Marking actors/talent is one of the cornerstone jobs of the camera assistant. It helps keep compositions neat and focus measurements on spot, at least when the actor lands on their mark. Marking in itself is fairly straight forward, especially when there are multiple colors of expendable paper tape available to assign to each actor in a scene.
There are, however, some situations where two actors are marked with the same color leaving a bit of confusion on whose mark is whose. How do you deal with this?
Here’s one solution…
The problem can be easily solved by using a Sharpie or permanent marker. Once both marks are laid down, use the Sharpie to add stripes to one of the marks, thereby differentiating it from the other one. This works best on lightly colored tapes like white, yellow or green.
If there are three marks of the same color in the scene — rare, but possible — continue to add Sharpie marks, but make sure they’re different. Any creative design that you can come up with will suffice. Here are some examples:
These show how writing on the tape itself can make a mark different enough to avoid confusion. Be careful with your “design” though, an actor shouldn’t have to look down to figure out which one is theirs. Marks should be noticeable in peripheral vision.
If you have multiple marks with similar Sharpie drawings on them that it’s too hard to tell the difference, it defeats the purpose of doing it in the first place. Also let this serve as a friendly reminder: always have a Sharpie in your pocket, you never know when it will come in handy.