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Tips to Clip: July 2016

Coffee Cup Collar

One of the prime directives backstage at any video shoot is this: No open containers of liquid will be placed on any equipment table. The reason is obvious, but some producers and clients hiring us seem to think that because they are paying the bills, their coffee and other drinks are exempt. If you run into such a situation, you might want to follow the tip used by an engineer I shall refer to only as Louis. When the client on a recent project insisted on having his coffee close at hand, as you can see in the photo, Louis grabbed a full roll of 2 inch gaffer’s tape and put it around the cup, making it as spill-proof as possible.

More Tape Tips

After having written this column for more than 34 years, I sometimes wonder if anyone cares. Then I get a letter like this one from Patrick Murphy.

Dear Tips to Clip,

Ever since I started going to the Dick Reizner Workshops many years ago at the Video Expos in NYC, I have always worked with gaffer’s tape close at hand. Dick taught me to never toss it until it’s 100 years old. To this day I always have strips on my clipboard in case it’s needed, and it’s bailed me out many times.


Pat Murphy, Director

Reel Good Tip

Very long cables are much easier to handle if they are on a reel, but if the reel does not have a stand, getting the cable on or off can be a problem. Jeff Carrender of San Jose, Calif., suggests placing it on a broomstick wedged between two chairs. The reel turns easily and you can relax a bit by sitting in a third chair.

Flashlight Finder

To make it easier to find his black flashlight in the dark recesses of his camera bag, Paul Muller of Denver, Co., wraps white tape around the barrel. I have done something similar, but I used the glow in the dark tape normally used to create stage spike marks that assist when a scenery change must be done in the dark.

Overseas Shoot

A production job in Asia’s 220-volt, 50-cycle electrical environment prompted a call for lighting tips from Brian Mayworth of New York City. He says he will not have the option of renting local equipment.

I suggest that before you leave, you purchase 220-volt lamps and the appropriate plug adapters for your instruments. They are readily available here, and you may not have the time to look for them there. I don’t think you need to buy foreign extension cords and power strips. It is much more efficient to use your own cords and place the adapter at the wall. U.S. three-for-one taps are easy to pack and will allow you to use one adapter for several instruments. (Being careful, of course, to not overload the circuit.)

One more thought: Many countries do not have the smooth power found in most of the United States, so it’s a good idea to run your camera and other delicate equipment on rechargeable batteries. If you are hit by a power spike, only the charger will be damaged and you can go on shooting.

You don’t want to count on this, but some international hotels have 110-volt outlets into which you can plug U.S. chargers. Many chargers will operate on either system (read the label on yours).

It is also a good idea to photograph all of your equipment before leaving the U.S. The images may help you get it through customs both overseas and on your way back.

I hope these tips help and that you have a successful shoot.