There's More to Apple Boxes Than You Realize

There a ton of must-have items that you'll need on set — duct tape, clamps, and a pair of comfy shoes. Apple boxes are another one of these.

Apple boxes serve many purposes on a shoot, whether it's to add a little height to your camera or to take a load off between setups, but there may be a little bit more to them than you realize. Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens quickly breaks down the different sizes, positions, and uses for apple boxes in the video below:

Sizes

Sometimes these sizes are simply called 1, 2, and 3 — some even call a full apple box a "Tom Cruise," for obvious reasons. (Tom Cruise is a short dude.) Here are the sizes from the video, as well as their dimensions.

  • Full20"×12"×8"
  • Half20"×12"×4"
  • Quarter20"×12"×2"
  • Pancake20"×12"×1"

Positions

Different productions might refer to apple box positions differently (such as "first floor," "second flood," and "third floor"), but Evan Luzi from The Black and Blue made a helpful graphic that can help you remember the names of each of the positions mentioned in Morgan's video.

Credit: The Black and Blue

Uses

Apple boxes can be used for pretty much anything, especially if you're a creative and resourceful individual, but here are a few common ways to utilize them:

  • Add height to actors, cameras, and props
  • Provide support for equipment
  • Create a dolly (it's hard to level a camera when it's inside a grocery cart dolly)
  • Sit on 'em
  • Use them as a step ladder

Apple boxes don't tend to be too expensive; you can usually get a set of them (full, half, quarter, pancake) for around $150. (Or, if you have money to burn, you can grab some Jokerboxes that double as apple boxes and storage for grip equipment.) But if you're a DIYer, here are a couple of tutorials that show you how to make your own. The first is more labor intensive and will cost a little bit more, but you'll have some nice boxes in the end. The second is much simpler and cheaper to make, but they'll look a little rough.

What are some creative ways you've used apple boxes on set? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment

12 Comments

Love the post - but I'm afraid duct tape is kind of a no no on set. Gaff tape is my savior!

March 18, 2016 at 7:56AM, Edited March 18, 7:56AM

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Devin Pickering
Cinematographer/Editor/Composer
224

Have to read the rest. Stopped at duct tape to leave a comment about "no duct tape".

March 18, 2016 at 8:27AM, Edited March 18, 8:27AM

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Thomas Koch
Director/DoP
269

Me too.

March 20, 2016 at 5:21AM

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Duct tape? Are you serious? You guys need better research. And last week I read an article here that mixed up SFX and VFX. I know it's tempting on the Internet, but if you don't know, please don't pretend like you do.

March 18, 2016 at 8:56AM, Edited March 18, 8:58AM

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Thomas
86

One really good example of making your own apples, one really bad example. Please if you're going to make your own, get a nice 7 or 9 ply plywood. Don't just use whatever "1/2 inch" plywood you find at the local home center. And yes, use plywood, not solid boards.

March 18, 2016 at 10:14AM

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Liam
Head of Creative
190

Anyone operating under the assumption that renee is anything more than a hack blogger is fooling themselves. She has no knowledge of video production. So go easy on her for not having a clue what essential shoot gear is.

March 19, 2016 at 12:29PM, Edited March 19, 12:29PM

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She doesn't need to be a film expert to share useful information.

March 20, 2016 at 9:00PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
975

Pancake apples for a serving tray at lunch.

March 21, 2016 at 1:03AM, Edited March 21, 1:03AM

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roger bacon
Editor
77

Thanks for sharing my video on apple boxes!

March 25, 2016 at 2:00PM, Edited March 25, 2:00PM

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Nick Ferry
youtuber
74

Am I crazy or does your header image show someone sitting on milk crates in an article about apple boxes?

May 13, 2017 at 1:27PM, Edited May 13, 1:27PM

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Michael Williams
Producer
96

I was just going to say that.

June 28, 2017 at 10:32AM

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Jason R. Johnston
Director & Cinematographer
84

p.s 1/8 apple box = a pancake.

January 1, 2018 at 7:32AM, Edited January 1, 7:32AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
455