It’s true there are some things that are primed for post-production and are better done in front of a computer rather than in front of a camera. But there’s a difference between planning a shot to be enhanced in post and relegating a shot to be fixed in post. As camera assistants, we may have a small role to play, but if we play it effectively, we can help avoid some major “fix it in post” headaches.
How to Get Better at Pulling Focus, Slating, and Being a Badass AC
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At less than two minutes long, the video above, from Jared Abrams at Wide Open Camera, covers the most popular types of marks you need to know. And I have a few extra tips of my own to share with you.
I find looking at other slates to be extremely helpful. When I was first starting out as a 2nd AC, it was useful to see how others applied the principles I had learned about slating. So let’s take a look at twelve completed clapperboards.
The film slate hasn’t existed for so many years — adapting to the ever-changing filmmaking landscape — without developing nuances and best practices for a few non-conventional situations. So I want to help you navigate these grey areas.
All of the advantages of the slate in post-production start in the camera department with the camera assistants who step in front of the lens with the clapperboard. And it’s crucial you fill it out properly to prevent bottlenecks in post-production. Once you grasp what each section means, it makes it easier to leverage the slate into the useful cinematic tool that it is.
Pulling focus is arguably the 1st Assistant Camera’s most important duty. A shot can be beautifully lit, impeccably framed, and feature Oscar-winning acting, but if it’s not in focus, it’s likely to end up on the cutting room floor. That’s what’s at stake for the focus puller.
No you don’t need to be able to run a marathon to be an astute camera assistant, but you’ll be much better and faster if you can last a whole day on set without getting sore the next day. And the AC’s that can keep up are the ones who keep getting phone calls.
Filmmaking isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can suck — and suck pretty hard. The public persona of Hollywood may be glitz and glam, but there’s definitely moments when that facade falls apart, especially below the line.
Ed Colman, a talented cinematographer, knew the value of rehearsals. Of all the great wisdom he shared, one remark speaks directly about the push-pull for rehearsals: “When you are told to ‘shoot the rehearsal’ it’s not a rehearsal any more.”
The duty of slating falls to the 2nd assistant camera (AC) who must stand in front of the camera, hold the slate, and clap the sticks. Holding the slate seems like an obvious act — and it largely is — but you should take these five tips into consideration before stepping in front of the camera.