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Dictionary of Film Terms

The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art – Fifth Edition

Frank Beaver

Now in its fifth edition, Frank Beaver’s Dictionary of Film Terms has become an indispensable reference tool for the study of films and filmmaking. This trusted and practical handbook clearly and concisely defines the essential terms of film analysis and film art, with a special focus on the aesthetic parameters and values of filmmaking.
The updated and expanded edition includes new definitions ranging from «bullet-time» optical effects, to the coming-of-age narrative, and LED lighting technology in science fiction films such as Gravity. More than 200 film title references not cited in previous editions have been added. Many classic and contemporary photo stills are included to illustrate terms. Extensive cross-referencing among individual definitions ensures easy access to interrelated terms, and a comprehensive topical index relates to larger concepts of film art.
This up-to-date and comprehensive resource is a useful companion for film students and filmgoers, who will find it illuminating in its range and clarity.
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Rack focus (roll/pull focus) The shifting of focus from one area of a shot to another. Through rack focus, an area that is “soft” or out of focus can be brought into critical focus for the purpose of shifting emphasis or calling attention to otherwise indistinct material. Rack focus, sometimes called pull focus, or roll focus, is used most frequently in telephoto shots with limited depth of field so that the focus change is immediately and sharply apparent.

Rating system A mechanism for classifying motion pictures according to their perceived suitability for different age groups. The rating system was developed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and went into effect on November 1, 1968, at a time when candid material—language, violence, and sexuality—was proliferating on the screen. The MPAA viewed the rating system as an expression to the public of industry concern, and it also argued that ratings would serve to prevent outside censorship of motion picture content. As originally devised, the rating system consisted of four suitability categories:

G: recommended for general audiences

M: (later changed to PG) mature subject matter; parental guidance advised

← 226 | 227 → R: restricted; adult accompaniment required for anyone under seventeen

X: adult material; no one seventeen or under admitted

In 1984 a fifth category, PG-13, was added to the classifications. This new rating offered the cautionary note that a PG-13 film might contain material inappropriate for...

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