Being a video editor is like being an artisan of visual storytelling.

Unfortunately, such artisans do not use wood and nails. Instead, they utilize other tools and materials whose terminology may not be familiar.

As such, we have prepared an A-Z guide with the most popular video editing terms.

New to filmmaking in generak? Head over to our article explaning filmmaking 101.

Film Editing Terms By Rory Nichols

65 most common video editing terms


1. A-roll

It is the main audio and video, and it usually consists of one or more persons talking about a topic or telling a story.

2. Assembly

It is the initial cut of the full film by the editor. The editor compiles all the usable footage and arranges it in a chronological order that coordinates with the script.

3. Aspect ratio

It indicates the orientation of a video by providing the proportion of width to height as measured in pixels. For example, the resolution 1920 px by 1080 has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

4. B-roll

It is the footage that visually supports the A-Roll. If the A-Roll narrative talks about bread, then the B-Roll might show a bakery.


5. Bit rate

It's the amount of data your video transmits to an online platform each second. Bitrates affect the file size and quality of your video.

6. Bumper

They are short pieces of music (maximum fifteen seconds) that you use during intros, outros, and transitions. They inform the audience about the beginning, end or other interruption.

Common video editing terms


7. Call and respond

It's a form of composition that operates similarly to dialogue. The "call" is made by part of the music, which is "answered" by another. These phrases can be vocal, instrumental, or a combination of both.

8. Chroma key

It is the technique that removes one colour from a picture to replace that area with something else. This colour can be any solid tone, although the most popular choices are blue and green.

9. Clean plate

It is a "blank" piece of video (or a still picture) of your scene with the same composition, lighting, and movement as the final clip. A clean plate is the backdrop of your set but (generally) without your subjects.

10. Codec

It's a computer application that can compress and decompress multimedia data, allowing the transfer of huge files with minimal lag time.

11. Color correction

It is the technical process of correcting exposure, contrast, white balance, and overall colour issues to create a natural image that agrees with the human eye.

12. Color temperature

It refers to how a colour appears when measured on the Kelvin scale at a specific temperature. Cooler colour temperatures often have a bluish tint, and warmer ones look more red or orange.

13. Compression

It is a method of removing unnecessary and non-functional data from the original file. This way, the file gets smaller and easier to transfer.

14. Crop factor

It's a number that represents the image area of a sensor compared to the image area of a full-frame sensor. 35mm film is the classic reference format.

15. Cut-in

It is a close-up shot of the items that the actor is manipulating.

16. Cut to clock / CTC

It refers to using a circular motion (like the needles of a clock) to show the second shot.


17. Dissolve

It's a transition effect in which one video clip (or picture) fades out gradually as another image replaces it.


18. External edit

It is about storing your media on a separate drive.


19. Fade

It's a transition effect in which one video clip (or picture) fades out gradually as it blends into (or appear out of) a colour clip.

20. Foley

It is the reproduction of everyday sound effects (like footsteps or birds).

21. Frame rate

A video is a collection of static pictures that are played sequentially at a specific pace. The frame rate is that pace.

22. Frankenbiting

It's an audio clip with bits omitted or an assembly of unrelated audio snippets that the editor patched together.


23. High Definition Media Interface (HDMI)

It's an audio/video interface that sends video data (uncompressed) and digital audio data (compressed or uncompressed) from a source device (such as a display controller) to a receiver (like a computer monitor, video projector, television).


24. Internal edit

It is about storing your media on your laptop.


25. J-cut

J-cut is when the audio of the next shot precedes the video.

26. Jumpcut

It is an abrupt transition between two shots with identical content and frame. It is commonly employed to convey the passage of time.


27. Ken Burns effect

It is a type of panning and zooming effect. Editors use it on static photos to provide the illusion of motion and highlight important aspects of the image.

28. Key / Keying

It is the digital process by which a specific element is removed from a video scene and replaced with a different one.


29. L-Cut

L-cut is when the video of the next shot precedes the audio.

30. Layering

It refers to stacking media pieces in a video project timeline to allow simultaneous playing of several elements.

31. Letterboxing

It is the technique of displaying a 16:9 aspect ratio video on a 4:3 screen. As a result, black margins will appear above and below the video.

32. Linear video editing

It's a method of choosing, organizing, and manipulating visuals and sounds in a predetermined, sequential order.

33. Lower third

It is a blend of text and visual components that are displayed in the lower portion of the television screen to provide additional information to the viewer.


34. Memory bank

It is a computer device or component that stores data to be accessed as needed.


35. Non-linear editing

It's when the editor works on any part of the project, at any time and in any order.


36. Offline

It refers to editing a video project at a lower resolution than the final result.

37. Online

It's when the editor reconstructs the sequence to create the original, high-res, full-quality film.

38. Overwrite

Overwrite edit inserts a clip by substituting any frames already in a timeline, starting at the edit point and extending for the duration of the clip.


39. PAL

It's an automated colour correction system that uses a frame rate of 25 fps and a 720x576 aspect ratio.

40. Pillarboxing

Pillarboxing is the opposite of Letterboxing. It is the technique of playing a frame in a wider display, resulting in vertical borders on the sides.

41. Picture lock

It is the stage of the editing process in which there are no more alterations to the length and order of the shots. The purpose is that the sound editing crew and visual effects designers can work without worry of modifications undoing some of their work.

42. Pixel aspect ratio

It is a mathematical ratio that compares the width and height of a pixel in a digital image.

Popular video editing terms


43. Rendering

It is the method of combining all the clips (including modifications and additional features) to create a refined video clip.

44. Resolution

It's the number of pixels shown horizontally and vertically by your video clips. The name of the resolution refers to pixels that appear on the vertical axis (like 720p).

45. Rotoscoping

It's a process that traces the contours of motion picture video frame by frame. The goal is to produce a more realistic action.

46. Rushes

It is the raw footage from a day's shooting.


47. Saturation

It is the intensity of colour.

48. Slug

It is a sentence in the script entirely in capital letters that draws attention to key details.

49. Stems

It's a collection of audio sources that the editor blends to process as a single unit downstream.

50. Sting

It is a single sound effect.

51. Stringout

It's when an editor compiles a large amount of footage to examine everything at once and see what possibilities are available.

52. Storyboard

It is a series of square boxes with graphics depicting each shot and brief descriptions of what's going on in each scenario.

53. Sync

It refers to combining music and moving pictures.

54. Sync cut

It refers to combining music and moving pictures.


55. Telecine

It is the equipment used to transfer a motion picture to a videotape (or convert it into a television image).

56. Timecode

It is a digital address that is captured alongside audio and video.

57. Tilts

A tilt shot is when you rotate the camera up or down (at the same time) the camera mount remains still.

58. Twist control

It refers to catching a specific frame within a video clip to facilitate its editing.


59. Upsound

Increase video volume.


60. VFR / Variable Frame Rate

VFR enables your software to adjust the frame rate – and thus the file size – of a movie based on the content.

61. Vision mixing

It's when the editor combines several shots from many sources into a single video output in real-time.


62. White balance

It's about capturing the correct colours for the type of available light.

63. WAW

It is an output dependency.

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About the instructor

Rory Nichols

Freelance Director

London, United Kingdom

Rory Nichols is a freelance director and editor based in London. With a background in broadcast and advertising where he has worked on some of the UK’s top programs and with some household brands.


What terms are associated with video editing?

Aspect Ratio, B-roll, Bit Rate, Color Temperature, Compression, Crop Factor.

What are the different types of video edits?

Linear, Non-linear, Offline, Online, Assemble, Insert, Live.

What are some editing terms?

Picture lock, J-cut, L-cut, Rushes, Rendering, and more.

What is it called when you edit a video?

The Rough Cut.

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