So often we think about how we prep for a shoot. Today I want to talk about de-prepping after a shoot. This step is just as important and sets you up for success in upcoming shoots. My show recently wrapped production on principle production at the end of May and we took 2 weeks to de-prep all the gear. That is an extreme amount of time, but it is a show that runs nearly a few miles of cable and we were testing, cleaning, and repairing 50ft at a time.
To clean cable all you need is a bottle of Goo Gone and an old T-shirt. This is a chemical solvent that will not only get rid of mild dust but tougher stuff like adhesive residue from electrical and gaff tape that’s been cooked onto the cable.
You don’t need more then an old T-shirt. It will ruin the shirt but we all have those old shirts left over from our college days that our spouses want us to throw away, use one of those and you look like a good listener. You end up with a happy spouse and a clean cable. Thats a #Winning!
Goo Gone can also be used to clean up the rubber boots of your cables. Here is a before and after photo of a Coax cable that has been scrubbed on by just a little Goo Gone and a cotton T-shirt rag.
Test every cable with your bench tester. I have fallen in love with the Pyle Cable Tester.
If it’s a long show run you may end up with a pile of NFG cables, hopefully they have been tagged with what the suspected problem is already. In Dallas there was a very very popular Best Boy who carried a bunch of custom “luggage tags” that has his name, number, a spot for the date, and a open section for him to write down the suspected issue with the gear. This attention to detail made him very popular with rental houses for referrals.
If you also need suggestions for setting up a good workbench to repair cables checkout our article about that HERE.
You may also want to freshen a cable’s tie line. Here is a great knot to use when going the tie line method for coiling cable vs the Velcro tie method.
I have heard this sometimes called a
half hitch (it’s a Clove Hitch ), but I have seen it also called other names too. All I know is it locks into itself and won’t slide down the cable. Sometimes you’ll see people add a couple of loops of electrical tape over their tie line, using this knot can help avoid the extra goo.
Here is the brand of tie line / sash cord I use.
So often our bags become little trash cans that end up collecting the backsides of moleskin and StickIt tape. But better for it to end up in our bags than in the environment. And now that we are de-prepping it’s good to open up our bags and take the vacuum hose attachements to the inside. Lint rollers, gaff tape, or even those fancy dog hair fabric combs are great tools to get the little nitty gritty particles out of the soft velcro bag lining.
To clean up the clear vinyl window that in in the “lid” of our bags we will need to make a run to the auto parts store. The clear vinyl on our bags and rain gear can get cloudy after some time and it’s easily fixable. When you get to the auto parts store you will ask the clerk for a “soft top window cleaner.” This is a polish meant for cleaning the plastic windows found on Jeeps. It works wonders! I bought my first audio bag off eBay for $50. A good vacuum, lint roll, and plastic window cleaner really made that bag look brand new.
This is also the perfect time to put all your gear back in the cases and shelves and drawers and toolboxes and etc….. it belongs in. We are sometimes so happy to wrap that we start to just throw things into the closets pelican and we get the heck out of there. We have all done this. But we need to remember to put it all back the next day. Keeping gear where it belongs does three things for us.
- Makes prepping the next shoot easier
- We visible inspect all the gear and power it on if necessary. This will help prevent us from getting stuck paying for damages that may have happened on set that should be covered by L&D. Really this should be brought up on site if you suspect anything may have been broken, but going through all your gear can turn up some surpises that shouldn’t be missed.
- It protects the gear in the long term when its stored in the proper case.
Recently my friend Jon Ailetcher and I raided a Radio Shack and bought all their sliding component drawers. If you have a Radio Shack near you that will be closing soon, I suggest buying these drawers. They are perfect for organizing and sorting.
If you have any tips for how you de-prep after a long gig leave a comment below.
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com