Welcome to our lesson on the different types of tape used in production sound. As a sound professional, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of the various types of tapes available and their uses. In fact, you never know what tape will work until you try it, so don’t be afraid to experiment! For starters, head to your local pharmacy and grab all the tapes used for addressing wounds, etc. It’s a cheap wiring tool to purchase, and there are so many kinds… you never know when a particular type of tape will come in handy.

Tape is an indispensable tool for securing microphones, concealing wires, and attaching props and wardrobe to actors. However, the adhesives used in tapes have different properties that will adhere to different materials and surfaces depending on the scene’s action and wardrobe. This is why we have different kinds, because we will use in on skin as well as wardrobes and more. 

In some instances, a simple tape like transpore may be used, which is easy to apply and remove. Still, in more challenging situations, such as extreme heat or action scenes, a more robust and specialized tape may be required to ensure the microphones stay securely in place. It’s crucial to know which tapes are suitable for specific situations as the wrong tape can cause problems that could potentially ruin a shot, delay production, or even cause harm to the talent.

Throughout this lesson, we will explore the different types of tapes commonly used in production sound, their properties, and their specific applications. We’ll discuss why it’s essential to choose the right tape for the job and how each tape can help ensure a smooth and successful production. So, let’s dive into the world of production sound tapes and learn how to choose the right tape for any situation.

A Little Piece Of Tape Is All You Need...

Transpore

Transpore Surgical Tape is a must-have in any production sound professional’s toolkit. This medical tape has an extremely tacky adhesive that provides a strong hold, making it suitable for daily use in multiple situations. However, it’s essential to note that Transpore tends to leave a sticky residue on the skin, so it’s wise to have alcohol wipes on hand to remove any markings that may upset actors. It’s not recommended to use this tape on someone’s hair.

One of Transpore’s most significant advantages is its effectiveness as a strain relief. Strain relief is a technique that reinforces the wire of the lavalier below the capsule, securing it in place and preventing it from falling down. We’ll delve deeper into strain relief in the later chapters.

It’s important to note that Transpore may not be the best choice for use on a sweaty person. If you plan on using it in this scenario, have paper towels or a cotton cloth with alcohol wipes on hand to dry and remove sweat from the area you’re planning to stick the lavalier to. Additionally, you’ll need to check every take to ensure that the lavalier hasn’t fallen down as Transpore will fall off at the first site of sweat.

MICROPORE PAPER TAPE

Micropore Paper Tape with Dispenser from 3M is the go-to option for gentle, general taping paper tape needs. Its conformable, hypoallergenic, and gentle nature makes it ideal for repeated applications on sensitive or fragile skin. It holds well on damp skin, allows moisture evaporation, and leaves minimal adhesive residue upon removal. This tape is excellent for general-purpose taping, securing lightweight devices, and at-risk skin, and when repeated taping is necessary. It is available in an easy-to-use dispenser pack, providing convenience and cost-effectiveness as an economical single-use roll.

DURAPORE SURGICAL TAPE

The Durapore Surgical Tape from 3M is a premium quality, silk-like woven cloth tape with exceptional adhesion. It is versatile and strong enough for strapping, yet gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. This hypoallergenic tape is durable and non-stretch, ensuring that it remains fast and efficient for critical applications. The tape adheres well to dry skin, and its convenient bidirectional tear feature makes it easy to use.

Additionally, Durapore Surgical Tape is hypoallergenic and not made with natural rubber latex, reducing the possibility of skin irritation. Its high strength, versatility, and conformability make it an excellent choice for medical professionals and patients alike.

KIND REMOVAL SILICONE TAPE

The Kind Removal Silicone Tape from 3M is the perfect tape for people with sensitive or at-risk skin. This hypoallergenic medical tape features a gentle, skin-friendly silicone adhesive that is breathable and latex-free. Its unique silicone adhesive is repositionable and does not stick to gloves or to itself.

This tape can be neatly torn by hand, making it easy to use, and it can be repositioned without losing its adhesive strength. This roll of tape comes in the standard size of 1″ x 5.5 yards. It offers reliable and pliable fixation, remains in place until you decide otherwise, and removes cleanly without disrupting fragile skin layers.

The Kind Removal Silicone Tape is the perfect choice when repeated taping is necessary, and it provides both comfort and security.

CURAD WATERPROOF ADHESIVE TAPE

CURAD®’s Waterproof Adhesive Tape is an excellent solution for those who require reliable and waterproof tape. The tape is easy to write on and is designed to resist oil and moisture. Its cotton cloth backing, with a polyethylene coating, provides high tensile strength, making it impossible for moisture to penetrate the dressing.

The tape’s strong adhesive is durable and holds securely even when wet. This latex-free tape is not made with natural rubber latex, making it suitable for those who may have allergies. The tape comes in a 1″ x 10 yd roll and is available in both a single or three-pack. Whether you need a waterproof dressing for medical purposes or for use in challenging environments, CURAD®’s Waterproof Adhesive Tape is a reliable and durable choice.

MEDIPORE SOFT CLOTH TAPE

Medipore Tape from 3M is an exceptional tape for more challenging applications that require a gentle, breathable, and water-resistant adhesive. The tape is ideal for individuals with sensitive or fragile skin, as it reduces the risk of skin sensitivity and maintains skin integrity. Its perforated rolls are easy to handle and tear, with no paper liner.

The tape will not curl or stick to itself, making it easy to use. Additionally, the tape’s excellent cross and diagonal stretch accommodate movement, making it perfect for post-surgical dressings or over areas where skin may stretch. This hypoallergenic tape is soft, breathable, water-resistant, and latex-free, making it suitable for a broad range of patients.

The Medipore Tape comes in a 2-pack, making it a convenient and cost-effective choice for medical professionals and individuals alike.

HY-TAPE (PINK) TAPE

Hy-Tape’s Original Pink Tape is a flexible and durable latex-free tape that offers an unmatched level of comfort for extended wear. The high-quality adhesive is gentle on delicate skin, holding tight but releasing gently. The tape is moisture-resistant, conforms to body contours, and adheres firmly to oily and hairy skin.

Its long-lasting performance means that it won’t break down over time, allowing skin to remain intact. Use this tape for a reliable, comfortable hold that reduces cost and saves time.

Double Sided For Double the Fun!

DOUBLE SIDED STICKY TAPE

Topstick, a versatile adhesive tape, comes in two versions: the Original Topstick and a stickier Super Top Stick. Each variant serves specific purposes in production sound mixing, particularly when it comes to wiring and attaching lavalier microphones. You will learn there are many names for similar products based on the regions you are working in and purchasing from.

The Original Topstick is ideal for general wiring tasks and offers reliable adhesion without causing damage or discomfort.

On the other hand, Super Top Stick provides a more robust, long-lasting hold, making it the go-to choice when a permanent attachment is required throughout the day.

It is essential to choose the appropriate version of Topstick for each application, as using Super Top Stick directly on the skin can be challenging and even painful to remove. Additionally, Super Top Stick may damage delicate fabrics or wardrobe items, so exercise caution when using it on materials such as silk, scarves, or easily frayed fabrics. Robust clothing like thick coats or cotton shirts can typically withstand the adhesive properties of Super Top Stick without issue.

Super Top Stick is best utilized for attaching lavalier microphones to clothing or holding them in specific positions. Avoid using it on the skin unless absolutely necessary, and inform the talent of its strong adhesive properties to prepare them for the removal process.

By understanding the differences between the two Topstick variants and applying them judiciously, production sound mixers can ensure optimal audio capture while maintaining the comfort and wardrobe integrity of on-screen talent. We will be discussing more and more about how these tools and tapes work inside the course as well as other free lessons!

VARIETIES TO CONSIDER:

Dealing with Hair...

Mepitac is great for hairy talent
MEPITAC TAPE

Mepitac is a great option for wiring tape as it is extremely gentle, makes no noise, and can be placed on top of hair without pulling it. When it comes to removal, it peels off gently without causing any discomfort. However, it is important to note that this luxury comes at a price and resides on the upper shelf of tapes. This type of tape can be used as a barrier when wiring on areas with hair, such as the chest. To wire directly on a hairy chest, a piece of Mepitac can be placed on the chest before adhering the lavalier to the Mepitac, providing a secure and comfortable hold.

Now Let's Go Softer...

MOLESKIN

Moleskin tape is a highly versatile and useful product for those working in production sound. With its soft and gentle adhesive, it can be used right up at the head of a microphone without creating any noise. It’s also perfect for use as a strain relief, ensuring that the lavalier is secured in place and won’t fall down easily.

In addition to adhering microphones to clothing, Moleskin can also be used directly on the skin. Its tacky and adhesive properties make it highly effective, even in sweaty or wet situations where other tapes might fail. It’s a good idea to have precut Moleskin in different shapes and sizes readily available in your toolbox to save time and avoid delays during production.

When working with individuals who have darker skin tones, it’s important to use black Moleskin to avoid it showing through thin clothing. Overall, Moleskin is a valuable tape to have on hand, offering both versatility and effectiveness for a variety of production sound applications. It also comes in black which means it can help hide under or on a variety of colors. 

BUNION CUSHIONS

Bunion Cushions are soft, adhesive pads that are typically used to alleviate discomfort caused by bunions. They provide a cushioning barrier between the bunion and footwear, preventing friction and pressure. Made from materials like foam or gel, Bunion Cushions are designed to conform to the shape of the foot and stay in place throughout the day.

In the context of securing lavalier microphones on actors, Bunion Cushions can be a useful alternative to Moleskin when the latter doesn’t provide sufficient adhesion. Due to their robust adhesive properties, Bunion Cushions are more likely to remain in place even when actors are sweating profusely during a scene. Additionally, their soft and pliable nature allows them to mold to the contours of the skin, ensuring a comfortable fit for the wearer.

URSA TAPE SOFT STRIPS

URSA Tape Soft Strips are an innovative solution designed to minimize clothing rustle and conceal microphones effectively. These strips are made from soft moleskin material, and adhered to hypoallergenic sticky tape to ensure user comfort. They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, beige, chroma green, and chroma blue, making them suitable for a range of applications.

The product is available in different sizes and pack options, such as packs of 30 small strips (8×2.5cm) or multi-packs of 12 small strips containing four strips of selected colors. URSA Tape Soft Strips can be used in various scenarios, such as tie rigs, sticking microphones directly to the skin, or covering objects that might cause discomfort to the wearer.

In addition to their primary use, URSA Tape Soft Strips can also be utilized to camouflage DPA Concealers effectively. By cutting a wide oval from a strip of URSA Tape and covering the concealer, users can seamlessly blend the microphone into the surrounding environment. The black URSA Tape, for example, features a woven fabric effect that enables it to blend well with knitted fabrics. It’s important to note that URSA Tape cannot be torn and requires scissors for cutting. To assist in achieving straight cuts, dashed lines are printed on the backing paper, indicating 1cm squares.

The URSA Soft Strips Roll is perfect for use in film, television, theater, and other audio-sensitive environments where high-quality sound recording is crucial. This versatile product can be employed in numerous scenarios, such as securing microphones directly to skin or fabric, padding microphone capsules, or covering objects that might cause discomfort or noise interference. Its stretchy nature allows for easy customization and adaptation to various microphone setups, ensuring seamless integration with your audio equipment. 

VIVIANA SKIN

Viviana Skin is a specialized type of moleskin designed for use in film and television productions, specifically for attaching lavalier microphones to actors. It is made from an ultra-soft, stretchable fabric with hypoallergenic adhesive tape on one side, ensuring both comfort and a secure hold.

How to Wire Talent Masterclass with Thomas Popp
Phillip Pamplin
Phillip Pamplin
@ppamp
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I enjoyed listening to this course!

Thomas is knowledgeable because of his real-world experiences. He has a great ability to teach and keep people engaged.

My favorite part was how you described what kids will do to the mic if you explain it in too much detail.
Jonathan Millett
Jonathan Millett
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I’ve been doing sound for years and have been working in the film industry for quite some time, and from watching this, I still have much to learn.

By sharing his experience in the field, Thomas Popp gives a very informative dissertation on all the techniques that go into perfecting the art of getting the sound right the first time and eliminating every problematic situation while dealing with talent gently and tactfully.

He teaches from a Union perspective and this information is crucial for me as I am currently working on joining. Watching these videos has taught me so much and I am already incorporating these techniques on set.
Eric Sarich
Eric Sarich
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So many things I never thought about.

I definitely need to watch a second time to let it all sink in.