Entertainment Encyclopedia

Entertainment Encyclopedia

If you would like to prepare for school subjects or simply increase your general knowledge, then enjoy our entertainment encyclopedia. We tried to focus only on very important terms and definitions. We also kept our terminology very brief so that you absorb the concept more quickly and easily.

Entertainment Glossary (Page 1)

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4:03: The aspect ratio of a standard TV, in which the height of the screen is three quarters of its width.
16:09: The aspect ratio of a widescreen TV, in which the height of the screen is nine sixteenths of its width. Sometimes expressed as 1.78:1 (~16/9).
5.1: The number of channels of audio in a modern movie. The '5' refers to full range channels- moving clockwise, left front, centre front, right front, right surround and left surround. In Dolby Digital, DTS and MPEG 5.1 formats, each of these five channels is capable of a frequency response covering the full audible range (up to 20,000 hertz). The '0.1' refers to the LFE channel, which is not full range but designed to cover up to 120 hertz, thus the decimal point.
6.1: An enhancement of the 5.1 channel surround system, versions of this appear in both Dolby Digital and DTS. The Dolby Digital version is called Dolby Digital EX 6.1 while the DTS version appears as either DTS ES 6.1 Discrete or DTS ES 6.1 Matrix. The additional channel is intended to sit at the rear of the room (although two speakers are recommended, even though the same signal is provided to both). This provides a greater localisation of sounds from the centre rear. This is a very useful enhancement in cinemas where much of the audience are sitting off-centre, but in normal rooms with a small number of viewers, it is much less important.
1.85:1: One of the most common aspect ratios of cinema films, and consequently of dvds. This leaves substantial black bands at the top on bottom of the display on a standard 4:3 TV, but matches quite nicely with the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of a 16:9 widescreen TV. On such a TV, even the expected thin black bands at the top and bottom of the display are often missing, due to the TV's overscan.
1/4" JACK: See 6.25mm jack.
1/8" PLUG: See 3.5mm plug.
1080I: A video display standard, where there are 1,080 visible lines delivered in interlaced format. It is one of the standards permitted in Australia to be regarded as HDTV.
16:9 ENHANCED: A picture format used for widescreen movies on DVD. See anamorphic for a full explanation.
2.35:1: One of the most common aspect ratios of cinema films, and consequently of dvds. This leaves very wide black bands at the top on bottom of the display on a standard 4:3 TV, and significant black bands even on the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of a 16:9 widescreen TV.
2.5-WAY LOUDSPEAKERS: A loudspeaker which divides the incoming signal into three different frequency bands for distribution to drivers, but in a different way to three-way speakers. It sends high frequencies to the tweeter in the usual way, and low frequencies to one or more woofers. But it sends the midrange frequencies and the low frequencies to an additional bass/midrange driver in the same way as is done in a two-way speaker. In other words, all but one of the large drivers handle bass only, while the last handles both bass and midrange.
3.5MM PLUG: Or 1/8" plug. Often used on portable headphones and playback equipment. They tend to offer relatively unreliable connections due to the very small contact area within the socket.
3:2 PULLDOWN: The method used in the NTSC video system for converting the 24 frames per second of film to the 30 frames per second the video system requires. See here for more.
480I: A video display standard, where there are 480 visible lines delivered in interlaced format. When delivered in analogue format, it is identical to NTSC.
480P: A video display standard, where there are 480 visible lines delivered in progressive format.
576I: A video display standard, where there are 576 visible lines delivered in interlaced format. When delivered in analogue format, it is identical to PAL and is Australia's picture delivery standard for SDTV.
576P: A video display standard, where there are 576 visible lines delivered in progressive format. It is one of the standards permitted in Australia to be regarded as HDTV, although in reality it offers no more resolution than 576i.
6.25MM JACK: Or 1/4" jack. Familiar from the larger type of headphone jacks (or plugs), these are widely used in professional audio as well. They come in both mono (two conductors) and stereo (three conductors) versions. The latter type are often termed in pro-audio as TRS jacks, and in which application they are often wired for balanced mono operation.
720P: A video display standard, where there are 720 visible lines delivered in progressive format. It is one of the standards permitted in Australia to be regarded as HDTV.
A/V: Audio/Visual, as in A/V connections. Most modern tvs have separate sockets for the composite video signal (that's the yellow one) and sound (black or white, or red and white if stereo).
ABTT / A.B.T.T.: The Association of British Theatre Technicians.
AC: Alternating Current. An electric current that reverses direction regularly. More generally, AC is also used to describe voltage sources in which the polarity of the signal reverses regularly. Power distribution networks use AC because it is relatively easy and cheap to alter the voltage (using transformers) yielding considerable economies for long distance power transmission. All the counties in the world use, it seems, either a 50 or 60 hertz frequency for their power systems. Europe, Australia and India use 50 hertz. The Americas and Japan use 60 hertz. Compare with DC.
AC-3: AC-3 is the encoding scheme used in Dolby Digital, the name by which it is now more commonly known.
ACADEMY ASPECT RATIO: 1.37:1, the aspect ratio for movies used almost exclusively up to the early 1950s.
ACADEMY SOUND: Fairly soon after the introduction of talkies in the late 1920s, the movie industry settled on using an analogue optical soundtrack on the edge of the film to carry the sound. This was read by the projector and converted to an electrical audio signal. This was a very noisy medium, so in the absence of advanced noise reduction technology such as Dolby A (the cinema equivalent of, and precursor to, the Dolby B and C noise reduction systems on compact cassettes), the situation was eased by sharply cutting the treble response (at around 5khz). The bass was also cut, which accounts for the characteristic pinched sound of old movies. The recommended system of frequency response tailoring was called 'Academy Sound'.
ACOUSTIC SUSPENSION: A design for the enclosure of a loudspeaker. With acoustic suspension speakers the enclosure is sealed so that it is air tight, which causes the air within to become a very active part of the woofer's suspension. This raises the resonant frequency of the driver and lowers its compliance. Acoustic suspension speakers tend to be less efficient than bass reflex designs, and begin fading away their bass at a higher frequency. But the rate at which the bass output reduces tends to be less than an equivalent bass reflex speaker, so they frequently produce greater bass extension. Also called infinite baffle.
ACT: 1) Subdivision between sections of a play. A short play is a 'One-Act-er', a play with one interval has two Acts etc. Acts are subdivided further into Scenes. 2) The thing Actors can do which makes them different from Techies (!!).
ACTING AREA: That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience. Also known as the playing area. This term is also used to describe the smaller subdivisions of the main stage area which are lit separately by the lighting designer (e.g. 'The stage is split into 6 acting areas, 3 downstage and 3 upstage').
ACTIVE LOUDSPEAKER: A loudspeaker with built-in amplification for all the drivers. Some speakers have an amplifier built-in for bass only, but these are not regarded as active. Most loudspeakers are passive, not active.
ACTIVE SUBWOOFER: A subwoofer with built-in amplification. Most subwoofers are active, not passive.
ACTOR: Person (male or female) who's role is to play a character other than his/her own. Although the term 'actress' is still used for a female actor, many women prefer to have the same title as the men.
AD LIB: The presence of mind by an actor to improvise when; 1) another actor fails to enter on cue 2) the normal progress of the play is disturbed 3) lines are forgotten 4) It may also be a bad habit developed by some actors whereby unnecessary 'gags' are introduced into the dialogue.
ADC: Analogue to Digital Converter. A component, circuit or device that converts an analogue signal to a digital one, usually to some form of PCM. Compare DAC which does the reverse.
AES/EBU: Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union. A digital audio communication standard most commonly seen in professional audio applications. Electrically it is only subtly different to the consumer-oriented S/PDIF standard, the main variation being a different method of handling the clocking signal, and it generally being carried by balanced connections. Nevertheless implementations are seen that seem to be fully compatible with unbalanced S/PDIF.
AETTI: Arts & Entertainment Technical Training Initiative (UK).
AISLE: A passage through seating.
AM: Amplitude Modulation. A method of impressing a signal onto a sine wave for its transmission or storage. A constant frequency sine wave has its amplitude increased or decreased from moment to moment to correspond with the signal. The sine wave, called a carrier, must be of considerably high frequency than any component of the signal. AM radio is an application of this technique. Very simple AM receivers (consisting of little other than a crystal and a coil) can be implemented very easily to receive these signals, although of course more sophisticated circuits can produce higher quality results.
AMP: Short for ampere, or for amplifier. In the former sense, the amp is a unit of electrical current. Amps equal volts divided by resistance (or impedance) in ohms.
AMPLIFIER: A component or module of a component that increases the amplitude of an electrical signal. Voltage amplifiers and current amplifiers are optimised to provide amplification for specific purposes. See also power amplifiers and preamplifiers.
AMPLITUDE: The level of an electrical signal, usually measured in volts.
ANALOGUE: As in not digital. An analogue signal in an electrical facsimile of the item being represented. For example, when playing a stereo DVD, the analogue audio outputs of a DVD player trace an electrical curve that is identical, other than in sheer power, to the electrical curve that the amplifier will deliver to the speakers and this, in turn, is identical to the pattern of sound waves the speaker will create, except for distortions that creep into the system. An analogue signal can have any value within set limit, while a digital signal is constrained to a set of discrete values.
ANAMORPHIC: Also known as '16:9 enhanced' or 'widescreen enhanced'. This means stretching a picture out of shape, making the images tall and skinny. Many widescreen movies have been filmed on standard Academy aspect ratio cameras and film stock. This can be done either by wasting a lot of film between each frame, or making use of the full frame by using an anamorphic lens to horizontally squeeze the picture together. If a single frame is looked at, the characters will be as mentioned. When the film is shown, a reverse form of the anamorphic lens widens the picture again so that everything appears as it should. On dvds an anamorphic widescreen picture is encoded to use all the vertical lines of resolution available (576 for PAL and 480 for NTSC). When played back on a widescreen TV it is horizontally stretched so that the picture contents are shaped normally, but with the benefit of DVD's full resolution. If played back on a 4:3 TV (that does not have a widescreen mode), the DVD player's set up menu must be told so that the DVD player can convert the anamorphic picture to a letterboxed picture for the TV. More.
ANGEL: Individual or company which financially supports a production.
ANIMATEUR: (From French) Facilitator of a community, education or group event (social, cultural or artistic). The Animateur may be a group leader, or may have initiated a project. She or he is responsible for running the event.
ANSI LUMENS: American National Standards Institute lumens. A measure of brightness for projectors under standards set by this body. This specifies an average brightness produced on a screen of known reflectivity using a particular test image, or images. A specification war is underway with each projector claiming a higher and higher ANSI lumens rating. The amount of brightness required for a good job from a projector requires three things to be taken into account, in order of increasing importance- the reflectivity of the projection surface, the size of the projected image, and the amount of ambient light in the room. High output projectors (> 1,000 ANSI lumens) are important for making presentations, class room work and the like. But for home theatre use, look for something lower, preferably under 700. It will generally give you a longer lamp life and darker black areas, which are more important for delivering a good quality image. If the projector has an 'economy mode', try using this. If it doesn't throw out the colour balance too much, it may well deliver a better home theatre image.
ANTAGONIST: The opposite of the PROTAGONIST in a drama.
ANTI-SKATING: A device on a turntable's tonearm to counteract skating. This sometimes consists of an adjustable spring-loaded device near the tonearm's pivot, but is better implemented as a weight on a string (since the torque applied by this arrangement remains constant throughout the range of travel).
APERTURE GRILLE: A part of a CRT TV tube. This is a barrier within the tube, placed between the electron guns at the narrow end and the phosphor screen at the wide end. It consists of a series of vertical wires or fine slats. The geometric arrangement permits the electrons emitted for each colour gun to activate only its matching colour phosphors. This alternative to the shadow mask was developed by Sony and marketed under the name 'Trinitron'.
APRON: Section of the stage floor which projects towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium theatres, the part of the stage in front of the house tabs, or in front of the proscenium arch.
ARENA: Form of stage where the audience are seated on at least two (normally three, or all four) sides of the whole acting area. See END ON, THRUST, IN THE ROUND.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Normally in charge of the programming of a venue. May also direct shows.
ASIDE: Lines spoken by an actor to the audience and not supposed to be overheard by other characters on-stage.
ASM: Assistant Stage Manager.
ASPECT RATIO: The width of the screen as a ratio of its height. A standard TV screen is four units wide to three high, so is described as 4:3 or 1.33:1. A widescreen TV has an aspect ratio of 16:9 or about 1.78:1. Widescreen cinema movies are typically 1.85:1 or 2.35:1.
ATRAC: A system for compressing digital audio using perceptual encoding techniques. This was developed by Sony to allow the full contents of a CD to fit onto a Minidisc, which offers considerably less storage space. In recent years a new version, called ATRAC3, has been introduced which permits greater levels of compression than the original version. This permits ATRAC-based solid state players. The bit rates used by ATRAC3 are 132 and 66 kb/s. The ATRAC compression system also forms the basis of Sony's cinema sound system SDDS.
AUDIOPHILE: A person who places, or would like to place if circumstances permitted, a high priority on having an audio system that performs very highly. They have generally trained themselves to be very discerning about the sound of audio systems. Some audiophiles stray into a purely subjective realm.
AUDITION: Process where the director or casting director of a production asks actors / actresses / performers to show him/her what they can do. Sometimes very nerve-wracking, but auditions can be a fairly painless process if handled properly. Performers are often asked to memorise a monologue from a play they like to perform for the director. Books full of suggested monologues are available. You may be asked to do a 'Cold Reading' which tests your own response to a piece of text you've not prepared.
AUDITORIUM: The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the 'house'. From the Latin Audio - 'I hear'.
AUTOMATION: 1) Facility available on larger sound mixing desks allowing channel muting or even fader moves to be taken under the control of a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable mixing. 2) Describes the method used instead of stage crew for moving bits of set around shows with a big budget. See MOUSE, SPADE.
AV: Short for Audio-Visual, referring to projected or screened video or textual material.
A-WEIGHTING: A system of adjusting signal to noise ratio measurements to take into account the differing sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies. Thus an A-weighted signal to noise ratio more accurately reflects how a system's noise performance will be perceived than an unweighted measure.
AWG: Australian Writers' Guild.
AXIS: (plural AXES). An individually controllable moving element controlled by a scenic automation or powered flying system. For example, a system controlling three flying pieces will have three axes of automation.
BACK PROJECTION: See PROJECTION.
BACKING: 1) Scenic piece which goes behind an opening in the set (window etc.) To hide the technical areas beyond. Also known as a Backing Flat. 2) The money invested in a commercial production (by a Backer).
BACKSTAGE: The part of the stage and theatre which is out of the sight of the audience. The service areas of the theatre.
BAFFLE: A plate surrounding a driver in a loudspeaker. The lower the frequency of the sound produced by the vibrating cone of a driver, the more apt it is to simply cause air to rush from one side of the cone to the other, rather than produce the compression waves that constitute sound. By adding a baffle around the driver, this increases the length of the path that air must travel, lowering the frequency at which this destructive interference takes place. In most loudspeakers, the enclosure forms a baffle. In the case of infinite baffle enclosures, the enclosure is sealed (thus 'infinite') while with bass reflex speakers a port is carefully tuned to allow energy from the back of the cone to supplement that from the front at selected bass frequencies. In regular talk, the baffle is the front panel of the loudspeaker.
BALANCED: An electrical circuit in which both the signal leads (positive and negative, active and neutral or whatever) carry equal but inverse signals produced by the source. These require three conductors- two for the signal plus a separate one for the shielding. Balanced connections are fairly rare in consumer electronics, although they are provided in some high-end equipment. Well-designed balanced circuits provide excellent rejection of electrical interference generated in connecting wires. Balanced connections frequently use XLR plugs and sockets.
BAND PASS FILTER: An electrical circuit that only permits signals between two particular frequencies to pass through. An example is section of a crossover network that allows only the middle frequencies to be delivered to the midrange driver. Compare low pass filter and high pass filter.
BANDWIDTH: Either the range of frequencies which a component can deal with competently (often specified as the range across which the attenuation is no more than 3db), or the frequency range required to carry a signal. For example, the bandwidth required for a composite video signal is somewhat more than 5mhz.
BASS: Low frequency sounds, typically below around 150 hertz, although the dividing line between bass and midrange is one of opinion. The human ear is less sensitive to bass than to midrange.
BASS EXTENSION: An imprecise term concerning how low in frequency a loudspeaker or subwoofer can still operate to produce usable output. A typical bookshelf-sized speaker may manage a bass extension of 80 hertz (say, at -10db), a good floorstanding speaker may manage 30 or 40 hertz, an inexpensive subwoofer 40 hertz, a middling one 25 to 30 hertz, an expensive one 16 hertz.
BASS MANAGEMENT: A facility in home theatre receivers that permits some of the speakers in a 5.1 channel system to be specified as 'small' rather than 'large'. 'Large' speakers receive the entire signal for their respective channel, but 'small' speakers have the bass stripped off and sent elsewhere. If a subwoofer is attached, this bass goes to it, otherwise it goes to the front main speakers (you will notice that most systems will not permit you to select 'small' for the front stereo pair if you have the subwoofer set to 'off'). Some home theatre receivers permit you to choose the crossover frequency for bass management, but many use a standard value of 80 hertz.
BASS REFLEX: A design for the enclosure of a loudspeaker. With bass reflex speakers the enclosure has a port that permits air to flow between the interior and exterior of the cabinet. The port is a hole, usually backed by a tube. The dimensions of the port are carefully calculated so that it permits bass at a selected frequency to be produced from the interior of the enclosure (driven by the back of the woofer's cone). This arrangement permits a bass reflex speaker to generally achieve greater efficiency than an acoustic suspension speaker, and it extends the depth at which bass may be produced without significant attenuation. However for frequencies below the band produced by the port, the output drops off quite rapidly.
BEAT: 1) In acoustics, a periodic variation in amplitude which results from the addition of two sound waves with nearly the same frequency. Also affects radio reception. 2) A deliberate pause for dramatic / comic effect. 3) A measure of time when cueing (e.g. 'The LX cue needs to go four beats after the door is closed').
BECTU: Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union. The UK entertainment technicians union. (US equivalent is IATSE).
BEGINNERS: A call given by Stage Management to bring those actors who appear in the first part of a play to the stage. E.g. 'Act One Beginners to the stage, please'. The actors/actresses are then called by name. A similar call is given after the interval (e.g. 'Act Two Beginners to the stage please'). See also HALF, QUARTER.
BELT: Sometimes the loop of material that is used to transmit rotational energy from motor to record platter on a turntable. Here, though, I am referring to a set of extreme audio system tweaks popularised in the 1980s and beyond by Peter Belt in the United Kingdom. These tweaks, for the most part, have no measurable effect on the sound produced by the system and there is no rational reason why they would affect, let alone improve, the sound of the system. They include such ideas as placing an extra sheet of paper in all books within the listening room, to ensure that there are an odd number of leaves in each book, placing a sheet of paper 'twixt the floor and just one leg of your listening chair and, more recently, freezing and then defrosting your cds. Try not to laugh. Some subjective reviewers have, over the years, sworn by these measures.
BELT VOICE: Singing term - refers to a voice which has not been classically trained, but can 'belt out' songs. See also LEGIT VOICE. (For example Cosette in Les Miserables needs to have both a Legit Voice and a Belt Voice).
BETA: Or Betamax. The first widely-used consumer-level video recording system on the market. Developed by Sony in the late 1970s, it eventually lost out to the rival VHS system, which came to market about a year later, primarily because of shorter playing and recording times.
BETA SP: Professional video tape format developed by Sony (short for Betacam SP). Beta SP is broadcast-quality and is a relative of Sony's failed Betamax domestic standard.
BIPOLE: A loudspeaker designed to offer well-dispersed sound by firing its high frequencies, and in some models its full frequency range, in two opposing directions. Unlike dipole speakers, the sound is in phase from all the drivers.
BIT: The smallest unit of digital information. A single bit can carry just one of two values- 0 or 1. There are eight bits in a byte, 1,024 bytes in a kilobyte, 1,024 kilobytes in a megabyte and 1,024 megabytes in a gigabyte. Sometimes, though, the traditional 1,000 is used rather than 1,024, leading to confusion. A bit should generally be abbreviated as lower-case 'b' (compared to 'B' for byte). Thus 128kb/s means 128 kilobits per second, whereas 128kb means 128 kilobytes.
BIT DEPTH: The size of the number that records each digital sample. Since the system is digital, the number relates to powers of two. The compact disc uses a bit depth of 16, which allows 65,536 different levels to be used to track the analogue source signal. Dvds usually also use 16, but may also use 20 bits (which gives over a million levels) or 24 bits (which gives more than 16.7 million levels). The greater the bit depth, the lower the harmonic distortion and quantization noise, and the more storage space required for the signal.
BIT RATE: The number of digital bits a system transfers per second. In general, the higher the bit rate, the higher the quality of the signal. In every case, the higher the bit rate, the more data space required. With audio bit rates are measured in the hundreds of kilobits per second (kb/s). With DVD video, they are measured in megabits per second (mb/s).
BITSTREAM: The digital audio output of a DVD player, when switched to outputting the DVD's native digital audio format. Most DVD players can be switched to output a Dolby Digital bitstream, or convert the digital output to PCM.
BLACK BOX: A kind of flexible studio theatre where the audience and actors are in the same room, surrounded by black tabs (curtains). Doesn't necessarily describe the audience layout, which can be easily reconfigured.
BLACKOUT: 1) Complete absence of stage lighting. Blue working lights backstage should remain on and are not usually under the control of the board, except during a Dead Blackout (DBO), when there is no onstage light. Exit signs and other emergency lighting must remain on at all times. 2) The act of turning off (or fading out) stage lighting (e.g. 'This is where we go to blackout').
BLACKS: 1) Black clothing worn by stage management during productions. 2) Any black drapes or tabs, permanently or temporarily rigged. Used for masking technical areas.
BLOCKING: The process of arranging moves to be made by the actors during the play, recorded by stage management in the prompt script. Positions at the start of scenes are noted, as are all movements around the stage (using terms such as 'Gardener X DSL' meaning the Gardener crosses to downstage left).
BLU-RAY: A high capacity development of the DVD which uses higher frequency (blue) rather than red light frequencies for reading the disc. The combination of shorter wavelengths and other enhancements bumps up the maximum capacity from 8.5GB for a dual layer DVD to around 27GB, allowing the storage of high definition video.
BNC: Coaxial connector used for carrying a composite video signal or radio frequency signal. BNC stands for Bayonet Neill Concelman - after original inventors Carl Concelman and Paul Neill who developed the connector in the late 1940s. BNC is also thought to stand for 'Bayonet Nut Connector'.
BOB: One of several strategies used in deinterlacing video. Bobbing is where each field is displayed all by itself in sequence. The intermediate lines are created by interpolating from the lines above and below it. This has the effect of reducing the vertical resolution at any instant of time by half (but it doesn't seem as bad as this, thanks to the interpolation), but smoothing pans because the two fields are displayed one fiftieth of a second apart. This is useful for video sourced material, in which the two interlaced fields constituting the full video frame were actually captured at slightly different times from each other, causing a combed effect on vertical lines. Compare weave.
BONUS GROUP: A Group on a DVD Audio to which access can be gained only through entering a four digit numeric password. Rarely, if ever, used for any actual content. See here for more.
BOOK FLAT: Two-fold piece of scenery. Book flats are free-standing when angled open, allowing quick setting and compact storage. Booking describes the action of opening or closing a book flat.
BORDER: A narrow horizontal masking piece (flattage or cloth), normally of neutral colour (black) to mask the lighting rig and flown scenery from the audience, and to provide an upper limit to the scene. Often used in conjunction with LEGS.
BOX OFFICE: Part of the theatre front of house area where audience members can buy tickets. Most Box Offices are now computerised, and offer phone reservations. Some offer online (internet) bookings also.
BOX SET: Naturalistic setting of a complete room built from flats with only the side nearest the audience (the fourth wall) missing.
BREAK A LEG: A superstitious and widely accepted alternative to 'Good Luck' (which is considered bad luck). More available at the link below.
BRIDGE LIFT: An elevator which raises and lowers sections of the stage floor, usually by electrical or hydraulic means.

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