What is a 2nd AC?

A 2nd AC or 2nd Assistant Camera (also known as clapper loader) is the second assistant to the Camera Operator. In the chain of command, they work below the 1st AC.

They perform a very important role that holds a lot of responsibility as they are in charge of the film magazine from when it is raw stock until

when it is with the lab.

What does a 2nd AC do?

The Second Assistant Camera has a range of duties and roles. Their main responsibilities are:

  • Preparing the camera: loading new batteries, loading raw film stock, unloading the film magazine, maintaining digital media files, and changing lenses.

  • Collecting shot information from the script supervisor and producing camera report sheets which includes information like lab instructions, lens type, focal length, T stop and stock details.

  • Marking the actors’ positions.

  • Keeping an inventory of equipment, organising memory cards/SSD and ordering new film stock when required.

  • Cleaning and keeping clean the magazines and loading environment.

  • Charging batteries.

  • Passing all instructions from DoP to the lab and post house.

  • Dealing with the lab and relaying messages back to the DoP.

2nd assistant camera ac

Typical Workflow

The life of a 2nd AC is a busy one and depending on the production size you will often be on set a few weeks before principal photography. This time is spent assisting the Director of Photography and Camera Operator testing film stock, lenses, and equipment.

When production starts get ready for long days.

  • Your day starts early unloading the camera truck, followed by organizing and preparing the equipment.

  • During rehearsals you markup the actors’ position to make actors more consistent and to help the 1st AC calculate changes in focus.

  • When the camera rolls, the 2nd AC (who is also known as the clapper loader) is in charge of slating. If you can slate from the actor’s initial mark it will give the 1st AC a final quick check of the focus, if not use the rule of 1ft for every 10mm (depending on sensor size) and stand accordingly.

  • Stay with the camera, anticipate movements, listen to requests, monitor the films stock and be prepared to change the film magazine.

  • Colate information from the script supervisor (who is in charge of continuity) with shot information. Create camera report sheets that includes lens type, focal length, T stop, stock details and lab instructions.

  • At the end of each day, the equipment needs to be packed away, cleaned, batteries put on charge, inventory done and film labeled and dispatched to the lab along with the notes.

Tips for being an exceptional 2nd AC

  • Select a different colour for each actor, pre-make strips and keep them on the back of your slate, and opt for larger T’s

  • Have canned air at hand and use it on dusty/dirty surfaces before laying down tape.

  • Always have a rain cover handy.

  • Listen to conversations between the DoP, 1st AC, and Camera Op. If you can intercept tasks that will eventually be assigned to you, you can stay ahead of the game. Having an equipment change ready before being asked is going to show you’re a good assistant and this will help get more jobs.

  • Always be around the camera and offer to relieve the 1st AC or offer to grab drinks and snacks for them.

  • Don’t over step the boundries, get to know the 1st AC over a few days to work out what you should and should not do.

  • Be quick and efficient to not slow down the filming. Time is money.

Remember to enjoy it and have fun

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