Calling The Shot

Commands and responses that happen on a production set before and after a performance.

Misha Tenenbaum avatar
Written by Misha Tenenbaum
Updated over a week ago

In filmmaking, the entire crew needs to communicate during a production. A set of specific commands and responses must happen before and after a shot is recorded to ensure everyone in the cast and crew are on the same page.

A typical set of commands and responses before and after a take might go as follows:

  1. Assistant Director: "Quiet on set."

  2. Assistant Director: "Camera-ready?"

  3. Camera: "Camera Rolling."

  4. Assistant Director: "Roll sound."

  5. Sound: "Sound speed."

  6. Assistant Camera: "Scene #, Take #" then Slate

  7. Assistant Director or Director: "Action."

  8. Actors Begin Performance

  9. Director: "Cut" once the scene ends

These commands and responses are just as important for an editor so that they know what scene/take is being recorded, when a scene begins and ends, as well as being able to listen to any information from the crew on set. "

1. "Quiet on Set."

The Assistant Director tells everyone on set to be quiet because they are ready to record a performance (also known as "ready to roll.") This should include everyone silencing cell phones and laptops.

quiet on set

2. "Camera Ready?"

The Assistant Director will ask the camera department if the camera is ready to record.

Camera Ready

3. "Camera Rolling."

The camera department will respond "Camera Rolling" to the "Camera Ready" question once the camera is recording.

Camera Rolling

4. "Roll sound."

The Assistant Director will state to the sound department that it needs to begin recording audio for the scene.

Roll Sound

5. "Sound speed."

The sound department will respond "Sound Speed" to the "Roll Sound" command once the audio equipment is in place and recording.

Sound Speed

6. Scene Number, Take Number, Slate

The Assistant Camera (aka AC) will step in front of the camera, so the slate is visible in the frame and call out the scene number, camera setup, and take number. They will then "clap" the sticks on the top of the slate.

When calling out the camera setup, the AC will use the phonetic alphabet that begins with the letter of the camera setup instead of stating just the letter; e.g., for Setup D, you would say, "Delta." Many letters in the English alphabet sound the same, so using the phonetic alphabet will ensure everyone understands what camera setup production is on at that time.

scene number, take number, slate

7. "Action."

The Assistant Director or Director will call action. This cues the actors to begin their performance.


8. "Cut"

When the performance is completed, it is customary for the director to say, "CUT." Once Cut is called, the actors will stop the performance. It also lets the camera and sound departments know they can stop recording. And it lets the editor know when the performance has ended.


Multiple Takes in One Shot

Sometimes a Director will instruct an actor to do a specific action or say a few lines of dialogue multiple times before calling "cut." These multiple takes live on one media file and are called a Series. It is noted as SER for short, typically written on the slate to inform the editor of multiple takes on one file.

Multiple Takes
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