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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie: So, Rich, we just talked about using digital slates and digital slates are great, right? Rich: Yeah. Robbie: I mean, they are really cool, but they do require that you have a device to run them on. Sometimes having a device to run the slates on can be problematic for a couple of reasons. One, you have to make sure that the device is charged and it has power or batteries, and then the second thing is... Rich: You didn't forget it in the airport screening line on your way through TSA. Robbie: Right, and the second thing is this is a little bit of sob story, I've actually been out on set before with an iPad and guess what, it was in a bag, somebody threw it across the set, the next thing to know, I opened up the iPad, and I got a big crack across the middle of the screen, right? Rich: That's a sad day.
Robbie: It is, so one of the good things to have, even if you are using digital slates is a fallback plan and that comes in the form of an analog slate, something like this. Rich: You know, this is a real slate. It's not super expensive, it's about 40 bucks for a good one here, and it does give you a lot of control. Robbie: Yeah, it's funny, you make the point of I think a lot of people see these and like behind the scenes parts of DVDs and stuff like that, they really have a real purpose. And the anatomy of one of these slates is pretty simple. Down here, in the bottom section of the slate, this is where we can put in the information about our shot, the scene, the take, the director, the camera that was being used, and there's a couple of ways of doing this.
On this particular slate, you can see that we actually have some pieces of tape that are put on here. Rich: Yeah, and that's a real good idea. The reason why we've done that there is that, that information isn't going to change from take to take, it's still the same producer, it's still the same director on set here today. And because that's not changing, we've just put masking tape on there and written on it, and then the rest is written with a special type of either a marker, or a china marker that takes a little bit like a grease pencil, it's a little harder to erase. Robbie: Now Rich, this is a very good point about choosing a marker for your slate.
We both have been in situations where we've gone to write something on the slate with say a Sharpie. And guess what, Sharpies are called permanent markers for a reason, right? Rich: Yeah. Robbie: So just be careful about what marker that you choose. You mentioned a china marker or some other sort of water-soluble marker, goes a long way, so that you don't ruin the actual slate that you just paid good money for. Rich: In this case, we're just using your typical Expo dry erase marker, having a paper towel on set will let you wipe that down in between takes. Sometimes people do use china markers, those take a little bit more elbow grease to get out.
Now the best thing about this, the speaker here on the iPad is pretty loud, but this can really make some good noise. Now this particular one has a magnet, so it doesn't accidentally come up, but if I've got that, that's a really loud sync point, much louder than the speaker on the iPad. Robbie: Yeah, some of the different slates out there will give you also all sort of different features. You might find slates that have chip charts on them. So the tonal range is represented from black to white, or they might have color chips for the primary and the secondary colors that are used in video. Now obviously, the more things that you start getting on a slate, the more expensive they are, but a basic slate like this, you can find pretty much anywhere, any reputable place that does photo and video equipment for the most part.
Rich: Yes, so add this to your kit. And if your clients love these things, swing by the toy store, get a few of the prop ones and then just have the crew sign them and hand those to the client. But you are going to want to get a real slate on your set, even if it's just a fallback for the digital slate. All right, up next, we're going to be talking about some other sync strategies and ways to get metadata when you are on a large set with great distances, and I'll give you a secret, it has something to do with this. I didn't push the button because he would have been really mad. Robbie: I am scared. Rich: We'll be right back.
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