Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    I was just about to bring that up. Last year in my crash-course in television post-production, it was made patently clear that we just will never know what MOS stood for. :lol:
     
  2. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 1999
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland, UK
    Not to hand, though I probably have it on a screencap somewhere. I'll snap a pic when I get a second. :)
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    My guess would be that the "Slate" thing was to track which scene it is in filming sequence vs. what scene it is in the script. The first scene we shot in Polaris was (I think) 10B, but if you marked the Slates in sequence that would be Slate 1, Scene 10B.
     
  4. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 1999
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland, UK
    That's pretty much how I use it, though I don't really know if it's right.
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    My experience is that there are many conventions but few absolute rules in filmmaking. If you've found something that works for you, work it. :)
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Sorry to post again, but I corrected my late night post above. I'd mistakenly written "Camera Assistant" and I meant "2nd Assistant Camera". I also added a link to a Wikipedia entry on the Clapper Loader/2nd A.C. and a link to an actual Tail Slate from "Spock's Brain".
     
  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    A follow up:

    SLATING PART 2

    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.


     
  8. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    On the destruct button until the last minute!
    This thread is fantastic, guys.

    I'll be making my first camera purchase soon. Will a DSLR be significantly harder for a novice filmmaker to learn on? Or would you recommend another direction for a first camera purchase?
     
  9. Tom Hendricks

    Tom Hendricks You move! Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    If its your first camera, going DSLR at this point would be wise. It would allow for greater flexibility going forward. You would need to learn about the camera with either choice.
     
  10. The Trekster

    The Trekster Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    It depends on what alternatives you're looking at. But yeah, DSLR is not a bad way to go.

    Just make sure whatever camera you do buy that it is HD, shoots 24p (25p with PAL) or 30p and allows manual control of your focus and exposure. Interchangeable lenses are great, but not necessary for a beginner.

    The other thing to think about if you're going with a DSLR (and I think this may have been mentioned already in this thread) is how will you record your audio? DSLRs are a lot like film cameras in that they are useless for sound. You will need to record audio separately. However you can find prosumer camcorders with XLR input and manual gain control which would simplify your audio set-up (though not something you'll want to do forever.)
     
  11. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Once again - thank you Maurice, for providing such in-depth and informative posts on these various topics. I've learned (and am continuing to learn) quite a bit and am ever-appreciative for your time and efforts here.

    George
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    I appreciate that, George. I sometimes wonder how many people actually read any of this. :)
     
  13. Melonpool

    Melonpool Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I read it every time it updates. It's been very helpful!
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    One more:
    Slating Part 3

    SLATE NUMBERING
    A lot of beginning filmmakers don't realize it, but the person responsible for determining what scene numbers end up on the slate is the Script Supervisor. It is their job because they annotate their copy of the script as a sort of master record of what's shot, and everything must be consistent as their notes result in production reports that track everything. Since their records must match the footage, they are the source of all scene numbers to appear on a slate.

    I'll cover the Script Supervisor job in a future post, but for now let's just touch on the most commons examples of how numbers are typically assigned.

    1. The Master Shot for any scene is typically slated as the scene number. For instance, scene 10's master shot is slated as Scene 10, even if its not the first thing shot for that scene.
    2. Subsequent coverage (different camera setups) are slated as the scene number followed by a letter, so the first setup that isn't a master in Scene 10 is slated as Scene 10A, the next is 10B and so on.
    3. ANY time the camera is moved or framing is changed the scene letter is advanced...even if the only thing that changes is the lens.
    AUDIO SLATING THE SCENE NUMBER

    When the 2nd A.C./Slate Loader slates a sound shot, they call out the audio slate. For a shot where the scene number is appended with a letter, they typically call out the letter as a word starting with that letter. Most commonly, it's in the form of the NATO phonetic alphabet for letters A through H, ergo scene 10F is called out as "Scene 10 Foxtrot".
    • A Alpha
    • B Bravo
    • C Charlie
    • D Delta
    • E Echo
    • F Foxtrot
    • G Golf
    • H Hotel
    • I (unused)
    I and O are typically not used because they can look like numbers on the slate.

    Starting with J it's not uncommon for the word used for the appended letter to be whatever the slate operator wants to use. So 12J might be "Scene 12 Jasmine" or "Scene 12 Jell-O" or "Scene 12 Jerk".

    "Scene 21 Golf, take 1."
    "Scene 74 Charlie, take 7."
    "Scene 47 Kirk, take 1."
    "Scene 69 Ripley, take 7."​

    Etc, etc.


     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  15. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 3, 2001
    Location:
    On the destruct button until the last minute!
    So do I. And I've easily reread this thread from the beginning more times than any other TBBS thread since I've been here.
     
  16. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 1999
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland, UK
    I read it to, funnily enough. Not saying I remember everything, but I do read it. ;)
     
  17. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Ditto. Everytime I get the email that this thread has been updated, nine times out of ten when I see its Maurice replying, I save that email (which includes the text of the post) because I just know it will come in handy.

    Maurice, again, thank you so much for sharing with us the benefit of your experience and obvious wealth of knowledge. It is greatly appreciated.
     
  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    Gene's office
    I look forward to the continuing episodes of the fan filmmaker's threads. :cool:
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Alchemist wrote to me to point out the slating conventions in Trek's 3rd season, in which the audio slates are using a different phonetic alphabet than the NATO one. I thought it was worth mentioning this because while it's fairly common to use the NATO phonetic alphabet, it's not a rule.

    Here's some of what they used on Trek.
    • Apples
    • Baker
    • Chicago
    • Denver
    • Franklin
    You can hear slates and takes for "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" and "Turnabout Intruder" at this website (link).

    Also, hearing these slates, you'll notice an additional variation on slating, in which the scene and take numbers are read off without the words Scene and Take, as in "35 Apples, seven" instead of "Scene 35 Apples, take seven".

    And it's always fun to watch Geraldine Brezca slate a movie, as she's very creative in her on-the-fly phonetic alphabets (here in Inglourious Basterds):




     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  20. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Hey, Maurice, those snippets of production audio from the original series are so cool. Nice find! :techman: