In high school, I had a Media Communications teacher named Mr. Blado. Mr. Blado was incredibly strict about cords. His constant lecturing about cord management and displays of professional cord-twisting techniques were lost on high school kids who just wanted to make funny videos, but now that I'm older and wiser (and still pretty into making funny videos), I understand where Mr. Blado was coming from.
As a way of balancing out the cord karma of the universe, I will now pass on Mr. Blado's enthusiasm for well-kept wires. Let's start with the following video by John DeMaio of Production Apprentice, in which he demonstrates how to employ the famous "over/under" wrapping technique:
As John mentioned, this is not just his trick. The over/under technique is an industry standard, used to protect a cord and make it convenient for the gaffer to unwind and use the cord on set. It may look complicated, but it's actually quite simple. Let us break it down step by step:
Gently loop the cord using a twisting motion every other loop
Position every loop you make beneath the previous loop
When you're done, secure the bundle with a cable tie or Velcro strap
This method works well for most cables. If you need to wrap a twisted pair cable such as the kind found on an AC adapter or computer networking connector, ask your gaffer — he or she may prefer that you use a cable reel for these types of cords. As far as on-set cords are concerned, that's a wrap. But while we're on the subject, let's talk about the proper handling of the other major type of cords used in video production — the kind used when connecting your computer to other devices during the editing process.
Whether it's happened to you or someone you know, we're all aware of the horrifying experience that is hard drive failure caused by cord mishap. To keep yourself from accidentally unplugging an in-use drive or blowing a fuse (in your hard drive and in your brain), it's important to keep your cords organized and protected.
For starters, you may want to pick up some accessories such as cable organizers, cord wraps, and clips. These inexpensive tools will keep your cords in order and help you avoid damage from accidental un-plugging.
In addition, a surge protector is always a wise investment.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Power surges or voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes, power outages, or tripped circuit breakers can damage the voltage-sensitive components of your computer or hard drive. A surge protector will protect against this by limiting the voltage supplied to the plugged-in devices.
All this may seem trivial, but since cords are what bring all the power to your gear, they truly are the lifelines for digital video production. Take care of them, and they'll take care of you.