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Equipment Needed for the Assistant Camera Position

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/27/2011

Here are some of the common items and equipment pieces that an effective assistant camera department will need on a film production.

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    Importance of the Assistant Camera

    The assistant camera position is a professional skilled position that is required on any full film or video production. The assistant camera department is focused in on pulling focus, preparing the camera, loading film, and anything else that is needed for making sure that the camera is correctly set for use by the camera operator and director of photography. Like any professional film production position, there are certain tools that are necessary for the assistant camera positions to correctly do their work. Here is a look at the essential tools that are going to be needed for a proper assistant camera department.

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    Film Changing Tent or Darkroom

    On a film production the assistant camera department is going to be responsible for loading and unloading the film stock. To load the film stock into the magazine the assistant camera department, often done by the second assistant camera position, is going to need to load the film stock in a purely dark location. On a very large production there may be a dark room in which the second camera person can do this in a specially constructed dark room. On most sets the second camera person will just do this in a changing tent, which is a sealed tent that they put their hands in to load or unload the film stock.

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    Tape Measure

    A tape measure, particularly a cloth tape measure, is going to be essential for the assistant camera department. The tape measure is used to measure the distance from the lens to the subjects to that focus can be calibrated and pulled correctly. This is one of the most central areas of assistant camera work and cannot be done without in any situation, both digital and on film.

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    Gaffers Tape

    Gaffer's tape is one of the most common video production tool. Gaffer's tape can be used to tape down power cords, secure set pieces, and a whole other host of purposes. The assistant camera department will usually use gaffer's tape to seal up a film magazine so that light does not seep in and so as to label the magazines and film canisters. You will also seal up the film canisters with black gaffer's tape to indicate that the film inside has been exposed.

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    Lens Cleaning Tissue and Fluid

    Making sure that the lens is clear of smudging and debris is the responsibility of the assistant camera department. To do this effectively you have to make sure that you have lens cleaner and proper microfibre cloths to make sure that you can appropriates clean the lens before production begins.

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    Cores

    The core goes inside of the film stock when it is rolled up. The film stock will come on a core, but you will have to put a core onto the opposite side of where you have loaded the film into the magazine so that it has a core to roll onto. It is best to bring a couple two inch cores with you at all times.

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    Artist's Tape

    Artist's tape is a thin tape that the assistant camera person will put on the focus gauge on the front of the camera. With the artist's tape you will mark different focal points after they have been measured with the cloth tape measure. This way you will already have certain focal points marked so the assistant camera person knows where to pull the focus.