Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Mark Tips

What are some tip or trick that you have used for Marking Talent, or Focus?

One of the tricks I use for marking quickly with tape marks is to have several pieces of different coloured tape cut about a inch long and layered or a piece of plastic board 5x3. This allows me to quickly tag the actors with toe marks during rehearsal and then replace them with T marks later. It is also easier to pull up if the blocking is changed and you have to lay new marks.

I would like to hear what tips you have.

Nathan McConnell
2nd AC

I think I missed the original post, but what about a marking stick - I made some up (main and spare) out of wood (although foam is better as its lighter) one foot long 2 1/4 wide 1inch 1/8th deep - its big enough to house 8 different colours of tape all tabbed at the ends and getting shorter down the stick for ease of use. The top or bottom of the stick is the perfect place to write the characters name and the actors name - then you can have a colour coded system for the main actors/actresses. You can hook it onto your belt or put it in the leg pocket of combat trousers, or leave it in your run bag. I still end up with tape on my trousers especially as I like to save the planet (and my wallet) by re-using tape. But I've found that if the tape is only on my trousers for a short time it doesn't leave a sticky residue - unlike when I forget and leave it there for days on end, or even worse put it on a hot wash with the gaffer tape still attached!

Anna Carrington
Focus Puller & DOP

I have made some T-markers, cut out of 3mm thick rubber, the kind you use in cars, working table etc. then clued a piece of laminated paper in different colours on top. They are heavy enough to stay in place and the actors don’t trip over them. Of course they can be kicked about, but not as easy as the sausage type. I have made a serie of straight ones for reference marks.

Daniel Parmo

You guys pretty much said the essential. Clearly ,Tape is the fastest most efficient way of marking.

Chalk is good ,but it can fade quickly on studio floors ,wood , varnished concrete etc....On asphalt ,better have a little brush and water handy .T shaped bags filled with plastic balls is good but they move .

I've been also conscious about environment issues due do its massive uses of what other options to make it more safe for the earth and efficient for us in our work?

The only kind of reusable source I found was to eventually create a system, with wireless modules emitting a beam T shaped mark of your colour choosing These modules would be controlled by a box (ac powered or camera powered ).Just like a wireless surround sound system with 5 speakers. So you could control many marks and change their properties as set up change from blocking to shooting .Using 9volts rechargeable batteries for the modules ,this system could hold for quite a while without wasting any materials.

Laser technology is growing fast and it s getting very cheap too. Laser TV is just around the corner and if you see the difference in quality ,you'll understand why I am thinking of this laser mark system

Eric Bensoussan
1st AC
Montreal Canada

I agree with you Daniel, I think the rubber T-marks are a great system.

They are heavy enough to stay in place and are much less kicked around or tripped over like the 'sausage like' toe bags. They are easy to pick up and move, and save time at the end of the shoot/day hunting around picking up bits of tape off the floor.


Kieron Dobbin
Photographer / 1st AC
Sydney, Australia

Hi Nathan,

There are a couple of different ways I have tried that are similar to the way you are doing it. A board sounds like a great idea, but I have always used either the thigh of my pants or the bottom of my shirt. When blocking is starting, I quickly check my sides to see which actors are in the scene and then rip off three strips of each of their colours, always tabbing the end. If you have them on the thigh of your pants, then you can easily go down on a knee to mark the actors, and the strip is right there. This leaves your other hand free to hold your marking string of tapes in case you need more marks. I also just drop one mark across the toes during rehearsals, going back and adding the stem once blocking is over.

The other benefit that I have found from storing marking tape on clothing, is that it will pick up a bit of the fuzz from your clothes, which makes it less likely to strip off varnish or paint from the surface you are marking because it is not quite as sticky.( the art department and locations will love you for that) Conversely, if you are having problems getting marks to stick, then a board would probably work better. Good Luck!

Will White

Eric Bensoussan wrote :

>>"The only kind of reusable source I found was to eventually create a system, with wireless modules >>emitting a beam T shaped mark of your colour choosing"

My god this sounds complicated!

Anna Carrington
Focus Puller & DOP
(I think I'll stick to my gaffer tape, chalk and sausage markers!)

My god this sounds complicated!

I agree. Marking should be done fast, silent and non-disturbing.

Tape is just good for that. There are some tapes that don’t stick too strong, these are ideal for marking on sensitive floors.

I also use coloured golfballs (with a long nail through them) for focus marks in meadows or sand. Of course, if your marks would be in frame, you can use cigarette filters, small branches, stones...

Philipp Chudalla, BVK
Materialassistent / 2nd AC

81829 München

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