Film and video production: Going for a take.


This is a general guide to the protocol for starting to shoot. Most terminology originated with celluloid shooting procedures and may eventually change due to new media technologies. Solid state recorders such as the Red Camera do not roll for instance.

Usually the AD, the Assistant Director, will take charge of getting everybody ready for the shot. Any final make-up touches and powder will be applied to bright, shiny faces and last minute hair adjustments will be made. Continuity will be checked. Props will have been set in place and lights will be tweaked. On set, mobile phones should always be switched off whilst filming.

Unless you are on a sound stage, the sound recordist will wait for the numerous planes to pass by overhead and cars to disappear before giving the all clear.

Going for a shot will go something like this:

The Assistant Director will ask:

  • AD: “Everybody ready?”
  • EVERYBODY: Yes / yo / you bet / Do it, do it! / yeah / fuck yeah!/kiss my ass.

Everyone is ready to go.

  • DIRECTOR/AD: “Roll sound” or “run sound.”

The sound recordist (opens eyes/puts down newspaper or porn mag) switches on his gizmos and announces:

  • SOUND RECORDIST: “Rolling/running!”

The AD or Director will then say:

  • DIRECTOR/AD: “Roll camera” or run camera” or “turnover.”

The camera operator or his/her assistant will start the camera. (This depends upon the crew size,budget and whether shooting film or digital).

  • 1st CAMERA ASSISTANT: “Rolling” or “Running” or “Speed*”

The 1st or 2nd camera assistant will then hold the ‘board’ or ‘clapper board’ at a distance where it will appear in a central position in the camera frame. You can determine this by either looking at the size of the shot in the monitor or the viewfinder or through experience, by judging the distance based on the lens focal length. The Operator will then say:

  • CAMERA OPERATOR: “Mark it!

On ‘mark it’, will declare:

  • 1ST/2ND/CLAPPER LOADER/CAMERA ASSISTANT: “slate 1, take 1.”

The camera assistant may also sometimes announce the name of the production before snapping shut the board.

  • DIRECTOR: “Action.”

The Action takes place.

  • DIRECTOR: “cut!”

The director will check with both camera and sound departments for their feedback on whether there were any problems/issues with the shot. If shooting on film, the camera gate will be checked straight away for dust and small particles which could have scratched the film’s surface.

The Director will confer with the actors on their feelings about the performance and give them his/her comments. It’s rare to have a one take wonder so there will generally be another couple of takes to improve any or all of the elements involved.

* The term ‘speed’ comes from the camera operator announcing when a film camera had been started and run up to the desired amount of ‘frames per second’, its proper speed.

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