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Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Humble Australian Technology: Clapperboards


One of the most notable Australian technological inventions is the deceptively simple clapperboard. If this is your first time learning what the name of this thing is, we wouldn’t be surprised.

The original clapstick was simply just two sticks that were hinged together to be used to signal the starting point of a scene in filming. It was necessary as a means to indicate when the scene began so that the separately recorded audio track could be synced correctly.

The clapperboard is simply an evolution of this initial technology, combing a chalkboard with the existing clapstick. This inclusion of the chalkboard allowed for easy displaying of the name of the production, the name of the scene being filmed, and any other relevant information that was necessary. They were incredibly useful in early films in order to quickly identify reels of a film before computerised filing became commonplace.

Clapperboards are black and white so as to allow easy identification of when the clap takes place in the majority of lighting conditions. You have likely seen the way a clapperboard operates on a film set in countless media in pop culture, and the clapperboard is iconic of the film in general, often used as a wordless way to associate the film industry.

The clapperboards are still useful in modern cinema for their ability to make it easy to synchronise visual and audio tracks. While new digital technology combines both audio and visual tracks in the same file, clapperboards still have a lot of utility on film sets.

They are also somewhat traditional on film sets and are a part of the culture. Some older directors would not dare to shoot scenes without using one.

As you can see, the clapperboard is a humble Australian technological invention that has permeated the film industry ever since its inception.

Milla Haines
Milla Haines
Milla Haines is an award-winning journalist and true finance author with 10 years' experience in covering international and nation events. She has worked as a foreign correspondent in the US, South East Asia and Europe, and now specialises in market and technology.

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