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Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting

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Chris Tarroza
Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 5:05:41 pm

My employer is moving offices and is renovating a brand new editing suite for little old me in our soon to be new studio. It's an ad agency so no one really knows what a professional editing suite looks like including myself since I'm relatively new to the industry.

Although I have been editing for a good number of years, I've never worked in a professional grade editing suite so I'm not exactly sure what an "ideal" editing suite even looks like and what makes it "ideal". I have a good understanding of computer hardware and such but in terms of furniture, lighting, and utilizing the space in the room, I have no idea what would be ideal working conditions. I'm looking for things that are not really subjective, but that every experienced, long-working editor would want in a suite, certain things in a room that will help make things more comfortable and efficient.

So the CEO of the company casually asks me, "What would be on your wish-list for this room?" The idea is breath-taking I know. From what I was told, it is approx. a 10ft x 10ft room, the next room over on the other side of the wall will be a boardroom with a TV connected to my computer, an L-shaped desk (unless I request otherwise), and a rack for all my decks and equipment.

Off the top of my head, and from looking at some video editing pics on the net some of my questions are:

1) What kind of desk/table is ideal? How high should the monitors be? Does a 2-level desk (monitors on top level, mouse/keyboard on bottom level) really make things easier or is it just subjective?

2) What kind of lighting? Dimmable? Any set-up in particular that reduces eye-strain?

3) Since the room is being built from the ground up, are there other things that I should request while I still have the chance? It's easier to install a new video card in your computer but it's a pain to find out that you should've had "blank" built in the room or placed there before all the equipment was put in.

I don't know what the budget is but if I request what would be ideal, I can at least give them an idea of what I would want and why it would be beneficial to spend the money on it.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


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Ken Jones
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 5:12:32 pm

I have the Middle Atlantic MDV-DL Desk and like it a lot.

http://www.middleatlantic.com/studio/mdv/mdesks.htm


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isaac stambaugh
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on May 10, 2012 at 8:45:23 pm

I just purchased the same desk and while assembling it today had a major problem trying to get the legs to lock into place. I'm honestly confused by the instructions. Any suggestions? Did you have any problem with the legs?


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Bob Cole
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on May 10, 2012 at 10:26:50 pm

No help here on that table assembly, but you should contact the manufacturer.

But I would like to say something about chairs. Or, rather, I'd like to share a nice link about how chairs are ruining our lives.

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/the-problem-with-sitting.ht...

Clearly, the human body did not evolve over the ages so that it could be placed into chairs for 8-12 hours/day.

The next redesign of my editing room, I'm converting my editing table to a standing table.

Bob C


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Ken Jones
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on May 11, 2012 at 1:33:02 am

I bought the desk about seven years ago so I really don't remember how the legs are attached or if I had any problems assembling the desk.


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isaac stambaugh
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on May 10, 2012 at 8:45:49 pm

I just purchased the same desk and while assembling it today had a major problem trying to get the legs to lock into place. I'm honestly confused by the instructions. Any suggestions? Did you have any problem with the legs?


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 5:23:43 pm

Hire a consultant Chris. You need not pay a fortune. Just be sure to get someone with a substantial editing background, whose also very good at system integration and design. There are loads very competent people in Toronto who can help you with this. Just put a feeler out on the Cow Jobs Forum and you'll have a list of people you can check out and choose from.

Just two or three days at a reasonable day rate should insure that you wind up with a well-designed and efficient edit bay that will look and operate professionally.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Bernard Newnham
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 6:42:33 pm

I spent a considerable number of years working as a BBC producer, and a large part of that was in edit suites. You need reasonably dead acoustics (carpet on the wall or whatever) and a choice of working or houselights. The working lights should be downers pointed at the desk surface without too much overspill. Get some comfortable working chairs to sit up at the desk, and a good sofa for the clients.

See here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/pq/post/editing.shtml

B

bernie


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Mark Suszko
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 9:56:09 pm

NUMBER ONE: the best ergonomic chair you can afford. A good chair saves you money later in lost productivity and medical bills for back trouble. GET THE BEST CHAIR POSSIBLE, and set it up for proper ergonomics and biomechanics for YOUR body. Set monitors at correct height and distance. If the room is shared by other editors, spend money for adjustable monitor arms so each person works at the right screen height and position for them.


Sound isolation and indirect lighting that will not cause glare on your screens, and that won't affect your color perception. A number of COW members, the last time this was discussed in the Editing forum, said they wanted a neutral gray wall around their monitor spaces so as to not affect color perception. Spend real money on some quality near-field audio speakers. I hear good things about genelec but I'm agnostic as to brands. You'll also need an actual TV monitor to check your ouput, not just another flatscreen computer monitor. You'll want scopes; either hardware-based ones or software-driven. Mixer that's up to the number of sources you deal with.

Personally I'm fine with a windowless "cave" edit bay. Others like to have a window for air and daylight.

Computer Monitors: as big as you can afford. I like to have two, side by side, for the timeline interface and for bins and as a backup HD monitor.

The desk: something ergonomic. Anthro and the like make them.
Decide how your room "works": is this a single-man space where you work alone, or a collaborative space you share with a client? For editor/client work, I hate the side-by-side seating arrangement, even worse is client-behind-editor, and I prefer to put the client across the short side of an L-shaped desk top, with a client TV monitor in the corner of the L. This gives you better control of your personal space, plus room to organize materials, as well as better eye contact when you want it.

Rack and computer /drive space: The best arrangement IMO is if the computer and any loud drive arrays that need fan cooling, are racked in another next door room or cabinet, or isolated from the editing space somehow with extended KVM cables to the keyboards mouse and monitors. You will need some kind of access to decks for a while yet, with good cooling, so plan some rack space to house that stuff and any patch bay or hardware crosspoint router you'll need. Everything desk and rack wise needs to be on casters or wheels so you can get behind the gear and reconfigure cabling as needed, without getting cramps. I like computer subflooring for making cabling easier to run out of sight, but you lose a little ceiling height from raising the floor.


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Bob Cole
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 11:01:26 pm

[Mark Suszko] "NUMBER ONE: the best ergonomic chair you can afford"

True. A great chair is one of the best investments you'll make. But if you don't want to look selfish, you'll have to get the same chair for all your visitors.

There are discussions on the COW about the virtues of standing while editing, either all or part of the time. If you are so inclined, a "standing desk," or a desk that can shift heights, would be a great asset.

Bob C


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Ben Holmes
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 8, 2011 at 10:28:31 pm

And the important point here is to go to an independent consultant. Not a reseller - most of whom have any idea what a suite should contain, and all of whom will try to sell you whatever crap they get good margins on.

So what questions should you ask him/her?

1. You need a good desk - the ergonomic edit desks are a boon, but don't get carried away, beyond it having space for monitors etc at the right height. Some of the expensive ones are a waste of money. As others have said - get the best chair the budget allows.

2. You will need an enclosure for the edit gear - a 'hush box' for the Mac and video array are a big plus when you have to be around the gear all the time. There are a good number of enclosed racks on the market. Clients will thank you for it too. If you have tape machines in there, you may need to think about a full height enclosure which can be expensive.

3. You need a good video monitor - don't skimp, but don't get suckered into a $30000 Barco either, unless you are a colorist. A well calibrated $3000 monitor is more than enough. For the office next door, get a pro plasma.

4. Good audio monitoring is important and doesn't cost much these days. As others have said, if the walls are especially shiny, you might want to clad them - but it's not essential with decent nearfield monitors.

Edit Out Ltd
----------------------------
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
Independent Director/Producer

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/casestudies/detail.asp?case=therydercup


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adam taylor
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 9, 2011 at 11:05:12 am

The chair is your most important consideration...i love my Hermann Miller Mirra (I had an Aeron before but this is so much more comfortable).

Desk - have one made to measure, it will work out cheaper than buying off the peg, and you can have it custom made to your own preferences.

My desk is around 8'x4' with a standalone rack on top. Its 3u high, with 3 bays and gently curves around to point at the operator. I can stack some of the kit i need on the desk within the rack, and my monitors all sit on top. Putting them at the ideal height for me. I find the "approved" positioning for monitors to be wrong for me. I prefer to look straight ahead as this gives me less neck ache.
http://www.finalcutters.com/content/highly-productive-rig

Decide what kit you need to have within reach then work out how much space you need for your desktop. Try 1:1 scale paper cutouts if it helps visualise things.

Don't put your desk up against the wall - 2 reasons...

its easier to get behind to add kit/swap cables etc.
You need to be able to look past your screens to help avoid eye strain & fatigue.

Lighting is important - although i would recommend you avoid those awful BBC downlighters. If you are sat in the wrong position, you will find an uncomfortable glare causing your irises to shut down, making the room appear darker and your screens harder to see, all without any obvious reason.

You may find you need to start wearing a baseball cap whilst editing - i did!

Put all your noisy equipment in a separate air-conditioned room. And ensure the builders install decent cable ducting with plenty of room for expansion. It amazing how much space is needed for wires.

Try get a room with some space. Its good for the acoustics and its also good for your sense of claustrophobia.

Working in an ad agency i would imagine you have lots of clients in the room. So make it comfortable for them. If you dont want them breathing down your neck, have a client monitor installed near the comfy sofa and maybe even a wireless web router they can access the internet from.

Keep it clean and professional looking, but not too opulent. You dont want the clients thinking all their money is being spent on keeping you in luxury.

Have fun - but think through every possible angle before you start building.

adam

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk


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Matt Lyon
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 10, 2011 at 5:53:29 am

[Ben Holmes] "2. You will need an enclosure for the edit gear - a 'hush box' for the Mac and video array are a big plus when you have to be around the gear all the time. There are a good number of enclosed racks on the market. Clients will thank you for it too. "

Interesting thread! I'm also doing some research on souping up my home edit suite. Ben, do you have any recommendations on hush boxes? I've found one company that looks good, but pricey:

http://www.custom-consoles.com/Isobox-post-production.php

Any tips for a more "value priced" option would be much appreciated!

@ Chris : As far as lighting goes, I'm planning on putting in 6500K "high CRI" bulbs to match my computer and video displays.

For reducing eyestrain, you should set your monitors to a proper brightness setting relative to the ambient illumination in your room. 120 cd/m2 is the number I often read as a recommendation for LCDs. But if you are working in total darkness, that might feel too bright. Having proper "surround" illumination behind your displays is often recommended too.

Hope this helps,

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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William Carr
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 10, 2011 at 6:01:10 am

One thing about the "hush box" concept-- the fans alone may not be enough to cool it, regardless of what the specs say.

Our MacPro actually overheated once and shut down after a couple of hours of rendering, sitting within a washing-machine size $3,500 enclosure.

Throw a RAID in there too and you're really pushing the limit. The air being drawn in needs to be really cool to begin with.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 9, 2011 at 2:12:32 pm

Air conditioning - it is very important that the room has good fresh air circulation as well as temperature control.

Have a second computer for internet, scripts, etc. Putting it on a second desk is a really good idea, and have a second telephone for the room next to it.

Sound monitoring - remember that the purpose of the speakers is for you to judge the sound objectively and the requirements for that are completely different to enjoying music. LS3/5a's aren't popular because they sound great (because the don't, particularly) but because they give a good representation of what's on the recording in all sorts of odd acoustic environments (so you don't have to spend a lot of effort getting the acoustics of the room right, which you would with ported cabs).

I like 2 level desks, particularly the adjustable ones (as you can change the height of the monitors to suit different people), but as long as you pay attention to getting the screen heights, keyboard position, etc., it's not necessarily a big deal.


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Bob Cole
Re: Building an Editing Suite: Room and Lighting
on Apr 9, 2011 at 8:28:50 pm

[Andrew Rendell] "Air conditioning - it is very important that the room has good fresh air circulation as well as temperature control."

Great point. It is easy to overlook this, but there will be days when a lot of people are in the room, and they can actually use up the breathable air.

If you lack good lighting, have a lousy chair, etc. -- you can still edit. Lack of oxygen -- no editing!

Bob C


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