June 6, 2017

Watch: An Essential Guide for Wrangling Cables, Cords, and Rope on a Film Set

Learn how to properly wrap all different kinds of cables and cords you use during a film shoot. 

Other than caffeine and a tremendous amount of self-doubt, some things that filmmakers are absolutely up to their necks in while shooting a project are cables. There's at least one for almost every device you have on set, from your lighting units to your boom mics, and managing, storing, and controlling all of them can be a real challenge. In this video from PremiumBeat, cinematographer Mark Vargo shows you how to properly wrap and maintain cables so you can spend less time wrangling and more time shooting. Check it out below:

If you're shooting projects in your backyard with your buddies, knowing how to wrap cables is certainly a helpful skill to have, but if you're working on a professional set, it's actually part of your job description. That's why this video is so helpful, because Vargo not only teaches you the classic "over and under" technique, but he also shows you how to properly maintain and care for them so they can last a lot longer.

  • Retraining cables and rope: Lay them out in the sun for 1-2 hours. If you're dealing with rope, soak it in water beforehand.
  • Keeping things together: Wrap a strip of velcro or a bungee cord around the male end of your cables to keep it from unwrapping.
  • Stressing out your cables: Avoid wrapping cables and cords like you would rope. Doing this could damage them.
  • Did I do it right?: Your cables and ropes should fly tangle-free when tossed. That's how you know you've wrapped properly.

Do you have any tips on how to wrap and/or care for cables, cords, and ropes? Let us know in the comments below.      

Your Comment

6 Comments

I've heard that you over-and-under audio and video cables (xlr, bnc, HDMI, etc), but over-over power cables and rope. This shows over-and-under power cables as well. Which is actually correct?

June 7, 2017 at 11:47AM

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Oh the Old Over-Under vs Over- Over debate.

As long as your not "Training" the cable to kink, do what feels natural (IE what the cable wants to do) when cabling.

Neither is better or worse when it comes to cable as long as your aren't warping it against it's natural bends, IE on a Spool or around your fore arm.

But, I prefer Over-Over, simply because when I hand it off to someone, they're less likely to not get tangled, as Over-Under can become tangled if done sloppy.

Also you should wrap rope they way mountain and rescue climbers do, with your wingspan, behind your neck, then fold the the coil while on your neck, using the excess to then tie it to itself. The extra piece of tie-line is superfluous and will just get in the way or lost.

June 7, 2017 at 5:04PM

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Sketkh Williams
Actor - Storyteller
175

Electric cable should never be over under - over over clockwise only. DMX cable depends on the best boy.

You always know which stinger came back from the camera department.

June 8, 2017 at 2:35AM, Edited June 8, 2:39AM

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Arthur Love
728 Electrician
74

I disagree with the use of Never, but honestly- personal trial and error are your best teachers, get a cable, practice and practice, it's a dumb little thing you can master for yourself easily, just do it.

June 8, 2017 at 1:27PM

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Sketkh Williams
Actor - Storyteller
175

Very useful video.
Gonna learn this technique.

June 8, 2017 at 6:12PM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
864

Great video!

Best advice I've ever heard about the over-under vs. over-over debate is this:

1) Know how to do both.
2) Ask your department head or someone in the know which way they do it.
3) Do it that way.

Both are methods of keeping the cables from being twisted and tangled, which ultimately shorten their lifespan as working cables. Different departments/companies/regions do it differently, so it's always best to ask.

June 10, 2017 at 12:55AM

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Marshall Rosales
Director of Photography
13