TV Key Words


TV and video production have their own vocabulary. Sometimes they share the same language and sometimes they don’t. The terms that follow will keep you from needing a TV language interpreter.

NATSOT: Sounds of sirens, doors closing, and music that’s played up-full without narration are called “natural sound,” and indicated on a script as “NATSOT” or natural sound on tape. It is a pre-digital term that is still used.

PACKAGE:  A reporter’s story with a sound track, interviews and at least one standup.

TRACK:  A reporter’s narration is called the “track.”

PIECE:  This is another term for the story or package.

SOUNDBITE, SOT: The portion of an interview or interviews used in the package is called a “sound-bite,” and appears in the script as “SOT.”  It is a term left over from the recent past when we used videotape instead of digital cards.

STANDUP:  The reporter’s on-camera appearance in the field is called a “standup.” It is usually used to introduce or wrap-up a story.

STANDUP BRIDGE:  A reporter may need to use a standup to explain something complicated in the middle of a story.  It is also used when there isn’t appropriate video to cover what the reporter is talking about. It is called a “bridge” because it links two segments of video or audio and video.

AIRCHECK:  This is a dub, or a copy, of a newscast.  Airchecks are kept as a record of the broadcast.

ANCHOR:  The person who reads the news and introduces stories on the set or in the field.  The anchor or anchor team holds the show together

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR:  The person who give the reporters and the photographers the assignments of the day and stays on top of breaking stories, and what’s happening in the field.  You might say The assignment editor is like a desk sergeant in a police precinct.

Assignment Desk, Spectrum News NY!

B ROLL:  “B Roll” is the video you use to illustrate your story. It is a term left over from the film days when you had an A-roll for sound and narration, and a B-roll for video.

CONTENT PRODUCER:  Some news outlets are using field producers to gather, shoot, write, and edit stories. They call them “content producers.”

CUE:  The cue is the signal for the next thing to happen.

A director will give the anchor a “cue” to start talking. When a reporter “goes live” from the field, he or she is given a “cue,” or the signal when to talk. This will come from the anchor “toss” to the reporter, or from a director talking to the reporter via an earpiece.  The director is likely to say, “Go.”

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER:  This is the person who oversees a newscast and sets the tone for the style and substance of the show.

Joel Siegel, Managing Editor/Executive Produce Spectrum News NY!

MANAGING EDITOR:  The person responsible for overseeing the content of the stories, coordinating with the assignment desk and the producers for all newscasts.

FEED:  You feed video to the studio via microwave, or satellite transmission.

FIELD:  The “field” is anywhere out of the studio where you may be working.

FIELD PRODUCER:  A producer who works with a photographer, maybe with a reporter, or alone in the field to produce a video story.

FLASH CAM:  An unmanned, stationary camera in the newsroom

GEAR:  The equipment used in the field including the camera, the tripod, the lights, the microphone(s).

H.F.R.:  When a story is shot, written, edited and held, or stockpiled, for another day it is called an HFR. It is short for “hold for release.”

I.F.B.:  The connection from allows you to hear what’s going on in the studio, in the control room and on air through an earpiece is called an I.F.B.  That’s short for interruptible feedback.

LIVE SHOT:  When a reporter transmits a report live from the field it is called a live shot, meaning that it’s live in real time during a newscast.

LINE PRODUCER:  The person who organizes, writes and oversees the newscast.

MICROWAVE TRANSMISSION:  This is when you transmit video via microwave signal from one place to another.

M.O.S.:  Often when we interview people on the street those interviews are referred to as, “m.o.s.,” short for man on the street.  You can do an “m.o.s.” with women and children, too.

NEWSCAST:  The organized and scripted presentation of news. It is often called the “show,” or the “cast.”

NEWS DIRECTOR:  This is the person who is in charge of it all and generally delegates responsibilities to subordinates to make sure the operation runs smoothly.

LAV:  This is shorthand for the lavaliere microphone, so-called because it’s clipped to a collar or lapel.

LEDE:  The lead-in to every story is generally called the “lede.”  Don’t ask me why it’s spelled wrong.

LINEUP:  The “lineup” is the way the stories are organized in a newscast.

REEL:  This is generally a collection of reports that you might use to show your work.  Even though we store our video on DVDs today it is still called a reel from the old days of film and tape.

ROBOT CAMERA:  A camera that is used without an operator and can move from one place to another.

Unmanned cameras in the WABC7 Studio

ROLL CUE:  This is the verbal or sound cue that is given to roll the video.  It’s another pre-digital term that refers to tape or film.

SATELLITE BACKPACK:  A camera, laptop and satellite modem that allows the user to shoot video and transmit via a satellite Internet hook-up to the studio.

SATELLITE TRANSMISSION:  This is feeding, or transmitting video back to the studio through a satellite feed.

SHOTGUN:  A shotgun is a long microphone that is used to capture isolated sound like one person’s voice, or ambient sound.

VO:  When an anchor or reporter reads a script and his, or her, voice is over video, it is called a voice over, or “VO.”

VO/SOT: A VO that leads into an SOT (soundbite)

TAKEOUT:  A smaller piece of a larger story.

WRAP:  A director talking to the reporter through an I.F.B. will also give the verbal cue when to stop.  That’s called a “wrap.”

WRITER:  A person who writes a portion of the newscast.

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