Anybody in entertainment production knows what gaffers tape is, but even lots of techs who use it don’t know what a “gaffer” is.
Many theatrical terms come from classic British theatre and gaffer is one of those terms.
The British originally used the term gaffer as slang for “grandfather”, a term that was meant to endear respect. That’s where this name entered the vocabulary.
Early stage lighting was both a hard and a dangerous job, and those who could do it well got a lot of respect from their peers. Thus, the slang term for an elder that earned respect began to be applied to those in the theatre who took on this tough job.
Today we may use a term as lofty as Chief Lighting Technician or even the loftier Lighting Engineer, but those who take this on wear the title of “gaffer” with pride.
The “grandfather” of stage hands is still the gaffer. They are the ones who climb the ladders, string the cable, hang the lights, change the lamps and create the looks that video, stage and theatre directors use to tell their stories.
Gaffers tape proudly inherited the term “gaffer” and Pro Gaff is the gaffers tape used by today’s professional lighting technicians and stage hands.
Calling 1/2 inch gaffers tape “spike tape” doesn’t make much sense unless you know a little theatrical history.
Stage, video and film techs know that gaff tape slit to a half inch width is called spike tape, but most of them don’t know why. Pro Gaff half inch gaffers tape is the audio video pro’s favorite spike tape but even some pros don’t know where the name “spike tape” originated.
To understand this bit of folklore, you need to return to the days of Shakespeare. The theatres were essentially outdoor venues, even though they had basic theatre structures.
At the Globe Theatre in London, and other theatres in England, the floors were dirt.
The reference to performing on stage as “treading the boards” didn’t come into use until much later.
When staging a show on a dirt floor it was necessary to drive a spike into the ground in order to show actors where to stand or to indicate where props and set pieces should be placed.
When stage marking replaced wooden stakes with tape marks the term “spike” stuck (get it?) and that is why thin gaffers tape is called spike tape today.
Serious percussionists know that gaffers tape can be an invaluable tool when it comes to improving drum sound. Used carefully, and in small increments, cloth gaffers tape can change the tone of individual drums just enough to make a kit sound really cohesive.
Use too much or use it in the wrong places and it can make the drum sound worse and leave a real mess when you try to remove it.
The secret is to use small pieces and to work slowly from the outside edge of the drum head towards the center as you carefully listen to the drum.
Ideally, the tape should be applied in such a way as the drummer will not hit it directly with a stick, as your goal is to change the tone of the drum, not change the impact the stick has when the drum head is struck.
To Duracell’s credit, this is not advice intended to sell more batteries. If you replace some of the batteries in a device, you will actually shorten the life of both the new and old batteries, increasing your costs and increasing the likelihood that you may actually have to replace the device itself if the batteries leak.
For longest life in high consumption battery use devices, use ProCell batteries, Duracell’s line of alkaline batteries for professionals.
We have just started getting marketing information from Duracell about their new line of Procell Intense Power alkaline batteries. They are being promoted as alkalines for high drain devices, and if, indeed their performance is markedly superior to the performance of regular Procells, it could make a big difference for wireless mic users.
There are few devices that would be considered more “high drain” than wireless mics, but if a user is going to pay for extra capacity and performance but still discard the batteries after a single use, then it will make no sense to pay more.
We have requested some specific details on performance comparisons and will set up some testing ourselves as soon as we can get our hands on some actual product.
Check back here soon. We’ll have more information.
One of the great features of gaffers tape that regularly gets overlooked is the ability to tear it-No cutting tools required.
Because gaffers tape is made from woven cloth, it will tear in strips, both horizontally and diagonally, to any size you need.
This means that you can carry one less tool and worry less about cutting yourself. No matter what size piece of tape is required, you can quickly and easily tear off just that amount and get a smooth, clean edge, not something ragged.
Once you tear it, because gaffers tape is 11 mils thick, you can easily find the leading edge again when you need a new piece.
47 N. Chatham Pkwy.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
If you’ve spent much time on a stage or a video set, you know that there is no such thing as “universal” sizing for hardware.
The difference between standard and metric is only the beginning. Trying to make two different manufacturers equipment work together can be a huge headache.
Quite often you have to come up with your own solution for a one time fix.
A good example is the fitting a microphone accessory like a mic clip to a stand that has a different standard thread. If it won’t fit properly, you may have to use tape. You know you need to create a fix that is camera or audience invisible, and that can be a challenge. Instead of taping the clip to the stand, see if you can apply tape to the inside (thread) of the oversized clip so that it can be placed on the stand firmly.
Same for fitting a camera to a tripod. Concentrate on where the camera meets the tripod and see if you can create temporarily compatible sizes.
Since gaffers tape has an adhesive that is designed to remove cleanly, your post show clean up should be quick an simple.
Harrison Bros.com 47 N. Chatham Pkwy. Chapel Hill, NC 27517 Voice 800-327-4414 Local 919-968-6651 Fax 800-327-6651 Email firstname.lastname@example.org