Camera Paintwork

Old Post but worth re-visiting it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I discovered the other day when I ran out of red camera tape that you can write on electrical tape (the rubbery stuff - I borrowed some red off the electricians) and was just wondering whether I/we all should swap to this kind of tape for writing the stock id strip on the camera body as traditional camera tape tends to damage the paint work sometimes - come on we've all done it! - It seems that however much care I take when peeling off traditional camera tape - there are sometimes still flecks of paint that come off with it - I hadn't realised how much of a job it was re-painting camera equipment! What does everybody else think of my idea?

Also does anybody have the answer to cleaning clapperboards effectively - I tried using white-board cleaner but you still have to go over the permanent marker with a whiteboard marker first.

Anna Carrington
Camera Assistant


You can try to clean it with Zippo fluid, works also good for the
follow focus discs. (just don't smoke near it!) Alcohol works also great! (just don't drink it!)

For the tape I use Nichiban tape, not Tesa, it's to strong and don't
work well in the winter.

Didier Schokkaert
Camera Assistent

Hello Anna:

There are so many different brands of "erasable" markers and each has its own ink formula. Then, each translucent slate has its own chemical composition... The combinations are almost limitless. Makes you wish for the old days of slate and chalk, NOT.

What I find that works best for cleaning slates is Naptha. Fortunately naptha is the main ingredient in lighter fluid (for hand cigarette lighters not bar-b-que grills). Even though it takes off about 95% of the erasable markings, there can still be a ghost shadow remaining. If you are really anal like me, before each new job you can use a pink rectangular pencil eraser to really clean your slate.


You can take the easy way out and cut a piece of clear thin laminating plastic the same size as your writeable area on your slate. I have found that the erasable markers wipe completely clean from the laminate. You can find it at an office supply store for about $5.00 for 6) 8 1/2 x 11 sheets. With good care, the laminate will stay in good condition for a few months. When it wears or tears, you just strip it off, cut another piece and apply. Hope all this helps.


John Sheeren
Camera Operator
1st. AC
Houston, Texas

Anna Carrington wrote:

>> Also does anybody have the answer to cleaning clapperboards effectively

DON'T use nail polish remover - it will damage the boards.

Some people take to putting clear packing tape over the board. When that gets dingy, just peel off, and apply new.

Use Stabilo Plan 41 Markers or in Staples the Elite markers - little to
no residue.

Dry erase will remove sharpie, as you've found out.

I've tried a few products, white board cleaner is useless, same with

The best thing for cleaning dingy and worn white boards is Novus Plastic Polish. It comes in three strengths. I found #2 to be my favourite. Sadly I forget who it was that turned me on to that trick.

I wouldn’t use electrical tape on mags. If you are worried about removing
paint, then do with cam tape as you do with marking tape and stick it on your clothes first. But frankly I'd rather not have the tape come off
the mag, that is my primary concern.

Hope this helps

Steven Gladstone
CML East Coast List Administrator
Gladstone Films

Paintwork damage to cameras, IMHO, is an accepted part of the job. I don't mean carving your name under the 435 logo on the camera. If the paintwork comes off the mag . . . well that's too bad. Could possibly be put down to a bad batch of paint or whatever. When loading, the last thing I expect the loader to be concerned with are the cosmetic aspects of the mags! Usually, speed is paramount. So the concept of sitting there carefully lifting off the tape from a mag so as not to peel off any paint does not sit well with me, or any DP, unless of course, the DP owns camera!

I don't want to think how much camera tape I or my loaders have used over the years. Must be miles & miles of the stuff. I have thought of using black electricians tape the seal exposed cans. The stuff sticks very well, & is a fraction of the cost of camera tape. The tape balls at all the labs must be HUGE.

I use Acetone to clean the whiteboard slates & focus discs. Shellite (Zippo) is a great cleaner & degreaser without damaging factory paintwork. I use Shellite to clean gates at the beginning of the day’s work. Helps minimise gate hairs. Depending on the ink from the pens, either of the two above should remove the marks.

Angelo Sartore
1st. AC


>> you can write on electrical tape ..and was just wondering whether I/we all should swap to this kind of tape

I've worked in Japan several times and with Japanese crews in the US, and the Japanese ACs use a stretchy plastic tape kinda' like electricians tape for all the same uses as we use cloth camera tape. It's good for sealing up cans of film and taping filters onto the front of lenses but it's a pain in the butt to cut. I can't tear it cleanly and have to rely on scissors or a knife. Plus, Sharpie ink doesn't dry quickly and is subject to smearing.

I keep a couple of rolls in my kit just for filter taping emergencies but will continue to rely on Permacell camera tape for labelling. Perhaps it will encourage camera manufacturers to provide a more robust prep/paint job on their equipment.

>> does anybody have the answer to cleaning clapperboards effectively

I use 3-M's "Genera Purpose Adhesive Cleaner" #08984. It's usually sold in auto parts stores. It contains xylene, naptha, benzene and a couple of other horrible chemicals. But it cleans plexi like nobody's business and doesn't eat up the plastic. I clean off my slate about once a week with this stuff followed by a polish with Brilliantize. Works the charm. Plus it is great for removing adhesive gunk left from Velcro or old tape from camera equipment without attacking the paintwork.

Rod Williams
Motion Picture and HD First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California
(707) 778-7524

A very durable clear tape that can be used to cover a 'clean' or new slate is the type sold at school supply stores.

BOOK BINDING TAPE is approx. 6" in width and extremely clear & durable.

Apply this across the slate and then take a sharp x-acto to trim the edges.

This should last a year or 2 and then can be pulled off and re-applied.

Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.
US based DP

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