Art Department Glossary for Film & Television

Art Department Glossary of Terms

Arcade: A series of arches supported by columns or other vertical elements.

Backdrop/Backing: Refers to a large photographic backing or painting for the background of a scene. These large scale photos are printed, hung, and lit behind windows to give the illusion of the outdoors.

Balcony: A platform that projects from the wall of a building, and which is enclosed on its outer three sides by a balustrade, railing, or parapet.

Baluster: A vertical supporting element, similar to a small column.

Balustrade: A railing consisting of a row of balusters supporting a rail.

Bay: A section of a building distinguished by vertical elements such as columns or pillars. Often, a bay will protrude from the surface of the wall in which it is situated, thus creating a small, nook-like interior space, often of a rectangular or semi-hexagonal outline. See bay window.

Bay Window: A projecting bay that is lit on all of its projecting sides by windows. See bay.

Bevel: An angled cut at a corner or edge.

Board-a-batten: A wooden siding treatment in which wide, vertically oriented boards are separated by narrower strips of wood called “battens,” which form the joints between the boards.

Bond: Brickwork with overlapping bricks. Types of bond include stretcher, English, header, Flemish, garden wall, herringbone, basket, American, and Chinese.

Brace: A reinforcing and/or stabilizing element of an architectural frame.

Bracket: A projection from a vertical surface that provides structural and/or visual support for overhanging elements such as cornices, balconies, and eaves.

Breakaway: Destroyable glass objects that are used during stunts; usually made with candy (aka candy glass).

CAD: Computer Aided Design. Almost all set designers and architects work in CAD software and it is very rare to find technical drawings done by hand these days.

Cantilever: An unsupported overhang acting as a lever, like a flagpole sticking out of the side of a wall.

Casement Window: A window frame that is hinged on one vertical side, and which swings open to either the inside or the outside of the building. Casement windows often occur in pairs.

Chalet: A timber dwelling, cottage, or lodge with a gable roof and wide eaves.

Chevron: A design that incorporates a pointed shape similar to an accent mark, common to Art Deco architecture.

Colonnade: A range of columns that supports a string of continuous arches or a horizontal entablature.

Column: A supporting pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a capital on top of the shaft. Columns may be plain or ornamental.

Concept: A vision of how a product could be, often explained with hand sketches and rough models.

Corbel: A structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight.

Cornice: A crowning projection at a roof line, often with molding or other classical detail.

Cornice Molding: A decorative strip of wood running just below the eaves of a building. A cornice molding is a cross between a cornice and a molding – a cornice is a crowning projection at a roof line, while a molding is a decorative strip of wood.

Courtyard: An open space, usually open to the sky, enclosed by a building, often with an arcade or colonnade.

Crenellation: A sequence of alternating raised and lowered wall sections at the top of a high exterior wall or parapet. Crenellations were originally employed for defensive purposes (one could hide behind a raised wall section, while shooting down at enemies from over a lowered wall section), but were later used for decoration. Also known as a battlement.

Crosshatch or Hatching: A pattern of parallel lines applied to an area on a drawing such as section-views.

Cupola: A small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building.

Decorative Motif: A repeated pattern, image, idea, or theme. In classical architecture, series of urns and continuous or repeated swags of garlands are common decorative motifs.

Dentils: Small rectangular blocks that, when placed together in a row abutting a molding, suggest a row of teeth.

Detail View: A portion of a view on a drawing, usually larger scale than the view it originated from.

Dormer Window: A perpendicular window located in a sloping roof; triangular walls join the window to the roof. Dormer windows are sometimes crowned with pediments, and they often light attic sleeping rooms; “dormer” derives from “dormir,” French for “to sleep.”

Double Doors: Two adjacent doors that share the same door frame, and between which there is no separating vertical member. Double doors are often referred to as “French doors”, due to their preponderance in French architecture.

Eaves: The projecting edge of a roof that overhangs an exterior wall to protect it from the rain.

Eclecticism: A mixing of various architectural styles and ornamentation of the past and present

Exploded View: A view of a product with all its components separated, usually to show how it is assembled.

Exposed Rafters: Rafters that are exposed to the outside of a building. Rafters are the inclined, sloping framing members of a roof, and to which the roof covering is affixed.

Facade: An exterior wall, or face, of a building. The front facade of a building contains the building’s main entrance, the rear facade is the building’s rear exterior wall, and the side facades are a building’s side exterior walls.

Finish: An architectural finish is a standard finish characterized by a uniformly good appearance. This finish is most often specified for “exposed” surfaces. Often times we are not using a proper architectural material to finish a surface in the film industry. For example, the paint department might be directed to ‘finish’ a wall or flat/flattage as steel or wood.

Flat: A scenery wall.

Floor Plan: The architectural blueprint of the arrangement of rooms in a building.

Greeking: Changing trademarks that haven’t been cleared for use within the film.

Hardware: The metal fittings of a building, such as locks, latches, hinges, handles, and knobs.

Joinery: Woodworking joints in carpentry.

Masonry: Being of stone, brick, or concrete.

Miniature: A smaller-scale model filmed in such a way that it seems like it is a full-scale model.

Molding: A decorative strip of wood.

Mullions: The structural units that divide adjacent windows.

Panel: A smooth surface, usually rectangular (or sometimes circular) in shape and framed by a molding, and often featuring decorative, sculptural carving.

Plinth: The base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests. A plinth is a lower terminus of the face trim on a door that is thicker and often wider than the trim which it augments.

Raked: A set floor that is angled up from the camera.

Retrofit: Changing a location to make sure that the design of the film is seamless.

Scout: Looking for the right location to shoot in.

Section View: A drawing view created by cutting through another drawing with a section line.

Skin: The external layer of a structure, building, wall, or furnishing that is visible to the viewer.

Title Block: A table located in the bottom right corner of a drawing which contains sections for providing the film title, production designer, set designer, set number, set name, location information, and drawing scale- for example 1/4″ = 1′-0″.

Tolerance: The amount that dimensions can be wrong without affecting the performance. Each can have its own specification for tolerance. Tolerances may be used to specify allowable variations in strength, stability, the mix of a material, the performance of a system, temperature ranges and so on.

Transom: Window or element, fixed or operable, above a door but within its vertical frame.

Wild wall: A flat that can be removed so that the camera can have more room to shoot in.