Well no one, and I mean no one enjoys doing paperwork, but like it or not paperwork is a vital part of production. It allows for accountability between producers and crew members and facilitates communication allowing everyone to be on the same page. In the camera dept the job of filling camera reports fall to the 1st and 2nd AC. These reports are important for tracking footage, and knowing how to match shots, and communicate pertinent information to the lab if shooting film, in the case of video this information facilitates editing and re-shooting pickups if needed. Ryan O’hara provides a great full length article on the correct methodology for completing camera reports.
When a camera magazine is being loaded, a camera report will also need to be prepped for that particular roll. After the film is loaded into the magazine the camera report will usually be taped to the dumb side of the magazine. Later on set, when the magazine is called for, the camera report will detach from the magazine and come into the possession of the second AC, who will be responsible for maintaining the report as shooting progresses. Eventually the roll of film will be used to its extent and will be downloaded, in which the first layer of the camera report will be taped to the top of the can, ready to go to processing. The second layer, will be sent to the editor, and the third will be kept for production records, in the production office. If there is a fourth copy, the camera dept will keep it for reference.
A quick overview of some of the tips and tricks mentioned in his article:
1. The camera report can be taped to the backside of the camera slate, providing a great writing platform for the second AC.
2. When writing shot letters (after the scene number), skip the letters O and I, because they resemble numbers.
3. When you exceed shot letter Z, start with AA, BB, etc… or AA, AB, AC, AD, etc. The choice is yours.
4. As a 2nd AC, it is important to listen for the shout out “print”. This is a call to circle that take on the slate. Sometimes, after a take will be called to print, more takes might be decided to be taken and called to print. If instructed to cancel the previous circled take in favor of the new, simply add dashed perpendicular lines around the canceled take’s circle.
5. At the end of a roll make a slashed line below the last takes information, then proceed to write “Out at ____”, filling the blank with the amount of feet. Also, if there is room in the unused parts of the camera report body, below “Out at ___” it is a good idea to rewrite basic developing instructions, such as ‘Print Normal’, ‘Print One Light’ or ‘Push 1 stop’.
6. Using a separate notebook to keep track of more detailed information is greatly encouraged. For instance, writing the focal length, focus distance, f-stop, shutter angle, filters used, and other camera information is very helpful. But not all camera reports have these categories or enough room in the remarks field. Many of this information is not particularly necessary for the labs use either. Therefore having a spare notebook to take such notes is a great idea. At the end of the day attach your notes to the productions copy of the camera report.
7. If you are using multiple cameras, the roll numbers should proceed the camera number. In this case, it would be a good idea NOT to reference the cameras by their serial numbers, but assign production letters to each camera (read point 8).
8. If you choose to assign production letters (during camera prep) to cameras (and even production numbers to magazines) versus using serial numbers, be sure to have written down (in a safe and easily accessible place) the key to which is which. Therefore, if the magazine labeling is removed or illegible, there is correct record to reference.
Camera Reports are important pieces of information and can either make the post process much easier or extremely complicated done incorrectly. One of the little tips I like to do is to clip the report to the back of the slate with a couple of small clips. This allows you to easily enter your data between takes and use the slate as a makeshift clipboard. There are several types of reports available I personally prefer the taller two column west coast variety simply because the fit on my slate easier. I have linked a couple varieties of reports that I routinely use or print for my AC’s use feel free to download and use and modify them for your own use.
Two Column Report
Editable Two Column Report
Single Sheet Camera Report
I highly recommend sitting down and reading through this entire article if you are looking to be involved in any type of AC position on set. This information will help you shine, do your job professionally, and above all make all that cumbersome paperwork a little bit easier to process.
Read the full length article here.