100+ video editing terms you need to know

June 17, 2022

100+ video editing terms you need to know

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There is so much to learn when you start creating videos. Depending on the type of video you are creating, there are different terms and topics that apply to that style. But there are some common editing terms that apply to all styles of videos. 

It can be a lot to take in if you’re new to video editing but fear not. In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common video editing terms and explained each one so that it’s easier to understand. Let’s get started, shall we?

Video editing terms:



2-pop is a 1 kHz tone placed two seconds before the start of a video program. It helps synchronize the sound and picture.


2-beep is another word for 2-pop. This 1 kHz tone occurs two seconds before the video begins and helps video editors sync all the tracks.

3:2 Pulldown

A 3:2 pulldown is the process of converting a film from 24 frames per second to 30 frames per second to fit the NTSC television standard.



The a-roll is the main source of audio and video and typically focuses on the primary characters or subjects.

Action Safe Area

The action safe area is the outer edge of visibility on a TV. Some news stations use the “action safe area” to display border graphics or tickers.

Alpha Channel

An alpha channel adds a transparency map to your video footage. This allows you to adjust the transparency levels for different areas of your video.

Ambient Sound

Ambient sound is any noise that exists in an environment. For example, a car driving by or a bird chirping while recording a video.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio is the height and width of your video expressed as a ratio. Common aspect ratios include: 16:9, 4:3, and 1.85:1.


The assembly is the first rough cut of a film. The editor arranges the footage in order, based on the script.



The b-roll is secondary footage that helps add details and smooths out transitions between scenes. This could be establishing shots, stock footage, atmospheric shots, or undirected footage of background people.

Bit Rate

The bit rate is the amount of data used in each second of video. This is typically measured in kilobits per second (kbps).

BITC (Burnt-In Timecode)

A burnt-in timecode (BITC) is an on-screen timecode superimposed over the video image.

Bump Tease

As a video transitions into a break, a bump tease entices the viewer to keep watching. It is usually a voiceover with a quick hint of what is going to happen next.


A bumper is a short voiceover or musical interlude used during transitions, intros, and outros of broadcast shows. For example, “We’ll be right back after a quick message from our sponsors.”

Burnt-In Captions

Burnt-in captions, also called open captions, are a form of text captions that improve the accessibility of your video. These captions are “burnt in” to the video, meaning they are always there and cannot be turned off.



In video editing, channels refer to separate audio files. These channels can be mixed together or used separately.

Chroma Key

Chroma key is a video editing technique that removes one distinct color from a scene to replace it with something else, usually visual effects. This is usually done with blue or green screens.

Clean Plate

A clean plate is a video clip or still image that includes the background of a shot without the subjects.


A clip is a short section of a video.

Close Up

A close-up is a video shot that fills the frame with the subject, for example, a person’s face or a still object.


A codec is a computer program that speeds up the transfer of multimedia files by compressing and decompressing data.

Cold Open

In television and film, cold opens jump directly into the narrative before a title screen or opening credits. Saturday Night Live always uses a cold open.

Color Correction

Color correction is the process of fixing an image’s contrast, exposure, and balance so that it looks natural to the human eye.

Color Grade

Color grading is adjusting the colors in an image to enhance the mood and improve the storytelling. This could be changing a color image into a black and white one or adjusting the color saturation to adjust the mood.

Color Temperature

The visible light in a shot is measured by its color temperature in Kelvin units. Cooler temperatures are more blue or green, while warmer temperatures are red or orange.


In video terminology, compositing is the process of combining multiple images into one.


Video files have a lot of data. Compression helps reduce the quantity of data in those files to help speed up uploading and downloading.


The post-production conform process works to increase the resolution of a low-resolution image or video.


In video editing, a container is what holds all the audio, video, and other data together in one file. They usually have extensions like .mp3, .avi, or .mov. A container is also called a wrapper.


Copy has multiple definitions in video editing. It can refer to making a reproduction of an image or video. It can also apply to a specific version of a video. For example, “This is the master copy.” Copy can also refer to the visible text on the screen.

Countdown Leader

A countdown leader is visible numbers that count down to the start of a film. This was typically used when using physical film in a projector. It is sometimes used digitally for a retro effect with stock footage.

Crop Factor

The crop factor is a number that represents the ratio of the image sensor area to the area of a full-frame sensor. Crop factor numbers typically range between 1.3-2.0.


A cut-in is a type of shot that shows what objects the main subject is interacting with. For example, if a character is playing the guitar, a cut-in might show their hands strumming the strings.


Data Rate

A data rate is the amount of data used in each second of a video. This is also called the bit rate.

Depth of Field (DOF)

Depth of field refers to the part of an image that is in focus. You could have just the subjects or foreground in focus, while the background is out of focus.


Diffusion is the process of using fabric or other materials on lights to reduce harsh shadows and filter the light.


Dissolve is a transition effect where one image or video clip gradually fades out as another fades in.


A dolly is a piece of film equipment used to stabilize camera movements.



The process of saving a video file in a new format so it can be transferred or used in a different program is called exporting.


Focal-Stop (F-Stop)

Focal-stop or f-stop refers to the opening of a camera’s lens, also called the aperture.


A fade is a visual effect where an image or video clip gradually fades out to a black screen. This can also be used as a fade in from a black screen.


Finishing is the final stage of the video editing process. It takes the final edit and transforms it into the version an audience will see.


Foley is the process of creating or reproducing sounds for a video or film.


Footage is the term for original, unedited video files.

FPS (Frames per Second)

Videos play back frame by frame. In rapid succession, these frames appear as movement. The number of images displayed per second is called frames per second or FPS.

Frame Rate

Frame rate is another term for frames per second.


Framing is the placement of subjects in a shot.


Garbage Matte

A rough version of a matte that is often hand-drawn or quickly made is called a garbage matte.



Also known as head material and tail material, handles are extra footage before a clip’s in-point and after the out-point.

High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI)

A high-definition media interface is a connector that carries HD video and audio data to a television.

Hot Shoe

A hot shoe is a mounting point for microphones or flashes on top of a camera.



Importing is converting a file from one format into the format needed for the program you are using.


Ingest is bringing new software elements into a workshop or production.

Interactive Video

Interactive video is a type of video that allows viewers to manipulate some of the content by selecting different options.


Interlacing is a technique used to increase the perceived frame rate without using more bandwidth. It divides an image into odd and even pixel rows. One frame will show the odd rows, while the next frame will show the even rows. This is imperceptible to the human eye.


ISO is a digital camera setting that determines how sensitive the sensor is to light. A low ISO setting is used to shoot during daylight, while a high ISO setting is for darker conditions.


J-Cut (Jump Cut)

A j-cut or jump cut is a sudden transition from one scene to the next that does not show how the subject got from one spot to another. For example, in one scene a character might be eating a meal and then in the next scene, they are driving their car.


Ken Burns Effect

Made famous by the documentarian Ken Burns, this technique pans and zooms on a static image to give the impression of motion or to focus on an important area.

Key (Keying)

Keying is the process of digitally removing specific elements from a scene and replacing them with something else.



An l-cut is a transition where the audio from the previous scene carries over into the next scene.


A lapel is a small microphone that is usually clipped onto someone’s clothing, within a foot of their mouth.


Stacking multiple media pieces in a video editing timeline so that they play at the same time is called layering.


Letterboxing is playing a 16:9 aspect ratio video on 4:3 screen. This leaves black bars above and below the video.

Linear Video Editing

The process of editing images, video, and sound in sequential order is linear video editing. This process was simply called video editing before the early 1990s.

Long-Form Video

Any video footage that runs for longer than 5 minutes is long-form video.

Lower Third

Lower third refers to the Rule of Thirds, where you visually divide an image into three equal horizontal sections. The lower third is the bottom section and is frequently used to display text and other visual elements in YouTube videos and news broadcasts.


Luma is the white value of a visual element.



Macro refers to a type of camera lens with a long barrel. Filmmakers use macro lenses for close focusing.

Match Cut

A cut that uses an element in one scene to transition to the next is a match cut. For example, focusing on a circular shape in one scene to move to another circular shape in the next scene.


A matte is used in video editing to combine two or more elements into one final image. For example, combining a background image with the foreground subjects.

Memory Bank

A memory bank is a computer component that stores data.

Mid-Stream Ads

Ads that appear within a web video that are not part of the selected media are mid-stream ads.

Mono Audio

Mono audio has only one channel, as opposed to stereo audio with two channels.


A camera stand with just one leg.

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics is another term for animation. It is used to give a sense of motion from still images.

Multichannel Audio

Multichannel audio uses more than 2 audio channels.



Narration is spoken audio from an unseen host that explains parts of a story.

Natural Sound

Natural sound is any sound that is captured from the environment instead of reproduced in a studio using foley.

Non-Linear Editing (NLE)

Non-linear editing is when a video editor can work on any part of a project in any order they want.



The first stage of the video editing process, called offline, is when the editor chooses the footage, sounds, and shots they will edit together.


The second stage of the video editing process, called online, is when editors do sound mixing, color grading, and add any final graphics and transitions.


An editing process that replaces frames in a video timeline with a selected clip.



PAL is an automated color correction system with an aspect ratio of 720×576 and a frame rate of 25 fps.


Pans are horizontal camera movements.

Picture Lock

Picture lock is the stage in the editing process where the length and order of the shots cannot be changed.

Pixel Aspect Ratio

The pixel aspect ratio is the comparison of the height and width of a pixel in a digital image expressed as a ratio.


Plate refers to a layer within a video file. In video editing, plates can be layered on top of each other to create the final cut.


Post-production refers to all stages of production after the video footage is recorded. This includes editing, music, and special effects.


A proxy is a low-resolution copy of a video file.


The process of synchronizing all video and audio files with each other is a pull-up.


Radio Edit

In video editing, a radio edit is a way to edit a project based first on the audio files. Everything else, like graphics, b-roll, and images are added later.


Rendering combines all the clips to create one single video.


Resolution is the number of vertical and horizontal pixels in a video. High-definition video has a resolution of 1920×1080, while standard definition video is only 640×480.


Rights, also known as copyright, is the term for who owns a piece of media and who is allowed to use it.


The term roll comes from analog rolls of film. For digital video, roll refers to memory cards or specific types of footage, such as a-roll or b-roll.


Rotoscoping is the process of digitally cutting out objects frame by frame from a video.

Rough Cut

A version of a video or film after the first round of editing is called a rough cut.

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds divides an image with invisible lines into 9 equal sections with two horizontal and two vertical lines. The human eye is naturally drawn to where the lines intersect. The Rule of Thirds is used when filming to aesthetically align subjects in a shot.



Saturation is the intensity of a color.


A collection of selected clips combined into a timeline. Selects clips are typically gathered from the “best” footage and can be used to highlight characters, locations, or moods.

SFX (Sound Effects)

SFX stands for sound effects, which are audio files added in post-production to enhance the action of a scene.

Short-Form Video

Any final video that is shorter than 5 minutes in length is a short-form video. Most online videos are short-form videos.


A shot is a continuous section of video between cuts or edits with the same camera framing. One section of footage can contain multiple shots if the camera shoots continuously while reframing.

Shot List

A shot list is a list of all the shots a filmmaker wants in a production.

Sizzle Reel

A sizzle reel is a collection of edited footage that shows highlights of a production.


Slate is a term for the production clapperboard or something else that shows important information like take number, scene number, etc.


A slide is a tool found in video editing software that lets you move a clip to the right or left within a timeline while also trimming the clips on either side.


A slip is a video editing tool that lets you adjust the in and out points of a clip at the same time. It keeps the time between the two points the same.


Slug refers to a piece of empty black footage or blank audio.

Smash Cut

A smash cut is a sudden, dramatic cut from one scene to another. Smash cuts usually happen unexpectedly and present a disparity from the original scene to the new one with a dramatic shift in tone.

Sound Mix

The sound mix is sound that has been professionally edited and balanced.

Split Screen

A split screen is when two or more images are on the screen at the same time.

Standards Conversion

Standards conversion is the process of adjusting a media file from its original frame rate so that it can be played at a different frame rate.


Stems are groups of audio files that an editor blends together to create a single media file.


Stereo refers to audio files with both left and right channels.


A sting, also called a stinger, is a short piece of music or collection of sounds, usually around 5 or 6 seconds, that helps separate scenes. It is frequently used in sitcoms. A famous stinger is the bass riffs used in Seinfeld.


A storyboard is a collection of drawings or illustrations used to represent scenes in a production. A director will organize these based on how they want the final production to look.


Laying out all footage chronologically and syncing it with audio is a stringout. If there are multiple camera shots, these are stacked within the timeline.

Sync (Synchronization)

Sync is the process of combining video and audio files.

Sync Cut

A sync cut is an early edit that only includes dialogue footage.



A take is a continuous performance recorded at one time. Multiple takes may be recorded in the same piece of footage.

Talking Head

A talking head refers to a type of video where most of the action is a person talking to the camera.


A teaser is a type of video used to generate excitement for an upcoming production or event. It gives viewers a simple overview of what to expect.

Three-Point Lighting

Three-point lighting eliminates most shadows to improve the lighting balance. The three lights are usually called key, fill, and backlights.


Tilts are vertical camera movements.


The exact timing of a specific frame in a video clip is a timecode. It is measured in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames.


Timelapse is a filming technique where frames are captured at a significantly slower rate than usual. When played back at normal speeds, time seems to go by quicker. This is used to see things that occur slowly, such as a balloon exploding or a flower blooming, at a faster pace.

Title Safe

Title safe refers to the area within a video frame where text will not get cut off when viewed on a specific type of device, for example, a TV or smartphone.


If you produce online videos, you can use tracking to collect data from your viewers and monitor their viewing habits.


Transcode refers to the process of converting a video file from one type of code or format to another.


Transcribing is the process of creating a transcript.


A transcript is a written document that transfers audio dialogue into written words. This can be done by hand or through automated software.


A tripod is a camera stand with three legs.


TRT stands for total run time and is the final length of a video or film.


VFR (Variable Frame Rate)

Variable frame rates are frame rates that do not stay consistent within a single piece of footage. This can happen with videos recorded on smartphones and is not handled well by video editing software.

Video SEO

Video SEO is “video search engine optimization.” This is the process of optimizing a video so that it ranks well in search engines.


The small lens you look through on a camera to see what will be in your shot is a viewfinder.

Viral Video

A viral video is an online video that receives a lot of attention, typically within a short amount of time. These videos are usually shared widely on social media.

Vision Mixing

Vision mixing is the process of combining live shots from multiple sources into a single video for a live feed.


A vlog is a video blog. Instead of writing blog posts, the author will record their thoughts and content in video form.


A voiceover is spoken dialogue from an unseen narrator.


White Balance

White balance is the process of recording the correct colors based on the type of light you are using. The whites should be truly white. An improper white balance may make the whites look yellowish, greenish, or some other color.

Wide Angle

A wide angle in a video is achieved with a wide-angle lens. This is a type of lens that has a short focal length and records more of the subject area than other lenses. It can cause some parts of the subject to look warped.


A wipe is a type of transition where the edge of a new scene moves across the original image until the original is completely gone.


Zoom Lens

A zoom lens is a type of adjustable camera lens that lets you zoom in and out without moving the camera.

Zoom Shot

To get a zoom shot, a filmmaker will adjust the lens of the camera, while the camera stays still, to make the subject look larger in the frame.

Master Your Video Editing Terms with Storyblocks

With a thorough understanding of video editing terminology, it will be easier to improve your video editing skills.

As a video creator, you likely have great ideas in your head, but do not have the time or resources to film them yourself. This is where Storyblocks comes in. We offer an extensive library of stock footage, including video files, templates, sound effects, and images. With a subscription to Storyblocks, you get unlimited access to our stock collections so you can create more of what you love.

Want to accelerate your video editing process? Sign up for Storyblocks today.

Ivan Ambrocio

Senior SEO Specialist

Ivan is a Senior SEO specialist at Storyblocks. He is very enthusiastic about technical SEO and enjoys learning about the creator's workflow and how we can help them create better content.