Why is a Clapper Board Still Used?
Everyone has seen clapper boards. They are one of the most-seen iconic items in the movie industry, but one that isn’t strictly necessary these days in its original role.
Clapper boards were first used when film audio tracks were recorded separately from the visuals. Clapping the top part of the clapper board together would create a sharp ‘bang’. The sharp noise was used to sync the film’s visual track to the audio track. That’s also why the two sides that meet on the clapper board always have the striped black and white markings. The markings ensured that the editor could see the exact moment when the two parts of the clapper would meet and could cue the ‘bang’ at the same point. This enabled the lines spoken by the actors to be synced up and match the movements of the actor’s mouth, for example.
Once the audio and visuals started being recorded together, many thought the clapper board’s days were numbered. But the increasingly complex way that movies were shot soon provided other uses for the clapper boards. These days it’s these other uses that provide the reasons why clapper boards are still around.
Organizational and Practical
Most directors these days shoot many takes of the same scene and shoot the scenes out of order of the story. There are many reasons for this ranging from the cast’s schedules to the local weather being uncooperative. Having a clapper board at the beginning (or end) of each scene displaying the scene and take number helps the editor know when they have the correct scene requested by the director to splice into the film.
Even though many films are shot digitally these days, the clapper board still serves a useful organizational function. It’s an iconic image that may always be a part of the film industry.