Author Topic: What is Gaffer Tape?  (Read 22159 times)

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carebear3885q

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What is Gaffer Tape?
« on: Sep 09, 2006, 11:06 am »
What is Gaffer Tape used for?
Carrie

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 09, 2006, 12:18 pm »
The black gold?
Let me count the ways....


ChaCha
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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 09, 2006, 03:32 pm »
Black Gaff Tape, also know as Gaffer's tape is pretty much which hold's theatre together.

From Wikipedia

Gaffer tape (also, gaffer's tape, gaff tape, gaffing tape, cloth tape, and more colloquially Jesus Tape or The Force) is a tough, fabric backed adhesive tape used in the motion picture, television, stage (music and theater) and other entertainment industries, and elsewhere. Sometimes it is spelled as "Gaffa" tape", a brand name. The tape is manufactured in many colours, including fluorescent and custom colours, but the most common varieties include matte black, since this blends in with the typical stage floor of a theatre, red tape for obvious warnings or as staging marks for the blocking of actors or camera, and white tape which can be used imperceptibly to an audience or camera on lighter surfaces or as visible marks on darker ones as well as often being used to seal cans of unexposed film such as short ends. The white tape is also used extensively by live sound engineers who place a strip along the bottom of the mixing board allowing them to label the channels used for a particular show. Although the tape is difficult to break by pulling, it is easily torn by hand along either axis and leaves little to no residue when removed, though it will remove patches of some paints from the surface of drywall, and can remove finishes from wooden surfaces. When cables are taped down on a stage or other surface, either for safety or to keep them out of view of the audience or camera, they are said to be gaffered or gaffed.
The tape is most likely named for the gaffer, the head of the lighting department on a film crew.
A 4" wide version, commonly known as Dutchman's tape, is also available. This name probably came from the common method of plastering two canvas flats together. As 2" gaffer tape is easier to deal with, it has become more commonly used. Electrics and Grips commonly carry one or more colors of 1" tape as part of their personal kit. Gaffer tape is manufactured in six-foot tubes which are then cut into narrower rolls for sale. This means that extra-wide gaffer up to (as an extreme example) six feet can be special-ordered, though it can be hard to pull the tape from very wide rolls.
The tape is commonly referred to within the British Army as 'black and nasty'.
In the US, duct tape, although a different material, is frequently used for similar purposes outside of the entertainment industry.
Gaffer tape should not be confused with camera tape, which comes in a similar range of sizes and colors but is a low adhesion paper tape.
Gaffer Tape is also known as "Binding Tape" as many Library Binders will use it to finish off the binding on library books.


Used backstage . . .

Tape down cable, tape up masking, use white gaff tape to safety tape . . .on and on . . .
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

centaura

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 09, 2006, 07:31 pm »
In non-theatre applications, folks often use duct tape, as its readily accessible to the general public.  Gaff tape has to be order from theatrical supply companies (generally).  But the big thing that should be highlighted with dancing letters, is that it comes up with little or no residue.  When you duct tape something, you've pretty much decided that you want that piece of tape to be there for the rest of the item's natural life.  'Cause its going to be a pain in the posterior to take it back off again.  That's why gaff tape is considered more precious than gold - its strong, yet removable.  On tour and at my new venue, we go to extreme lengths to make sure that no one can take our gaff tape - as it can run up to US$15 -ish per roll.

-Centaura

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #4 on: Sep 09, 2006, 09:14 pm »
Gaffer tape is probably the MOST coverted item in the theatre. Quite a few theatres are basically held up by the stuff. You can do costume and blacks repairs with it, tape down leads, black out things, hold things together (and hold people to LX bars and fly them out, but SMNetwork would never condone such dangerous behaviour) etc. Probably my favorite saying is "If it moves and it shouldn't, use gaffer tape. If it doesn't move, and it should, use WD40 and a ball peen hammer".

Gaffer tape has some mysterious effects on people. For example, I can take a carton of Nashua gaffer tape into a 2 day bump-in. That is 24 rolls of basically "Premium Gaff" (there are better brands, but NashGaff is one of the better brands that is still reasonably priced in Australia). I walk out of the theatre at the end of the bump in with 2 rolls. Now you are probably thinking "That is a hell of a lot of gaffer tape that was used" - whilst it is true, during that bump in we used a lot of gaffer tape - the total ammount was probably no more than 4 rolls. You see, even though I had 24 rolls of gaffer tape, someone would take a roll to do something with it and that roll would mysteriously vanish (usually into that persons car). Gaffer tape has the amazing ability to turn normal, every day people into kleptomaniacs. Normally, an SM is not so stupid as to bring in an entire carton, however I was running short on time and the carton was in the middle of the pallet of hired items so I did not have time to hide it.

Another mysterious effect is that it can make even the most reasonable person think that gaffer tape is flameproof - and hence, a great tool for making makeshift gel frames (or sticking gel into gel frames). I can tell you now that unless you pay US$20 or so for the extreamly expensive "Flame proof" gaffer tape, it is infact extreamly flamable.

Another thing is that no matter what they want you to believe, not all gaffer tape is created equal. You CAN buy gaffer tape for AU$4 a roll (roughly $3 US) - and even though managers would like to believe that this is a suitable gaffer for suspending cables from the cieling etc, it is infact rubbish - barely suited to tape down cables against the architraves. If I remember correctly, there is a web site that sells "Sample Packs" of Gaffer tape - just so that you can see the difference in stick factor, rippability etc in gaffer tape.

The final thing is it's most mysterious property. If you are trying to show off to someone by ripping gaffer tape for some purpose or another, it will choose that moment NOT to rip (gaffer tape is usually fairly easy to rip), however once said object of affection is out of sight, it rips quite easily.

So be warned. Black gold has mysterious effects on people.

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #5 on: Sep 10, 2006, 10:28 am »
At the ballet we use gaff tape to put our marley down, rather than actual marley tape- marley tape being even more expensive...

ljh007

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #6 on: Sep 12, 2006, 08:00 am »
For the record, I cast my vote for Shur-Tape.
Pro-Gaff is no good.

And never, ever buy gaff tape on Ebay. I did once (at the prodding of a penny-pinching finance manager), and the entire crate had been sitting in someone's drippy, humid warehouse. Not a usable roll among them.

Balletdork

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #7 on: Sep 12, 2006, 10:35 am »
You are correct- shur tape is much better!

TechGal

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #8 on: Sep 12, 2006, 11:43 am »
Shur-tape, now that's a new one on me. By the looks of their website it's just a different brand of gaff tape?     

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #9 on: Sep 12, 2006, 02:59 pm »
We use gaff rather than marley tape, for the main reason that marley tape is slippery for the dancers.  And its a pain in the butt to actually make work.  You pretty much have to have one of those super cool tape rollers (which someday my TD will build for me...)

Never, ever, ever use Permacel on marley.  We tried it once last year because our dealer was running a special on it and we figured it would be good tape -- NOT SO.  It left sticky residue EVERYWHERE it was taped down...which on  60 x 40 marley floor, 5' panels...well...you do the math.  I think we actually went beyond the minimum for the out on that show because the stagehands had to sit there with pieces of the tape and dab the sticky crap off the marley.  YUCK.

Pro-gaff works great for marley, in my experience.  Shur tape tends to be stickier so I will usually purchase a case of each. 

My dealer will also switch white with black in cases for me, so I can order a case of gaff and have him change out 4 black rolls for 4 white, since we typically don't use as much white as black. 

I keep all our gaff and spike under lock and key at my desk...otherwise dancers will try to use it to tape their toes, tape their shoes, tape anything they feel like.  =) 
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

SMJorge

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #10 on: Sep 12, 2006, 05:41 pm »
Gaff tape is the best stuff on earth!

Never ever ever buy cheap Gaff tape. I too had to pull up residue from crappy gaff tape from marley floor that got wet because of a leak in the ceiling... It was not fun....

killerdana

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #11 on: Sep 12, 2006, 06:40 pm »
A few years ago I got into a car accident that ripped my front bumper half-way off--the day before Christmas Eve.  My insurance company would only pay for repairs if I waited until after the holidays (less days of renting me a car while the mechanics took days off), so I gaffed my bumper back on.  It got me through LA traffic and two weeks of rain storms without a single slip.  Truly the greatest tool in the world.
Science without art is sterile.  --Albert Einstein

Balletdork

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #12 on: Sep 13, 2006, 09:04 am »
That's a great one! Held the bumper on in LA traffic- good on you!

RachelTaylor

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #13 on: Sep 14, 2006, 10:59 pm »
In short?  God's gift to techies.  Rips easily and doesn't leave a sticky residue like duct tape.

avkid

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Re: What is Gaffer Tape?
« Reply #14 on: Sep 16, 2006, 02:11 pm »
Gaff tape is............ the best sticky invention known to man!!!!!!!!
Philip LaDue
Shore Production Group LLC
IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

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