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Got any tips for finding center frame for slate


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#1 Ryan W

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 03:22 PM

I just finnished working 24 days as a Camera trainee.
And the biggest problem I recurrently had was finding the center of frame for slating.

I always semmed to be to the left, right, high or low.
I laways checked the monitor during rehearsals and the length of the lens
to get the distance.

But the camera ops sometimes would change thier frame at the last second
or go wider and then I'm off.

It never seemed to be just right.
It seemed to agrivate the camera ops and the 1st's
Although some of the crew I worked with said it can take up to a year to get it down.

is there a way to judge from in front of the camera where the slate should go?
I found trying to judge from in front of the camera confusing, and it always looked as though
the slate was then way to the left or right of the mattbox from my perspective.

Any one with a surefire way?

THX
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 04:54 PM

Hi,

> Although some of the crew I worked with said it can take up to a year to get it down.

You'll never "get it down." The idea that some people can intrinsically hit the centre of a frame, particularly on a long lens, is pure fantasy.

> is there a way to judge from in front of the camera where the slate should go?

Nope.

Phil
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:05 PM

I think that it's just one of those things that you eventually "get." Do the obvious by knowing the lens and figuring out how far out to be (ie. 50mm = slate at 5 feet). You can also help yourself by knowing what the Operator is pointing at and figuring out how to get between it and the lens. It takes a little zen to get there, but it can be done. It's also great training for when you eventually pull focus by knowing how far out you should be going with the slate. It's just one of those things that comes with practice.
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#4 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:25 PM

Any one with a surefire way?


I don't think theres a surefire way. But most good acs will know the lens, how it sees things relative to the camera position and where it is focussed. With this information, they can get pretty damn close. Its just a matter of practice and experience.

But you know, more important than the ac nailing the slate-position on the first try, is the ability for the operator and the ac to communicate very quickly and efficiently to getting into the right position if it has been missed. This is particularly important in cases where the camera tends to change its starting frame at the last minute before rolling.

Knowing what the opening frame is is important to getting the slate in the right position. That is, don't be too concerned about finding the right spot in space where the slate should go. Concentrate more on where the lens is, and what the object that the lens is pointing at is (and where it is) and you will eventually, intuitively find the right spot for the slate if you draw a straight line between the two and you know what lens is being used.

AJB
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#5 Jon Kukla

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:25 PM

Try getting to a point where you can look right down the barrel of the lens straight into the gate. Then put it in front of your face. You won't want to do that once you get it down, but when you're starting out, sometimes that's the easiest thing to do in a tight situation. If the operator is reframing a lot, then try not to check the monitor until the last second.
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#6 Ryan W

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 09:08 PM

Try getting to a point where you can look right down the barrel of the lens straight into the gate. Then put it in front of your face. .


A funny story about this approach was told to me by a camera op.
He said he used to to the same thing and it worked...until one time he was told "it's not about you"
"I don't want to see your face in the monitor any more" (like he was hamming for the camera) so then he had to figure another way. trial and error terror.

Anyone else got any tips?
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#7 Mitch Gross

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 10:53 PM

Unless they're on a fairly long lens the slate should be pretty close to the camera. Back in my AC days riding on the dolly with the Operator, I'd put the slate flat up against the mattebox and back it off the same number of feet as the focal length. So a 25mm meant 2.5 feet away. Got me dead center and large in frame. Takes just a second and no one ever complained. Just be sure to wait until the last possible moment to get the slate in there--no one wants you blocking frame until you need to be there.
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#8 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 12:15 AM

I think it just comes with doing it. After a while, you pick up general ideas about what's going on. You know what shot they're planning, what lens they're using and you'll get a good idea of where to put the slate. You're never going to nail it every time and the operator shouldn't get irritated by moving you around unless you're way off base most of the time. It helps to take a look at the monitor during rehearsals and see what they're looking at... and after all of that, if you're still not sure... ask the 1st or the operator.
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#9 Jon Kukla

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 03:46 PM

A funny story about this approach was told to me by a camera op.
He said he used to to the same thing and it worked...until one time he was told "it's not about you"
"I don't want to see your face in the monitor any more" (like he was hamming for the camera) so then he had to figure another way. trial and error terror.

Anyone else got any tips?


No, I meant put it in front of your face when you can see the sweet spot, and then move yourself out of the way while keeping the board in place. I agree with your op - ideally the AC shouldn't be in the shot unless the location geography makes it necessary.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 05:07 PM

Hi,

This has always seemed to me to be one of those situations where you're doomed to upset someone. Go in too early to figure it out, and they're screaminig to clear the frame. Leave it to the last minute, they're screaming about the holdup.

Phil
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#11 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 12:12 PM

[quote name='Ryan W' date='Oct 1 2006, 09:22 PM' post='130653']
I just finnished working 24 days as a Camera trainee.
And the biggest problem I recurrently had was finding the center of frame for slating.

I always semmed to be to the left, right, high or low.
I laways checked the monitor during rehearsals and the length of the lens
to get the distance.

But the camera ops sometimes would change thier frame at the last second
or go wider and then I'm off.

It never seemed to be just right.
It seemed to agrivate the camera ops and the 1st's
Although some of the crew I worked with said it can take up to a year to get it down.

Whenever I've operated with a loader I've always tried to help them get the slate in the right place at the right time. A good operator should instinctively quickly seek and center up the slate the loader's holding and be ready to snap to his/her opening frame for the action. 'Sounds to me more like your operator was a little short on patience?..

...Loading's a tough job but the pressure keeps rising the more your climb the mountain... but then you can see!

Regards,

Rupe Whiteman
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#12 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 07:06 PM

Hope you were more efficient as a camera trainee than you are with spelling and grammar.
How can you consider yourself a DP if you just finished as a camera trainee which is with all due respect a junior position to a 2nd AC.
If you spent some time with different size slates and lens focal lengths you can get this reasonably together with experience.
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 04:23 PM

"Whenever I've operated with a loader I've always tried to help them get the slate in the right place at the right time. A good operator should instinctively quickly seek and center up the slate the loader's holding and be ready to snap to his/her opening frame for the action. 'Sounds to me more like your operator was a little short on patience?"

So what do you, as an operator, when you have no framing references at the beginning of a shot (such as a shot that starts in complete darkness)? You can't re-frame for the slate because you won't be able to re-frame to your #1 accurately.
I always try to help the 2nd with the slate when I can, but there are instances when this isn't possible, which is why it's important for the 2nd to know how to find the frame with the slate without the operating having to re-frame.
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#14 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 09:45 AM

"Whenever I've operated with a loader I've always tried to help them get the slate in the right place at the right time. A good operator should instinctively quickly seek and center up the slate the loader's holding and be ready to snap to his/her opening frame for the action. 'Sounds to me more like your operator was a little short on patience?"

So what do you, as an operator, when you have no framing references at the beginning of a shot (such as a shot that starts in complete darkness)? You can't re-frame for the slate because you won't be able to re-frame to your #1 accurately.
I always try to help the 2nd with the slate when I can, but there are instances when this isn't possible, which is why it's important for the 2nd to know how to find the frame with the slate without the operating having to re-frame.


... point taken Brad!

Rupe W
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#15 Chris Clarke

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:03 PM

It's important to have a range of clapper board sizes available to you. If for instance your on a fairly wide zoom, the focus puller might not want to rack to minimum distance to get your board sharp. In this instance you should use a large board a little further away.
If your unsure where to put the board make your best guess and check with focus puller before you shoot. If it's good for him and the operator then make a mental note or even a chalk mark for yourself. An experieced operator will not mind if you occasionally ask him where's best for the board or if he can tilt down for you.
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#16 James W

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 01:34 PM

I hate getting shouted at too and a good way to prevent unneccsary winging from behind the camera is to locate the slating position before the camera rolls and look for a distinctive height and distance marker that you can easily locate again.

Also a good trick for finding the correct slating position at night is to look for the "red eye" of the Arriglow. Look right down the front of the lens and when you can see the red glow circle fully then you're looking right into the gate.
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#17 Simon Miya

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 09:59 PM

Look at the rods. They point in exactly the same direction as the lens. Once you are close, look into the lens and try to see the Arriglow/Panaglow. When you see the red glow in the middle of the lens, your eyes are center frame.

After a while, it becomes second nature. At this point, I feel like a failure if I don't nail the center of frame with the slate every time.
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#18 J. Søren Viuf

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Posted 15 January 2007 - 12:25 AM

Another trick I teach my AC's is to lay the slate flat right below the lens, then slide it in a direct line out from the lens towards the subject the appropriate distance away (1/10 of the focal length in feet) then flip it up for camera. Always works well.
JSV
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#19 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 12:54 PM

For wide shots it's pretty easy to guesstimate where your slate should be. Just look at where the camera is pointed and instinctually go to where the middle of the frame most likely is.

For really tight frames I tried to listen to the Director, Actor and DP. Usually for closeups an actor will ask specifically what his frame line is, and from that you can make a good estimation of where your slate placement should be.

Just make sure you keep the sticks a reasonable distance from the actor's face & ears...ha ha!
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#20 Dror Dayan

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 06:52 PM

if the cameraman/woman/operator is using any kind of filter in the matte box, you can see the slate reflecting pretty clear in it. that way you can quickly center the slate. that in combination with the distance measuring technics mentioned before should get you pretty quick to the center of the frame. another thing i like to do is center the slate and then tip it forward, so that I hold it parrelal to the ground, so it´s out of the frame. it helps when the dp an director are still discussing the shot and want to thave a clean monitor. than you can tip the slate back down and are ready to go.

hopes that helps!

dror
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