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A Meeting Planners Guide to Unscrambling the Technical Jargon

Last month we posted an article called “Five Tech Terms Every Meeting and Event Planner Should Know” and because it was such a hit, we thought we'd expand a bit on those terms and let you in on some of the other “jargon” that is typically used in our production world…  

jar·gon1 (ˈjärɡən)


noun: jargon; plural noun: jargons

1. Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand. 

“…We can get your keynote speaker up on IMAG for the entire room to see!” 

No, that is not a misspelling of the word image, though on some level, it is related. 

Sometimes in the world of production, we use technical jargon and other abbreviated words to reference certain items or processes, and it will occasionally (okay, often) slip into our casual conversations and proposals. To better assist you, here are a few of those words and phrases, as well as their meanings, so the next time you strike up a production related conversation, you’ll be able to confidently use the same jargon!

Here are 15 terms and phrases to know:   

CCU – Camera Control Unit.  Necessary for all studio configurations of camera use.  It allows the technicians at the Tech Table to fine-tune the images so the camera operator can focus on one thing, capturing the image in focus.   

GOBO – No one can say for sure exactly the meaning, but there is a consensus on “go before” or “go between” when referring to a lighting effect created by a steel or glass stencil that is placed between a light source and the lens of a lighting instrument or projector. That image is then focused on a surface projected by the light.   

Program Record – A recording of your show exactly as it is seen by the audience in the room on the main screens. 

ISO Recording – [Pronounced eye-so] is essentially an isolated recording. When recording a session with 2 or more cameras or sources, each camera is recording a separate aspect of the session. The ISO recording is the recording of what the individual camera recorded without any additional graphics or cuts made during the live event. For example, the Program Recording may have footage used from various cameras as seen by the attendees during the live event, whereas the ISO is only one piece of the program recording. 

Please note, if you don't ask for ISO recording, you won't receive it.  The ISO recording(s) allow you to go back and use the raw footage to correct undesirable moments or acquire the fullness of an event highlight within the Program Recording.

Program – The exact image that everyone in the room is seeing on the big screens.   

Preview – The camera or image that is NOT currently being sent to the Program.  

CODEC – Coder/Decoder.  This is a device, for example, that takes a signal from one source and converts it to another signal (usually digital), suited for streaming, or some other transmission format. It also receives that same signal and converts it back to its original form for viewing, listening, etc. 

There is usually a type of CODEC on each end of a video conference allowing all video and audio to be compressed and transmitted both ways, then converted back to the analog signals our eyes and ears like.

DA and DI – Distribution Amplifier or Direct Input.  A DA is used to take one signal and split it for multiple uses.  A DI is used to convert an instrument or iPod signal to a mixer friendly level.   

Throw distance – The distance from a projector’s lens to the surface of the screen.  This is important because the throw distances can vary depending on the room sets and the type of lens used.   

CYC – [Pronounced psyche]. This is short for cyclorama.  It is a large projection surface stretched behind a stage that captures and distributes lights and projected images sharply and evenly.  It can create the illusion that your stage is in front of a picturesque landscape or has unlimited space behind it.   

Line Array – A speaker system made up of multiple, identical cabinets, hung in a curved arc to push sound to a large room evenly.   

Delay Speaker – Delay speakers are used in large or deep rooms to prevent echo and provide clean, even sound to the entire room. They are set near the back of the room and are synced with the sound being pushed from the front of the room (via a delay), so people in the back of the room can hear more clearly.  

Delay Screen – Similar to delay speakers, delay screens are also used in large or deep rooms. These screens are set closer to the back of the room allowing video and images to be seen clearly by attendees seated far from the stage. 

Blending – In Projection, when there is a very wide image required (say a 3:1 width), it is customary to “blend” three projectors left to right to fill the screen with even, consistent brightness. Note - If you were to try and use only one projector to fill the screen, you could do it, but the “throw distance” (see, I used jargon!) would be so far that it would over-shoot the screen, and the brightness and clarity would be considerably less.   

On-Line Backup – This is another type of blend, also referred to as a "hot backup".  It’s the act of using a second projector in conjunction with your primary projector. The images are over-laid, or "blended", in a way that makes the image appear brighter and sharper.  If one projector happens to fail, the 2nd projector would still be on.  The image might appear to dim a bit, but you wouldn’t lose the valuable content.  This is highly recommended when using standard bulb-based projectors.  Bulbs blow out, and if your projector doesn’t have an on-line backup, that screen will go dark should the projector fail. As a result, you won’t be able to replace it without clearing the room and losing valuable time.  (It’s worth mentioning with the advent of Laser Projectors, the need for an On-Line Backup is reduced, as there are no bulbs to blow out, however, an On-Line Backup is still a very good idea!)

This is just a small sampling of some common technical jargon we use in the Production World.

Let us know what other jargon that may have stumped you, or even made you laugh?  If you didn’t see it listed above, please share them with us!

Your event is a reflection of your brand and company culture, so take this opportunity to design the best experience and leave a lasting impression. For questions or assistance with your next big event, feel free to reach out to our AVmedia family.

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