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Carbon and tungsten films were deposited simultaneously from two separate plasmas produced by the thermionic vacuum arc method. Total film thickness, surface roughness, atomic composition, and chemical bonds of atoms at the surface and inside the deposited films were analyzed for different substrate positions of the samples. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses suggest that tungsten carbide forms predominantly at preferential substrate positions. Variations in the carbon plasma deposition rate were also used to dynamically control the film composition. Larger target-substrate distances result in smoother films but slower composition variations.