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#1 Aaron K

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:34 PM

Hello all,

I'm new to this forum, but I'm a sophomore at NYU's film program and I just wrapped my first shoot as 2nd AC with film. I'd 2nd AC'ed with digital but I never with film.

My concerns/questions were as follows:

1) I struggled with the clapper and camera reports. Along with moving camera, setting focus, running mags back and forth/loading them (I know, technically, that's two jobs but still), swapping lenses and laying down marks, I found I had the hardest time finding places to leave the slate where it wouldn't be moved. This was especially a problem with the camera reports as they could just blow away. I started to just put the reports in my pocket and leave the slate under the sticks after we'd sandbagged it, but there must be a better way to do this...?

2) I'm pretty sure I have this right, but I was told differently. The call goes: "Sound speeds"-Speeding-"Five Apple take 1"-Camera rolls-Rolling-Mark *Clap*-Clear-Frame, or so I thought. What we were doing was "Sound speeds-speeding-(camera rolls without a call from the AD)-"Five Apple take 1"-Mark and clear-Mark *clap*-Frame

3) We had no monitor setup, so the DP had his eye to the eyepiece. The 1st AC pulled focus, but on a normal (when I say normal, I mean union) shoot wouldn't 2nd AC pull focus as 1st AC looked through the piece/did camera movements?

4) I didn't bring my light meter to set, because I thought I didn't need it, but today I was wondering if the 2nd AC should have a meter.

5) My kit consisted of: 4 dry-erase markers, LED flashlight, leatherman, knife, lighter, pad and pen, tape measure, masking tape and blue painters tape. I also had my gaffing gloves from my G&E kit but I never used them, along with a leveler and sets of batteries. I could have used a Sharpie to write on masking tape and put on the clapper for permanent info, like the production, director, and DP. Is there anything else I should have?

Those are all my pressing interests. Nobody really taught me how to do my job, I kind of learned by osmosis after doing G&E on a lot of other shoots and google, so I'm sorry if these questions are basic or whatnot. Plus, I've never been on a union shoot, but I'd like to know how industry sets operate.

Finally, I'd like to know of any resources for AC work? I heard of this book, "The Camera Assistants Manual"...where can one get it, for cheap (I am, after all, a college student). Also, I've heard that I should have different colored tape for the different actors' marks. Where can I pick that up (my shitty painter's tape was the best I could do)? After all I've said, if you have any other comments/suggestions/questions/whatnot please say so! I'm only looking to improve, so any and all help is greatly appreciated.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:46 PM

You put the slate in a front box, a box attached to the tripod, with a spot for the slate.

the first way is right, the 2nd is wrong.

the 1ac ac pulls, the 2nd does not. the DoP or the camera op looks through the eye piece (often the DoP is the cam op, else he has one) a monitor is not always used, often used for a 1ac for reference only, you can't tell focus from it really, and of course fed to the director and/or dop (when not operating).

i've never seen nor asked a 1nd to get me a meter reading. The only person, aside from me, who I've ever asked for a stop was the gaffer.

Altoids, pain killers, thermos full of coffee (for dop and 1 ac and they'll love you!)

http://www.amazon.co... Manual&x=0&y=0


don't get discourages, learn by doing, watching, listening to how the 1st and dop want to run their show. screw up, own up to it, and you'll be fine.
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#3 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:55 PM

Everything Adrian said.

Throw away your masking and painter's tape. You need 1" cloth gaffers tape in multiple colors, also, 1'' paper tape in several colors, plus 2'' black gaff and black paper.

I started AC'ing professionally while I was in college and my initial kit investment was around $500. You need the right tools and reference(books) for the job.

Here is a starting point: http://www.filmtools...acjupokiso.html

Make sure you have lots of air, tape and sharpies. On a film job every time you hand the 1st a fresh mag you should have a can of air on you or in the other hand waiting to give to him/her.

NEVER write on a slate with permanent marker(especially if it's the 1st's or production is renting it :) ). Anything 'permanent i.e prod title, director camera, should be on a piece of white 1'' camera tape in black permanent marker. Or if you're a pro, printed on a 1'' label from a P-Touch or similar labeler.

A word on union and non-union. I've worked on both kinds of sets(I am non-union) The job does NOT change. You are doing the exact same job on both. What production is allowed to 'get away' with does change, amongst other things. But a 2nd never pulls focus, unless the first cannot be there by some sort of extraneous circumstance and they NEED to get the shot now.


Sometimes you can't have a frontbox. You need to keep it on you, either hold it patiently during the take or open it and slide it between your belt.

Edited by Michael Kubaszak, 17 October 2010 - 06:56 PM.

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#4 Evan Luzi

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:33 PM

Adrian and Michael covered this pretty well but I just wanted to add my two cents as well as a few things...

1.) As you pointed out, there is much more to 2nd AC than just slating. Don't be too overly concerned with where the slate rests between setups, although it is important that it is kept safe and you are aware of where it is. A frontbox is ideal or some kind of ditty bag that you are carrying around essential tools in. Let the slate live in there until after rehearsals when you will need it. Another good place to keep the slate is near the lenses since you will often be staging those as close to the camera as the space you're shooting in will allow. Camera reports are easily kept in a pocket or pouch or you can make a "slateboard" to attach to the back of a slate using velcro. (see here: http://www.theblacka...e-clapperboard/)

2.) Camera shouldn't really be speeding without the first AD calling for it. This may be a habit somebody carried over from shooting digital. When shooting sync sound into the camera often you would call the slate after camera is rolling to capture the sound. On double system sound, however, it should be called before camera speeds. Rolling sound is cheaper than rolling camera. *Mark* and clear frame is all that should be on the film roll.

3.) On any shoot (non-union or union, monitor or no monitor) the DP, director or a camera operator will look through the eyepiece, set the frame and follow action if necessary. The 1st AC always will pull focus unless he/she is absent for some reason in which case the 2nd AC will be asked to step-up and fill in.

4.) It's not usually necessary for an AC to carry a meter. As Adrian said, it's more necessary for a gaffer. On some shoots I have been asked to get meter readings for the DP, but often they will set their own meter and hand it to me. You may bring one to set, but it would likely be for purely backup/safety reasons.

5.) Definitely purchase more paper tape in various colors. A thread from this forum is particularly useful on that (http://www.cinematog...showtopic=48160) Always have sharpies on you to mark anything and everything, including to lay claim to bottles of water. Purchase a variety of generic tools and allen/hex keys to fix/troubleshoot camera equipment. Gloves aren't really necessary except if someone needs some in a pinch or you are wearing multiple hats. A leveler is sometimes useful, but get an App for one on your phone if possible. One less thing to carry. Michael nailed some other details about the air and writing permanent stuff on the slate (on 1" white tape in sharpie, or printed from a p-touch label maker)

As for film jobs, there are a variety of online resources. Mandy, Production Notices, and Craigslist are a few. However, most of your jobs will come from contacts and other AC's on shoots. As Adrian said, when you screw up, own up to it and you'll be fine. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't know how to do something, but ALWAYS remember the answer so you don't have to ask again.

Definitely pick up The Camera Assistant's Manual by David Elkins or The Camera Assistant by Douglas Hart. Hart's book is a bit more introductory but both are important reads for any AC.

A good place to buy more tape is someplace simple like FilmTools but also the Expendables Recycler has treated me well before. They don't have a price list online but you can email them and they will send back an invoice.

Remember to keep a good attitude, bust your ass, and never complain and you'll do great. Good luck!
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#5 Nolan M Berbano

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:36 PM

If you don't have a frontbox then the sharkfin technique works for me whenever I need to be on the move and am carrying other things. Open up your sticks and just hook it to your belt. Works great for regular slates but I wouldn't try it with a smart slate.
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#6 Aaron K

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:37 AM

Hey all-

Thanks for the input so far! I've 2nd'ed twice since and First AC'ed once and I've been much, much more efficient and on top of things.

One more issue I've encountered though:

When laying down marks, what do you guys do for carpets? I put my camera tape down on carpet once and learned my lesson, but I can't figure out a way to mark it otherwise.

Any help is, as always, greatly appreciated!
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#7 James Malamatinas

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 04:05 PM

Your question have been answered pretty comprehensively but thought I'd add my 2 cents since I'm in the exact same situation at the moment having just invested in AC kit this past week.

I'd done 6-8 shoots over the last 6 months, as both 1st and 2nd AC before I decided it was worth buying my own kit. But I got the following:

Floorbag
Clapper & Sticks
Misc Marker Pens
Kleen slate board eraser
2inch Black Gaffer Tape
1inch cloth/paper tape
Leatherman
Tape Measure
Allen Keys
T-Bar Screwdriver
Croc Clips
Cable Ties
D-Ring (useful for hanging tape and other things from belt hook)
Magna-lite (magnifying glass/torch combination)

I also invested in cleaning kit:

Pancro Lens Fluid
Lens Tissue
Lens Cloth
Lens Spray
Air Spray

I read the Elkin book too and found it very useful. I actually read it before starting AC'ing which was good, but re-reading after having actually AC'd was far more useful and helpful.

On a side note, is the slating procedure in the UK completely different from America? We do not have 'Five Apple - Take 1' etc instead we use the 'Scene [xx] -> Shot [xx] - Take [xx]' format, or at least that is all I have known. Is there a reason for the difference? We use the standard calls for all other slating procedures e.g. second sticks, pick-up, MOS, tail slate and so forth?
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