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Charles Mercer
Painting studio walls
on May 26, 2011 at 1:44:39 pm

We've survived a year and a half in our first studio at #Pearldrop and we're about to move on to a larger space. This is something of a blank canvas and will need some fitting out. But I was wondering if anyone could suggest a colour that would work for the studio walls? We shoot mainly video and we have a #Lastolite greenscreen (we may paint one wall with chroma-key paint) Black seems good, grey probably better, but is there anything that really works.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Todd Terry
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 26, 2011 at 2:32:40 pm

Definitely flat black... ceiling, too, if you are able to do that.

As for floor, usually a medium neutral gray works well... although our stage floor is white.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 26, 2011 at 2:53:13 pm

Flat black, preferably not just black paint, but black over sound-absorbing batts of insulation, to deaden the space. This will also help you when trying to shoot black limbo setups. I would leave one wall flat dove or battleship gray, besides your greenscreen cove. The gray can be made to look any color, just by gelling lights and adding or removing pattern gobos.

Our floors are bare, sealed concrete. We could paint them as needed, but never have yet. GAMfloor, carpet tile, or sheet vinyl flooring in rolls or tiles is another option, when needed.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 26, 2011 at 5:58:57 pm

My experience is that neutral gray is a pretty good color for floors and cyc wall.
Depending on your grid height (actually angle your able to use the lights at) and amount of instruments, a white floor can either be a good, or bad thing. White floors can act as a bounce fill in small studios where steep lighting angles are common. But in a bigger studio, I prefer gray floors, I think it gives you more control.
I don't think ceilings really matter, unless they are really low.
The walls behind the camera line should all be flat black, and the floor too if you want to go for overkill.
I'm not a big fan of permanent CK walls unless you have a reason. If you have to have one, it's nice to have it in an isolated area so it doesn't spill any green onto your baselight for other sets.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Bill Davis
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 12:46:58 am

Personally, I can't STAND flat black walls in a studio. I understand the reflection killing deal, but I'm unwilling to pay the psychological price of my studio looking like it was designed by a bunch of outlaw bikers.

Remember, in the absence of light, ALL surfaces are black. So if you have the luxury of controlling ALL the light in your studio - you can work with reasonable wall, ceiling and floor colors and still make things work.

Personally, my studio is painted a medium light grey. It reflects light without a color cast, tho even grey usually skews either cool or warm at the point of paint selection - I went with cool grey.

For killing reflections, my space is fitted with a big ceiling mounted curved track that supports a 30' heavy black floor to ceiling drape that I can move into any position on the three "non control room" walls. In practice, however, I rarely use that for light control, but use it a LOT for sound reflection control.

That's the problem with studio design on paper. You can THINK bout issues all you like, but a good percentage of what you thought would be an issue won't - and things that you thought would be simple, turn out to be a major hassle.

Such is life!

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Charles Mercer
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 7:15:40 am

Thanks for the interesting replies. It's certainly nice to have the luxury of an empty space with bare walls and it's easy to start thinking up lots of issues which probably aren't there in the first place. It's a question of getting in and learning on the job I suppose. I like the grey paint idea - it's definitely a colour that will respond well to gelled lights and very flexible. The curtain for sound reflection reduction sounds useful. We were thinking about putting in some sound baffle panels on the walls, but this may be over-cooking it a bit. Our editing area is partitioned off from the stage by a wall of chipboard panels, so this might be the one area that needs attention. Getting the density right might involve a bit of cost.
Fortunately the ceiling is quite high and has sound insulation in the form of heavy straw-type panels below the roof itself. It won't stop the aeroplane noise as we're on the flight path to Luton airport, but we've lived with that already and it's not a major deal.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Bill Davis
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 9:32:01 am

Charles,

Your experience might be different than mine, but looking back on my studio construction experience, I can say with authority that SOUND is much more problematic than anything else. The construction industry is built around square boxes as the most cost efficient form. Right angles are cheap, simple and every worker knows how to use a framing square. However, a square or rectangular box is just about the WORST shape for sound. Standing waves and reflections wreak all sorts of havoc with audio in a box shaped studio. So you're right to think sound treatment. (I actually built my control room with all non-parallel surfaces, and ended up having to hire a 70 year old carpenter out of retirement because he was the only dude who could sit down with an envelop and a pencil and figure out how to make all the non-right angles come out properly. However, I'd bought a bunch of Owens Corning 703 white nubby sound board that I was going to mount on resilliant channel to improve the control room reflections, but as soon as the room was built, I did some tests and discovered that I didn't need ANYTHING else. That's the kind of plan vs reality I'm talking about.

The second hardest issue to deal with was HVAC and electric. Silent air handling is VERY hard to do well. As is running clean and dirty circuits everywhere making sure the clean circuits that will be used for audio and video are properly grounded to eliminate circuit noise.

Also, spec way, way more electrical outlets than you think you could POSSIBLY need.
For example I spec'd 5 surface mount quad boxes (20 outlets) just behind my edit desk for monitors, speakers, et al, and the day I installed my gear, not only did I use ALL of them, I needed at least 4 6-outlet power strips in addition!
I think the studio electrical plan ended up with more than 70 ac outlets in my 1800 sq ft studio. And while I don't use all of them all the time, on a big shoot, there's normally something in every box and a good percentage of the boxes are full.

Finally, don't forget to wire power for a craft services area. Nothing dumber than spending all that money to purpose build a studio only to discover you have to run a stinger 10 feet to the coffee pot!

Good luck with your studio plan. Mine was sure a hassle to plan and build, but every day it makes my working life SO MUCH easier!

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Charles Mercer
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 11:26:01 am

Some good points here, Bill. We have a three phase supply into the room, and I'm looking at a lot of conduit pipes which carried power to some outlets for the previous occupant ( a pottery studio) I think we shall have to do a lot of re-routing (our previous place was an office space which had 9 dips for desks, and that was very convenient) I'm musing on building a cyc - any thoughts? We have previously used only a green screen supported on two poles which (once we worked out the lighting) was more than adequate. I'm tempted to go the cyc route and to paint onto the floor (plain yellow linoleum at present) so we can get the talent right into the screen. We would still have space for a grey/black wall. And we have to consider a small client changing area which I think we could easily set up with some folding screens - there is a sink unit which is nicely placed, and only needs a mirror to make it look respectable.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Bill Davis
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 10:15:34 pm

Specifically on the CYC thing, I thought I wanted a permanent one too.

But when you have a purpose built CYC, that's ALL it's ever going to be. It's a one trick pony. Nice trick, but a single style baked in place.

For example, if you want to build a set that looks like a client's office a $40 box of industrial vinyl floor splash moulding in the intersection of wall and floor makes the space read "office". Substitute wood moulding and a piece of carpet and it reads "home living room" etc.

When I need the illusion of endless space, I use a roll of seamless. (I have roll hangers for small, medium and the new expensive but HD frame friendly 120 inch seamless rolls all around my stage area.

Seamless does a "straight on" cyc look as well as a hard cyc.

The one area where I'd still consider a hard cyc superior is when you want to do endless perspective shots from two camera angles. The geometry of a shot like that means you'll either need a VERY wide cyc, or more commonly a two wall or three wall full cove. But again, it's a one trick pony. If you need that trick for the majority of your work, have at it. If you don't. I suspect you'll gain very little except making the space you build out that way LESS useful for general shooting.

But it depends almost exclusively on what kinds of work you'll be doing.

As a last thought, the last few times I've been in a broadcast TV facility, even THEY've gone from hardscape cycs to flat hung fabric for keying weather maps and the like.

Probably a lesson there.

Good luck.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Charles Mercer
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 28, 2011 at 7:41:11 am

I think I'd reached the same conclusion - once you've built the Cyc, you're stuck with it. And in the last year and a half, we've never actually needed it. We like lighting backgrounds with cuckies, so a neutral, adaptable wall in our case would seem sensible. I think I'm beginning to favour a light grey, extending that down onto a floor, as well as leaving a corner for the green screen. Again, we've only used this to shoot waist-up, and nobody has complained. It would extend our range to get the green out onto the floor so we could use full body shots as we have the luxury of the space. I'm very much in favour of making the most profit from the least outlay, so it looks like the paint tin and roller are going to come into play.

Thanks for the comments.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 28, 2011 at 5:01:55 pm

Charles, you can have both, sorta. I'm a big proponent of using rolls of inexpensive sheet vinyl flooring for making coves. You use the back side, the side that usually gets glued down... it takes primer and paint very well. trap one end between 2x4 boards with weed screws, hang that off some c-stands or brackets on he wall, let the sheet unroll in a catenary curve to the floor. The vinyl is much more durable than photog's paper, your talent can walk all over it and even put furniture on it, and you can wash it or touch it up with spare paint. When you don't need it, you can roll it up and store it.

Prime the surface first, using Kilz brand latex (NOT oil-based) primer. Then paint gray or green or whatever.


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Charles Mercer
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 29, 2011 at 8:10:42 am

I'll check out our local carpet shop for the vinyl, sounds perfect. I have found a background mount with rollers and chains for free, so I was going to ship it into the new studio. Can you roll up the vinyl without the paint cracking or does it have to be left in a permanent position? I located some clearance masonry paint at the local DIY store at one third normal price, so I scooped it up - it's mid stone in colour which is a grey variation. It'll serve as an undercoat if we don't like the final colour, but I think it will be OK.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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Mark Suszko
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 29, 2011 at 2:04:56 pm

You don't roll it as tight as paper. If you use the right latex primer underneath, it will be relatively rugged. And pretty heavy. You don't necessarily want to travel to locations with this. I think I would store it standing on end when rolled, because slumping from weight could make it take on a wavy look when again unrolled. It should eventually flatten out but better not to create the problem in the first place.

The vinyl need not be very expensive, indeed, the top color and design can be the ugliest thing you ever saw, making the stuff sell for cheap. This was the attraction for us: it was the only material in our budget that was that cheap and seamless. The only thing you want to watch out for is that you don't want a vinyl that has any scultpturing in it carry thru to the backing or "felt". You want that to be completely flat. And don't use oil-based paints. Save out a quart of the top paint in a tight sealed jar for touch-ups.


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Todd Terry
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 2:25:04 pm

[Charles Mercer] "We were thinking about putting in some sound baffle panels on the walls"

For your editing area, one of the best (though rarely used anymore) sound-dampening methods happens to be one that is very old-school... and very cheap. Sand.

You build your "false walls" (around the editing area, or wherever) as normal... with 2x4 joists and drywall or whatever, but you leave temporary access to the top headers, which you have conveniently put holes that allow access to the areas in between each joist. Then you fill each section with ordinary sand (which costs almost nothing), pouring it in from the top until each section is filled (the sand obviously must be bone dry). The end result is a wall that is almost totally acoustically dead and will let very very little sound through.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Scott Sheriff
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 27, 2011 at 8:45:44 pm

[Bill Davis] "Personally, I can't STAND flat black walls in a studio. I understand the reflection killing deal, but I'm unwilling to pay the psychological price of my studio looking like it was designed by a bunch of outlaw bikers."

On aesthetics I agree. Black studio drapes on a rail are a really good solution for this since they can be put away when not in use. For me a black area behind the camera and off to the sides isn't so much about reflection. On the sides, it can occasionally save you if you accidentally overshoot the set a little on a pan/zoom, that type of thing. Probably more important in a studio used for live stuff. But having done a little on camera stuff, I find it easier to read the prompter and stay focused if the area behind the camera is dark. If you only deal with professional on camera talent, that might be a moot point since most can work anywhere. But if you shoot a lot of people that don't do on camera stuff for a living, it might help.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Charles Mercer
Re: Painting studio walls
on May 29, 2011 at 3:53:57 pm

Thanks for all the useful information. Our official get-in date is 1st July, but I can get access after 1st June. I'll certainly try some of the ideas and I'll post later when I have some results.

Charles Mercer
Pearldrop Video Productions


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