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TAPE: type you carry, colors, questions...


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#1 John Swanson

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 04:10 AM

Hi everyone I am a new member and I am just starting out in the industry (in California) and I would be much obliged if some questions could be answered.

I have done some research as far as Camera-Assisting goes on these forums and reading some books but have yet to answer a couple of questions:

As an AC I have been told that 1" "camera" tape is what one needs to have in a variety of colors. NOW, is "camera tape" actually 'cloth gaff tape' and is this what AC's usually use - or is this or do they use "paper tape" ?

Also is there a defined color chart of what AC's carry with them? And what is the use for each color?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 08:20 AM

It's gaff, normally, and a lot of the colors are for identifying the film types in the camera... for example, red is high speed tungsten etc. I'm not sure if there's a chart thought.
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#3 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 08:47 AM

Also used to mark actors' positions on set.

Def have white, black and red and blue in your bag at all times.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 09:48 AM

Also used for taping spent cans of film once mas have been downloaded; for this I normally use white and write exposed very clearly over it.
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#5 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 09:49 AM

check this out: http://www.filmtools...cameratape.html

Camera tape is 1'' cloth tape or 1'' gaffer's tape. I believe it's called camera tape because the camera dept. uses it the most, whereas gaffer's tape is traditionally 2'' black cloth tape.

Paper tape is different and is used for marking actors. You should have several colors of 1'' rolls and also a roll of 2'' black paper tape. Let's say you have 4 actors in a shot and need to mark all of them, you better have enough colors for each actor.

Get several colors. (You should have 1'' white camera tape on you at all times) white, black, red, blue, green, yellow, and get some obnoxious colors like neon yellow or neon orange(or pink if you want to be really annoying) for specialty purposes. Like if something breaks put the annoying color that you never use for anything else on it. Or if you flash a mag or some RED drive is being wonky.

For film work, if using multiple stocks, the 1st will usually assign each stock a color. 500T= red, 250T= orange, 100T= yellow, 250D= blue, 50D= green etc.

Also for Exposed Film, you'll wrap the can with 1'' black tape, that is the standard. For, short ends and re-cans, use the color designated for that stock to wrap the can and then of course write the length on 4 sides of the can for ease later.

Edited by Michael Kubaszak, 19 September 2010 - 09:52 AM.

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#6 Ben Luke Taylor

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 03:02 PM

I have found luminous yellow, orange etc to be really handy for marking actors during night shoots when blues and blacks will be hard to see.
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#7 John Swanson

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 06:10 PM

OK, so usually 1" Camera-Gaff tape is used for camera related things, reels, film speed, etc while 1" Paper Tape is used for actors marks.

Do any cameramen use 1" gaff for marks or is this a no-no ? I would just figure that the gaff tape holds up better than the paper?

Thank you all for your answers!
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#8 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 06:38 PM

OK, so usually 1" Camera-Gaff tape is used for camera related things, reels, film speed, etc while 1" Paper Tape is used for actors marks.

Do any cameramen use 1" gaff for marks or is this a no-no ? I would just figure that the gaff tape holds up better than the paper?

Thank you all for your answers!


It just has to hold up for the duration of a scene. Paper does fine and it doesn't tear up carpet or leave adhesive. You'll look green if you're marking everything with cloth.
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#9 John Swanson

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 07:26 PM

Thank you so much Chris and everybody!
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#10 Kar Wai Ng

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:29 PM

Nothing wrong with using 1" cloth for marking. Lots of camera assistants with far more experience than I standardize on 1" cloth for marking. It's perfect for hard floors, because after it's been stepped all over it lifts right off without shredding like paper tape can sometimes.
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#11 Corey Bringas

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 11:03 AM

Hi everyone I am a new member and I am just starting out in the industry (in California) and I would be much obliged if some questions could be answered.

I have done some research as far as Camera-Assisting goes on these forums and reading some books but have yet to answer a couple of questions:

As an AC I have been told that 1" "camera" tape is what one needs to have in a variety of colors. NOW, is "camera tape" actually 'cloth gaff tape' and is this what AC's usually use - or is this or do they use "paper tape" ?

Also is there a defined color chart of what AC's carry with them? And what is the use for each color?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Paper tapes for the floor and gaff/cloth for a variety of other things. With the advent of hd i use gaff far less. Also don't go out and spend hundreds on tape. Its considered an expendable and most productions will purchase it for your work. To start off buy some paper tape and a roll or 2 of gaff. After that you'll start acquiring more from productions.
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#12 Gerard Martin

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:43 AM

For actors marks, for when they have to come up off the floor quickly, be sure and leave a "tab" for when suddenly you have to pull them for adjustment -- or for when it's discovered that they're being seen by camera. As a second assistant, you'll have to move quickly. Tape on cement without a tab is the worse!

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#13 Ben Luke Taylor

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 02:10 PM

You can also make rubber marks, they do the same kind of job as sausage markers, but you can make them yourself for a lot cheaper!

Basically, get a rubber mat (the kind you use to cover cables on set) cut them into rectangles, and tape t marks onto them. Use them on wet floors, grass etc where your tape wont stick.
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#14 Evan Luzi

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 05:31 PM

Paper tape is definitely what you would want to mark actors. Whether you use 1" or 1/2" is a matter of preference determined by the AC's. Cloth tape can be used but I find it's harder to tear on-the-go and it can leave residue on certain types of surfaces. Paper tape, overall, is also more lightweight and easier to carry around on a strap or leash. Like others mentioned above, having enough colors to cover the amount of actors in the scene is ideal, but if need be you can lay down the same color and draw stripes on it with a sharpie if there are more characters than colors. Whatever colors you use, however, make sure they stay consistent to the actor/character throughout the whole shoot.

Tabbing marks is also encouraged for the reasons mentioned by Gerard. There is a way to rip the tape off the roll while tabbing it at the same time. It's hard to explain online but there are AC's who probably know and can teach you how to.

I have not heard of the type of outdoor marks Ben brought up (the rubber ones) but I think it's a great idea! Another cheap outdoor/all-weather mark I picked up from another AC is to use T-Frames from any Home Depot or Lowe's and add camera tape to them. See here: http://www.theblacka...nd-focus-marks/ (**Full disclosure: this is a link to my own blog, but I couldn't find any pictures of what I was talking about on the Home Depot website... sorry to whore myself out**)
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#15 John Sprung

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 06:56 PM

We always used to use black for cans of exposed film, and white for short ends and re-cans. But that was in the black and white days, and the early color days when there weren't a lot of different stocks. That part was easier then. Inside the cans, we used a tabbed piece of 1/2" white paper tape to hold the outside end of the roll, but never never on the core. Always the double fold for the core end. Tabbed end of the tape went on the end of the film, the un-tabbed end on the next wrap, so you could pull it off easy and stick it on the outside of the can. And check that it was still there when you got out of the bag.

Cloth or paper are both used for actors' marks, just pay attention to the surfaces and working conditions to do no harm and get marks that stay.




-- J.S.
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#16 Aaron Francis Farrugia

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 11:51 PM

ive always use fluro tape to mark actors.... and keep rolls of camera tape and paper tape with gaff and matt gaff on the tape roll on the onset trolley
i also keep a roll of white electrical tape on me to quickly cut up a piece of tape for marking up the preston remote for the 1st AC or general cabling, and also a roll of 1" black matt paper tape to hide cables or create "chewing gum" marks for the 1st AC if marks are seen during a shot if environmental marks cant be found

and on sensitive floors i use rubber marks with blue tack to stick them down and sometimes i find actors love it because they can feel the mark i even sometimes catching them moving their own marks which always make me nervous!
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#17 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 07:05 PM

Various tapes I always have in my kit:

1/2" Paper Tape, for marks in various colors, but usually neon green & neon orange hanging on my belt.
1" Camera (Cloth) Tape (Red, White & Blue, Black)
2" Photo Black Paper Tape (A MUST HAVE)
2" Black Gaff Tape
1" Electrical Tape for labelling multiple cameras (Red, Blue, Yellow, etc.)
2" Gorilla Tape for taping rain gear
2" Mag Tape
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#18 Steve McBride

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 01:53 PM

I use a marking leash that has 1/2" color tape (6-8 different colors) and 2" black paper on it. Then on my belt I have a small core of 1" white and a 1/2" fluorescent tape for marking things quickly. Then I'll have a small dog collar that usually has two different 1" fluorescent colors and electrical tape on it. That's really all I use on set but it's always nice to have more colors of 1" as well as 2" J-Lar and 2" mag tape.
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#19 Tom Jensen

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 06:53 PM

I had an actor that kept missing his mark so being the incorrigible smart ass that I am, I laid down 2" gaffers tape for his mark and made red arrows pointing towards the mark. After the take he gave me look that cracked everyone up. It was pretty funny because he wasn't expecting it. I wouldn't suggest doing this unless you know the actor well enough. It could have blown the take.
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#20 Simon Wyss

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 03:41 AM

As lab technician I like to find white cloth tape around cans containing exposed stock. Film type identification by can label, any additional information written on the white tape. Please don’t write or paste on the label. Let it be the way it is. Short ends in cans sealed with black tape. That’s logic to me. Original film manufacturer tape discarded
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