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How to use a Clapper Board / Slate

Bradley Stern goes over what all those funny things on a clapper mean and how to use it in a production.

Clapper

One of the many roles of the 2nd Assistant Camera (2nd AC) is to use the clapper or slate board before, or after each take. The slate is an extremely important tool and it has two main purposes; to provide whoever is editing the film with all of the information needed for each shot (I will explain further on about the information required), and secondly to allow the audio to be synced properly to the video. Before I start, I want to note how there are different ways of slating, this is the way I prefer and use in the UK, it seems more simple than the alphabetical way used in America. As always I am not a ‘professional’, I am just sharing what I have been taught and know, so if you disagree with something please leave a comment.

Information that needs to be filled in on a clapper board includes pretty straight forward information such as the production title, director, cameraman, date, and whether you are filming ‘Exterior’ (Ext.) or ‘Interior’ (Int.). There will also be a section for sound, which will have markings for ‘sync’ if sound is being recorded. Before each slate to the camera, you should hold the sticks open to clearly show the editor sound is being recorded. If sound isn’t being recorded, then you should circle ‘MOS’, or german for ‘Mit Out Sound’; in this case you shouldn’t clap the board, you simply place your hand under the sticks to indicate to the editor that there will be no sound to accompany this specific take. This will be shown in pictures later in this post.

Bradley Stearn | Read the Full Article

How to Create a Starlight Time Lapse Video

What to know how those spectacular night timelapses of starry skies are done?  covers the basics in this tutorial on how to shoot night timelapse.

Timelapse

Location

Shooting starlight time lapse video is really exciting and interesting, but unfortunately you can’t shoot it everywhere. If you live in a big city, you’ll have to leave it and go at least 40-50 km away because the city produce light pollution. If you try to capture the stars around all that light your images will be blow out because the sky is too bright.

I recommend going and shooting the sky from a mountain far away from big cities. You will have the best chance to capture a nice, clean starlapse sequence. When you choose your location make sure to go there before sunset so you will have enough time to scout the place and choose the best spot for shooting the stars.

Make sure that you have something in the foreground when you frame your shot. Having an object in the foreground helps to give more depth in the photo. It also makes the movement of the stars more obvious. So look for a tree, a rock, an old house or anything that can help improve your shot when you put it in the foreground.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you need to check the weather forecast to ensure that the night sky will be clear without any clouds. Obviously, if you can’t see the stars, your time lapse won’t turn out very well.

Equipment

You can use a variety of gear for this shoot. I personally shot with my old Canon 550D using a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6, but I regret it now. I strongly recommend using a full frame camera body with fast wide angle lens. Full frame cameras handle high ISO settings much better than crop sensor cameras. In my example, I used ISO 6400 and the resulting noise is terrible. If you don’t mind having some noise, or you have one of the latest generation of crop sensor camera, you’ll be in better shape than I was.

A fast wide angle lens is also important. For example, the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 will be perfect for a crop sensor camera. The difference between f/2.8 and f/4, which is the widest aperture of my Sigma lens, is one full stop which is a lot when it comes to shooting stars. If you are using a full frame body, a 16-35mm f/2.8 will do the job for you. The wide angle lens lets the stars stay in the frame longer allowing the viewer to really follow them.

Photography TutsPlus | Read the Full Article

Why I Sold My RED and Downgraded to a C100

Dave Wallace explains why he downgraded from a Red Scarlet to the Canon C100.

Why I Sold My Red

As 2013 comes to an end, many of us are starting to think about fresh starts and goals for the New Year. For most, 2014 will mean expanding and upgrading gear or even taking a leap of faith. Personally, I’ve taken a very counter-intuitive leap of faith. I sold the most expensive video asset that I’ve ever had: My RED Scarlet.

The Back Story

When I started my video company, Innovate Imageworks, in 2010, I shot with Canon DSLRs. I started with the t2i and quickly moved up to the 5D Mark II. These DSLRs are revolutionary tools that opened doors to people like me. My clients have always loved the look of my DSLR footage and have never had issues with lack of quality. In hindsight, I would be sitting on a fairly sizable chunk of money right now if the 5D was still my main camera (but where’s the fun in that?).

By 2012, I began to feel the need to separate myself from fellow DSLR shooters. Work was going well and I could afford to make a major camera investment. As my gear-lust grew, a few newly-released cameras caught my eye.

It was the innovation and undeniable cool factor that lead me to the RED cult. The Scarlet was an indie-filmmaker’s dream. Suddenly I had access to the same camera that many big-budget Hollywood crews were using. I drained my bank account and bought a Red Scarlet.

FStoppers | Read the Full Article

Brent Burge on Editing the Sound of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Neil Turitz interviews Brent Burge on some of the unique challenges of creating the soundscape of Middle Earth for Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Smaug

SSN: How do you approach a film of this size and scope?
Burge: These films require a great deal of work, accomplished by a hugely talented crew we are very lucky to have working with us here in New Zealand. Once we have determined where the challenges are, we can set up systems and play to the crew’s strengths to create the best possible working environment where everyone is happy, focused, and most importantly, driven to achieve their best.

SSN: Visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri said the biggest challenge for the VFX team was creating the dragon. Was that the case for you, as well? What were some of the more challenging things you faced in putting this all together?
Burge: Smaug was an obvious challenge for Dave Farmer, the sound designer tasked with his sonic signature. Getting the size and physicality was a huge task, but having a vocal performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, and translating that into the size of the dragon was the key focus. It was imperative the dragon speak and sound as the dragon, not Benedict. We had new creatures, new locations, and lots of new story directions to deal with. Creatures such as Beorn [a "shape shifter" bear/man] our sound designer Dave Whitehead established his vocal range from within the bear vocabulary, and we found that it didn’t achieve what Peter was asking for in creating power and fear. So the focus became turning him into a monster, and taking him out of the bear range into something much more menacing.

Studio System News | Read the Full Article

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