Introduction: Movie Slate Clapboard
A must-have tool for video movie making that will speed up your edit time exponentially. In fact filming is also aided by not having to search for the chalk, dry-erase pen, eraser, simply reach to the back where all your letters and numbers are stored on velcro. Film about 10 seconds before each take to provide a visual marker you can easily find when fast forwarding through your clips. Why not just rewind each time? You lose valuable time and run the risk of erasing good material for "cut-aways" and "out-takes".
Step 1: Materials
I used some scrap 1/4" hardboard cut 18" by 12" rounding the bottom corners with a jigsaw. Then cut a piece of 1x2 18" long for the top backing. This simulates the "clapping arm". This slate does not "clap" since that is a vestige of the old devices that made a noise used in syncing sound. We just want a way to identify our shots for editing. 1" wide sticky-backed velcro, a good adhesive, 1" adhesive-back lettering, a couple wood screws, a roll of 3/4" masking tape, and finally black and white paint rounds out our materials list.
Step 2: Painting
Paint the smooth side of the hardboard with black, I like a satin or flat finish that doesn't reflect light much. Paint the 1x2 backing black also.
Step 3: Special FX
Wrap the black backing with tape to mask off the traditional diagonal white stripes. I used a white spray paint. Make sure the tape is pressed down firmly to prevent paint from bleeding under the tape.
Step 4: Front
Cut two 3" pieces of the "loop" side of the velcro for the front of the slate. Pre-drill from the back and use screws to attach the striped backing to the top of the slate. Use extra letters for the labels. Don't forget to add your production company name.
Step 5: Back Storage
Using a thick adhesive, attach three 12" pieces of the "loop" velcro to the back of the board. Even though the velcro is sticky, it will not adhere well to the back of hardboard which is porous and rough. Use plenty of glue here as we will be using these strips a great deal and don't want the velcro to pull up.
Step 6: Letter & Numbers
Using the "hook" side of the velcro attach numbers and letters leaving just a smidge on each side (the Q is especially fun, set it at an angle on the velcro). I tried non-stick velcro, but the letters pull off too easily with constant use. The black area around each figure is sticky and annoying, but a gentle use of nail polish remover on a cotton ball solved this problem. Actually, after several uses even the oil from our hands rendered the adhesive inert. I duplicated the numbers as you can see to allow for multiple takes and scene numbers, and 6s upside down are... anybody... yes, you with the drool, a 9. I rarely need a zero so I substitute the "O". My shots ended with "X" because my storyboard sheet contains only 12 images. If I can't film a scene in less than 24 shots it's time to hire Spielberg. Good filming!
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