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Optical Cables: Durability Under Stress

Gary Adcock supports cabling technology that gives top-level performance on location.11/17/2016 10:15 AM Eastern

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More video professionals are turning to optical cable solutions for their durability, flexibility, and robust nature. After all, what other cabling technology can you tie into a knot and still get top-level performance?

Video professionals use a variety of interface protocols, but there are two current standards that are go-to solutions for the video professional—USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt/Thunderbolt 2. Both enable the easy connection of peripheral devices, such as hard drives and storage arrays. Thunderbolt has the added benefit of letting the user connect monitors and even engage in simple networking. These two technologies allow facility designers to construct installations that are easier to connect and maintain without the myriad interconnection standards of the past. Unfortunately, most of the cable on the market is traditional copper wiring, which is subject to breakage when mishandled or damaged during the stresses of location production.

Now, a new solution is garnering attention. A few years ago, optical cables hit the market. These thinner, longer, adaptable, and more durable optical connection devices offered an ah-ha moment for today’s cutting edge facilities and location production teams.

Surviving Location Production

Gary Adcock is a Chicago-based consultant, facility owner of Studio 37, and experienced Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) in IATSE Local 600. His experience on location with primetime television productions would put any cable literally through the wringer.

 “I buy cables for durability because cables are the single point of failure in any  system,” he said. “You are constantly plugging and unplugging them. When I’m on location, the company might make five or six moves in a day. The reality on set is that people drive over your cables with forklifts and trucks. They get slammed into doors. With copper cables, when the internal wiring gets broken or cracked, you can have intermittent failures. If a cable fails once, it’s going to fail again.”

The benefit of optical cables is that they have been proven relatively indestructible. “I have about two dozen of them and have yet to experience a failure,” Adcock said. “It’s so enjoyable not having to worry about the most minor piece of gear. I also appreciate that these cables are thinner than comparable copper solutions, which allows more cabling into a single conduit or cable run than if I were using copper.”

Corning Optical Cables Offer Durability and Flexibility

Up and down the market, optical cables are proving their mettle. Few solutions have been met with as much praise as those USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt optical cables from Corning. As makers of Gorilla Glass, a glass solution that offers damage resistance, optical clarity, and touch sensitivity to everything from smartphones to notebooks, Corning constructed its current optical cable offerings out of ClearCurve VSDN optical fiber, an alternative to plastic, which can be common in consumer audio implementations.

Consequently, Corning’s optical cables are thin and durable with a high-bend performance radius of 1.5mm. Users can literally pinch the cables in a 180-degree turnaround or tie them in a knot without damage or performance attenuation. Corning’s optical USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables have a maximum limit of 50 and 60 meters respectively. No matter the need, the Corning optical cables have a clear advantage, as they can be longer and are thinner, lighter, and stronger than comparable copper cables.


Corning cables can be bent, twisted and folded without failure or reduction of quality.

For more information on optical cables by Corning, see here.

Oliver Peters is an experienced film and video professional who has worked in radio, television and post-production since 1970. During that time he has worked in a variety of managerial and hands-on positions in broadcast and post facilities. In addition to currently working as an in-demand editor and colorist, he has also been a regular contributor to various web and print publications, including Videography, Digital Video, TV Technology and the Creative Planet Network website.

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