Cable Management for the Modern-Day Filmmaker
Let’s look at some of the best practices and products you can use to tame your wires and create a clean camera build.
Cables everywhere. It’s a sight no filmmaker wants to see, especially when those cables are spewing out from the sides of their camera. Once you start adding accessories (monitors, wireless follow focus, etc.) to your camera package, the amount of wires can become nearly unmanageable. So, let’s tame those wires and create a clean camera build.
Recently, I was setting up my camera for an interview shoot. Everything looked great—until I saw a weird, soft, black line going across the frame in my image. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I quickly peeked in front of the lens and identified the culprit. My BNC cable, which was far too long, was ever-so-elegantly draped in front of my lens. If I were filming some tech piece in a server room and wanted some foreground action, it’d be perfect, but it wasn’t what I was after at all. I needed a crisp, clean interview look.
That’s when I realized I had a cable management problem. In that moment, I knew I had to do something about it. After much research, failure, and experimentation, here are some the tips and tools I used to improve the cleanliness of my camera builds and up my cable management game.
Choose the Right Length of Cable
The cause of most cable management issues is simple: cables that are just too long. That was my exact issue in the story referenced above. I was just running a cable from my camera to an external monitor but, for some reason, I decided to use a three-foot cable. As a result, I had way too much slack in my cable run. When that slack is unmanaged, it can quickly become an issue. If I had utilized an appropriate cable length—like two feet—I could’ve avoided a lot of the headache that comes from mismanaged, uncontrolled cabling.
Of course, even once you’ve chosen the right cables for your accessories, they still need to be managed. Here are a few of my favorite products for wrangling cables.
Sprig—a small company based in Minnesota—recently entered the cinema cable management market, and I’m a fan! Sprig offers a “minimalist cable management device” (see pic above) that, once anchored into a threaded hole on your camera body, contains, routes, and tidies up your cables. It’s a truly unique and nearly custom means to manage the cable monstrosities of your camera rig. Swing by Sprig’s storefront, and start untangling your life.
Sometimes a simple Velcro tie is all one needs to manage cables. This classic cable management solution ties cables together cleanly and effortlessly. In terms of cost, these ties are the most budget-friendly of all the choices. Plus, the sleek, black design make them virtually unnoticeable. You can pickup Velcro ties for around $5 from your local hardware store.
Gear ties offer the perfect balance of sleekness and utility for cable management. These highly flexible ties gently wrap around your cables and create a nearly unnoticeable solution for your rig. If you’re looking for the ultimate stealth mode, then gear ties are a fast and attractive option. Like the Velcro ties, you can find gear ties at your local hardware store, usually starting at around $9 a pack.
Ah, the tried-and-true legend—the bongo tie, a classic found on nearly every film set. This quick, easy, versatile solution wrangles any wiring issue you may have. With a timeless, “it-ain’t-broke-so-don’t-fix-it” loop-and-button closure, this rubber-band-like fastener is the go-to cable management solution of many, many filmmakers.
Given their GOAT status in the film industry, you’ll find bongo ties at pretty much any production outlet. For a pack of ten 5″ bongo ties, you’ll spend around $7.
Messy cables are an ever-present nuisance for today’s filmmaker, no doubt. But you can break the cycle. For just a few bucks—and with a little discipline—you can have the cleanest camera build on your set.
For more camera gear tips and advice, check out these articles:
Cover image via The Mogli.
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