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seting up a studio

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Alex Lesy
seting up a studio
on Nov 5, 2010 at 7:44:01 pm


Hopefully this is a good place for this question.

I need to setup a studio for work. Its not a very large space, maybe 14x14. I'm all set with a computer, software, camera, soft box lights, and mics. Those are pretty much portable. I'm not sure how to setup this studio as a dedicated space for shooting videos though. What I mean is soundproofing it (that soft foam that goes on walls), track lights on the ceiling, etc.
What do I need to turn a room into a studio I guess is the question? It will be used for videos that will be on the online. Informational and entertainment.

I look forward to any help and let me know if I didn't explain it well enough.


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Mark Suszko
Re: seting up a studio
on Nov 5, 2010 at 8:11:48 pm

Acoustic foam on the walls doesn't actually "soundproof" anything; it helps trap some reverb,and some particulalr frequecies, is all.

To make a room for serious audio recording, you have to control the two ways sound travels: thru materials transmissively, and thru the air. You do this with two main techniques: dampening, and isolation.

Dampening makes the walls, ceiling, floor so massive that sound waves can't transfer enough of their energy to move the material. And moving material is what makes sound. Heavy-duty sheetrock, like the Durok brand cement backer board used behind tile walls and floors, can help do this job of making mass, as can thin sheets of lead foil.

For isolation, you have to put soft rubber gaskets around walls where they meet the floors, leaving an air gap so sound can't cross the gap.

Other techniques involve deliberately making the room not perfectly square, in order to help cancel out soem reflectinos of sound. Obviously, if you mean to gotm his far, what you are going to do is build a room-within-a-room. Or just make or buy an announcer booth, about telephone booth size, that addresses most of these issues. If the budget doesn't allow even that much, then you have to get creative with otehr means, ralizing that you can't make it perfect, but you might get it "good enough" for your purposes.

For those amateur bargain-basement setups, (I had a little studio/wine cellar in a defunct coal bunker under the stairs in my old house, cinder block and dirt on two sides,) what I've used is acoustic ceiling tiles over heavy fiberglass, as well as thick shag carpeting on walls and floors. Old wrestling mats are very dense and absorb vibration (and smells) well. When you set up all this stuff, you need to make the surfaces absorbent and non-reflective, as well as non-trasnmissive, and not make the walls exactly square. You wind up with a very "dead" room, and then can add back some artifical life using echo/reverb tools.

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Bill Davis
Re: seting up a studio
on Nov 9, 2010 at 8:49:19 am

I built mine about a decade ago now.

Out of the thousand or so important decisions, my short list of key things would include these...

1. Video likes large open spaces - AUDIO HATES them. Designing for picture AND sound is difficult - but audio is CRITICAL to most video.
2. HVAC is typically noisy. Making it quiet takes specialized equipment, techniques, and expertise.
3. When possible, position control consoles in the open so that you can get around and behind them easily.
4. Power is not as easy as it seems. AC is critical in LOTS of places in a studio - but done incorrectly you'll forever be chasing down inducted hum in your audio lines.
5. Hoists and pantographs save a LOT of time - since you can bring a light down to you - rather than climbing up to it.
6. Heavy drapes on sliding tracks make a BIG difference in audio reflections.
7. Parallel and perpendicular walls make standing waves an issue in sound - but finding carpenters who can design and work on NON-parallel walls is not easy.
8. A private space for makeup is nice. CEO's particularly will often hesitate to accept being made up if subordinates can view the process.
8. Don't forget extra storage, space for costumes/coats, and CRAFT SERVICES - the latter two of these will need POWER for irons, steamers, and coffee makers.

As I noted, those represent 8 out of the 1000 plus lessons I learned over the two years of building out my space.

Good luck.

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Alex Lesy
Re: seting up a studio
on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:13:51 pm

Thanks for your answers.

It looks like now we're going to use a huge basement with a lot of echo. I'm guessing some rugs directly around the speaker in the video will help?

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Bill Davis
Re: seting up a studio
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:00:23 pm


Rugs will knock down high and upper mid frequencies pretty effectively.

However, the lower the frequencies the harder they are to block or control.

Hanging rugs might just result in all speech sounding "boomy" in that space.

Can't say until you try it. (or you send your plans to someone who understands audio and can do a proper analysis on how sounds will reflect/absorb in that particular space with those particular surface characteristics.)

In truth - GOOD VIDEO RECORDING, while difficult - is often crazy easy compared to GOOD AUDIO RECORDING.

Welcome to the business!

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