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Old March 10 2012, 06:58 AM   #187
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

A follow up:

Here are some pointers on slating for the person doing it.

Check with the D.P. as to when he wants you to step in. A few prefer the slate to be in shot when they start rolling, most don't. If they don't, stand just outside the frame and be ready to step in and out quickly when the call to mark it comes along.

Normal Slating
When asked to mark/slate it:
  1. Step in at a distance appropriate to the shot (based on the lens/zoom)
  2. Bring the slate UP into the frame (not down or sideways) with the clapper sticks apart
  3. Audio Slate the shot by reading the slate (e.g. "Scene 18 Alpha, Take 1")
  4. Snap the sticks closed and hold them closed
  5. Wait one second so there's a clear shot of the slate
  6. Remove the slate by lifting it out of the frame (this is useful for the editor scrubbing through footage because they can tell if the slate is entering or exiting by where it is)
  7. Quickly get to your place off-camera
On sound takes ALWAYS operate the clapper bars, even on a digital slate with synced timecode, because the clap is the backup if something goes wrong with the timecode (the editor will thank you)

Slating for MOS
is the same as for sound except
  • Hold your fingers between the clapper bars and (obviously) don't clap it
  • Don't audio slate it

Get in and out fast
Plan an exit route that gets you just off camera and out of the path of any lights. I've been on shoots where the 2nd AC took 30 seconds to get clear and stop moving. You don't want the whole crew waiting on you.

"Second sticks"
If the camera operator or DP calls for "second sticks" it means the slate need to be shot again. In such a case, quickly get back in frame and slate it again, and make sure you are there long enough for the camera to get it.

Don't always hold the slate
Put the slate DOWN once you're clear and hear "action". That'll allow you to do anything else you need to during the take (like if the AC hands off something to you or whatnot). Don't put it down before then in case there's a call for second sticks.

If you're not doing anything else during the take, update the camera log during this time. You'll never lose track of the take and scene numbers this way.

Audio Slate
When calling the audio slate, turn your head towards the mic. The boom operator may need to swing the mic towards you. You might need to speak up to be heard if the mic's not right next to you.

Soft Sticks
If the A.D. calls for "soft sticks" that means "slate/mark it" but clap it softly. "Soft sticks" or not, be mindful of your distance from the actors. Never clap the sticks loudly right in an actor's face.

Tail Slate
If a shot calls for a Tail Slate (aka Tail Sticks) you may want to keep the slate in hand so you can jump out there in a hurry when the tail slate is called for. Quite often, directors forget a shot is to be tail slated and will call "Cut!" before you can do it. If that happens, immediately and clearly say "Tail Slate!" and get in there and do it before the Camera is stopped.

Tail slating is done by slating the shot at the end with the slate right side up, and then flipping it upside down and displaying it for one second at the end . You don't slate it upside down... unless you're trying to hurt the editor's neck.

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"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
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