Mobile Filmmaking Terminology

Terminology is often an underrated resource when it comes to mastering any career or hobby. So whether you’re taking up mobile filmmaking as a fun pastime or you’re looking to enter the professional world, the terminology is imperative to learn.

This post highlights some essential basic mobile filmmaking terminology that you need to be familiar with to keep up with the industry. Let’s get started!

The Importance of Terminology in Teaching and Learning Mobile Filmmaking

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Suppose you’re wondering why it’s so crucial for you to have a solid background in mobile filmmaking terminology and why you need to constantly update your arsenal with new terms. The answer is pretty much the same as with any other profession or science.

After a certain point, teaching and learning different aspects of a particular field will require you to understand technical terms used by more experienced members of the field.

If you’re teaching mobile filmmaking, you need to provide your students with the basic filmmaking terms to help them have a professional discussion. Communicating professionally is a pivotal step in growing your smartphone filmmaking brand.

Learning mobile filmmaking terminology will also improve your credibility in the field and help you shape your skills, and enhance the quality of your creations. Grasping new concepts and then incorporating them into your videos is what mobile filmmaking is all about! Want to discover similar information for mobile photography? Check out this list of our favorite mobile photography terminology.

Key Mobile Filmmaking Terminology

Mobile Filmmaking Terminologies
Photo by Alexandre Trouvé on Unsplash
  • 4K: refers to the ultra-high-definition resolution made up of 4,000 and 2,000 pixels, horizontally and vertically respectively. This is the standard of filmmaking nowadays. See 4k footage here.
  • 8K: refers to the ultra-high-definition resolution made up of 8,000 and 4,000 pixels, horizontally and vertically respectively. See 8k footage here.
  • 1080p: refers to high-definition resolution made up of 1920 and 1080 pixels, horizontally and vertically respectively. See 1080p HD footage here.
  • Aerial Shot: a shot taken from a very high point such as a plane, a drone, or a helicopter. It’s also called bird’s eye view. Consider using one of our favorite mobile filmmaking hacks – attaching your smartphone to a weather balloon – to get this shot.
  • Audio Levels: use this term when talking about the audio’s volume. In case there’s a dialogue, ambiannt sound should be reduced by adjusting the EQ. By the way, if you don’t have a smartphone microphone then your mobile films are suffering. Consider the Neewer CM14 if you’re on a budget.
  • Aspect ratio: refers to the proportion between the width and height of a pixel in an image, represented in ratio form.
  • Camera Angle: the viewpoint from which the camera is shooting. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Comment below if you’d like a post dedicated to camera angles for mobile filmmaking.
    • High camera angle: when the camera is above the subject, so it’s pointing down.
    • Medium or flat camera angle: when the camera and the subject are at the same level.
    • Low camera angle: when the camera is at a lower level than the subject, so it’s pointing up.
  • Close-up shot: when the camera shoots the subject at a close distance that nothing else appears in the field of vision. This often happens with the faces of actors. If you want a super close-up shot, then consider a smartphone macro or tele lens.
  • Cut: this editing effect instantly moves the viewer from one shot to the next by joining the two images together.
  • Depth of Field: emphasizing the difference between foreground and background by blurring the latter. A tele lens will provide a more compressed depth of field.
  • Editing: choosing certain shots and putting them in a specific order to create a cohesive project.
  • Exposure: subjecting an image to more light by raising the illumination’s intensity. The goal is to adjust the tonal values of the image, and consequently, the film’s visual texture.
  • Fade-out: when an image disappears gradually until the screen is totally dark.
  • Fade-in: when an image appears gradually from a totally dark screen.
  • Frame rate: the number of frames that display per second of a video. Follow these general rules of thumb when discussing frame rates.
    • 24 frames per second – used the most in television and movies because it most closely emulates what the human eye sees. Because of this, you should use 24 frames per second for the most realistic looking footage. When shooting at 24 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/48 or higher because of the 180-degree rule.
    • 60 frames per second – used to create a dreamlike effect in video and also as the most universably usable frame rate. 60 frames per second retains audio normally but can also be slowed down to 40% speed to create slow-motion. If you aren’t sure which frame rate to record your video in, then 60 frames per second is the way to go. Be wary though, as 4k or 8k video in 60 frames per second does take up considerable storage space. When shooting in 60 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/120 or higher because of the 180-degree rule.
    • 120 frames per second – used for slow-motion. 120 frames per second is slow, but not nearly as slow as some smartphones can capture. Slow-motion video like can’t be captured in higher resolutions like 24 or 60 frames per second and also doesn’t retain the same audio quality. Shoot in 120 frames per second if you know you want to slow the clip way down. When shooting in 120 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/240 or higher because of the 180-degree rule.
  • HDR: short for High Dynamic Range, which refers to the expansion of the color range as well as the displayed information for the blackest black and the whitest white. When a camera shoots in HDR, the amount of detail in the captured image is significantly increased. Learn more about HDR on smartphones here.
  • J Cut: an editing method where the audio from the second video plays before the video of the first shot ends. It gets its name from how the clips are viewed in editing software.
  • L Cut: an editing method where the video of the second shot plays before the audio from the first shot ends. It gets its name from how the clips are viewed in editing software.
  • Long shot: this is the close-up shot counterpart, in which the subject is far away from the camera or appears as so.
  • Medium shot: when the subject is shot at an intermediate distance between that of a close-up and a long shot, it’s referred to as a medium shot. It typically shows an actor or actors from the knees up to be perceived from a “normal” distance.
  • Render: to render a video is to export it for smooth playback.
  • Resolution: the number of pixels displayed in an image both vertically and horizontally. Sometimes it’s referred to as display mode or frame size.
  • SD: short for Standard Definition, which is any resolution that’s lower than 720p.
  • SFX: abbreviation of Sound Effects, which is audio added to the video for supporting visuals during the editing stage.
  • Shutter Speed: this is what relays the manner of the shot. For example, action scenes that are supposed to look more urgent are given a higher shutter speed. The general rule of thumb with shutter speed though is to be sure that it’s at least twice your frame rate. For example, if you’re shooting in 60 frames per second, then you want your shutter speed to be greater than 1/120.
  • Storyboard: a set of non-moving images arranged in a way that helps you visualize the final look of the film.
  • Thumbnail: the image equivalent to a book’s title, displayed before playing the video to give an idea of its content. Thumbnails are important for Youtube.
  • Voiceover: a voiced commentary or narration that accompanies the shot.

Wrap Up

smartphone filmmaking terminology
Photo by David Klein on Unsplash

These were just some of the essential mobile filmmaking terminology with which you need to get familiar. You’ll soon come to realize that whether you’re a beginner or a veteran in mobile filmmaking, the vocabulary is invaluable, and there’s always more to learn! Think a mobile filmmaking term should be added to the list? Comment it below, and I’ll add it!

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