September 3, 2016

Tips and Tricks That'll Help Make You the Best 2nd AC Ever

2nd ACs do a whole lot more than just clap a slate.

Even though being a 2nd AC can sometimes seem like a thankless job, there are so many things you can do on set that'll make everyone's life a whole lot easier. To give you an idea of what kinds of tasks 2nd ACs do on a film project, as well as a ton of great tips and tricks for doing those tasks quicker and easier, here's a very helpful video from Film Riot.

Host Ryan Connolly shared a lo of great insight into the work of a 2nd AC, so to make it a little easier for you, here's a list of all of the responsibilities he mentions, along with the tips that go with them.

Slating

It seems simple enough, but slating is a bit of an art form. You've got to make it easy for the editor to read, hear, and see all of the pertinent information relating to each scene, so here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Be aware of every scene (which scene/take/roll you're on)
  • Clearly call out your slate
  • Place the slate so that it fills the frame
  • Avoid cameos!
  • Have an insert slate on-hand for when a normal slate is too big to fit in the frame (like on extreme close-ups)

Changing a lens

Being a filmmaker, you've probably switched out your fair share of lenses, but you should make sure that you're following proper protocol when doing so on someone else's project.

  • Take the lens from the 1st AC with your fingertips, not with your palm (to avoid smudges)
  • Keep your hand over the sensor once the lens is removed
  • When the 1st AC hands you the lens, say "got it" once you know you're securely holding it
  • Put back cap and lens cap on lenses (and keep those caps in the camera bag, not in your pocket)
  • Never rush a lens change, no matter what

Setting marks

Again, here's another seemingly simple task that actually takes a little finesse to do right, setting marks for the actors and/or. Here are some tips on how to use your 1" camera paper tape like a pro:

  • Pick a specific color for each actor, and save fluorescent colors for camera marks
  • Leaving a tab on the end of your tape makes it easier to pull markers up, as well as grab more tape
  • No tiny T's, only big T's (4" x 12" is good)
  • Premake 4" tape tabs and stick them on the back of your insert slate for later use
  • Let actors know if you're going to "bust" or "dot" marks
  • Get T marks for all different kinds of terrain: sandbag T marks, metal T brackets, etc.
  • Use canned air on dusty/dirty surfaces before laying down tape

So, there you go. Now go out and be the best 2nd AC that you can be! 

Do you have any tips and tricks for 2nd ACs? Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

3 Comments

The most important tip: In between the tasks - always be close to the 1st or to the camera and keep aware of what's coming up next. If a 1st has to look for you at any point - that's a strike. It only takes a couple strikes to assure replacement for next project. A pro-active, attentive and swift 2nd can be brought up to speed on any particular task he might not have mastered yet.

September 4, 2016 at 3:28AM

0
Reply
Gleb Volkov
Director of Photography
236

Good ACs don't put tape over the contacts of the camera media.
Great way to goo up and eventually damage cards, readers and cameras.

September 4, 2016 at 6:41AM

4
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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
250

With many 1st pulling remotely, often buried behind a monitor, 2nd need to do more duties than before. After long handheld takes with heavy cameras, you just want to hand it off without looking, knowing the AC is there to relieve you you can rest for the next take...well, with AC's pulling by monitor instead of marks (which has become more prevalent lately, it's not alway "wrong", sometimes you have to)...and there is no relief in site...so 2nds need to be flexible to do some of the duties of the first.

September 30, 2016 at 7:44AM

3
Reply
avatar
Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
1991