In scriptwriting, a cold open is a narrative tactic where the video starts by jumping directly into a story before any title sequence or opening credits is displayed.
In television, this is often done on the theory that involving the audience in the plot as soon as possible will reduce the likelihood of their switching from a show during the opening commercial. A cold open may also be used to recap events in previous episodes or storylines that will be revisited during the current episode.
The cold open technique is sometimes used in films. There, "cold opening" still refers to the opening moments or scenes, but not necessarily to the full duration before the title card, as the title card might appear well after the cold open has been achieved.
In film production, the section of the film before the opening credits is called the pre-credits, and they are sometimes crafted as a cold open.
In some films, the title card does not appear until the end. In such cases, one cannot refer to the entire film as the "opening", and the term "cold open" in these instances refers to the opening moments or scenes.
Likewise, in films with excessively long pre-credits sequences, the "cold open" does not necessarily refer to the entire pre-credits sequence.