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Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?

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Cassidy Hilton
Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Mar 27, 2014 at 9:44:32 pm

The company I work for is growing, and is moving to a new building that they're building from scratch. They sell organizational products for home and garage storage and they have constant need of video and photo production. As part of that, they're turning to me for help designing a new studio that fits their needs specifically. I am by no means an expert when it comes to designing a video studio. I've shot in a fair share of video/photo studios--but not extensively--so I'm familiar with basic things we'd need or want, but I'm still looking for some input from those who have gone through this process. I can't find a lot of resources online for this, most posts are geared towards those looking to make a home DIY studio. Not what I'm looking for. This is still in the preliminary stages, so I don't know our exact budget and other details, but I know the higher-ups want a setup that will help us produce more without going overboard (shocking, right?). A studio would help us shoot anything from a simple person-talking-on-a-white-cyc to a how-to-organize-in-a-garage video. We imagine having a basic studio with a white cyc or green screen, a functioning garage studio to simulate a real garage in a controlled environment, and an adjoining equipment room. Again, these are just our thoughts now. I know that audio is a huge part of studio design, if not most of it, and I don't know where to start with planning or researching all that. Also, I don't know what to research or look for in terms of electrical planning and so on.
I know this is a VERY broad topic as there are so many types of studio layouts for even more types of video production needs. But I hope some of you might be able to give me some advice, or avoid classic pitfalls, or even steer me to some good resources. Thanks in advance!

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George Goodman
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Mar 28, 2014 at 1:38:45 pm

Since your production needs don't sound like they're particularly cinematic, I would recommend using Kinoflo Diva lights. They're low energy consumption fluorescent lights that are dimmable and create a nice soft light. You could probably get a fair amount of them in the space without upping the electricity too much, which is expensive. They're also light weight/portable.

Without knowing exactly your shooting format, I imagine you would want to create what we used to call a "ring of fire." This is where you basically take a bunch of soft lights and make a u shape around the subject. This way you just have a nice even soft light around everything; good even lighting, like a sit-com. Then you'll probably want to hit the subject with a back light.

It sounds like your set will be relatively static, so you might want to build a pipe grid so your lights aren't in the way and can jump them around in case you want to highlight other parts of the set. Make sure you have enough electrical outlets in the top of the pipe grid so you can easily plug in your lights no matter where they hang.

Think about sound too, if you're in a big space, it'll sound like that. The best sound proofing is a box in a box. So, you put up walls, then build more walls inside that and insulate the space between. You'll also probably want cloth or something of the sort on the inside walls to dampen the sound.

I know that barely scratches the surface, but hopefully thats something to start off with.

"|_ (°_0) _|"



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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Mar 28, 2014 at 1:45:58 pm

Hey Cassidy,

Unless your client wants to launch their own shopping channel or do full on Direct TV infomercials, then you are better off integrating any studio in with their sales operation.

My suggestion would be to use their sales room to double up as a studio. If you have the right height, you can easily fit in ceiling LED lights that won't make people sweat.
And if you need a white or chroma background, then this can easily be fitted too + customers loves a bit of "TV Glamour" when looking at the product. Not to mention the benefit of creating a sound-proof sales / demonstration / TV-studio room.

Production wise it also helps when making demonstrations of product or even better, get clients/resellers involved on camera too.

Any pack-shots can be done in a garage or the corner of the room.

My 5p.

All the Best

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid

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Mark Suszko
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Mar 28, 2014 at 4:12:59 pm

Your issues when planning a studio build:

Sound proofing




Access for large props/gear if needed, and accessories like a green screen.

There are two kinds of sound to deal with: vibration transmitted thru solid structure, and noise in the air.

The first one, you control by layered defenses of air gaps and vibration-absorbing materials, and/or just plain energy-absorbing mass. Vibration travels along a path where solid materials touch: Assuming the floor is concrete, before you put up stud walls, lay in an elastomeric, rubbery gasket material on the concrete before the wood framing goes down, and put rubber washers on all the lag bolts. Sound energy can be countered by mass: the old method was paper-thin sheets of lead, which you can't afford. Drywall packed with sound-deading materials or foam will work, as will facing a wall with cement board instead of gypsum board. Walls layered with air gaps and rubber seals can also stop vibration from coming thru.

Reverberation in the room, you can treat with absorptive materials like shag or pile carpet tiles, or acoustic ceiling tiles, on one or more walls, on the non-camera side.

Power is easier to deal with these days due to low-energy lighting by flos or LED's, but if you're using power tools in the studio as part of regular demos, make sure you have a separate, grounded circuit powering those. Having different areas of the room on different phase "legs" can become a source of future RF noise problems.

Lighting: The usual thing done is to hang a pipe grid for the lights, but you don't say how high the celling is in this proposed studio. If you have the ability to ask for it, get it extra-tall to give the lights a place to hang out of shot, and for getting interesting camera viewpoints of future projects. If the ceiling is already a done deal, you have the options of floor stands, attachment points in the ceiling tile grid you can attach scissor clips to, telescopic expanding poles that run from wall to wall and act like temporary light grids, or custom fixtures set in a dropped-ceiling. What will you do about windows? Will there be any?

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning ducts can cary a lot of noise into a room: there are "hush kits" to treat this, but also design of the duct work can help, by adding a few extra turns, to trap sounds, and hanging the ducts on isolated, rubbery mounts. Or you can turn it off during shooting.

Greenscreen cove: If you want the flexibility of a white limbo set or a green screen cove, but only have room for one, you can always create the white limbo IN green screen and get 2 for 1. But an additional, white cove may be a time-saver for shooting product shots. I always suggest a cove made from the back side of cheap, vinyl kitchen/bathroom flooring, primed with KILZ brand latex primer, then painted, and hung to form a nice curve that runs along the floor up to the camera. This is very durable, versus paper rolls.

You'll need some kind of desk or counter as a place to lecture or show close-up detail of parts on. Light this with soft banks. Kinos are popular, but Videssence are cheaper, if using flos.

I expect you will do a lot of demo installations of track-based storage, proper hooks and mounts, or slatwall and things like that. You'll probably want to create a free-standing fake wall section somewhere in the studio that you can access and light from both sides, to show installation details. It should probably be on wheels, so it can be rotated as well as as stored when not needed.

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Greg Ball
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Mar 28, 2014 at 6:20:43 pm

I started my video career by planning, designing and selling studios and equipment to corporations and colleges.

What Mark is saying is absolutely true. However I'd change the order slightly:

Sound proofing




I'd put lighting last on the list, because with proper power, you can always add lighting.

Originally we build a studio for a major fast food company. Within the studio we build wall flats that we could use to create the dining room of a fast food restaurant, including booths, tables, chairs and the nicknacks for the walls and tables. We also built a tile wall for those quick kitchen-looking shots.

Of course we had a 30' X 40' studio space to work with.

Then we build a control room/edit suite with a tech/equipment room to house all of the equipment power supplies and fans so the edit suite and studio would be quiet.

We built walls as Mark suggested, and had extra wide HVAC ducts installed to minimize sound. Finally we installed special sound absorbent doors to keep exterior sound from the company's individual departments to a minimum. Lastly we added in a small portable VO set-up to record clean narration.

Mush depends on your budget, but when we moved to a new building, the construction budget was included in the total construction budget. You should consider hiring a consultant to work with the construction company.

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Craig Moore
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:23:59 pm

Hi everyone,
do you know of any consultants, preferably in Canada, who design studio spaces?
Craig Moore

Spider Video
MacPro FCP3

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Chuck Johnson
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Jan 9, 2016 at 9:39:25 pm

Hi Craig,

I am not located in Canada, but if you can't find who you are looking for in Canada, let me know and we can discuss your needs.

I have designed studios/edit facilities with budgets from $25,000 to over a $1,000,000 US.

Chuck Johnson
Fort Worth, Texas

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sanjay das
Re: Designing/planning a production studio, any advice?
on Apr 9, 2016 at 12:44:13 pm

Hello my name is sanjay i want build a video studio on first floor of my house
the place is India.
any body can help us how to start what will be the budget
my contact details are
phone-+234 8053135622

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