4 Keys to Proper Cable Coiling

Okay, you’re getting ready to begin filming your new movie, or your TV spot, or even your video short, and that means you are going to have to deal with cables. Anyone who has been involved in filmmaking before knows that cables are one of the greatest Achilles’ Heel to most directors, producers, and film crew. Yet proper cable coiling is absolutely essential to maintaining the integrity of the cable itself as well as the signal that is sent to the camera or the audio recording system.

Without proper cable coiling, the braids inside the cable that are essential to the high quality of signal can become stretched, frayed, and broken, causing a degradation of the signal, thus compromising the quality of the film or TV production as a whole. You may not notice this loss of quality until you reach the editing room and at that point it will be too late. Take proper care of the cables and you will have the best signal available at all times. If you’re helping out on a set, you’ll make friends with the crew very quickly if you wind cables properly.

The 4 Keys to Proper Cable Coiling

  • The first key is to make sure the cable isn’t caught on anything or crimped before you begin to coil it. You want both ends to be free and clear. If the far end is stuck on something, then as you’re coiling the cable, you will actually be binding and twisting those sensitive braids inside.
  • Take one end of the cable in your submissive hand. For right-handed people, this means hold that end of the cable in your left hand.
  • Next, make a loose loop with the cable, approximately one foot in diameter, and hold the cable in your submissive hand. Make sure that the other end of the cable remains free to twist as it needs to. (When you coil the cable, it will be turning the open end).
  • Continue with this technique until you wind the entire cable into a nice, loose, coil. Before taking the last step, do not, for any reason, tie off the end or tighten it around the rest of the cable. This will defeat the entire purpose of coiling the cable as you have done.
  • Lastly, use a Velcro tie or zip tie or some other method to keep the cable locked in place. Now you have a properly coiled cable.

But, if you want to truly impress the tech guys on the set, then you can do a variation on the second step. Once you make that first loop, then you take the cable and reverse the loop, coiling it on the backside from the first loop. Alternate back and forth like this until the entire cable is coiled. While this may seem like the same thing, there is an argument that by rotating the direction, you are avoiding any permanence in the loop itself. It is difficult to explain, but if you use this alternating technique, you’ll find that the tech crews will be buying you a drink once the shift is over.

Proper cable coiling is not an obsessive act, but when you have invested thousands of dollars in equipment and you want to ensure the highest level of quality of your picture and sound, then you would do well to coil the cables with care.

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