Production terms, demystified
Every industry has its jargon and buzzwords. Beauty vloggers all seem to instinctively know what a ‘cut crease’ is. Crypto bros think it’s totally normal to drop ‘Altcoin’ and ‘HODL’ into everyday conversation.
Over here in production land, we speak our own language, too. So to help you feel a little less like a tourist the next time you’re on set, here’s a quick glossary of the weirder production-industry terms.
(HELLO) DOLLY GRIP
A dolly is something like a rollercoaster cart and miniature set of train tracks for a camera, and is used to capture smooth horizontal movement. The camera operator and their assistant sit inside the cart, which is moved by a technician called a (you guessed it) dolly grip.
Now feels like a good time to mention that ‘grip’ is the term for an on-set technician. Grips are responsible for all the equipment that supports and moves the camera or the lights during filming. It’s important to note that grips don’t usually touch the cameras or the lights themselves – just the set-up. Their fearless leader is known as a Key Grip.
Lighting can make or break a shot, which is why a Hollywood film set is often crawling with electrical technicians. They all report to the Gaffer, aka the head of the lighting department. It’s the Gaffer’s job to ensure the Director of Photography’s lighting plan is executed.
(WHO’S THE) BEST BOY
If you’ve ever seen ‘Best Boy’ in the credits and assumed that film sets are mandated to have a Golden Retriever on standby, well … we want to live in that world too. In reality, the Best Boy (or Best Girl, or Best Person) is the assistant to the Gaffer or to the Key Grip.
Not delivered by a government employee in a blue and red uniform. ‘Post’ is short for ‘post production’. This is when we assemble shots into the final video, colour-grade and colour-correct (basically enhancing and standardising the visuals), and sweeten the audio.
Even if you shoot with high-quality equipment, chances are your audio won’t come out perfectly crisp without a little help. When we talk about ‘sweetening’, we’re removing any low-level sounds in the background; the distant hum of traffic, for example, or the barely audible but still annoying buzz of a fluorescent bulb. We’ll also add bass or treble to voices so they’re pitch perfect. Sound effects – the hiss of a cooldrink can, the turn of a key in a lock – can be added during this process too.