Nothing says “We’re Making a Movie!” more than a slate, but what is it and why do we still use it?

Most slates have two purposes – to index footage and to help sync sound with picture.

Indexing is a simple, powerful time saver. Every time we start rolling, we zoom in on the slate and record its image. It lists pertinent info like scene number, shot number and take number. By making notes on which takes were the best, you can jump right to them in the editing room. Simple and obvious, but it makes a big difference.

What’s that clapping for? Back in the old days of film, picture was recorded on one device and sound on another. It was the editor’s job to “sync” sound and picture. The clap makes a very sharp, distinct sound – if you line up that sound with the exact frame where the clapper comes together, viola, you have synced sound and picture.

With the advent of DSLRS (Digital SLR cameras) that shoot beautiful video, but don’t record sound very well, some video production companies have reverted to recording audio and video separately, so the clap is once again key.

What’s up with the modern slates with countdown numbers? Those slates show timecode and can be synced with the camera. It’s just another tool that helps the editor know exactly where they are in the footage.

At GoodSide Studio, we use slates on most every project. We’d love to have your company’s name under “client” on our next slate.

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