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Video Production – What are Apple Boxes?

Video Production Apple Boxes

For you new to video production, or maybe you’re a corporate client on the set of a video being produced for you, you might hear the Cinematographer or someone else call for a “half apple.”  Well, he’s not asking for a previously bitten into piece of fruit.  Apple Boxes have been around in the movie and film business for almost a hundred years.  The history is a bit cloudy, but it’s reasonable to assume that early film crews saw a box sitting there and put it to good use.  And maybe it had some apples in it.  Or just looked like an apple box.  Either way, the term was adopted and stuck.

Where Do You Find the Apple Boxes?

Apple boxes are usually part of the grip equipment.  They are used for just about anything on the set.  A box to stand on.  To make an actor taller.  Prop a tripod leg up.  Raise a set piece.  The uses are endless through the decades.

“Full Apple, please.  And Make it Texas.”

The apple boxes come in very distinct sizes– Full, half, quarter and pancake.  The sizes are pretty much standard through the industry.  A production company on the west coast’s full apple will be the same size as the east coast studio’s full apple.  And how an Apple Box is placed is standard nomenclature as well.  Set it tall and it’s New York.  Lay it flat for California.  On it’s side for Texas (or Chicago).  Because whatever term you use, the grip will know what you’re asking for and how you want it.  For more info, check out wikipedia.

Some people will make their own apple boxes– construction is not that difficult.  Most apple boxes are made from plywood.  It’s important, especially on the full and half to have internal bracing, especially if they’re going to be used to stand on.

One Apple Box Set will consist of a Full, a Half, a Quarter and a Pancake.  But it’s extremely useful to have multiples of the same sizes.  Often, you might need to prop something up that requires multiple apple boxes and you’ll need several of the same size.  And it’s also important to note that a half apple is exactly half the height of a full.  Stacked on top of each other, two halfs do indeed make a full.

Most video production companies and film studios have stacks of apple boxes.  They’re sitting in the corner.  They are chipped and painted from years ago, showing years of use and abuse.  An Apple Box is rugged, sturdy and dependable.  It’s an excellent production tool.  So make sure you call for the right one.