Keeping items organized and labeled clearly and effectively is part of a camera assistant’s responsibility. Not only that, but it is essential for an AC to be able to do their job as quick as possible without much confusion.
Essentially what the Brother P-Touch labelmaker does is print large text onto adhesive backing which is easily applied to velcro. Having one is nice because it can be used quickly and while on set on the fly. However, with a little foresight you can save both time and money by creating your own tags and labels at home.
On all jobs, I like to label the cases of the camera package clearly. I also use this method to help me with that. Handwriting, while serviceable, often looks messy and unprofessional. Having printed labels and filter tags for my slateboard gives an aesthetic that is professional as well as easy to read. Not only that, but once you have made these they will last as long as you don’t lose them.
- Packing tape (or some other clear coated tape)
- Word Processing or Photoshop-type Software
Step 1 – Make the File
Using some type of computer software such as Word or Photoshop you have to type out/create your file of words and tags. I prefer to use Photoshop for this purpose simply because it is easy to lay out the words on the file and leave as little blank space as possible. To match the P-Touch’s default settings, I was printing my labels at 72px font size with Ariel font. You don’t have to use these settings but I strongly recommend using a sans-serif font because they are more clearly legible from farther distances. Also, make sure you type in all capital letters. It should look something like this:
Step 2 – Print and Cut
The next step is to go ahead and print your document at a decent setting. Using standard paper is fine, although paper with a great amount of weight and stock might go along way in terms of durability. Once the document is printed, cut out each individual label trying to keep the shape as rectangular as possible – think back to your kindergarten days.
Step 3 – Tape each side
Part of the appeal of the P-Touch labels is also that they are laminated and thus much more durable. To compensate for this lack of lamination off your printer take some packing tape and apply it over one side of the label. Flip the label over and apply tape to that side as well, essentially sandwiching the label between the two pieces of tape. Make sure to use tape larger than the label. Don’t worry if there’s some overlap, simply take the scissors and cut off the extra tape. Now you have some homemade lamination.
Step 4 – Attach to Velcro or the Cases
Depending on where/what you are labeling, attach Velcro (soft or hard side, depending preference) to the back of the label. Voila! You have a filter tag to slap onto your matte box. If you are using these to label cases, simply use some cloth/gaff tape to outline the label on each case.
While many AC’s would eventually like to have a P-Touch because of it’s portability and easiness, the high price tag both for the machine and label stock can cause it to become one of the last items added to a kit. This is a simple solution that is cheap, reliable and only requires a bit of foresight.