Camera Terms that are a Must Know for Anyone on Set

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Aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) June 15, 2004--With crew of USS Abrahm Lincoln in front of the camera, the crew of the upcoming movie "Stealth" set up for scenes to be taped on the flight deck.  After 10 1/2 months of Dry Docked Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA), Abraham Lincoln is currently conducting local operations in preparation for deployment next year.  U.S. Navy photo by PH3(AW) Tyler J. Clements.  Approved for release by ALSG Public Affairs Officer LCDR John Daniels.

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Camera terms aren’t exclusive to the camera department in a film set. If you’re working on a film set, it’s a wise idea for you to pick up these terms. Why? Well, knowing these terms will help you work with the rest of the team better and reduce the possibility of communication errors.

So, here is a list of camera terms that you should start memorizing:

Camera Left/Right
This is probably one of the more obvious terms. It simply refers to the direction the camera is facing. For example, the camera’s right would be the subject’s left.

Cowboy
A shot that is framed slightly above the subject’s knees.

AKS
It is an abbreviation used to refer to accessories. You’ll likely find boxes or bags marked with this abbreviation.

Check the Gate
This is a term called out after a take that leases the director. Here, the 1st assistant cameraman (AC)will check the camera’s gate, an internal part. The objective is to determine if the film is usable or not. However, these days, we actually use the term “Check the Chip” because of the shift to digital cameras. In the case of chips or hard drives, the 1st AC will play the take and assess it.

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Cutaway
A cutaway is a shot that is not directly related to the main sequence. However, it is usually within context or done as a form of symbolism. For example, a cutaway of a clock to show that the subject is running out of time.

Crossing
You yell this out when you’re going past the camera lens when the cameraman starts lining up a shot. It’s just a way to alert him/her that you’re in front of the camera.

Dirty
When something or someone ends up in the foreground, you shout dirty.

Chammy
An eyepiece chamois to cover the viewfinder’s eye cup.

Eyeline
When the actor’s look and the camera angle are in relation. In order to fix the issue, the eyeline can be adjusted on different cameras.

First Position
As the name suggests, this is the first position from where an actor begins the scene.

Dumb Side
When the subject looks in the same direction as the camera lens, towards the right side of the camera.

Ditty Bag
Describes a tool bag that contains all the essentials for the cameraperson.

Babies
A small tripod

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