Cinema Product Reviews

CPI marking tape
Manufacturer:  Cinema Products International
Grade:  C-
Reviewed March 2000 by Joe Redifer

The purpose of this marking tape is, obviously, to mark splices so that they can be found very easily upon breakdown of the print.  And that it does.  Even a blind person could break down a print with this marking tape.  Serious.  And we all know the world is full of blind projectionists.  How else do you explain the majority of scratches and print damage?

The roll of tape it self is small and thin.  A single roll will cover about 15 - 20 prints, depending on the length of each print.  Also depends on if you use just 1 inch to mark your splices or 30 feet.  I opt for the 1 inch method, or even less.  The length of the marking tape used in these pics is longer for illustrative purposes.  Just peel off the length that you need, cut it with the cutter on your splicer, a knife, or some scissors and then apply it to the film.  Seems easy enough.

Now the tape is applied on the outboard (or soundtrack side) of the film.  Taking care not to cover the Dolby Digital track, the tape is then folded over, leaving a "tab" that sticks up slightly.  If you fold it over so that there isn't a tab sticking up, then the sprocket holes and the Dolby Digital track will be partially covered no matter what, and it WILL cut out.  Of course, you shouldn't put the marking tape over the existing splice.  Put it right before or right after.  I'd recommend 8 frames or more, so you won't have the splice AND the marking tape going through the gate at the same time.

It is easy to see the tape when the print is laying on the platter.  It is a cinch to find the splice, even when breaking down at extremely high speeds.  It is definitely better than putting 200 feet of shoepolish prior to the splice.  (Why do people do that?)  But is it really worth it?  I feel that it is worth the extra time to try and locate the splice, just as long as this stuff is not on the print.  Why don't I like it?  Here's why:

For one, it takes extra time to apply.  Time that simply is not available in a modern multiplex (thanks to Thursday print deliveries), if you care about the quality of your work.  It is also fairly difficult to apply without covering at least a bit of the Dolby Digital track.  Also, I am using Christie basement style Dolby Digital readers, however the one tested with the tape for this review tracks extremely well (usually reads between 0 and 3 at the worst).  With the tape on, the Dolby Digital has a tendency to drop back to SR at the splice (even if the track is not covered).  It does not always drop out, but 6 times out of 10 it does.  With the marking tape removed, the same splice stays in digital every time.  My explanation for this is that the making tape, with part of it sticking outward from the film, is moving the film laterally when going through the flanges of the sound drum, just enough to screw up tracking momentarily.  I have also noticed that the splice jumps a bit more (laterally) when going through the gate.  Also, it has a tendency to come off inside the projector!  The picture below was not doctored in any way.  If you look at the picture below, you will see part of the tape has been stripped from the print and is caught in the lateral guide roller.  Lovely.  This happens quite frequently.  I don't like it.  The benefits do not make up for the flaws, unfortunately.

Now before I completely bash this product, let me note these tests were performed with Christie projectors and SRD basement readers.  Brad Miller has personally tested this marking tape on a Century projector with a cat701 SRD penthouse reader and reported back flawless results both with NO dropout in the sound and NO lateral guide roller shift.  I mention this because depending on your particular equipment, the problems noted herein may or may not pose a problem.  However, since I have Christie projectors and this product did not work well with them, as well as the extra time it takes to apply, it only gets a C-.

Bottom Line:  It's a fantastic idea, but just not worth it.  If you must mark your splices with something yellow, stick to the Neumade reel marking tape (not opaque).  The quality is exactly the same as Neumade's clear tape.  Just please do the world a favor and do not put the yellow in the picture or sound areas.  :)

-Joe Redifer
CPI can be contacted at

Joe Redifer has been a projectionist for the last few years.  He learned at Mann Kipling, went on to the UA Greenwood and finally spent 2 years at Mann Chinese.  At the Chinese, Joe performed most of the daily maintenance on the equipment.  Joe is not a technician and has no test equipment, but is an experienced projectionist.  These reviews are representative of the performance of the equipment/services from his perspective.

The views contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers of this website.  The published views express actual testimony to personal use of particular products or services.  The testimonies, good or bad, are based on fact and thereby releases any and all people of any slanderous liability including the author.  Anyone who views this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion based on actual use of the product and/or service.