod head to allow smooth movement.

Tilt Lock: This adjustment prevents the tripod head from making and up and down movement when a camera operator isn’t present or if tilt is not needed by the camera operator

Transition: A controlled change from one video input to another video input or black. The change can occur through a wipe, cut, dissolve or “DVE” effect.

Tri-Level Sync: I’m not going to get into the details here but it is the standard for HD video Reference

Tripod Head: This is the top part of the tripod that lets you tilt and pan smoothly.

Video: The electrical signal produced by a television camera, character generator or other image source. The signal amplitude varies in relation the tonal scale from black to white presented at the source. White produces the highest amplitude; black produces the lowest signal amplitude.

Video Server: A file based server that plays/ records videos usually with multiple in’s and outs

VTR: Stands for Video Tape Recorder.  Any deck that uses tape to record on is considered a VTR, in fact this is a industry standard term for all recorders.

Wipe: A transition from one video to another, in which the change proceeds according to the shape of a specific pattern. A moving transition line separates the two picture signals.

Zoom: Making the image closer or further away.

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