Essential Filmmaking Terminology

In this class – the first in our Introduction to Filmmaking course – Karl introduces the key terms and concepts you need to understand before you can begin your filmmaking journey.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all the unusual and confusing technical terms used by experienced filmmakers, this class will bring you up to speed – fast.

In this class:

  • Video codecs, formats and resolutions
  • Progressive vs interlaced scans
  • Broadcast standards
  • Display ratios
  • Camera profiles and colour space
  • Gamma
  • Bit depth and chroma subsampling
  • ISO and gain

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl.
    Im just in the process of adding ground based videography and videography to my aerial imagery business and have a question on aspect ratios.

    As I’ve recently started my business and already invested in my aerial imagery equipment, I was looking for a half decent hybrid type camera that I could use for photography and occasional videography. After reading hours of reviews I have purchased a sony a7r v and lenses that seems to fit the purpose that I require it for but I am little unsure about the best aspect ratio to set it at for video.

    It arrived preset to the 3:2 ratio and from watching a lot of videos online people tend to leave it set as this. However, most of my videos would be displayed on tvs, monitors or mobile devices so I wondered it the 16:9 would better fit my needs?

    Many thanks in advance

    1. Hi, good choice on Camera, nearly everyone or everything in video is designed around 16:9. That’s what we film mostly in and deliver to clients. Cinema and movies are more panoramic but often cropped to be so from the 16:9 format. Still images can be supplied in any format as they might be square, 16:9, 20:9, 5:4, vertical – it doesn’t really matter for stills as they are created to fill a specific space in an advert or website.

  2. This is fantastic. Just what I need right now as I’m starting to add video into my offerings to clients.
    Thank you, can’t wait to learn more.

  3. Gary Stasiuk

    Very interested in where this will lead me. I’ve made some efforts to acquire the extra bits and pieces of hardware to improve my still camera setup and jump into video. One thing you might have mentioned in your codec discussion is what codec means .. COmpression DECompression.. compressed by software as it is exported and decompressed as it is played.. those math formulas made some people extremely wealthy. I’m going to go through all this material very carefully as I would like to bring my video work close to my still work. Thanks for putting this material together Karl & team.. I keep finding depth in this resource.

    1. Gary Stasiuk

      One other thing you might also have mentioned concerning compression.. which you touch on briefly, is the definition of lossy and the inverse, lossless. Lossy meaning, some data is thrown away.. destructive, while lossless compression uses tricks like short form repeats… using math to describe repeating patterns, without data loss.

  4. Hi Karl – looking thorough and well produced, as usual. Keen to get into the rest of the course. Just looking through all the classes they all seem to be around the technical side of filmmaking.

    Are there future courses planned around storytelling, storyboarding (for beginners), and workflows?

    And for example, as a travel or event videographer (so not scripted or storyboarded), about having the mindset to conceptualise a story then shooting enough footage to create a story. Or shooting for transitions to connect one shot to the next etc.

    And post workflow theory – like putting it all together – not the technical so much – but more on, put the timeline together, then do heavy edits, then color grading, then audio, or however it works.

    Am really hoping something in the pipeline for this as the technical is such a small percentage of what’s involved. Thank you, John

    1. Hi John, thanks. Yes that is in the pipeline but I’m afraid it won’t be until the second half of next year as we are working on a couple of projects that will fill that space. The first is making short films, scripts, concepts, storyboards and the final film and then the other is we’re working on a full documentary on something else for TV that’s not anything to do with this platform but once it’s complete we will probably take a deep dive into how it was done.

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