a storage bin full of rolls of tape

What’s in Your Ditty Bag (producer intern)

Who: Ryan Trapp (producer intern)

What: Tape! Gaffer, black matte paper, various colored paper, vinyl electrical.

Why: “It sounds funny, but tape and its variants are something that you will use on nearly every set or at least want to have just in case. Whether you use it for marking spots, hanging and securing wires, or even distinguishing equipment the uses are varied and such a small tool can really make a big difference at times.”

So Much Tape!

When we’re on set – or even shopping in a hardware store – we’ve noticed the many different kinds of tape available to buy.  It’s simplicity fuels a wide variety of uses and types.  It’s almost mind boggling!

Specific functions require different types of the adhesive rolls when working on set.  There are usually many crew members running around with them hanging off their belts or located nearby in obscene quantities.  And the colors!  The type of tape determines where and who uses it. The color is also significant in its use on set.  Green, blue, or black varieties are used to mark a background wall for use in 3D effects.  Tape in all the colors of the rainbow are used as marking points for specific actors during a production.  Colors are also used to identify equipment “groups” such as cables for camera A or data cards from camera B.

Sometimes a Sticky Situation is Exactly What You Need

As Ryan said, subtle variance between types of this much used adhesive can make a big difference.  “Gaffer” looks and feels very similar to the more famous Duct tape but can withstand higher temperatures and doesn’t leave a residue.  These are critical functions when working with hot lights and telescoping structures. “Matte paper” (also known as black masking) is often used for its strength but also to prevent unwanted reflections on camera.  And, of course, “electrical” is needed for exactly what most people use it for: preventing damage and bodily harm.  

To paraphrase from a well-known book and popular 1965 song by The Byrds, “To everything (tape, tape, tape).”  And for those of us working in the industry, we know there are no truer words.

Stay tuned to find out what else we have in our ditty bags at BW!