ENG vs EFP
There are two common terms thrown around when putting together a video production: “ENG” and “EFP.” Both refer to the logistics of building your film crew, managing a shoot, and the purpose of the video as a whole.
ENG stands for Electronic News Gathering. As the name would suggest, it’s a style of shooting pioneered by news crews that need to set up and tear down quickly, be very mobile, turn around and edit & deliver the video quickly. This usually consists of a crew of 1 to 3 people, and in terms of actual news, may involve a mobile production van.
EFP stands for Electronic Field Production. This is a broader term for a shoot that requires more time & finesse and a larger crew. The goal here is quality over speed & mobility. There tends to be a greater variety with the structure of an EFP crew, since the fundamental difference to ENG is that the crew isn’t very mobile. As such, a sports broadcast can be considered EFP, and so can a film crew – even though they deal with completely different equipment.
The lines between EFP and ENG aren’t always set in stone. One could imagine how shooting a documentary could teeter in and out of “ENG” and “EFP”. A news production can land pretty firmly in what we’d call EFP, where a reporter does a sit-down interview with a more complex setup than run-and-gun ENG. As such, you’ll commonly find people using these terms as a starting point for discussing project logistics, something like, “Let’s do more of an ENG style.” In the end, what they end up doing may not actually be proper “ENG.”
Hardline vs Non-Hardline
An entry-level way to understand “hardline” versus “non-hardline” is to think “wired” versus “wireless.” These terms usually apply to a single part of the crew (the camera alone, or the audio alone).
Hardline generally means the subject is tethered by a cable to something else, so mobility is limited. Non-hardline will generally refer to the subject being wireless and free to move around. So a camera can be hardlined to a production truck or van. A boom op (sound guy) can be hardlined to the camera, so while the camera has general mobility, the boom op is basically on a leash. Whether or not to be hardlined depends on different factors in the shoot. Having your boom op hardlined to either the camera or a production sound engineer – via a standard XLR cable or breakaway cable – will guarantee consistent quality with the audio signal. However, letting the boom op off the leash (transmitting wirelessly or using a small recorder) will allow him to track moving subjects with ease, and give him a better chance to stay outside of the frame (camera’s line of sight).