Common Digital Video Terms

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What does it all mean?

When shopping for or using your digital video camera you may hear a whole lot of jargon thrown around, and most of it seems confusing. What is the difference between linear and non-linear editing? What does desaturation mean? Unless you have a translator on your side it is easy to be completely turned around halfway through a DV conversation. Here are a few common digital video terms that can help you communicate through this new language.


The CCD, or Charge Coupled Device, is the brain of the digital video camera. It is what interprets the imaging that is shooting in through the lens. The more CCDs that are in a camera, the better imaging it can have.


A FireWire port is the new standard for connection. You can use this to connect to a computer or FireWire storage device. Essentially you can use this to capture footage from your digital video tape or internal camera hard drive onto your computer. You could also use this to plug your computer into your camera and capture in real time while you are filming.


Focus is where you alter the lens so that the image becomes clearer based on the distance away from the camera. Almost all digital video cameras have both auto focus and manual focus, but it is better to use manual focus for most things.


The Viewfinder is the eye piece that you look into to view the image being picked up by the camera. The LCD panel is a pull out monitor panel where you can also view the image.

White Balance

White Balance is a function on the camera that you use to set the color scheme for the camera. What you do is tell the camera what is “true white,” so the camera can then interpret the light color you want. You go to the White Balance option on the camera, zoom in to a pure white object, and then set the White Balance. This will correctly calibrate the color interpretation.

Video Capture

Capturing video means to take the video that is on a tape or digital storage device and putting it onto your computer for video editing. If it is a digital storage device, such as a portable hard drive or memory card, then this simply means a file import onto your computer. If it is from tape you will need to use capture software, which is usually included in your editing program, and use it to capture the footage. You have to plug in a device to read the tape, such as a tape deck or the camera itself, to the computer through a FireWire or USB port. Then the computer picks up and records the footage as the tape plays through.

Photo Motion, Desaturation, Defocus, and Sepia

Photo motion is a method of making photos move on screen. This can be zooming in to a part of the photo or perhaps panning across a large photo. A defocus effect is used to provide a natural blur to the image. Desaturation can make an image black and white, and Sepia gives it a reddish-brown color tone.


Linear editing was the original film editing format that was done by physically cutting the film strips and arranging them. You were able to preview the changes you were making, but you were not able to go back once you cut it together. Non-linear editing was a computer development where software is used that essentially takes all the video and uses it as media management. You are able to arrange the video and audio in whatever fashion you would like, and your decisions will never affect the raw video footage. The likelihood is that nobody reading this will ever see a linear editing system in a professional situation.