Studio Manager Meditation: Coiling Cables

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any time we’re working with a new assistant for the first time, I’m always curious to see how they coil a cable. It’s not a test, more of an observation – are they cautions, are they thoughtful? Are they paying attention? You can learn a lot about someone’s work ethic from something very small and seemingly trivial.

via Chris Crisman Photography.

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

    • I was going to leave the link to an unintentionally funny youtube video that points out the obvious use of a c-stand in 4 minutes. However, when I searched for it, I discovered there are multiple videos now and, well, I just felt sad.

    • Years ago the first guy I assisted was a commercial photographer. He could be a real pain in the ass, but I learned many good habits from him which I continue to apply today. He was extremely frugal and watched every penny that left his studio, so he took good care of his gear and made sure his assistants treated it as well as he did. And one of the first things he taught me was the proper way to coil a cord. He did not want me to wrap it around my elbow and shoulder because that method twisted the interior wires. And with time the repeated twisting would eventually damage the cord. However, when I started working for other photographers, whose gear was rented and quickness was more important than respect for the equipment it became pretty difficult to maintain those good habits.

    • It’s sort of entertaining to watch a new assistant wrestle with a C-stand, especially so after they have just told you how experienced they are….

  1. Ha, when I was in film school, rolling xlr cable (more difficult than power) was part of our final exam. Couldn’t pass if you couldn’t roll cable.

  2. Maybe a better barometer is how well you learn skills once you’re shown them. The first time on a set, I had no idea how to open and close C-stands. During one particularly lame attempt, the gaffer stopped what he was doing, came over, and showed me. He was neither mean nor nice about it, just here’s how to do it, now do it. Which I did, and I think he was happy to have someone he would listen and learn (on a no-budget firm), because he went on to teach me other things (knuckles on the right…).

  3. and you know someone is a pro for detail and respect for gear if s/he uses the three “correct” methods of stowing cable depending on length and stiffness. yes, there are three methods. the ring (medium length or very stiff), the fold-and-knot (short and/or very flexible) and the almost unknown left-and-right-loops for really long not too stiff cables.
    or s/he might be a climber in their spare time, cause have to those trust their life to a piece of string. ;)