Glossary of Film / Video Terms (H-M)

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H&D Curve: The graph made by plotting the density of a film sample against the log of the exposure that made that density.

Halation: A defect of photographic films and plates. Light forming an image on the film is scattered by passing through the emulsion or by reflection at the emulsion or base surfaces. This scattered light causes a local fog that is especially noticeable around image of light sources or sharply defined highlight areas.

Hard: (1) As applied to a photographic emulsion or developer, having a high contrast. (2) As applied to the lighting of a set, specular or harsh, giving sharp dense shadows and glaring highlight.

HD: High definition video image or format.

HDTV: High Definition Television, a recently developed video format with a resolution approximately twice that of standard television.

High-Speed Camera: A camera designed to expose film at rates faster than 24 frames per second. Used to obtain slow-motion effects.

Highlights: Visually the brightest, or photometrically the most luminant, areas of a subject. In the negative image, the areas of greatest density; in the positive image, the areas of least density.

Highlight Detail: Almost entirely a function of shoulder contrast and overexposure latitude.

Hue: Sensation of the color itself, measured by the dominant wavelength.

Humidity: A term referring to the presence or absence of moisture in the air. For instance, low humidity describes conditions in a desert. Conversely, high humidity is related to tropical rain forest conditions.

Hyperfocal Distance: The closest focus distance at which both objects at infinity and closer objects are in focus.


Idle Roller: Free turning non-sprocketed rollers for guiding film through its appropriate path.

Illuminant: Light source used to project the film image or to expose the film.

Image, Latent Image: The invisible image formed in a camera or printer by the action of light on a photographic emulsion.

Image Orientation: Laboratory function that assures that the projected image is properly formed on the screen, and that the sound track is on the appropriate side of the film.

Image Processing Stage: Stage in the DI process where the digital intermediate files are manipulated and altered digitally. Operations such as conforming, color correction, creation of special looks, and addition of special effects are all performed digitally in the image processing stage.

Image Sensors: High-end video is limited to a fixed arrangement of sensors on the charge coupled device, or CCD.

IMAX: A widescreen format that originates on 65 mm film. Trademark of IMAX Corporation, the term applies more to “The IMAX Experience”—big film, special theatres, and surround sound.

Incident meter: A light meter designed to measure light falling onto the subject.

Infrared: Nonvisible radiation from the long wavelength portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Input (Stage): Acquisition and transfer of all analog and digital media into the DI pipeline.  

Intercuttability: Can mean different things to different cinematographers.  At the very least, it encompasses how well a group of films match one another for color reproduction, color saturation, contrast, tone-scale neutrality, flesh-to-neutral, and latitude.  Chemically, there are also provisions made for how well dye sets match between films.  If two films offer significant differences from one another in any of the above categories (different contrasts for example), they may still be considered artistically compatible or complementary, but not necessarily intercuttable.

Intermediate: Film used only for making duplicates from which other duplicates or prints are made. Does not include camera films.

Intermittent: Not continuous but equally spaced (sometimes random) motion, as the intermittent (24 fps) motion of film through a projector.

Internegative (IN): A negative copy made from the interpositive. The Internegative, also known as, a dupe negative (DN) can be printed with one-light (one set of timing lights) since all color corrections were made in the interpositive (IP). This facilitates high speed printing for theatrical releases.

Interpositive (IP): The original cut negative for a feature film is printed onto intermediate stock to create a color interpositive (or master positive). The same color timing for making the answer print is used here. With the IP in hand, an Internegative (IN or DN) is made which becomes the printing master or dupe negative (DN) for making multiple release prints.

Iris: See Aperture.

ISO: International Standards Organization. The international version of ANSI.




Kelvin: Unit of measure in color temperature (e.g. 6500K for daylight).

Key Numbers: See “Edge Numbers.”

KEYKODE:  Technically, KEYKODE refers to the machine readable bar code next to the edge numbers that the manufacturer placed on the film.  Over time it has become synonymous with edge numbers or footage numbers.

Kodak Standard Perforations (KS): Compared to BH perforations, larger in size, and with rounded corners for extra strength. Used primarily for release prints.


Laboratory: A facility that specializes in processing and printing film, sometimes offering additional services such as editing and film storage.

Laboratory Film: Film products, not intended for original photography, but necessary to complete the production process.

Latent Image: Invisible image in exposed, undeveloped film; results from exposure to light.

Latent Image Edge Numbering: Images placed on the edge of film products in manufacturing that become visible after development.

Latitude: In a photographic process, the range of exposure over which substantially correct reproduction is obtained. When the process is represented by an H & D curve, the latitude is the projection on the exposure axis of that part of the curve that approximates a straight line within the tolerance permitted for the purpose at hand.

Leader: Any film or strip of material used for threading a motion picture machine. Leader may consist of short lengths of blank film attached to the ends of a print to protect the print from damage during the threading of a projector, or it may be a long length of any kind of film which is used to establish the film path in a processing machine before the use of the machine for processing film.

Lens: A collection of glass elements that transmit and focus light to form an image.

Letterbox: A standard television display technique seen in many commercials and music videos. A black band on the top and bottom of the screen is used to maintain a widescreen look and preserve the original composition on a standard television screen.

Light Filter: A light-absorbing transparent sheet, commonly consisting of colored glass or dyed gelatin that is placed in an optical system to control the spectral quality, color, or intensity of the light passing a given plane.

Light Intensity: Degree of light, per unit, falling on a subject; usually expressed in footcandles.

Light Meter: An electrical exposure meter for measuring light intensity.

Light Piping: Fog caused by light striking the edge of film and traveling along the base to expose the emulsion inside the magazine or roll.

Lighting Ratio: The ratio of the intensity of key and fill lights to fill light alone.

Linear Editing: Uses a tape-to-tape method where the film is edited in the order in which it will be viewed.

Local Area Network (LAN): Network that spans a relatively small area, such as a single DI facility. It can consist of any number of computer stations and devices that are directly connected together. Every computer can access every other computer’s data and any other devices inside the LAN. 

Logarithmic (Encoding): Process of encoding tonal information by using a logarithmic mathematical formula. The result ends up assigning more bits of information to the darker areas of the image. This closely matches the sensitivity of the human eye, which is more discerning of the blacks and shadows of an image. It requires 10 bits to capture the complete tonal range of film logarithmically.

Long Pitch: Perforation type used on print films; slightly greater than perforations on original films to prevent slippage during printing.

Look Management: Software-based tools that help establish and manage the look of a production throughout the entire filmmaking process.

Look Up Table (LUT): Color translation table that links a set of input color values to a set of output color values. Look up tables speed up post-production processes and provide feedback in real time. Look tables are often used to implement calibration corrections, color corrections, specific looks, and color space conversions.

Loop (projector or camera): The path in which the film is formed to allow the film to travel intermittently through the gate.

Lossless Compression: Compression algorithm that reorganizes data in a more effective way to reduce file size. There is no loss of image information.

Lossy Compression: Compression algorithm that discards data considered imperceptible in order to reduce file size. Lossy compression is destructive to the original image data.

Low Key: A scene is reproduced in a low key if the tone range of the reproduction is largely in the low-density portion of the scene. Typically the subject is the brightest part of the image.

Luminance: The measured value of brightness; reflected light measure on motion picture screens as footlamberts or candelas per square meter.

Lux: Lumens per square meter. A metric measure of illuminance equal to 0.0929 footcandles (1 footcandle = 10.764 lux).


Magazine Take-Up: In the United Kingdom it is known as a spool box. It is the device, which winds up the film after photography (in a camera), copying (in a printer), and after projection (in projection).

Magenta: Purplish color; complementary to green or the minus-green subtractive primary used in the three-color process. Magenta light results when red and blue light overlap.

Manufacturer Identification Code: The letter that identifies film manufacturer. K = EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY.

Manufacturers Information: Includes information such as Year Code, Printer Number, Roll and Part Number, Emulsion Number, Product Code, Film Manufacturer.

Masking: Restricting the size of a projected image on a screen by the use of black borders around the screen. Also the restriction in size of any projected image or photographic print by the use of undercut aperture plates or masks and borders.

Master Positive (same as Interpositive): Timed interpositive made from a negative original and from which a duplicate negative is made.

Matte: An opaque outline that limits the exposed area of a picture, either a cut out object in front of the camera or as a silhouette on another strip of film.

Maximum Density (D-Max): Portion of the shoulder of the characteristic curve where further increases in exposure on negative film or decreases in exposure on reversal film will produce no increase in density.

Metadata: Additional data about a file or how it should be processed.

Midtones: The colors between black and white that occur on the straight-line portion of the characteristic curve.

Minimum Density (D-Min): Constant-density area in the tone of the characteristic curve where less exposure on negative film or more exposure on reversal film will produce no reduction in density. Sometimes called base plus fog in black-and-white film.

Modulation Transfer Function Curve: Indicates the ability of a film to record fine detail. The curve results when light transmission is measured with lines that are successively more closely spaced.

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