When a movie is being shot, images and sound should be recorded separately . The image is recorded on film by the camera , and the sound is recorded on an analog tape recorder made of magnetic tape or, as is done more recently, on a digital tape such as a DAT tape . Because they are recorded on two different devices, you need a suitable way to synchronize them . The best way to synchronize these two aspects is by means of a clapper , also known as slate black and white which is the most traditional way of achieving and managing synchronization.


What is a clapperboard?

The clapperboard is an instrument that is used in the cinema made of a double plate, the first one and a quarter in size, the second, which are joined by means of a hinge , and which are generally made of wood , acrylic or of some other material that is rigid .

  • Definition
  • Clapperboard Features
  • Source
  • What is the clapperboard for
  • Importance
  • How to make a clapperboard


A very simple definition of what the clapperboard means is to say that it is a blackboard on which each of the shots of a shoot must be noted , to then identify its parts when assembling the images with the sound . It is a tool that allows us to make an adequate synchronization of the taking of the image that is recorded in a camera with its respective audio .


There are also electronic clapperboards on the market, which are those that have the added value of the characteristic that the time code can be shown by means of displays in order to make editing easier and to be able to more easily synchronize the film from that particular moment of time.

Clapperboard Features

The most outstanding characteristics on the clapperboard are the following:

  • There are two types of clapperboard, the final one that is made after cutting and the silent clapperboard, which is the one used when the take being recorded has no sound whatsoever.
  • The clapperboard sound is used to indicate that the camera has started to roll .
  • It is made of a double plate , the first part of which is smaller than the second and they are also joined by means of a hinge .
  • They are generally constructed of material such as wood , acrylic, and some type of material that is hard in consistency .
  • Their measurements are generally between 30 and 40 centimeters .
  • Many of them are painted on the background by black or white , generally they are used as blackboards or a type of board in which the data is placed with white chalk and with special markers.
  • It is placed in front of the video camera so that the data is embedded in the segment of the film.
  • In its upper part the name of the production is placed and in the lower part the number of the scene , shot , the shot , the reel or cassette and the name of the director , cameraman and date is placed .


Years before the clapperboard that is known today existed, there was already a very similar device in the form of a blackboard which was placed at the beginning of each of the shots of a film in order to be able to see the first frames of the film. shot and what the shot was about. With the birth of the sound, it is added to the board the ” clack “ . This invention is attributed to the Australian Frank W. Thring , who in the early 20s, to the begin the used sound in movies, devised a way to facilitate the work of teams and direct of thefilming , inventing the clapperboard.

What is the clapperboard for

Within the filming of a movie, the clapperboard has several uses, among which we can mention the following:

  • It helps to indicate the type of production in question: this because the clapperboards must always include the name of the production, in other words, the title of the film must be placed, the name of the film must also be written on it. director of the same, and the director of photography.
  • Enumerating the number of roll or card: before this action was done through many rolls of celluloid different rolls and they were numbered for the laboratory to take control properly. Nowadays, with the birth of the digital age , the roll number has been changed to the memory card or hard disk number .
  • List the plans and shots: the clapperboard also helps the editor or his assistant to be able to organize all the material that is located in the software that is used to carry out the assembly of the film.
  • Synchronize image and sound: since they are not recorded at the same time, for reasons of practice and quality , these two important aspects are recorded separately but then they must be able to be synchronized . The “clack” is what is used to be able to join them later and so that they are perfectly synchronized. 


The clapperboard is of the utmost importance both in cinema and in video and digital cinema since, together with the script, they are responsible for facilitating the search for the right shot. It is also important because it is through it that each part of the film is recorded , using the sound of the clapperboard to synchronize the movements of the actors with what is said in the film.

How to make a clapperboard

Here are a series of steps so that you can make a clapperboard:

  • Cut a piece of wood measuring 2.54 cm by 50.8 cm by half. Each piece should measure 1 by 10 inches. These pieces will be used in the moving part of the plate.
  • A sheet of plywood should be measured and cut rectangularly so that it is 10 “long by 8” high.
  • Nail one of the 1-by-10- inch pieces of lumber to the top of the plywood .
  • The second 1 inch by 25.4 cm piece of lumber should be attached to the top of the first piece via the brass hinge . The hinge should be well positioned at the end of the wood , so that the top piece can be opened up and down.
  • Using painting of slate , we will cover the surface of the wood to be able to write on the blackboard with chalk so you can make each shot. Before continuing, we must let the paint dry completely.
  • Write in each area of ​​the table the information that will be needed during the shoot, which may include the name of the production , director , date , shot number, scene number, and take . Once the paint has dried you can start using the clapperboard.

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