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On-set language (Camera Department)


Anzer Sizov
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Friends,

I'm working in Russia so obviously we speak Russian on-set.

And a lot of things we say concerning camera dpt. work-flow are esily understood by anyone who works in the industry here.

But all the words are mostly slang.

The phrases are boiled down to the very essence so that you don't have to waste any time explaning things.

What do you guys actually say on-set when it comes down to working practices such as adjusting f-stop, discussing camera movements, choosing filters etc.

Throw anything that pops up in your mind, every bit would be much appreciated.

e.g.:

do you "open up a knotch, a third etc", do you "lock down the head" or "lock-off" etc.

I need these words to work with english-speaking cinematographers.

I know I could manage, but I bet there are standard, sharp words for everything.

Thanks from Moscow, Russia

Anzer

 

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I wouldn't bet on standard, sharp terms, UK camera crews can use various forms of rhyming slang for setting stops etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyming_slang

 

Here are some terms from the US http://www.theblackandblue.com/2010/12/09/film-set-lingo-general-production-slang-part-1/ http://www.theblackandblue.com/2010/12/16/film-set-lingo-camera-department-terms-part-2/

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I don't think of terms like "locking down the head" as slang, there is a tilt and pan locking latch on the tripod head, so the phrase is more or less literal, same as "open up the lens by 1/3", which is just a shorter way of saying "open up the lens iris by 1/3 of an f-stop". But phrases like "kill the baby", or "frame for a two-T's" or "frame for a cowboy" or calling clothes pins "C41's" are definitely slang, some more commonly used or known than others. For example, the term to shoot "MOS" is more or less known on every set, whereas there are nicknames for certain equipment that seem to be regional, if not just personal.

 

I'm a bit impatient with some of them, though not as much as Phil is -- for example, I'd rather call for a "Full Apple Box" than constantly call for a wooden grip support box that is 8" x 20" x 12" made of 3/4" plywood. The name is specific and more or less universal despite whatever the origin was for the term "apple box".

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A favorite, and ludicrously complicated bit of slang, is the term 'spanish', as in 'spanish the 2k'. Spanish is short for Spanish Archer. A reasonable name for a spanish archer would be El Bow. El Bow sounds like Elbow. To elbow something means to get rid of it. Hence, 'Spanish the 2k' means get rid of the 2kw lamp.

 

Simple.

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I was referring specifically to things like "Joan Collins." Never once in my life heard that. Things like "apple box" are sufficiently common, of course, and also based on historical reality - but I'd maintain my view that inventing ever more abstruse bits of slang just to feel like we're members of an in-group is unhelpful.

 

I had, however, heard of someone who had been made redundant being "given the Spanish archer," which I thought was quite amusing.

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I use the term Spanish Archer in Japan.. its just fun to explain what it means.. US directors also find it quite amusing.. Current pun for Sun..etc.. its just a bit of fun really.. in Japan an apple box is the bit more boring Benri Hako... simply meaning .. Convenient Box.

 

It is a bit clubby .. and I would agree a female AC might not be too happy with the Joan Collins ..which In think is actually a more recent term.. I also never heard that in the 80,s/90,s in there UK.. are things getting less PC.. ?

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I've never heard the Joan Collins either. Seems unlikely to be modern, as she's not been in the public eye in years, but I never heard it when I was working in Britain. There's plenty of others that are just as rude and sexist, but their history seems to make them halfway acceptable.

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I've never heard the Joan Collins either. Seems unlikely to be modern, as she's not been in the public eye in years, but I never heard it when I was working in Britain. There's plenty of others that are just as rude and sexist, but their history seems to make them halfway acceptable.

 

 

Maybe we worked on a better class of shoots back in the day.. :).. but yes never heard the Joan Collins thing... thats why I thought it might be a later retro thing.. but yes agreed.. alot of people probably dont know who she is now..

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Thank you everyone.

I realise I might have not made myself clear.

Phil, I'm with you on that.

David, thank you for your post.

Things I'd like to know are the words like "open up, stop down, lock down" etc.

Do you "knock off" the light if it's too much of it or do you "bring down"?

Another good example:

What do you call a situation when the Sun constantly pops out of the clouds and then hides so that it's impossible to predict if you're going to have a take.

We have one word for such situation.

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*Knock off" a light will usually result in it being switched off (assuming you don't mean stealing the light, which is another meaning of that term) and "bring down" could result in it being derigged. or lowered. If you want to to lower the light levels you usually have to say how you want to lower the light level eg ND, scrim, fade down, dim.

 

Terms like "lose the Kino" or "kill the redhead" are not that unusual. Organizations or different sectors can have differing terms e.g. the BBC calls chroma key, C.S.O. (Colour Separation Overlay)

 

I haven't heard a one word for the sun and clouds. it's usually "the sun's in and out" or "it can't make up its mind".

 

I heard "Joan Collins" being used in the late 1990s.

Edited by Brian Drysdale
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*Knock off" a light will usually result in it being switched off (assuming you don't mean stealing the light, which is another meaning of that term) and "bring down" could result in it being derigged. or lowered. If you want to to lower the light levels you usually have to say how you want to lower the light level eg ND, scrim, fade down, dim.

 

Terms like "lose the Kino" or "kill the redhead" are not that unusual. Organizations or different sectors can have differing terms e.g. the BBC calls chroma key, C.S.O. (Colour Separation Overlay)

 

I haven't heard a one word for the sun and clouds. it's usually "the sun's in and out" or "it can't make up its mind".

 

I heard "Joan Collins" being used in the late 1990s.

 

Brian, That is exactly what I wanted. Thank you. Could you think of any words related to dolly-work. For instance, what do you call type of shot when the object in in the center of a circle and you're on dolly circling around? Is it an ark-shot?..

Sometimes English-speaking directors use words such as "punch in". Are there any others of the same kind?

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I've never heard the Joan Collins either. Seems unlikely to be modern, as she's not been in the public eye in years, but I never heard it when I was working in Britain. There's plenty of others that are just as rude and sexist, but their history seems to make them halfway acceptable.

 

It is a bit clubby .. and I would agree a female AC might not be too happy with the Joan Collins ..which In think is actually a more recent term.. I also never heard that in the 80,s/90,s in there UK.. are things getting less PC.. ?

 

Strangely, I mostly hear it from female DPs and ACs but I agree it is a bit in poor taste. I'd say it's only one step away from the project specific nicknames for things like calling the 100mm "Mandela" because he'd be 100 years old this year. I wouldn't expect people to know that sort of thing, just a bit of silliness really.

 

One thing I am hearing more is "Micheal the head" or "Give it some Bublé" meaning to level off the tripod head. Which is half ryhme slang of Micheal Bublé.

 

Not hearing 86 much. I heard that was a common phrase but I heard it more in kitchens than on sets. Another "take that thing down/away" shorthand.

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86 is the American version of " Spanish Archer.". sign of the times.. my kids nearly always use US slang . they hear it on TV/Netflix etc .. the UK slang will eventually die out I suppose.. I always have a soft spot for the.. "its all gone Pete Tong".. the modern version of, its all gone "reels of cotton".. I remember we used to say Ducks on the Pond .. when the dir or any big wigs turned up on set..

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I have confused Americans with Pete Tong references, but yes I think most places would understand 86 because of staggering American cultural hegemony.

 

One thing that non-Brits don't seem to get is "split the difference" which is not film terminology but has confused French, Japanese and Americans in my recent experience, and it's not a language problem.

 

For reference, it's a directive to use something halfway between two recently-discussed options and often comes up when positioning people - "Take a step to your right, no, too much, split the difference."

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I have confused Americans with Pete Tong references, but yes I think most places would understand 86 because of staggering American cultural hegemony.

 

One thing that non-Brits don't seem to get is "split the difference" which is not film terminology but has confused French, Japanese and Americans in my recent experience, and it's not a language problem.

 

For reference, it's a directive to use something halfway between two recently-discussed options and often comes up when positioning people - "Take a step to your right, no, too much, split the difference."

This is wonderful. I can now think of an adequte phrase that exists in Russian but being a non-native speaker I could never come up with something so graceful. "Split the difference". Love that. Thank you.

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One thing that non-Brits don't seem to get is "split the difference" which is not film terminology but has confused French, Japanese and Americans in my recent experience, and it's not a language problem.

 

For reference, it's a directive to use something halfway between two recently-discussed options and often comes up when positioning people - "Take a step to your right, no, too much, split the difference."

I hear "split the difference" all the time. (American)

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What's borring is when they expect you to know their terminology. I once had key grip tell me to grab a 750 stand. After a minute looking around for a preloaded 750w or 650w light on a stand he points me to a baby stand. Could have said "double riser" or "beefy baby" or I dunno... "light stand." I still don't understand where that came from.

Out of silliness on set, and with a crew I know, I'll sometimes call a Full Apple a "flopple." Maybe it'll catch on.

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On 3/20/2018 at 12:36 PM, Jeff patnaude said:

OK- I have one to add.

I've heard one slang term for a dolly move called a "Micky Rooney."

 

A slow, little creep.

 

Jp

This is one I particularly do not like on set.  Very not respectful.

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