The Right Way to Wrap Cables, Rope, and Cords

We've recently covered the knots a photographer and videographer must know. The same guy, Mark Vargo, shows us how to correctly wrap cables, rope, and cords on location. It's something I thought I didn't need to know, but the skills will be very useful when your team has one more look to shoot and the wireless trigger's last battery is done and you need to use a syncing cable.

You as the director of the shoot also need to consider your team and the talent's safety. If the wind picks up and you need to strap down the large scrim, a properly wrapped rope is the quickest way to do it. Vargo has a very simple way of showing how to wrap each of the cables, ropes, and cords, and he tells you why to do it in this way.

I'm not sure I am going to lie my cables out on the ground for an hour before wrapping them, but I'm sure it helps in the end. All these simple techniques are not photography or video related, but it forms part of the job. It's practical and even when you're not on set, these skills can be used in daily life scenarios too.

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11 Comments

Tom Lew's picture

I own a rental studio and almost nobody knows how to do an over and under wrap. Just wrap it around and around their palm and elbows.

Anonymous's picture

This is the first thing I teach whoever is assisting me. nothing is worse than improperly wrapped cables. I worked in sports broadcasting for a long time and have wrapped more cable than most people would ever want to. over under is the ONLY way to wrap cables.

Tom Lew's picture

sports broadcasting is exactly what I would say if I had to guess who wraps the most cable lol. Good on ya.

John de la Bastide's picture

Thanks ..Useful video.

Richard Berry's picture

I disagree with everythng this guy is telling us to do. In fact, I quit watching the video because he was taking so long. The over the palm and elbow method works the best if you cross the cable into a figure eight. Then the next time you use the cable, it fall off and never gets tangles. The other good thing is that the cable doesn't develop a twist. That is the worse thing that can happen. I use to help this guy paint houses and this is the method he taught me to wrap extension chords. It works every time. I even do the figure eight on my vacuum. I wouldn't do it any other way. This may be what the industry does, but I wont do it.

Matteo Bertozzi's picture

The over the palm and elbow method works, there's no doubt but it's not the proper method to wrap cables because that way the cables inside get stretched and twisted and in the long run they tend to get damaged a lot faster. So to extend the life of cables we use the over and under method because sometimes cables can be very expensive especially video or audio ones. And also it's easier to store cables that are wrapped in a nice circle rather one wrapped like a rope.

Richard Berry's picture

I knew someone was going to say something about the life of the cables, I've been using the same extension chords since the 80's. As I said above, you form a figure eight with this method not just go around and round. I'll give you the credit that some cables are expensive and this method doesn't work for shorter cable. So, I apologize for not keeping an open mind about all cables. After all, if it works for the industry, who am I to say that it's not a good method.

Mark Davidson's picture

Great video but cables are precisely the reason I went to battery powered strobes.

Ronald Hiner's picture

He missed the most important point... the overhand wrap puts a half twist in the cable. The underhand wrap also puts a half twist in there... but in the opposite direction. (One twist is clockwise, the other counter-clockwise.) So by alternating, you eliminate the twist down the length of the cable.) And the purpose of stretching them out in the sun isn't to 'relax' them, it's to remove any twists that are in there already. (Oh, and the over/under technique works great with garden hoses too.)

Vaibhav Gangal's picture

Useful Video. Can you also share the video on how to keep camera & lenses clean? Dust free?

Wouter du Toit's picture

Hello Vaibhav, I will check if we can get the best way to do it and share it. Thanks for the comment!