What is a clapper loader?
A clapper loader, also called a second assistant camera (2nd AC), is a member of the camera department within a film crew. As the name implies, the clapper loader has two main responsibilites. Clapper comes from operating the clapperboard at the beginning of each take to aid synchronization of sound and image in post production. Loader is for loading the unexposed film stock into the camera magazines. On a digital set, this translates into managing the memory cards.
Apart from these two functions, the 2nd AC has a multitude of other tasks, mainly related to equiment maintenance and supporting the work of the 1st AC and the camera operator. These include but are not limited to:
- Marking the actors’ positions during rehearsals
- Recording shot information in the camera report
- Coordinating the work of the camera trainee and the central loader (if available)
- Keeping inventory of camera equipment and accessories
- Keeping track of consumables and filing requests as necessary
- Maintaining camera department paperwork – time sheets, equipment lists etc.
In a multi-camera production, the 2nd AC generally tends to the tasks related to his/her camera unit first, with some general camera department responsibilities shared between all the 2nd ACs.