What Do Films Need A Clapperboard?

If you have watched a film shoot or video shoot, you would have seen the cardboard that is displayed and clapped at the beginning of each shot. There is a general perception that this is just a ritual or formality being followed. However, not many know that the clapperboard plays an important role in the making of a movie.

The clapperboard is also known by other names such as production slate, movie slate, film slate, film clapper, dumb slate, etc. With technology, clapperboards are also now available in digital format. To understand why films need a clapperboard, here are some important things to understand.

Who uses the clapperboard? – In most cases, the clapperboard is used by the second assistant camera. It is also called 2AC or clapper / loader.

What is the primary use of clapperboard? – Information displayed on a clapperboard is primarily used by the post-production team including the editor. During shooting, a lot of raw files are generated. If there is no clapperboard, it will create a huge chaos for the post-production team. With information displayed in a clapperboard, the editor can establish a clear sequence of the recorded shoots.

Why do clapperboards make the clap sound? – The clap sound of a film slate is not just an indication for the actors to start the shoot. In addition, it also helps the post production team to know the beginning of a shot. Earlier, film slates did not have any clap sound. They were a simple slate with the information written on them. The clap sound was generated externally by another crew member. However, as things evolved, the clap sound mechanism was incorporated into the slate itself.

What is the information mentioned on a clapperboard? – A clapperboard displays all the information, as may be needed by the post-production team. It has roll/reel number, take number and scene number. All this information is collectively referred to as Head ID. Other information displayed on a clapperboard may include date, FPS, interior or exterior location, day or night, MOS (not recording audio), production (title of the show), etc.

Why are there stripes on the clapperboard? – The stripes on the clapperboard are not mere ornamentation. They have multiple roles to play. For example, the stripes on a clapperboard help differentiate it from the background. This information can be used to measure focal distances. This is needed when the shot requires pulling focus. Clapperboards with colored stripes can be used for white balancing. They can also be used for color reference.

As is evident, a clapperboard or film board plays an important role in movie making. The next time you notice them, you will probably be more appreciative of the clapperboard.

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