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Hi everyone,
It's my first post here. I'm a 2nd AC now for almost 2 years, and I'm starting to work as a 1st AC in small projects.
I have a question about measuring tape, can someone recommend me a good cloth measure tape?

Also, in the same topic - do you guys even think I should have one for pulling? I've worked with many young focus pullers who all worked through monitors but I've also worked with senior focus pullers who still likes to measure everything, I know they still work that way because that's what they are used to.

I was thinking as a new 1st AC, that it will be better for me learning the job through measuring and then figure out next my way of work, what do you guys think?

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Bright Tangerine used to make a very nice cloth tape measure with a leather cover, a replica of the famous old school Rabone tape measure. Doesn’t look like they sell them anymore. Maybe send them a message and see if they have any old stock laying around? 

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I focus almost completely by monitor. We shoot at such high resolution with such a narrow depth of field that it's virtually impossible to focus by distance.

That being said I still carry and use hard, cloth and laser measures to check marks and to find matching frames for coverage.

Personally, I wouldn't use a leather tape measure because you can't get them wet. And you have to replace soft tapes every couple years when they stretch anyway so why bother spending a lot of money on one.

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I would suggest the 16’ Fatmax, much lighter than the 25’. I rarely used my hard tape beyond 8’ or so, after that you need someone to hold the other end. I put neon paper tape at every foot marker for quick readings, and soft side Velcro on the hook for safety.

If you do get the leather soft tape, get a cordura pouch for it. I like the Karau pouches, they’re sturdy, lightweight, and padded. 

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Thanks Satsuki,

Why would you need a hard one and also a soft one, isn't the soft one good enough? On what situations would you use each one?

I have another question a bit of topic, do you guys have a recommendation to an insert slate? (I'm still 2nd AC most of the time and I need one)...

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2 hours ago, Ofri Margalit said:

Why would you need a hard one and also a soft one, isn't the soft one good enough? On what situations would you use each one?

I'm no longer a focus puller but when I was, I would use the hard tape for short range quick and dirty measurements from the camera position, especially for steadicam and handheld shots. It was much faster than than getting out the soft tape and didn't require walking out to various marks. But the soft tape was a more accurate tool and I preferred that if I had time.

Laser rangefinders like the Leica Disto sort of replaced the soft tape, but you have to be very careful with it around actors since nobody wants lasers anywhere near their eyes. I usually aimed at people's chests or their feet, so the reading was more of a ballpark estimate. The laser was more helpful for long distances where it would be awkward to run out tape, or to measure out a location before the actors showed up to get my bearings. Also very helpful in prep when checking focus marks on lenses off a chart, saves a lot of walking back and forth if you have a lot of lenses to go thru.

I also frequently used the hard tape to measure camera/lens height when the DP would set the frame with a director's viewfinder, or when taking notes for VFX shots. This is probably the most common use for hard tape today. Not sure how often 2nd ACs take camera notes these days on non-VFX shots, but back then we would typically at least write down focal length, stop, focus distance, camera height, and filter stack for each setup in case the DP requested that info. It helped for matching over the shoulder shots and if we had to shoot pickup shots later on.

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2 hours ago, Ofri Margalit said:

I have another question a bit of topic, do you guys have a recommendation to an insert slate? (I'm still 2nd AC most of the time and I need one)...

Just a basic one without a clapper is probably fine. A few companies like Filmtools still sell them, they're pretty cheap.

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17 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I'm no longer a focus puller but when I was, I would use the hard tape for short range quick and dirty measurements from the camera position, especially for steadicam and handheld shots. It was much faster than than getting out the soft tape and didn't require walking out to various marks. But the soft tape was a more accurate tool and I preferred that if I had time.

Laser rangefinders like the Leica Disto sort of replaced the soft tape, but you have to be very careful with it around actors since nobody wants lasers anywhere near their eyes. I usually aimed at people's chests or their feet, so the reading was more of a ballpark estimate. The laser was more helpful for long distances where it would be awkward to run out tape, or to measure out a location before the actors showed up to get my bearings. Also very helpful in prep when checking focus marks on lenses off a chart, saves a lot of walking back and forth if you have a lot of lenses to go thru.

I also frequently used the hard tape to measure camera/lens height when the DP would set the frame with a director's viewfinder, or when taking notes for VFX shots. This is probably the most common use for hard tape today. Not sure how often 2nd ACs take camera notes these days on non-VFX shots, but back then we would typically at least write down focal length, stop, focus distance, camera height, and filter stack for each setup in case the DP requested that info. It helped for matching over the shoulder shots and if we had to shoot pickup shots later on.

Thank you a lot for sharing! great info!

 

17 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Just a basic one without a clapper is probably fine. A few companies like Filmtools still sell them, they're pretty cheap.

Yeah I've seen Filmtools insert slate but isn't it weird it doesn't have a clapper? I know a lot of inserts are MOS but sometime you do need sound. 

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12 hours ago, Ofri Margalit said:

Thank you a lot for sharing! great info!

 

Yeah I've seen Filmtools insert slate but isn't it weird it doesn't have a clapper? I know a lot of inserts are MOS but sometime you do need sound. 

Some do make a mini clapper version. Or you can always stick the insert slate into the regular clapper sticks when you need sound.

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  • 4 months later...
On 9/21/2020 at 4:30 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

I'm no longer a focus puller but when I was, I would use the hard tape for short range quick and dirty measurements from the camera position, especially for steadicam and handheld shots. It was much faster than than getting out the soft tape and didn't require walking out to various marks. But the soft tape was a more accurate tool and I preferred that if I had time.

Laser rangefinders like the Leica Disto sort of replaced the soft tape, but you have to be very careful with it around actors since nobody wants lasers anywhere near their eyes. I usually aimed at people's chests or their feet, so the reading was more of a ballpark estimate. The laser was more helpful for long distances where it would be awkward to run out tape, or to measure out a location before the actors showed up to get my bearings. Also very helpful in prep when checking focus marks on lenses off a chart, saves a lot of walking back and forth if you have a lot of lenses to go thru.

I also frequently used the hard tape to measure camera/lens height when the DP would set the frame with a director's viewfinder, or when taking notes for VFX shots. This is probably the most common use for hard tape today. Not sure how often 2nd ACs take camera notes these days on non-VFX shots, but back then we would typically at least write down focal length, stop, focus distance, camera height, and filter stack for each setup in case the DP requested that info. It helped for matching over the shoulder shots and if we had to shoot pickup shots later on.

You are absolutely right about taken the measurements for VFX shot we still keep the same records till date, I was a 2nd Ac on one commercial shoot of recent, and I had to take measurements of every shot. But what made the job pretty easy for me was the fact that I had a Disto that I was using measuring the whole thing. I can’t imagine life without it on that set! 

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