ALF: Auto locking facility. We all know post-production houses never close. ALF is a device that allows operators to trace and copy camera moves.
Animatic: A rough edit with sourced images, rough animation or storyboard frames used to represent as-yet-unfilmed shots. Often comes with the soundtrack of a client asking: "It won't look like that at the end, will it?"
Best light - see One Light
CGI: Computer-generated imagery. Imagine a world with no unions; a world where the eight-hour day has never existed; where extras never complain about the catering and directors never get shirty about a product shot ...
Character generator: A flashy word processor attached to compositing machines.
Colourist: 1. The person who manipulates the colour levels in the post-production process. 2. The person who manipulates the colour levels in your local hair salon.
Compositing, compositor: Take two or more layers of video or film, superimpose one over another, watch agape as your Flame op fiddles with the footage for hours on end and hey-presto - your visual effects masterpiece is well on its way to winning at BTAA.
Conform: Not just an exercise in succumbing to peer pressure, a conform converts the offline to the online.
Compositing tools: Fire, Flame, Henry, Inferno ... the tools facilities use to composite and edit your ads. It's probably best to leave it to them to decide which one is appropriate to your needs.
Crowd replication: A technique that magically stretches your budget, as 35 extras manage to fill a football stadium to capacity. Could also be used at Craven Cottage on a Saturday ...
Discreet: 1. The Canadian software company that wrote the software for Inferno/Flame/Smoke etc. 2. The ideal character of an operator working on a late-night job with a client.
Final grade: There are several possible stages in the grading process.
A "one light" is a rough, often unattended version of the work, setting up a basic grade for the piece and letting it run. For a "best light", a more polished version is prepared. The "final grade" is the real thing, the finished product.
Gamma: Like the theory of relativity, the only satisfactory way to explain gamma is with a string of complicated equations and graphs. Trust us - if your telecine colourist starts talking to you about your gamma, he wants you and the clients out of the room so he can get on with a bit of work.
Garbage Matte: A technique used to remove extraneous elements from a shot, although it could also be the name of your local binman.
Harry: Ancient compositing system from Quantel, used in the late 80s and early 90s. Named after the Royal child, apparently.
Houdini: 1. A 3D software package, particularly used for VFX work. 2. A noted escapologist.
Matte painting: Originally a term used to describe paintings done on glass used in studios to extend sets. Now used to describe the laborious process of painting frame after frame of material if your bluescreen shots haven't worked out.
Maya: 1. A 3D software package, particularly used for animation work. 2. A noted ancient civilisation
Motion control: A computer-controlled robotic arm that allows camera moves to be programmed and repeated. Useful for multiple passes/difference mattes. Camera data can be used by CGI also, so good for blending live action and 3D.
Noise Reduction: Don't turn the volume down, this tool is used to smooth out the grain and enhance looks.
Offline: Rough work, a time for making editorial decisions.
One light: See Final grade
Online: Heading for finished product. Please don't ask to see what it would look like with a blue car now.
Online approval: The man from (insert client name here), he say yes ...
PAL, HD, 2K, 4K: Different media have different resolutions. PAL is 720x576, HD is 1930x1080, 2K is 2048x1556, 4K is 4092x3112. Sorry you asked?
Photoshop: Believe it or not, this 2D software package has applications other than creating fake nude pictures of your favourite celebrities ...
Pixi grading: The software used to colour correct film, nothing to do with the size of your operator.
Plate, clean plate: An empty frame used for wire removal and difference mattes.
Pre-visualisation: A method of planning large-scale FX jobs in CGI. Allows directors to plan timing, camera angles and set design before the shoot.
A good example of this is the Levi's "odyssey" ad. The path of the runners was mapped out in a virtual CGI set. This helped us to understand what size the rooms needed to be to allow the action to flow. (Really, really big, for the record.)
Quantel: The hardware manufacturer, responsible for Henry, Harry etc.
Rendering: The interminable wait for your final, broadcast-quality visual effects and CGI. Studies have proved that rendering is inversely linked to time spent in the Coach & Horses on Berwick Street.
Resolution-independent: A system that can incorporate different resolution frames within the same project.
Resolve: Most hardcore Soho-ites think they know what this one is, particularly on a Monday morning. Nothing to do with Beechams, it's the process of converting all of the decisions - such as wipes and dissolves - to the final edit.
Secondary correction: Not an advanced reform school for media types, this function is used in telecine to alter particular hues or areas of the picture.
Shake: Apple's compositing software, the speed of which is also linked to time spent in the Coach & Horses on Berwick Street.
Spirit 4K: Framestore CFC's latest toy, the pride and joy of the telecine department. The Spirit 4K is a high-performance scanner that provides a new benchmark in telecine, offering superb optical construction and a future-proof design that ensures its long-term viability. And it looks good, too.
Stretching the whites: The phrase used to describe pushing the highlights in a frame.
Technical grade: A pre-grade version of a shot done prior to VFX work, created to give the FX team an idea of how the shot will finally need to look.
Timeslice: Timeslice shots are created by using a rig with hundreds of 35mm cameras attached to it, all at slightly different angles. All the cameras take a shot simultaneously. When these are stitched together they allow the viewer to see a single point in time as a live camera move.
Quite a tricky and expensive process, but when (first) seen, truly arresting.
Now, very dated - even Center Parcs has used it.
TK: Abbreviation for telecine, though you'd think it would be short for "telekine", or that the abbreviation would be "TC". But it's not.
Tracking: The process by which the computer samples a portion of an image and registers the changes in position throughout a shot. Used on a daily basis to stabilise wobbly cameras, remove blemishes and a thousand other tasks.
Vari-speeding: 1. A technique used in Henry to speed up and slow down shots - often to add drama and tension to a shot. 2. A technique used in cars when approaching speed cameras.
VTR: Abbreviation for video tape recorder. You knew that, didn't you?
Warping: Remember that girl in the PlayStation "mental wealth" ad? Remember how we all wondered where TBWA had dug up such an odd-looking lass? That's the power of warping, that is.