We all must have seen clapboard in the films or at the film set. The iconic part of Cinema industry or we call it cinematic symbol. There are many words such as clapper board, movie slate, film clapper but they all mean identical.

If you ever observe, there are two main parts of the clapper board, first “the slate” in which we write about the specifying information which is being recorded. Earlier this clapper board was made up of actual slate, exactly like chalkboards. The second one is attached “clapper”, top of the film slate. Traditionally the clapper sticks have clapped separately from the written slate. Then Australian filmmaker F.W. Thring came up with a new idea of attaching the clapper to the top of the slate.

Traditional clapper board (Source: Google)

In current times, you are more likely to notice the white acrylic slate or else we name it whiteboards on most of the sets. Whiteboards are more fishable compared to the traditional wooden clapper because these are lighter and durable.

Upgradation of clapperboard (Source: Google)

Now talking about the use of the film slate on the set. It is used by the second assistant camera also known as a loader. The main purpose of film slate is to identify the shot that are being shot and also to tell the post-production team when the camera has started and stopped recordings. It contains all the information about the particular scene, takes and roll. Also, these all look very simple but have way more essential functions.

The film slate include two major information

  • Information about production
    • Name of the production house
    • Name of the director
    • Name of the camera man, videographer, cinematographer
    • Label which camera is being used for the shot
    • The date when shot was done
  • Information about the shot
    • Roll
    • Scene
    • Take
Acrylic white clapper board (Source: Pinterest)

The clapper is shot in front of the camera to create the voice of clap when recording begins, and it will again clap when the shot is finalised. At the same time, different cameras and different view angle capture this same moment and same voice so that editor can easily differentiate the final shot with other many shots. The editor uses the clapboard to find where the video and audio of each take are synchronized. The editor mark the spike in the audio a waveform made by the clap of the stick and lines that go up with the video frame where the clapper sticks meet.

Editing waveform of slate clapping (Source: Google)

So now we know what the use of clapboard is. What are you waiting for? Set your clappers and start recording.

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