Movie Slate Clapboard

Introduction: Movie Slate Clapboard

About: Retired English/Theater Teacher

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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    11 Discussions

    It would be more fun if the board could "clap". Add a second striped bar with a small hinge or pivot point on the top.

    1 reply

    not only more fun (which I totally agree with by the way) but there are practical applications to the clapping sound and the board actually touching down on the other board, for synching sound with image when editing. :)

    Would need a tethered eraser as well, markers run dry, caps get lost. Velcro letters solved all these problems. Thanks for the comments.

    2 replies

    not to mention white boards can be hard to read if anything id use greese parkers on a smooth black surface but that has its own difficulties this is a great idea though wish id had one when i was in school

    Just wanted to point out, that I did a film this weekend and we used a white board style clap board that my editor bought. It was much smaller than my quickly done one, but after about 20 takes, it was difficult getting it clean enough to write the numbers on it. So, I would say, chalkboard paint and a wet wash cloth is the best way to go.

    Here is my clapper board.  I made it from some scrap wood, so it is a little over sized.  Since I didn't sandpaper the surface, the chalk isn't as smooth as it should be, but still readable.  Here is a link to a little movie I created showing the board.

    And apparently I made it for lefties or something.  ha ha  Oh well, still works the same.  I used a small square piece of wood to attach the clapper.  I drilled through both pieces of the wood at the same time to make sure the holes lined up.

    If I make a new one, then I'll probably do an Instructable.


    I'm going with the chalkboard paint.  It apparently doesn't reflect as much light either, so it reduces glare into the camera.

    well you could always use magnetic paint and magnetic numbers be harder to lose the numbers for one thing

    2 replies

    Magnets slide and can be jarred loose. Never had that happen with the velcro. But I do like the possibilities with other magnetic objects, hmmmmm.

    Lost or broken chalk, missing eraser, messy chalk dusk, cough, cough.