What does a 2nd Assistant Camera do?
The 2nd Assistant Camera is an important role on the camera team. They are responsible for the accessories for the cameras, including changing memory cards and charging batteries.
The 2nd Assistant Camera works mainly with the “clapboard” or “slate”– the black and white board that’s become iconic for the beginning and end of film takes. A traditional way to sync audio with each take, the 2nd AC uses the slate to indicate for an Editor when the camera has started and stopped recording. The 2nd AC will mark on the slate what scene, take, and camera memory card the production is on. Modern clapboards or slates are digital and include a timecode generator on an LED display. The 2nd AC clearly lists out the information on the slate before clapping the sticks at the beginning (or sometimes the end, known as tail-slate) of the take. This helps keep all the shots organized for the post-production team and allows the picture and audio to be synched together.
The 2nd Assistant Camera will also keep track of all of the camera data for each shot. They fill in reports called “camera logs”; that mark the focal length, the scene, the take, and some small notes. They will also mark which take is the director’s favourite, so the editor has an easier job looking through the footage.
In addition, they will assist the 1st Assistant Camera in marking spots for focus and helping in the organization of the equipment.
What's a 2nd Assistant Camera good at?
Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing
Technical knowledge of cameras
Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights
Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail
Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive
Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot
Who does a 2nd Assistant Camera work with?
The 2nd Assistant Camera will work directly under the camera operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will be close with the 1st Assistant Camera and the Camera Operator. The 2nd AC will work in tandem with the 1st AC to make sure everything is set up for the camera department to thrive. The 2nd Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography). They may also work with the Assistant Editor in sharing the information of the camera logs.
How do I become a 2nd Assistant Camera?
Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier as a Production Assistant and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions in your area and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to help acquire entry-level positions on sets.
For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.
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