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Ma1 t1_iu38xem wrote

Modern slates can also sync time code with the camera and audio mixer and display it digitally.

Edit: Since this comment has got some traction, I figure I’ll add some other fun anecdotes!

-ideally, the camera doesn’t roll until the slate is in frame. That way, the thumbnail on the file (or the first frame on the strip of film historically) contains all the key information the editor needs.

-when clapping near talent, the 2nd Assistant Camera, will announce “soft sticks” and clap the slate a bit quieter, so as not to hurt the ears of the performer.

-when rolling on a shot with no sound, referred to as MOS, the 2nd AC throws three fingers between the slate so the editor knows there is no sound file associated, and it is not clapped. This is typically used for slow/fast motion, but could be used for any number of other reasons. Cutaways or insert shots etc.

-sometimes, if a slate is missed at the top of the roll (maybe they started the take for any number of uncontrollable environmental reasons) the 2nd AC yells “tail slate” and they do the slate at the end of the shot. Typically this is done with the slate upside down. (Maybe this has something to do with the slate being at the end of the roll of film rather than the start? But I’m not sure of the origins of this practice)


GoGaslightYerself t1_iu5mdbb wrote

When I worked on some TV commercial shoots back in the early '90s, the cameraman also said "Speed!" when (I guess) the camera was up to "running speed" or whatever...this I guess was the signal to the talent that it was time to start the take ... is this just "a thing" with video cameras, or also with film cameras too?


sexytalk128 t1_iu5z0ob wrote

I think 'speed' means that the sound recording is in sync or at the same 'speed' as the camera recording. Here in the UK, the sound recordist tells the boom operator and they announce it, shortly after the 1st Assistant Director calls 'turn over' to get the camera to start recording.


devotchko t1_iu6btuw wrote

Older equipment (especially 1/4" sound recorders) were not capable of running at crystal sync speed right away. For this reason, they actually had a tiny flag that would appear in a see through window a moment after the recorder was activated. The recordist would not yell "speed" until after the flag would be visible (since only after this moment the audio would be capable of being in perfect sync with a camera).


Alias_The_Jester t1_iu6fabw wrote

Director here, they still yell speed. It’s to let everyone know the camera is going but has its roots in when old equipment needed to take time to get up to speed. Nowdays it’s a cue, for other cues to happen such as slating or if I want to cue background action to get moving or if I want the camera to move, that way you don’t get stilted action on screen.


Beleynn t1_iu742yl wrote

> the thumbnail on the file contains all the key information the editor needs

Holy shit that's clever


Uranium_moth t1_iu3a8eb wrote

Generally it's referred to as a Slate,

You can also get "sticks" which are just the top section which snap together for sync only.

There are also some cameras which support a "digital slate".

Also, it doesn't reference the start of the scene - just the start of the take. Often it can be quite a bit off the actual call of "action".

Sometimes for whatever reason, the slate happens at the end of the take - "end slate" or "end sticks".


Kingsly2015 t1_iu3c9q6 wrote

“Tail slate” in the States. It’s also held upside down so that the editor can visually recognize that is the tail of the previous scene and not the marker for the next scene (makes more sense when you consider a continuous strip of film but still has its use in digital capture to tell that it wasn’t just an overzealous 2nd who clapped the next take before they cut the camera)

Then there’s an MOS slate, where the 2nd AC puts their hand in the open sticks so that it’s physically blocked from clapping. Makes it pretty obvious that the shot does not have synced audio.


tritisan t1_iu4kjb8 wrote

I studied film for 4 years and the only useful thing I learned was the origin of MOS. Or, mit-out sound.


devotchko t1_iu6bypn wrote

or, "minus optical soundtrack"; the origins of "MOS" are apocryphal. Also, what school did you go to?


nightfly19 t1_iu3fqbz wrote

I think sometimes it's done at the start and end to help compensate for audio drift too sometimes (reference points for both audio and video)


Uranium_moth t1_iu3fx4c wrote

I work in the industry and have never seen this happen due to drift. Drift is very very slight and only going to be noticed beyond a take of over an hour. Even then, a resync isn't going to help


nightfly19 t1_iu3g9lu wrote

I don't work in the industry and am just repeating what I've heard on the internet years ago, guess its a "fact" I can forget now


RonnieT49 t1_iu3t086 wrote

The “endboard” is often used when the camera starts the scene too close to an object to get the board in.


insomaniac117 t1_iu4gwgn wrote

While this isn't done on set, in post production we frequently use sync markers at the beginning and end of the program to help verify that the picture and sound are in sync and don't drift after converting between formats and frame rates.

These are typically a 1 frame beep/tone with a corresponding visual marker placed 2 seconds before program (the edited show or movie) starts and 2 seconds after it ends.


Iyellkhan t1_iu69vsi wrote

generally speaking, if you get drift over the course of a single take either the camera or the sound recorder need repair. That, or someone screwed up the base time code settings (say the camera is set to 24fps for theatrical but the sound is set to 23.976 for tv), but if that happens on a professional set boy is someone getting yelled at. quite possibly fired.


Iyellkhan t1_iu69bnv wrote

you usually do it at the end if the talent is really in the zone and you want to go again immediately, or you're just grabbing a small piece immediately (otherwise known as a pickup). You'll also sometimes do it at the end if the scene is especially intense for the actors and you dont want that loud clap sound fucking up their state of mind


peetnasty t1_iu7ci0p wrote

When I was learning to 2nd AC, my boss the 1st AC, tried to get me to do “middle sticks” many times as a practical joke. Sometimes it is necessary to do “middle sticks” they would say, if your on a particularly long take. Very useful when in the middle of an emotionally taxing scene like crying etc. As a young innocent kid I almost fell for it… I’ve heard legendary stories of assistants who did fall prey. Always a good laugh… until it’s not.


Alwaysunder_thegun t1_iu3afid wrote

The one in the photo doesn't have the time stamp.
Most now have a time code that runs like a clock but with the 10ths of seconds. When you clap it, it tells you the exact moment you clapped. It makes it very easy to line up the audio and video.


Uranium_moth t1_iu3c299 wrote

Time code is HH:MM:SS:FF. The FF being the frame number. It's not 10ths of a second but the actual frame.


Alwaysunder_thegun t1_iu3d3om wrote

Okay. 24ths of second. or digitally 23.8ths of seconds LOL


Uranium_moth t1_iu3fzrm wrote

Not everything is 24fps. In reality it could be 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59, 60 etc


EC-Texas t1_iu4hfz9 wrote

This guy syncs!


Uranium_moth t1_iu5l5b8 wrote

Oh my yes. Although these days a tentacle sync is used to keep the camera and sound in sync automatically. Otherwise automatic sync is a common tool in editing software to match the scratch audio (the cameras own mic sound - usually very low quality) to the proper audio recording.


AltairsBlade t1_iu3i0zo wrote

This is why you will see some YouTubers clap at the beginning of videos.


Rickie_Spanish t1_iu3jpfo wrote


Garper t1_iu3kxxh wrote

I see tom Scott and I think "eh do I really want to watch a 15 minute video about dutch bridges or youtubers clapping?" but somehow I always do, and I always enjoy it...


JeddHampton t1_iu46xx1 wrote

I was hoping this would be Tom Scott. His videos are great.


TheMoskus t1_iu3kzxh wrote

I was expecting the background to turn off and show a green screen behind him.


mastrkief t1_iu4m6qn wrote

Doesn't explain why they don't just start the YouTube video a second later.


zebrastarz t1_iu4ntnm wrote

A lot of the times they do, but for at least some creators there is energy before they want to capture as a lead in


TimeTravelMishap t1_iu35nfq wrote

Spanking does that for me in porn.


m_Pony t1_iu40rad wrote

to be fair if you don't do it right then your mouth will be moving while nothing comes out.


kingzilch t1_iu39pd1 wrote

And if there's no clapperboard, just clap your hands.


[deleted] t1_iu3auat wrote

But that turns off the lights.


kingzilch t1_iu3bujg wrote

That's if you clap twice. You clap once - and only once - to sync your sound.

You don't wanna know what happens in you clap thrice.


caskey t1_iu3ecb8 wrote

>You don't wanna know what happens in you clap thrice.

Now I'm scared....


m_Pony t1_iu40xvg wrote

"and then a Moroccan dancer moved into the apartment above me" or something like that.


Greene_Mr t1_iu40thg wrote

I learned this the hard way taking a film course in college -- manually lining up the audio with the footage takes time, even digitally.


Erycius t1_iu4cyv4 wrote

Also related: the famous 20th century fox fanfare video (with the searchlights, you know it) had a light coming from behind the building with a flash, and that flash corresponds with a bang in the music, also for synchronisation.


lightningfries t1_iu3nc3k wrote

Is this not common knowledge?

Those things are iconic of movie making: 🎬 I'm genuinely curious if their function is unknown to lots of people.


gekkobob t1_iu3np3r wrote

Ikr? If someone doesn't know this, what did they think it was for? These til's are getting worse and worse.


PianoCharged OP t1_iu47qvl wrote

I just do what I do. I never knew this, so I looked it up, and decided to post it here. Just an interesting tidbit some people might not know. I’ve had TIL’s that had thousands and tens of thousands of upvotes, if that possibly redeems me a bit in your eyes

This is the post that made me curious


whatwouldjiubdo t1_iu4g3kr wrote

They also have black and white or color bars up top that can assist with color correction!


MarsMonkey88 t1_iu4apr9 wrote

Some ultra low budget things will have someone hold up a piece of paper with the scene number or whatever info (so the thumbnails are clear) and then someone else will put their hands in front of it and clap (one clap).


PianoCharged OP t1_iu4b6kc wrote

Aren’t they super cheap on Amazon? (I think someone commented elsewhere here)


Iyellkhan t1_iu68n8y wrote

they are, but the cheap ones dont last long where a $100 one will tend to last years.

Theres also the fancier ones that are around $1500 that can show timecode numbers, which will be jam synced to the timecode on the sound recorder. When the clapper drops, it freezes the TC (and shows some other code info) that helps automate the sync process (it also lets you set your clip timecode to match whats on the screen. not a huge deal with digital cameras that are running wireless timecode, but a big deal if you're shooting film where there is no metadata)


Otherwise-Mango2732 t1_iu4bsnw wrote

This is something I've always wondered and never looked into. Thank you. The explanation makes perfect sense. Also explains why some documentary/interview productions i've seen have a guy walk up and do a clap with his hands instead of the slate thing.


droopyheadliner t1_iu4pt67 wrote

Also, if they are holding it upside down, that means it’s the end of the scene.


Iyellkhan t1_iu67x5z wrote

along with a spate of people yelling "tail slate! tail slate!" to make sure the cam op doesnt slip and cut early lol


bluebirdgm t1_iu5gelb wrote

I’ve seen in some productions, occasionally they even make do without a slate/clapboard and literally have someone clap on camera to sync the sound and image.

When I was working in the industry, often we had to prepare already-produced material for dubbing into other languages; for that purpose we would have to find “sync points” in the material to synchronize the new sound to. It was easier to do so with cop shows that had plenty of single gunshots and doors/car doors slamming shut. It was much more of a pain with dramas like “The L Word” where that stuff was less likely to happen.


FredVIII-DFH t1_iu63zlh wrote

Which is why you sometimes see poor YouTubers clapping at the beginning of their videos.


Iyellkhan t1_iu676ry wrote

this was also an old technique with 16mm documentaries and, to a lesser extent, 8mm. There was briefly a period where you could get 16mm and 8mm film with magnetic sound strips that could survive the chemical bath that could hold sync, but that died out when home video took over.


[deleted] t1_iu3asbq wrote

Pick one up cheap at the Spirit Halloween store.


XpressDelivery t1_iu3ppvg wrote

And if you don't the budget for one you can clap infront of the the camera.


olagorie t1_iu3szae wrote

Great, that’s actually interesting


ajmacbeth t1_iu4azd1 wrote

Thank you for this, I’ve often wondered why the clap sound was necessary


snow_michael t1_iu4fdkr wrote

So why were they used in silent films?


PianoCharged OP t1_iu4g2t2 wrote

But were they? Maybe it was just the board with the scene and take written on it? (i.e., without the clapper part)


snow_michael t1_iu4i0mn wrote

No, clapper was a verbal cue for the cameraman, later used as the synch cue for talkies


AnthillOmbudsman t1_iu4vid5 wrote

There's no point in clapping the board, but you damn sure want to keep detailed logs of which scene you're recording. A slate for the camera is an easy way to do that. Things get super confusing if you have piles of film and have no idea what's what.


AnthillOmbudsman t1_iu4uwxm wrote

Still useful, I bought a $10 clapperboard last month. Good luck keeping a high quality microphone and a webcam synced up in Windows, especially in postproduction. Sync problems should not be a thing in the digital age, but here we are, I see this problem constantly.


Iyellkhan t1_iu67taj wrote

its probably due to not having a dedicated oscillating crystal generator. One would think the computers own time clock could hold it in sync, but I suspect with bad software processing things sometimes might not hold.


shadowdash66 t1_iu50jw2 wrote

you also see this being done a lot by Youtubers when they start a video. They'll clap or something loud so they can sync the audio and video later


MuForceShoelace t1_iu55kps wrote

In podcasts sometimes you see the host always saying a long word before a new segment before the music plays.

Like someone going eeeeemmaaaaail then an email song playing. That is the budget version of a clapper board, it's easy to find it in a visual look at the audio and splice in the song in a lazy quick way


Pleesh t1_iu56l8t wrote

They also captivate the attention of Bingleskridge Clamptonthrash, as per the reference image.


ktka t1_iu5s3v6 wrote

<clap> footage </clap>


T5-R t1_iu43zb9 wrote

A dog clicker is a good, cheap way to synchronise audio.


M1k3yd33tofficial t1_iu4lkqv wrote

For podcasts and other audio only mediums, yes, but you 100% need the visual of the sticks coming together to properly sync audio and video.


T5-R t1_iu4rbl1 wrote

Not if your camera is recording scratch audio.


M1k3yd33tofficial t1_iu4u6cc wrote

Eh, scratch is all well and good until it goes wrong. The whole reason for the slate is redundancy.

If everything goes right, you have scene and take embedded in the metadata. If not, the slate is there to mark it.

If everything goes right, you can jam sync with timecode. If not, the slate is there to provide the necessary sync point.

Many programs can sync scratch audio and production audio. But sometimes that doesn’t work, so you go to the slate.

The clicker idea works until scratch audio goes wrong for some reason. It’s almost always better to just slate.