A freeze frame shot is used when one shot is printed in a single frame several times, in order to make an interesting illusion of a still photograph.
'Freeze frame' is also a drama medium term used in which, during a live performance, the actors/actresses will freeze at a particular, pre-determined time, to enhance a particular scene, or to show an important moment in the play/production like a celebration. The image can then be further enhanced by spoken word, in which each character tells their personal thoughts regarding the situation, giving the audience further insight into the meaning, plot, or hidden story of the play/production/scene. This is known as thought tracking, another drama medium term.
An early use of the freeze frame in classic Hollywood cinema was Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life where the first appearance of the adult George Bailey (played by James Stewart) on-screen is shown as a freeze frame.
The 1970s television series of Wonder Woman had its episodes end with a freeze-frame of Diana Prince smiling.
The American TV show NCIS, which is a spin-off of the military series JAG, is known for its utilization of freeze-frame shots, more commonly referred to as "phoofs" or "foofs" due to the sound effect that accompanies them, which is caused by NCIS's creator and Executive Producer Donald P. Bellisario hitting a microphone with his hand although it sounds like a light-bulb exploding. These "phoofs", which are short black and white frames that reveal an event that will occur later in its episode, usually last for three seconds. It has been suggested that these "phoofs" are used as a method of building suspense. They originally began in the fourth episode of the second season of NCIS, "Lt. Jane Doe", and have been featured in every episode since then with a standard NCIS episode often containing a total of four or five phoofs which not only include the main characters but sometimes one-off or recurring characters as well.