Hey Filmmakers Chung Dha here, this here is my clapperboard that I DIY-modded it to have a lot of improvements so it can be used on set avoiding a lot of issues, but also making certain things faster. Under here is just a very basic and affordable clapperboard you can easily buy from Amazon or anywhere else and there aren’t any clapperboards you can just buy with all the features built-in.
Purchase items needed for the mods:
- Heavy duty velcro
- Velcro for tags
- Bicycle light USB rechargeable
- Masking Tapes
- Whiteboard marker
- 100x cleaning cloth
The first thing you must mod or actually fix, is this hinge section of the clapperboard. If you ever used a cheap clapperboard before, you might have had the nut and bolts fall off the clapperboard, however, just tightening them when you get it also does not prevent this issue as when you tighten all 3 bolts then the whole clapper is locked.
The fix for this is just to add 2 washers on the bottom of the bolts, under the metal frame. This allows you to still tighten all the bolts, but without locking up the clapper and the nuts and bolt won’t easily fall apart. Before you tighten it all, I suggest adding a washing line between the frame and the clapper. This washing line allows me to clip the slate with a carabiner onto me, so I don’t have to hold it in my hand all the time.
A tip to keep your clapperboard more pristine for a long time is to use gaffer tape, as you can also use whiteboard markers on gaffer tape and wipe it away. But also you can use permanent markers on the gaffer tape for the production, names, and dates as those won’t need to change during the day and especially on multi-day production as whiteboard markers might accidentally be wiped away also.
The elephant in the room, you might have noticed the big tags on my slate. Instead of using whiteboard markers for this part, I have converted my clapperboard to a wet-weather clapperboard. The reason for this is if you have ever filmed during a rainy production, you will notice after a while the whiteboard marker will struggle to write onto the slate. So my tags are actually velcroed onto the slate and the rain won’t affect it.
On the back of the slate I have all the tags I need to switch with. I made the tags myself, I designed them and printed them out on just a single a4 paper, then had to cut out all the tags so we can laminate them loose from each other as there needs to be enough plastic between the tags to seal them from the elements. Then cut out each and pasted velcro tape on each of them. You can find the PDF for this here, but I designed it specifically for this clapperboard, if you have a different one the size might not be that compatible.
Then this here is just a focus chart, if a lens needs back focussing this be the best tool to check focus. But this part can also be used to clip in camera logs or even just the script printed out.
All this is held with two corrugated plastic sheets which are lightweight and just use gaffer tape to make the hinge and use velcro to keep it shut.
Now on the back here I have a mini slate or insert slate, especially for close up shots your normal slate can be too big, so this smaller slate can be used instead, so you don’t need to grab a 2nd smaller slate. This small slate is also just printed on paper and laminated. And can be used with a whiteboard marker.
Then these strips of colorful masking tape are for marking actors, they are masking tape instead of gaffers tape as these are the least destructive tape there is as gaffers tape still has a strong glue that can peel off paint from certain surfaces.
Then I have several places with velcro to stick my whiteboard marker and cleaning cloth to. This way they are kept safely on the clapperboard and won’t get lost easily. It’s really annoying when everybody has to wait for the clapper loader because either the cleaning cloth or the marker has gone missing.
For night shoots or very dark locations I have velcro on a bicycle light so the slate, which can help as of course a light to view things, but also help with shining onto the clapperboard.
Then I store my clapperboard in a big pouch which I velcro onto the lid of my 1st AC Bag / Pelican Case. Though I often work as 1st AC and my clapperboard isn’t always needed, it is still a great backup to have around.
But in an upcoming video I will show you what I have in my 1st AC bag as it might differ from a lot of others as this is what I noticed I needed to have around to help the production run more smoothly. So please subscribe if you want to get notified for that video.
About the Author
Chung Dha is a photographer, filmmaker based in Hong Kong. As well as creating photos and movies himself, he also teaches how you can do it over on his YouTube channel. You can find out more about Chung Dha on his website. This article was also published here and shared with permission.