Learn about the second assistant camera position, what they do, and how they do it.
Getting Into Second Assistant Camera
Many small independent digital video producers think that many of the more specific film crew positions can be done without. The assistant camera position often gets overlooked when in actuality it may be one of the most important skilled crew positions on your digital video set. On larger film or digital video productions there are more than one assistant camera positions, going from first assistant camera to second assistant camera. Often times the work of the second assistant camera is doled out to other positions without a clear understanding of what they do and why there is a person allocated for this.
Difference Between First and Second Assistance Camera
The assistant camera person often times deals mainly with getting film stock or digital storage methods where they need to be for filming, transferring footage to processing location, and pulling focus on the film or digital video camera. These are difficult tasks, but the inclusion of a second assistant camera person helps this process along. The second assistant camera works directly under the direction of the first assistant camera. The second assistant camera will mark the slate that is being used so that it comes in clearly. The second assistant camera usually takes over the creation of a shot log from the first assistant camera. This shot log lists all the shots that were taken by the director of photography and camera operator with the time code at start and stop of the take, the quality of that take, and any slate information that will be important for post-production organization with the director and editor. There are three or four copies made of this shot log, or camera report, that is then distributed by the second assistant camera to the director of photography, to the lab or post-production facilities where the footage is being processed, to the editor, and to the director and producer. This will be distributed by a lower production assistant under supervision of the second assistant camera on larger productions.
Second AC Tasks in the Camera Department
On the more basic tasks, like simple film loading, then the second assistant camera will actually take over that position. This is the job of the assistant camera department, but the physical labor is usually taken by the second assistant camera under the direction of the first assistant camera. The second assistant camera will keep all film stock and magazines ready to go for changing and quick loading as needed by the production. Other than these specific tasks it is generally up to the first assistant camera to let them know what needs to be done. This can be a number of different tasks in the camera department, but if there is a third assistant camera person then all of that work will be transferred down to them.