Cable Management – The Best Tools for Keeping Your Lighting, Audio, and Video Cables in Order5 min read

lighting cables in our shop with good cable management
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When you’re working on a production, cable management is crucial. Not only does it help you stay organized, ensuring you know exactly where each line is running at a given moment, but it’s also critical for safety. When cables aren’t properly secure, they can be hazardous. A person may trip on a loose cable on the ground or tug one that’s hanging, causing expensive equipment to get yanked to the ground.

Luckily, cable management isn’t as difficult as it may seem. By using the right tools, you can secure every lighting, audio, and video cable used in your production. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here is a look at some of the best tools for the job.

The Best Tools for Cable Management

Gaff Tape

rolls of different colored gaff tape

When it comes to cable management, starting with gaff tape is usually a wise choice. It’s a versatile solution for securing cables to the floor or set safely. Plus, it won’t harm floors, walls, or other surfaces when it’s in place or when it’s being removed. Gaff tape is designed to be temporary, ensuring it stays strong when you need it to but also pulls loose when you want to break things down.

Another benefit of using gaff tape is that you can get it in several colors. You could use a color-coding system to mark varying types of cable, ensuring you can find the right lines quickly.

Suggested Reading: Getting Started with DMX Lighting

Velcro Covers

While gaff tape can be a great option for hard floors, it isn’t always the best for carpet. If the tape leaves a residue, removing it from the fibers can be incredibly challenging. Over time, it can collect dirt and grim, creating dark spots on the material.

Luckily, there is an alternative that’s perfect for carpeted floors. Velcro covers for cabling don’t have any sticky areas, so you don’t have to worry about residue on fibers. Plus, they are sturdy, you can use the Velcro to help keep them in place, and you may even be able to find versions in colors similar to the carpeting, allowing it to blend in a bit.

Friction Tape

Duck brand friction tape

If you want to bundle up some cables but want to avoid the residue you usually see with electrical tape, friction tape could be your best bet. It sticks incredibly well to itself, allowing you to create strong bundles that will hold. However, since it doesn’t stick to other materials as well, it won’t leave much residue on cable surfaces, ensuring your cables stay cleaner, longer.

Rubber Mats

If you have some room in your budget and want a cable management tool that you can reuse, rubber mats can be the way to go. Not only can they secure a large number of cables at once, but they also protect the cabling from foot traffic. As a bonus, they can provide extra traction in an area, making it safer to walk across certain kinds of floors.

It is important to note that the edges do tend to roll over time, especially if you are rolling them up when stored. As a result, you might want to use some gaff tape to keep the edges down, ensuring the mat itself doesn’t become a tripping hazard.

Velcro Ties

velcro ties around a cable

When you’re setting up lighting or audio/visual equipment, keeping all of the cables running out of the back organized can be a challenge. Thankfully, some simple Velcro ties are usually enough to keep everything sorted and contained.

Usually, you can find Velcro ties in a range of colors. By going that route, you can use different colors as informal labels for different types of equipment. For example, you can use yellow on lighting, red on video, and blue on audio, making it easy to spot the right cables when you need to track down a particular connection.

Tie Line

If you need a low-cost option, it’s hard to go wrong with tie line. Usually, it comes in large spools, allowing you to cut off however much you need to bundle up some cabling. For temporary production setups, this can be ideal, as it’s functional, economical, and flexible, all while being easy to take down when the need arises.

Flexible Braided Sheathing

With flexible braided sheathing, you can bundle up a small group of cables with ease. While it can be a more expensive option, it does tend to last. Plus, it creates a clean look, ensuring bundles of cables aren’t visually distracting.

As an added bonus, you can also cut flexible braided sheathing. Just make sure to heat shrink the ends to keep the material from unraveling, and you can create custom tubes for all of your cable management needs.

Suggested Reading: Stage Lighting Basics: Intelligent Fixtures, DMX, and More

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