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Video Editing Jargon

There are many ways to edit video from cut and slice to overdub but the digital revolution for video has streamlined much of the process and much of the video editing jargon is now longer applicable.

Like any technologies it never stands still and jargon within the video editing field is pretty representative of this fact.

Even complex video editing is now simply completed by one man sat at a consul looking at a screen and computer keyboard. Video editing jargon is pretty much kept within the professional realms of its operators. However, as digital video becomes ever cheaper, the enthusiastic home armature is now getting in on the scene and needs to understand the video editing jargon.


Media - Video Editing


An electrical signal using continuously varying electrical voltages. Analogue video that is copied, edited or transfered several times degrades with noise and distortion. The word analogue means "like" or "similar"


A method of smoothing out jagged edges on screen and in bitmap images files. Many current generation graphics cards support anti aliasing. However, this feature is rarely activated by default. In most cases it can be switched on in the display properties dialog. Ativating anti aliasing can improve image quality at the expense of rendering speed.


Opening created by the iris diaphragm between the CCD and the lense. More light is made available to the CCD as the iris opens wider.

Audio Mixer

Device or software program for mixing sounds from a variety of sources, such as a mic, CD or camcorder tape. Stand alone mixers allow each sound source to be pluged into a seperate socket in the mixer. Each input can be controlled individually and the combined output can be tranfered to a tape or a file.


Audio Video Interleaved. AVI is one of the two main familes of video files and is normally used on the PC. The other is quick time.


Basic Input Output System. The chip on your computer that controls how the computer communicates with hardware components in the system such as the hard disk, graphics card, mouse and keyboard. It's bios thats responsible for booting your system. You should never tamper with bios setting unless you are 100% certain of what you are doing.


The smallest element of digital data and the foundation of all computer systems. A bit contains binary data, with 1 or 0 representing binary states of On and Off. The term is frequenly used as a measurement of colour depth. The more bits per pixel, the greater the number of of colours that can be displayed on screen. For example, 24 bit colour is required to display a photo realistic image.



The file extension given to windows graphic files saved in enchanced Device inpendent Bitmap format. These files are very large, since no compression is used. For example a jpeg saved as a bitmap becomes many times it's original size.

Capture Card

A card fitted to a computer that allows an analogue video signal from a variety of sources to be converted to a digital signal. This can then be processed by the computer (edited) then tranferred back to analogue format. If you have an analogue camcorder, a capture cards is essential for editing analogue tape on a computer.


Charge Coupled Device. The CCD is the image recording chip inside the camcorder on which light from the lense falls. CCD's are rated in terms of Mega Pixels. The higher the mega pixel rating, the better the image quality.

Chroma Key

An electronic process whereby a plain background (usually blue) is replaced by a video image. Non blue pixels in the scene are then displayed over the new background. A good example of of chroma keying is TV weather forcasts, where the weather map is seen behind the presenter. This is why weather presenters never wear blue ties.



a codec compresses (packs) and decompresses (unpacks) digital video footage. New codecs are continually appearing and older codecs continue to evolve and improve. For example DVD video uses the Mpeg 2 codec. However, since the release of the DVD format the mpeg codec has been updated to version 4. This allows a DVD movie to fit onto a CD with virutally no loss of quality.


Central Processing Unit.

Effectively the brain of the computer. The speed of the CPU, now rated in Gigahertz (Ghz) is often regarded as an indicator of how fast a system is. While this was true in the past, there are now a whole range of factors that can effect the speed of a system, irrespecitve of how fast the CPU is. For example, a 2.4 Ghz system with integrated graphics and low cost memory can run significantly slower than a 1.8 ghz system with high quality components that has been carefully optimised.

Cross fade

Cross fading can be applied to both Audio and Video. In both Video and Audio cross fading requires two layers. With Audio one Layer decreases in volume while the other increases. With Video the opacity of one video layer increase as the other decreases, creating a dissolve effect.

Depth of Field

This is the area in which all object (located a different distances from the camera) appear in focus. Depth of field varies with the focal length of the camera lens and the camera aperture setting.


A commericial MPEG4 codec.

Dolby ™

Dolby is a compression/expansion noise reduction system that is very widely used in consumer and professional broadcast environments. Signal to noise ratio improvement is accomplished by processing a signal before recording and reverse-processing the signal when it is played back.


Software used to make computer peripherals and internal components (such as graphic cards, printers and digital cameras) work with a particular type of computer or operating system.


Is more correctly known as MiniDV. This is the video recording format that is currently taking over from analogue formats. The main advantage of DV over analogue is the higher quality (both audio and visual) and the fact that digital copies do not degrade, no matter how many copies are made.


Digital Versatile Disc is a high capacity storage medium, almost identical in size to a CD. DVD’s are most frequently used to store high quality MPEG-2 format video. However, DVD’s can also be used to store any type of digital data. Therefore the V stands for "versatile" and not "video"


The three letters appended to the end of a file name in MS DOS or Microsoft Windows. Extensions are used by programs and operating system to distinguish one type of file from another. For example .AVI is used to Windows video files.


A device that synchronies two video signals when they are displayed on screen at the same time. In a broadcast environment, genlocks are used in hardware vision mixers when mixing live video with computer generated titles.


A gigabyte consists of 1,024 megabytes. However, if you're buying a new hard driver you need to remember that hardware manufacturers consider a gigabyte to be 1,000 megabytes. As a result drive sizes are consistently overstated.

Hard Disk

A high capacity disk drive, conventionally fitted inside a PC (although external drives are available). The hard drive contains the operating system, programs and all the data they create. Hard disks are non linear in the sense that they store data in a random order which allows virtually instant access to any part of it.


A blanket term used to describe all the various physical components both inside and connected to the computer.


The better quality analogue video format. High Band formats include S-VHS, S-VHS-C and High-Band U-matic. Colour and brightness are processed separately in high band systems resulting in a higher resolution and than a low band equivalent.


Interrupt Request. Essentially, this is the identification number used by hardware in order to identify itself to the CPU. The term IRQ normally appears very close to the word "conflict", which is used to be a source of a lot of problems.


A thousand bytes. To be more accurate, one kilobyte actually contains 1024 bytes. Since the prefix "kilo" is associated with 1000, the term kilobyte is used to define 1024 bytes.

Linear Editing

The process of copying shots from one video source to another in sequence.


Standard analogue camcorder formats are all low band formats: VHS, VHS-C and 8mm.


A unit of measure for data storage. One megabyte is equivalent to 1,024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes or 8,388,608 bits.


The Motion Picture Experts Group standard for video compression. MPEG achieves most of its compression by recording only Keyframes and the changes between them. MPEG1 is the standard used in VCD. MPEG2 is used for both SVCD and DVD video. MPEG4 is most frequently used for web video due to its superior compression levels.

Mother Board.

This is the circuit board that all the components in a system plug into.Amongst a multiplicity of other components, the mother board contains the bios chip and dictates how fast individual system components can run.

Non-Linear Editing.

The process editing video on a computer’s hard disk.


National Television Standards Committe. The TV system used in Japan and mucn of the Americas including the United States of America.


Phase Alternating Line. The TV standard used in western Europe (France excepted), Austrialia ans much of East Africa, India and China.


A hard disk can be partioned to create two or more logical drives on a single device. Partitioning allows for different operating system to be used on the same computer. It's a good idea to to keep a separate partition for video editing purposes.


Picture Element. A single dot which is the smallest unit that can be displayed to a computer screen at a given resoultion. Pixels are also the smallest elements of a digital camcorder's CCD.


One of the two main families of video file formats. Quicktime is normally used on Apple systems.


Random Access Memory. The memory used to run programs and hold data while programs are running. Ram can only store data when it has power, so all the data it stores is lost when the system is turned off.


The process of re-calculating the individual pixels in a video frame to reflect the changes made during the editing process. A faster computer reduces rendering time.


Also known as Euroconnector or Peritel. Twenty-one-pin connector commonly used in Europe to interconnect satellite receivers, television sets and other audiovisual equipment (e.g. videocassette recorders).


Sequential Couleur A'Memorie, a color television system used in France, Russia and other countries that do not use either the NTSC or PAL system. It has 625 horizontal scan lines and 25 frames per second.


Programs used on a computer.

Streaming Media

Technical term for digital audio or video transmissions via the Internet. The sound and image data are sent as a data stream to the subscriber, hence the term "streaming". A variety of deferred data streams can be output from a streaming media server on the Net. Each receiver can thus receive the same content deferred. Normally, a packet- switched or asymmetric transmission method is used.


A feature within a video tape that identifies individual frames to define how frames are counted throughout a project. It is similar to the page numbers of a book: if the pages of the book are out of sequence or have gaps, then things get confusing. Similarly, if a video tape does not have a timecode, then finding a particular clip on tape would be time-consuming and confusing.


Video Compact Disc, a disc for an Audio Video system using MPEG1 technology. VCD is very popular in the far East. Around 1 hour of MPEG1 video footage fits onto a single CD. VCD's can be played to most DVD players.





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