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Filmmaking Guide: Formatting the shot information placed on a clapperboard

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The film editing process starts by synching each audio and video material with the clapperboard and its voice counterpart called the voice slate.

As filming is usually not done chronologically for practical reasons, the editor arranges the scenes and sequences in the right order based on the shot information, also called the slate information, placed on the clapperboard. Each take, the term referring to the repetition of each shot being filmed, is either assembled on the rough cut or skipped, especially if it’s an “NG shot.” This means that the log sheet indicates it as a “non-good shot” and the director confirmed not to use it in the edit.

The shot information placed on a clapperboard generally follows the shot ID found on the film’s storyboard or shotlist. There are actually different formats used when writing the shot information on the clapperboard. It’s up to the production which one really suits a particular project.

“Shot Number, Take Number” Format

When shooting a short movie involving only one sequence and a few scenes inside a single location, it’s easier to use the “Shot Number, Take Number” format where all shots are numbered chronologically as they happen in the story. If the first shot being filmed is the seventh shot of the movie, then the ID can be formatted as “Shot 7, Take 1” or “7-1” or “7, T1.”

Sequence Number-Shot Number, Take Number” Format

Some productions use the “Sequence Number-Shot Number, Take Number” format, which is based on the sequence number where the shot belongs in the script and the chronological order of how the shot appears in the story. For instance, the first shot and take for the movie’s opening sequence can use the format “Seq. 1-Shot 1, Take 1” or “1-1, T1.” This is a popularly used format in short films.

“Scene Number-Camera Angle, Take Number” Format

Some productions use the “Scene Number-Camera Angle, Take Number” format. For the shot information for the fifth scene, third camera angle used, and third take being shot, the production can use the format “Scene 5-Camera Angle C, Take 3” or “5-C, T3.” This is often referred to as the American format because of its popularity in many Hollywood productions.

“Slate Number, Take Number” Format

Some productions use the “Slate Number, Take Number” format. For the shot information of the 250th slate number that uses the second camera for the second take being shot, the production can use the format “Slate 250-Take 2B” or “250, 2B.” The letter is included if using a multiple-camera setup, just like with this example where the second camera labeled as the “B” camera is used for filming. This is often referred to as the European format because of its popularity in many European productions.

“Scene Master, Take Number” Format

If shooting a project like a music video where a particular scene is filmed continuously as the band plays the entire music, then this set-up is done five times in different locations, the production can use the “Scene Master, Take Number” format. Others actually use a short verbal code for easier identification like “Park Master-Take 1” or “Park, T1.” This means that it’s the master shot for the band playing the song in the park location and it is the first take for the said shot. For the inserts (the tighter shots including medium shots and close-ups of each band member, their musical instruments, or any other part of the location), the shot ID for the park scene’s first insert shot can be “Park Insert 1-Take 1″ or Park Insert 1, T1.”

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.
https://www.riannehillsoriano.com

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