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Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input

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Rebecca Devaney
Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 26, 2010 at 6:43:20 pm

Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input

I own a small educational multimedia company and we are about to build out my first studio. I was hoping someone with more technical knowledge than I could fact check my list of equipment.

I’m purchasing the equipment in the next few days, so I’d be very appreciative of a second opinion.

The studio is about 1000 sq feet and has 12-foot ceilings. It will be soundproofed and blacked out. The studio will primarily be used for fast, stationary teleprompter work. We will be using a two camera setup and shoot straight into the computer (into fcp) using one mic.

Additional use will be to shoot (no audio) close-up instructional how to footage.

The list:

1) Lights
ii. We are going to get these with dimmers, as none of us are lighting experts and we thought it would help.

2) Mic
a. Sennheiser ME67/K6 - Shotgun Microphone Basic Kit:
ii. We chose this mic because there won’t be a lot of movement and it is highly directional. Any experience with this in a studio situation?

3) Mic Stand
a. On-Stage SMS7630C Hex-Base Studio Microphone Stand w/ Telescoping Boom
ii. We need a boom stand as opposed to rigging the mic to the ceiling as there is an office upstairs that we thought would cause vibration. Any other suggestions?

4) Cameras (2)
a. HPX170
ii. Any other suggestions?

5) Teleprompter
a. Prompter People Flex-17
ii. Does anyone have experience with this company? Are there any extras I need to buy to get it to work properly?

6) Tripod/Head Kit
a. Manfrotto tripod, 22 lbs. support

7) Capture Card
a. Black Magic DeckLink HD Extreme
ii. I need to shoot two cameras into final cut pro. Is there a better option? Do I need any additional software/hardware? Will this work with the HPX170?

8) Computer
a. Apple Mac Pro
ii. How should I configure the tower to handle two HD cameras and Black Magic card?

9) Miscellaneous Issues
a. How do I switch between cameras on the fly? What hardware/software would this require?
b. How useful is a wireless remote for the teleprompter?
c. What sort of audio mixer should I use? We have an M-Audio NRV10 Mixer. Can we use this?

Thank you for reading this. Any suggestions are much appreciated. Also, anyone in the Massachusetts area who would be interested in consulting/helping set up the studio, please e-mail me your rates and availability.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 27, 2010 at 3:05:27 pm

I don't think you can record 2 cameras into the computer direct at the same time; I think you are going to have to buy a video switcher to do that live and the output of the switcher goes into your computer.

What's your budget? HD switchers I know of are in the $20K range. Try browsing the B&H photo-Video online catalog for them, see if one pops out that fits.

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Nick Griffin
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:53:14 pm

Rebecca -
With all due respect I don't think you should be doing this with only the help and suggestions made on this forum and made over a very short amount of time. This is detailed enough and technical enough that the law of "you get what you pay for" is likely to take effect.

You need someone who does this sort of thing for a living. May I suggest Bob Zelin? If he is unavailable or not interested in the studio / stage part of it he can probably recommend someone who is. In the alternative I would look to a turn-key vendor who will assume full responsibility for the installation as a whole working from day one. Both options will add to your cost, but what's the actual cost of having a facility that doesn't work properly?

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Bob Zelin
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 30, 2010 at 10:23:59 pm

Nick writes -
May I suggest Bob Zelin?

REPLY - Bob Zelin ! I would rather be dead than use that idiot Bob Zelin !

So Rebecca, how are things ? Please tell us how your shopping is going, and what your experience has been so far.

Bob Zelin

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Rebecca Devaney
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Feb 17, 2010 at 5:19:40 pm

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions. I'm happy to say that after a few weeks of building baffles, learning far more technology than my brain can fully process, and putting in some very long hours, we have a functional, two-camera HD studio built out!

The whole experience has been profoundly fulfilling both professionally and personally.

To follow up with all of you, I chatted with Bob Zelin as suggested, and he is a rock star. In about 15 minutes Bob was able to point us in the right direction, in terms of a suitable computer/editing system for our particular needs, and answer ALL of our questions in a simple, understandable way. Thank you, Bob, if you are reading this.

We ended up buying our equipment through Rule Broadcasting. I've rented from them before and attend their Learning Labs, but was not aware that they sell equipment as well. They (Mike Sutton is our contact) came and installed all the equipment for a modest markup, and have offered excellent tech support since.

We had our first shoot on Thursday, and it went well, although we're still having trouble with our NRV10 Mixer being compatible with the Kona Card, and with the teleprompter software that came with the Flex-17 Prompter (it seems to have a mind of its own). Mike Sutton is coming by later today to troubleshoot both.

Thanks again!


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Mike Cohen
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:31:44 pm

I agree with Nick. This is a sizable investment for a small company - better to do it right the first time.
Where in MA are you? You might talk to HB Communications in North Haven, CT - they do excellent work and can provide the on-site service you may need. Years ago when we were planning to move our editing facility to a new building, we had them in for a consult. Their suggestions and wiring diagram made the work easier, which we ultimately did ourselves. But never hesitate to ask an expert.
As Nick said, while we are experts here at the COW, an in-person expert would serve you well, even for a consult.

Another theme we tend to agree on here is to think of the big picture. Rather than saying "I want to build a studio - is this the right stuff to buy" perhaps you should say "I think I need a studio - here are my reasons, here is my end goal - am I on the right track - have I forgotten something - is there an alternative - what else should I consider before opening my wallet?"

See what I mean? Anyone can order equipment - it is the execution you need to think about before you spend that kind of cash.

If you want a new house, you should talk to a general contractor and an architect before you go down to home depot and buy a bunch of tools, nails and wood without a detailed plan.

Mike Cohen

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Bill Davis
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:59:25 am

And to extend Mike's thinking... not only is it silly to buy wood, windows and shingles in advance of starting a construction job - at LEAST in construction, there's a significant pool of people who are competent at basic construction concepts and skills. Framing a right angle wall is a snap since everyone sells everything from joist hangers to framing squares that follow the RIGHT ANGLE ideal.

But what if you don't WANT right angles? What if someone informed you that parallel walls enhance standing waves and can make for a studio that SOUNDS BAD. What if what you REALLLY need is a carpenter who can work with walls that are NOT set at right angles? Then you need a specialist.

As someone who's converted a haybarn into a fully functioning video studio over the past eight years, I spent the first two of those years educating myself as to what makes a studio work. That includes not only "soundproofing" but low noise air conditoning, 4x3 verses 16x9 shooting spaces, "clean power" verses "dirty power" and why you need both in a studio, and so many other topics that I can hardly recall them all.

Studio construction is NOT simple. Not if you want to avoid problems when you go to create content.

Professionals, or at least heavily educated amateurs are pretty much necessary to get something this complex done properly.

My 2 cents anyway.

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Ryan Pratzel
Re: Building First Studio - Seeking Equipment List Input
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:50:09 am


I hope your studio build is going well. I agree alot with much that has been said in the responses to your post. Also, I highly recommend a consultant, even if it's a local professional.

We have offered consulting services to several small production companies, and organizations adding a video department. There is no one size fits all approach. In fact, we just consulted a start up production company in China that brought us a complex series of challenges. (Long story)

With that said, here are a few things to consider before spending a dime:
1) What is the most cost effective use of your financial resources?
2) Will you require regular engineering assistance or are you familiar with everything you are buying?
3) Is there some equipment that is more cost effective to rent or will the equipment be in use daily?
4) What will 80% of your clients need? Our rule is always buy for 80% of your needs and rent or hire out for the other 20. This keeps you from buying and maintaining expensive equipment you rarely use.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Good luck.

Ryan Pratzel
Executive Producer
Creative Liquid Productions

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