This is the S, T & U section of our Film & Television Dictionary. We are attempting to create the most in depth Film and TV dictionary the internet has ever seen. If you would like to add a term to our dictionary, please get in contact with us.
Film & Television Dictionary – Letter S
Safe: While on set Safe can have a few meanings. The first is to “make safe” this means if everyone were to walk away from the set, everything would be left in a safe manor. This includes lowering lights, cleaning up any tripping hazards and making sure the camera is protected. Safe can also mean “safe area” this is the area that camera does not see, the safe area is usually where the boom operator will keep the boom during takes.
Safety: To safety something is to make sure that it will not fall.
Safety Chain: A chain that is used to secure objects on set. A safety chain is commonly used to help secure lights and camera.
SAG-AFTRA: The American labor union that represents film and television performers, journalists and radio personalities. Up until 2012 it was just SAG, but merged with AFTRA to become Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Sandbag: A cloth bag filled with sand used to counter weight lighting and grip stands to help secure them from falling over.
Satire: A genre of film or television which takes on a mocking or ridiculing tone. Examples of satires are Dr. Strangelove, Fight Club, The Daily Show, and The Office.
Scene: A series of shots that makes up a moment in the film or television show. A change of scene is commonly marked by a new location.
Scenery: The scenery is what you can see around and behind the performers, it can be a natural view, a set or a backdrop.
Score: The score is usually composed music that makes up a portion of a films soundtrack. The score is usually composed specifically for the film and is different from the use of popular songs.
Scout: A scout or location scout is when the key members of the crew go to the various locations that a project is going to be filmed, prior to the beginning of principal photography. On a scout different departments will take note of the things they will have to deal with on the filming days, such as where the power is coming from, where they can set up their stations, where will the camera be, etc. Also known as a survey.
Screen Direction: Screen directions, such as camera left or camera right, refer to the direction that the performers move within the frame.
Screener: A promotional tool used by studios to get DVD copies of their films out to voters during awards season.
Screening: The showing of a film, generally at a theater, before a wide release of the film.
Screenplay: A form of a script which is a written film, television series or play.
Screen Test: An on camera audition, where an actor performs a specific role.
Screenwriter: A person who writes original or adapted screenplays with the intention of being produced as films, series or plays.
Scrim: A metal mesh device used by the lighting department to play with the intensity of the light without affecting the color temperature.
Script: The written story for a film, series or play that includes dialogue, characters and settings. The script is the outline for the project that is used by all departments to understand the needs of the piece.
Script Supervisor: This is the person on set whose job is to make sure that the director and performers are getting everything that is in the script. They follow along during a take and throw lines to actors if necessary. They mark usable and unusable takes and keep a record of every thing that is filmed in a day. This role is also known as continuity.
Second Assistant Director: Also know as the 2nd AD, the 2nd reports to the 1st AD on all matters regarding the schedule. The 2nd is usually responsible for the call sheet and the talent. Working with the 1st and 3rd, the 2nd usually works away from the set in an office and coordinates over walkie talkie with the floor. They usually give timing notes, schedule changes and travel talent to and from set.
Second Meal: A second meal is offered if the crew works a certain amount of hours past their first meal. A second meal is usually necessary when going into overtime.
Second Unit: A smaller film crew tasked with getting shots that usually don’t include the main cast. They are typically filming inserts, scenery, crowds, foreign location shots, etc.
Sensitive Location: A location where the crew needs to take extra care not to damage anything. Most commonly if you are filming in someones home, you want to take the necessary precautions not to damage their property.
Set: The place that the project is being filmed, this can be a real location or a studio.
Set Dec: Short for set decoration, this is the team that dresses the set.
Set Dresser: A member of the art department responsible for dressing the set with the items determined by the art decorator. This can be anything from drapes to dishes on a table.
Shooting Ratio: The shooting ratio refers to the amount of footage that was shot versus the amount that was used in the final product. For example if 900 minutes were shot and the film was edited to 90 minutes, the ratio would be 10:1. For every 10 minutes of shot footage, one minute made it into the final cut.
Shop: To shop a project means to try and sell it. If you have written a screenplay you can shop it to different studios and see if any one buys.
Shotgun Mic: A long, directional microphone that is used to pick up sound further away.
Sides: Sides are the pages of the script that are going to be covered. This may be the pages covered in an audition or the pages that will be covered on a shooting day. They are usually printed on half or quarter pages and given to the cast and crew at the top of a shoot day.
Slate: A slate is a small board that houses key information about the project such as title, director, scene number, take number etc. The top of the board has an arm that is lifted and clapped at the top of a take. The slate goes in once the camera and sound are both speeding. This is done so that editors have all of the take information and are able to sync the sound in post.
Slush Truck: A slush truck houses miscellaneous needs of a production such as tables, chairs and other location needs.
Snoot: A funnel shaped addition to lights that allows for a more direct focus of the light than barn doors allow.
Snot Tape: Sticky putting used mainly by set dec to help temporarily secure items in place.
Soft Focus: Soft focus is when part or all of the image on screen is out of focus.
Sound Mixer: The person on set who records all of the sound for the production including dialogue, sound effects and room tone.
Sound Stage: An area, generally in a studio that is sound proof and allows for sets to be constructed and filmed on. Using a sound stage allows the filmmaker to have a more controllable environment.
Special Effects: The department that deals with special effects such as explosions, gun shots, blood packs or squibs, weather elements, fire, etc. Also known as SPFX.
Special Effects Co-ordinator: The person responsible for the special effects department, this person must have an in-depth knowledge of the materials as well as safety training to deal with all levels of effects.
Speed: Speed is the word used by the camera operator and sound recordist to let everyone know that they are recording.
Spinoff: A film or television series that is created on the back of another project. Examples of spinoffs are Joey which spun-off of Friends or Fear the Walking Dead which is a spinoff of The Walking Dead.
Splinter Unit: A part of the main filming unit that splinters off to get alternate shots.
Split Screen: A screen can split during editing to give the impression that there are two version of the same actor on the screen at the same time, it can also be used to put the actor into impossible situations.
Spot: A spot is a term used for an advertisement. Usually a commercial that is 30-60 seconds in length.
Squib: A squib is a small explosive blood pack, typically used to simulate gun shot wounds.
Stand-by: Stand-by can refer to the moment before camera is ready to roll – everyone is on stand-by and ready to go. It can also be used when asking someone to hold off because you need more time or are waiting on something else. If you call for someone over the walkie and they respond stand-by, they are acknowledging that they have heard you, but are otherwise engaged.
Stand-in: A stand-in replaces the actor on set for lighting and camera to set up. By having a non-performer stand-in for the principal actor it allows the actor rest, rehearse, eat, etc.
Steadicam: A Steadicam is a stabilizing harness that the camera operator wears and attaches the camera to which allows for smooth, flowing shots without the use of a crane or dolly.
Sticks: When someone refers to sticks they are either talking about the tripod or the slate.
Stills: Photographs that are taken on set during production.
Still Photographer: The person appointed to take still photographs during the production.
Stipple: A technique used by the makeup department when applying facial hair on actors.
Stock Footage: Existing footage that is available for sale and use in your production. It can be footage of past news events, sporting events, historical footage, etc.
Stop-Motion: A type of animation that uses puppets or figures that are shot one frame at a time. When the frames are played back to back it gives the impression they are moving. Examples are The Nightmare Before Christmas and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Storyboard: The director creates storyboards before filming begins. Storyboards are similar to comic strips, they lay out every shot of the film and help the crew understand the needs of the production.
Strike: Strike can refer to the removal of a light or the taking down of a set. To strike it means to stop using it.
Stunt: An action required by an actor that is physcial and potentially dangerous. This includes fighting, car chases, falling, etc. In most cases a stunt double is used to perform these actions.
Stunt Co-ordinator: The person responsible for the creation and execution of all stunts. Working with the director, the stunt-coordinator helps achieve the stunts required for the project.
Stunt Double: A stunt double performs stunts instead of the actors. In some cases actors will insist on doing their own stunts, but for the most part the stunt double is made to look like the actor and with careful editing the audience never knows.
Sugar Glass: Glass made from sugar that breaks a lot easier and safer than real glass.
Superimpose: The process of laying one image on top of another.
Swish Pan: The act or rapidly panning the camera to cause a blurring effect. Also knows as a whip pan.
Sync: To synchronize. Usually refers to audio syncing with video.