Resources: Glossary

API (Application Programming Interface)

A protocol that specifies a way for a software application to communicate and integrate with a program that provides a service. Google provides APIs, for example, so that people can use its data, such as location data from Google Maps or video data from YouTube, in their applications.


A copy of data, stored in a secondary location, which is used to restore data in the primary storage location that is corrupted or lost. Restoring involves copying data from the backup to the primary storage to replace the corrupted or lost files. Backing up is a storage strategy that allows you to recover from data loss.


See “Hash Value”

CLI (Command-Line Interface)

A way of interacting with a computer program which involves typing lines of text in a command-line shell. Some programs are only available with command-line interfaces, which facilitate their automation and use in programming scripts. However, command-line interfaces can be harder for casual computer users to interact with than graphical user interfaces (GUI), which use windows, icons, menus, and pointers.


A codec is software that can encode/compress and decode/decompress digital files, including video files. Common video codecs include H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-2, and DV. A video stream can be encoded with one of these codecs and contained in a file format like AVI or Quicktime.


A legal protection intended to give the creator of original work exclusive rights to their work for a designated length of time. It gives the creator the exclusive right to copy, use, adapt, show, and distribute their own work, and the right to determine who else can copy, use, adapt, show, and distribute the work.

Data Dictionary

A document that explicitly describes metadata structure and rules so that all catalogers input metadata in a catalog consistently. A data dictionary may also specify your controlled vocabularies. Data dictionaries do not contain actual metadata, only the instructions needed to create your metadata.

Data Model

A description of the way that data is structured in a database. It can define what types of things the data describe, what types of data are included in the descriptions, and how different types of things relate to each other.


A copy of a video generated from a master that is usually in a different format and of lower quality than the master. Derivatives can be made for various uses, such as web upload or DVD.

Digital Video

An audiovisual signal that is represented in discrete bits, as opposed to a continuous analog signal. Analog video, such as Hi8 or VHS, is obsolete; all video cameras available today record digital video. Digital video can be tape-based (e.g. miniDV, HDV) or file-based (e.g. .mov, .avi). In this guide, we focus on file-based digital video, as tape-based digital video is mostly obsolete.


To receive data from a remote computer system and save it in a local computer system. The inverse of download is "upload."

EDL (Edit Decision List)

A document used in video post-production that contains a list of clips used in an edited video. EDLs originate from older film and video workflows when editing was a two stage process. Today, they can be used to move editing projects from one software or system to another. EDLs also provide useful documentation, showing what source files were used to create an edited video.

Embedded Metadata

Metadata that is stored within the digital object it describes. Some embedded metadata, such as file size, are essential to the functioning of the file, and are always written to the file by the device or software system. Other embedded metadata are non-essential and can be optionally added (e.g. rights information). Embedded metadata is not guaranteed to be accurate—for example, if your camera is set to the wrong date. Embedded metadata stay with the digital object as long as the object is intact, but can be intentionally stripped or altered. Embedded metadata can be lost if a file is transcoded to another format.