Adland's Digital Revolution: The Jargon Buster

Get a handle on the assorted acronyms, slang terms and concepts associated with digital workflow systems with our handy A to, well, nearly Z guide compiled by Simon Meek.

600,000: The total number of files processed by Quickcut workflow systems for the UK national press as of 29 June 2005

Ad: If you don't know this one, perhaps you're reading the wrong magazine

Adbank: Online ad library where digital assets for TV commercials, radio spots, print ads and any other digital content are stored at broadcast quality

Bandwidth: The maximum quantity of bits that can be sent down a pipe per second

BlackBerry: Small autumnal fruit used to make jam. Also a wireless device for viewing internet content and e-mail remotely. And it's a phone. Handy and trendy for the executives out there

Browsable proxy: Low-resolution version of a digital file, which is used in collaborative data asset management (DAM) tools to prevent excessive download times

BSOD: Blue screen of death ... enough said

Codec: A snappy way of saying coder/decoder; converting from one format into another

Colour management: Not the executives in charge of what is this year's new black within an agency - this is the process of capturing a colour-space and creating a profile that reflects the print of the publication

Colour model: A system for describing every colour in a colour space, such as RGB or CMYK

Colour space: A three-dimensional space or model into which the three attributes of a colour can be represented, plotted or recorded

Crazy Frog: AKA "The annoying thing". Also a pioneer in direct-response advertising in Europe through its creator Jamster! and its distribution partner Adstream

CMYK: Four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Used in print media. If you're wondering why "K" stands for black, it's because black is the key-colour in most printing processes

DAM: To the man on the street, it's a structure for water storage. To us in the know, it's digital asset management, a centralised mode of storing and managing data files

Digibeta: Stands for digital betacam: a revolutionary format launched by Sony back in 1994. It remains the de-facto system for top-end SD broadcast TV production and mastering

DRM: Digital rights management. A set of rules that control access to and distribution of the assets contained in the DAM repository

Encryption: A electronic method of securing your files and stopping those pesky kids sticking their noses in

Fibre channel: A high-speed method of sending data; using optical fibre to connect devices. Add fruit and you'll find yourself with a nutritious start to your day

Fire: Don't clear out your desk or call in the brigade. This is just slang for sending digital content at ultra high-speed via satellite or cable

Front: A comment and approval system for clients courtesy of the post-production house Framestore CFC

FTP: File transfer protocol. A way to send files back and forth between computers

Gamut or colour gamut: The whole range of hues and strengths of colours that can be achieved with a given set of colourants such as cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink printed on a given paper and given printing press

Generation loss: Video or audio degradation caused by successive recordings from the master source

Global Media Exchange (GME): Nope, it's not eBay's video reseller network ... though not that far off. It's a discipline that converges workflow, management and distribution

Greyscale: Despite its lack of colour, greyscale is an important tool used to analyse and optimise the contrast in both black and white and colour reproductions

Hard copy: It's on paper ...

Head of traffic: If you're thinking traffic cop or lollipop lady, think again. This is the person who runs the entire agency's creative workflow

HD: Stands for high definition, but that's where the consensus ends. In the world of TV, there is still no agreement on what HD actually means. Unless stated otherwise, HD should be regarded as 1,080 horizontal lines to 1,920 vertical, delivered as an interlaced signal

HDCam: Sony's high-definition video format; currently battling it out with Panasonic and its DVCProHD for prominence in the HDTV world

HDTV: High-definition television. Mooted since the mid-80s, this higher-resolution TV standard is only now starting to become a reality. The US and Asia are leading the way on this one, but Sky is planning to roll out an HD service in Europe next year. Watch this space ...

ICC: International Colour Committee

IMD: UK rival to Adstream in the TV-distribution space

Ingestion: The process of digitising material into central storage, including the description of the material by the ingest operator

IP: Internet protocol

ISP: Internet service provider

Metadata: This exotic-sounding word literally means "data about the data". It's the information that describes a digital file, or is attached to it in order to enable users to search, transform, collaborate on or otherwise manipulate the media using a software system

Mpeg: A group of people who have come up with a handy standard for defining motion video and audio. You're most likely to come across mpeg2 or mpeg4 encoding formats. Note: there is no mpeg5 or 6, the standard numbering system jumps from 4 to 7. Weird

NTSC: "Never the same colour" as it is sometimes jokingly referred to, NTSC is the US standard for video playback. The standard is fast being overtaken by the superior HDTV

Pal: This amicable-sounding TV broadcasting standard used in Europe is easier on the eye than NTSC

PDF: Portable document format or pretty damn fast

Pipe: Cable or fibre channel used to transfer data. Note: a smoking pipe is not a good sign, whatever your pappy may have told you

Playout: The process of playing and sending TV media, in real-time, according to a schedule. This is the backbone of any TV channel

Postbox: You won't fit your letters in here. It's a whiz-bang media server from Adstream

Preflighting: Tempted to think it's the final passport and ticket check before a trip? Almost, but not quite. It's the checking and verification of all aspects of a print job to ensure the steps necessary to complete the job can be carried out without disruptions

Projectbank: Another Adstream tool, but a work-in-progress media-management system for TV, radio and print advertising

Proxy server: Software that handles web requests on a server

RGB: Three colours: red, green and blue. Used in TV and monitoring. Not to be confused with red, white and blue, which is the French flag

SD: In the world of TV, this reads standard definition (image). SD is either Pal or NTSC, depending where you are in the world, but universally it means "not HD"

Soft proof: An on-screen representation of what colour press ads will look like when printed

Sohonet: Would be a great name for a London fish shop, but is actually a high-bandwidth network connecting Soho's post-production houses

TWAIN: Technology without an interesting name. It's an interfacing standard that regulates communication between image-processing software and a scanner

Umatic: 3/4 inch tape format. Still in demand from some clients

Vio: A digital supplier in the print-media space.


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