A take is a single continuous recorded performance. The term is used in film and music to denote and track the stages of production.
A one-take occurs when the entire scene is shot satisfactorily the first time, whether by necessity (as with certain expensive special effects) or by happy accident.
Film takes are often designated with the aid of a clapboard. It is also referred to as the slate. The number of each take is written or attached to the clapboard, which is filmed briefly prior to or at the beginning of the actual take. Only takes which are vetted by the continuity person and/or script supervisor are printed and are sent to the film editor.
Outtakes or "outs" are takes or portions of takes that are not in the movie. The vast majority of material (film or digital) shot for a major motion picture doesn't make it into the finished movie. Multiple takes of repeated performances, shot from various camera angles quickly add up. Shooting over a million feet of film for a movie and using ten thousand feet for the finished product is common.
Some film directors are known for using very long, unedited takes. Alfred Hitchcock's Rope is famous for being composed of nine uninterrupted takes, each from four to ten minutes long. This required actors to step over cables and dolly tracks while filming, and stagehands to move furniture and props out of the camera's way as it moved around the room. A camera operator's foot was broken by a heavy dolly during one intensive take, and he was gagged and hauled out of the studio so that filming could continue without interruption. The eight-minute opening shot of The Player includes people discussing long takes in other movies.
Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark (2002) consists of a single 90-minute take, shot on a digital format. Mike Figgis' Timecode (2000) consists of a single 90-minute take as well, albeit with 4 camera units shooting simultaneously. In the finished film, all 4 camera angles are shown simultaneously on a split screen, with the sound fading from one to another to direct audience attention.
In other cases, it is the actors who cause multiple takes. One fight scene in Jackie Chan's The Young Master was so intricate that it required 329 takes to complete, and most Jackie Chan films include the most humorous of the outtakes from filming during the end credits. Director Bryan Singer tried for a full day to get his desired shots of the cast of The Usual Suspects behaving sullenly in a police lineup, but the actors could not remain serious and kept spoiling the takes by laughing and making faces. In the end, Singer changed his plan and used the funniest of the takes in the final movie to illustrate the contempt the criminals had for the police. During the filming of Some Like It Hot, director Billy Wilder was notoriously frustrated by the retakes required by Marilyn Monroe's inability to remember her lines.
A spit-take is a take in which a performer reacts in surprise by spitting a beverage out of his or her mouth.
A double-take is the reaction of surprise illustrated by the performer glancing at something, then looking away, then looking back in shock, astonishment, or amazement.
Different versions of the same song from a single recording session are sometimes eventually released as alternate takes of the recording; indeed, alternate takes of songs recorded by The Beatles were some of the most sought-after bootleg recordings by the band, before their official release as part of The Beatles Anthology; a similar case occurred with the recordings of Elvis Presley until his label, RCA, began releasing alternate takes itself in 1974 with Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1.