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Common Grip Terminology

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/15/2010

Learn some of the key terms used by the grip department in film production.

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    Grip Department

    The grip position seems like just an unskilled below the line position on film or digital video production, but actually in the industry it is a full career choice. A grip position, which is part of the larger grip department, under direction of the key grip, are a construction department They build and maintain production video equipment that is used in the production. This can range from building stands for production lights to building items for the camera department, or even other things. The key grip will help monitor the environment and really put in creative construction work, mainly because the needs are so unique. Like every area of the professional film or digital video production fields the grip department has its own lingo and jargon, a terminology that is used within it. Here are some of the principle terms used by the grip department in professional film and video productions.

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    Dulling Spray

    Dulling Spray is actually an aerosol spray that is used to take the glare off of reflective objects. This can also be called a matte spray as the residue it leaves is a matte appearance so as to "dull" the shine.

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    A Flag, which is something that is also used commonly in the gaffer department of lighting electrical, is used to deflect and block light. If the light needs to be pointed in a certain direction but they do not want to have the full spill they will place these large black felt flags up so as to block the light and reduce its spread. A flag can also come in other forms, such as different sheets and objects. A Gobo is a different name for this, which is more of a cloth sheet.

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    A Genny is simply a generator that is portable and can come on and off set. The term Genny may be heard more often in the gaffer department, but the grip department will have to deal with it just as much.

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    Dance Floor

    For a smooth surface that are used for movable camera situations the grip department will create a Dance Floor. This is a portable squared out flooring piece that is put down so as to reduce any problems that the dolly may have. The term Dance Floor is applied as it looks and acts similar to portable dance floors that are brought in for parties.

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    Meat Axe

    A Meat Axe is a medium sized metal rod that is used to secure different objects in front of lights, like scrims or cookies. The Meat Axe is tightened to the above scaffolding as opposed to a c-stand.

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    A scrim is used to reduce the intensity of a light. They are round and placed in front of the light to bring it down. The scrim is measured in units of single, double, half and others. The single is intended to bring down the light half of a full stop, so all other measurements can be relative to this. A scrim is also called a wire.

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    Apple Box

    An Apple Box is a small rectangular box that are used to prop things up, mainly people. If an actor is too short for a scene, the boom operator is not tall enough to get a position, or the camera needs to be propped on something down low the Apple Box can be brought in to help. The Apple Box comes in a variety of different sizes depending on what the grip department and the director are looking for. A Pancake is considered the thinnest type of Apple Box.

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    A Sandbag is a bag full of sand, as the name implies. Instead of being used to ward off flood waters sandbags in film and digital video production are used to weight down different stands as to provide them with a little more constructive security. All light stands, for example, have sandbags on them in a properly managed set.

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    A Stinger is an extension cord when it is on set. Again, the stinger will be mainly applied by the gaffer department, but there is quite a bit of cross over.

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    Staging, or the staging area, is an offset location that all of the video equipment is placed in. This is usually just right off set so that the video equipment can be brought in and out safely.