Glossary of Video Terms
Glossary of Video Terms
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Glossary of Video Terms

By Christian Roemer

I work in marketing, which means I know a thing or two about jargon.

The problem with jargon is that we use it all the time without realizing most people have no idea what we’re talking about.

For this blog, we’re going to do a quick dive into the jargon involved with video, so when we’re talking about frame rates on your analog videos, you won’t be left behind. This’ll be a short jaunt around some of the terminology you’ll see on this blog and elsewhere about digital and analog video.


Movies shot on film are analog.

Aspect Ratio 

Aspect Ratio describes the shape of your video, typically a longer rectangle or a more square-shaped rectangle. Usually it’s in a ratio format, and the most common ones are 4:3 and 16:9. Aspect ratios are always width first, then height. So 4:3 means the picture is 4 units wide and 3 units tall. 16:9 is 16 units wide and 9 units tall. So 16:9 is wider than 4:3. Think about the difference between a TV at home and a movie theater screen.

Bit rate 

Bit rate is hard to explain, but it describes how much data a digital movie uses every second. Higher resolution videos usually have a higher bit rate.


Codec is another hard one to describe, but it’s basically a term used to talk about how computers translate files and turn them into videos on your computer or phone screen. Codecs help keep video files small and easily transferable.


Refers to the difference between lights and darks in an image.

Digital Zoom 

Most people know what zoom is, but digital zoom works a little bit differently. Basically, instead of using a lens to magnify an image (optical zoom), digital zoom does it by cropping and blowing up the image. Digital zoom is much more limited than analog zoom, since the picture quality will start to get bad if you use digital zoom too much. The video will get really grainy.


The process of taking analog media -- e.g. VHS tapes -- and converting them into a digital format.


How well a device can play media. For example, bad headphones have low fidelity, and good headphones have high fidelity. Bad headphones will sound bad and good headphones will sound good, even if they’re playing the same song on the same device.

File type 

Your computer uses different programs to open certain files. The file type helps your computer figure out which program to use to open up the file. For example, your computer will use Microsoft Word to open up .doc files.

Frame Rate 

Videos are just a bunch of pictures shown back to back really fast. Frame rate refers to how many images happen per second. VHS tapes play at 25 frames per second (FPS).


HD stands for high definition, which is video with higher clarity.


Black and white


Apple products use .MOV as the file type by default on their videos.


MP4 is a universal file type used for videos. That means all sorts of different video programs can open MP4s.


Digital images are basically just a whole bunch of colored squares put together. Each little colored square is a pixel.


Resolution is the clarity of a video. A higher resolution means a better, clearer picture.

Run time 

The length of a particular video. For example, Titanic is over three hours long, so it has a run time of over 3 hours.


SD stands for standard definition. Until high definition came around, most videos were in standard definition. It has a smaller, less clear picture than high definition (HD).


Timecode is the technical name for the clock that runs while a video is playing. So if you have a movie that’s 5 minutes long, the timecode would be 5 minutes. Usually the timecode counts up from 0 once the video starts.

Most of the terms in this little guide refer to video terms you’ll see around the Legacybox blog. If you talk to a Hollywood person, they’ll have a whole different slew of terms that are important to them. Video is complicated!

At least now, you can read some of our blogs and know what in the world we’re talking about!

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