Known for its customizable BLACKWING7 cinema lenses, Tribe7 isn't a company that plays by the rules. Founded by cinematographer Bradford Young, ASC, and motion picture camera and lens technologist Neil Fanthom, the company leans heavily on character by letting creatives tune the look of their lenses. 

Now, Tribe7 has released a product, the BLACKSLATE7, which is a clapper board/slate that uses e-ink, and near-field communications to customize its appearance and transmit scene metadata for use in post-production. The 7.5-inch board has all the usual features, including clapper sticks for syncing to sound, but instead of having a vanilla-looking board with date, scene, time, and other details to write in, it syncs up with an iPhone to create a new custom layout that includes unique project graphics and data categories to change from scene to scene. The whole thing is also black. 

But aren't there already high-tech slates that sync all the data you need? Is this a product that the film industry needs?

Let's find out together. 

Hi-Tech, Low Power

Unlike your traditional wooden slate, the BLACKSLATE7 is made out of high-impact ABS plastic. While the unit comes only in black, you can add color-accurate chart labels to apply to the clapper's 7.5” sticks. And all the information you'd usually find on the slate? Well, that is generated using an e-ink display behind an anti-glare screen protected by 8H Gorilla Glass. 

This is where the BLACKSLATE7 stands out. 

The device functions as a typical slate. You still physically draw on it with a marker. Except with this slate, users can create special custom layouts using the companion app. While you can use the built-in presets, creatives can create one in Adobe Photoshop, or even simply draw it out on paper and capture it on their smartphones. Then, they can load the image onto the slate using NFC and incorporate it with one of several different slate templates to create their own board. 

BLACKSLATE7Use it like a traditional slateCredit: Tribe7

Users can fill in all the usual information into the blanks using a dry-erase marker, as normal. Liquid chalk markers can also be used for those looking for that chalkboard-like vibe. Then, when the next scene is ready to shoot, erase and make the necessary changes.

The BLACKSLATE7 also requires no external power supply or recharging to its built-in lithium battery, which has an estimated seven-year lifespan for providing power to the e-ink display. The display only uses power when changes are made to the programming of the template interface. Those are some hefty claims, and we wouldn't be surprised to see different numbers based on how often you'd use the slate.

BLACKSLATE7Custom layouts for any project you may haveCredit: Tribe7

A Solution We Need?

While it seems rather cool that it can be customized with project logos and template-based clapper metadata, it feels like the unit is more form than function.

It would be great if the clapper could provide handwriting recognition and a two-way NFC that could transmit the metadata to the camera file or a database for ingesting up to the cloud. The BLACKSLATE7 doesn’t even have a timecode interface. Outside of the E-ink template that serves as a fancy customizable background, the Kindle-like device is just another techno-solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. Especially at $277 a pop. 

However, having said that, the BLACKSLATE7 is a somewhat sustainable solution to custom slates. Some projects, big and small, will go out of their way to create custom slates. With Tribe7, you now have a reusable solution, even if it does have a different kind of aesthetic. 

Custom Sync SlatesThe classic look that you can't really reuseCredit: Custom Sync Slates

If this is up your alley, you can download the BLACKSLATE7 app from the iOS app store to explore. An Android version is also in the works and will be released later in the year.

If you do end up wanting the slate, you can order it via the website. While they're out of stock now, shipping is expected to resume by the end of February 2023 and a restock could be on the horizon.

What do you think of this slate from Tribe7? Would this be something you'd want in your kit? Let us know in the comments!

Full details can be found at

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Source: Tribe 7