Monday, December 5, 2011

What Are the Purpose of the Sticks on a Slate?

A slate has labeled areas for all necessary information regarding a film take.

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A slate, also called a clapper board, is a flat, erasable board with a pair of hinged wooden sticks attached to the top. Used in the film and television industries, it allows film editors to synchronize video and audio while also keeping track of the details of every scene and take. Slates may be manual or electronic.

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In 1930, Frank Thring, Sr. of Melbourne founded the first talking film studio in Australia named Efftee Film Productions after his own initials. He is credited with inventing the basic idea of the clapper board before filming his first movie in 1931. The sticks on the clapper board allowed him to synchronize the audio from his state-of-the-art RCA sound equipment with film footage when a movie was edited. The system proved so effective that it spread throughout the industry.

Standard Slate

When audio is recorded separately from video, the editor must later recombine the two tracks in post-production. Unless the audio and video match perfectly, the movement of the actors' mouths will not match what is being said, nor will other noises match the onscreen action. By smacking the sticks on the slate together in front of the camera at the beginning of each film take, the editor can match the sharp sound on the audio track with the video frame in which the sticks first touch.

Time Code Slate

Some modern slates take advantage of digital technology by displaying the time code from the audio recorder in real time. The video camera records the audio time code displayed on the slate at the beginning of the take. The time code at the moment the sticks touch corresponds to the sound of the sticks clapping together, allowing the editor to match the video and audio tracks without having to search for the actual noise.

Industry Usage

Generally speaking, production crews employ the sticks on the slate anytime the video or audio recording equipment is turned off. The slate usually appears at the beginning of a take, but in some cases, production requirements may make it necessary to use it at the end. When the slate is used at the end of a take, it's held upside down. In either case, the front of the slate should list any vital identifying information, including production title, scene, take and date.

ReferencesHumboldt State University: Before You Begin Your ProjectSavannah College of Art and Design: Pearstone SAI-5334 Acrylic Slate InsertCyberCollege: Studio Audio for Film and VideoAustralia Day: Australian Inventions and InventorsAustralian Dictionary of Biography: Thring, Francis William (Frank) (1882-1936)Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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