Lights Camera Action?

I have a small pet peeve about this phrase. It’s old, outdated, and nobody says it anymore. It’s a holdover from the silent film era where a studio was making several movies at once, some even right next to each other. Plus, it doesn’t account for some of the other important jobs on set.

So, what should happen before a take?

  1. Once everyone is in their respective places and ready to do their jobs, the Assistant Director (usually) calls for everyone to settle, and get ready to work.
  2. Director: “Sound”
  3. Sound Engineer: “Sound Speed” (The audio has begun to record)
  4. Director: “Camera”
  5. Cameraman: “Camera Speed” (The camera is now recording)
  6. Director calls “Marker”.
  7. Slate: Calls the Scene, Take, etc. like “Inglorious Basterds, Scene 137, Take 4”
  8. Clap!
  9. Slate guy scurries away.
  10. Director: “Action!”
  11. Actors act.

After the scene, the Director will say Cut, meaning everyone stops recording.

Obviously I have left out some important jobs that are pretty vital to the filmmaking process, mostly because they occur many hours or days before and after the shot. I’ll be covering what each person’t role on and off set is later in this blog series.

 

 

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Why use a slate?

A slate (AKA a clapboard, clapper, sticks, sound marker, and probably a dozen other names) is the tool that most people think of the most when you mention film production. But what is it for?

A clapboard is a tool that has two uses. The first use is to provide scene information. There are spots on the front to mark the day, location, scene, take and several other bits of information. In postproduction, the editor can group them according to these elements and keep their workflow organized.

The second use is to assist in syncing sound. On professional sets, the sound is recorded separately, and is matched up later. When the person in charge of the slate claps it, there is a peak that shows up on the audio track. The editor will be able to line up this peak with the closed clapboard so sync sound more effectively.

Do you need to clap it when you’re not recording independent sound? No, but it’s fun and you’re probably going to┬ádo it anyway.