Building a Studio

So you want to build a studio? First and foremost, congratulations! You are about to create one of my favorite spaces.  A studio is a nice, quiet, calm space to help you reach new creative levels you might have never even dreamed of. Get ready for some exciting doors to open! You might be wondering where to start, and that’s what I am here for. In this article, I am going to walk you through a few easy steps to help you build your own studio.

Space

This is the first thing you need to figure out. Make sure you have enough space to even have a studio. Otherwise you’ll start off with your new, creative studio with headaches and likely some creative struggle due to your limited space. Where is your studio going to be? Is it a high traffic area (foot or vehicle)? Is it in the middle of a noisy office? Do you even have the space to build the studio you want? For example: Will you need to order a more expensive lighting kit due to your space limitations?

Budget and Equipment

Now that you have your space, what’s your budget? What software will you need? Do you plan to start off with the best equipment? Are you in a position where you can experiment with different types of equipment to figure out what works best for you, your needs and your space? Or maybe since this is your first studio you want to just start out with the bare minimum and move up from there as you get more comfortable with working in a studio? In a perfect world, the second scenario would be best. You never know what will work best for you until you experiment a little. The top of the line products aren’t always the best for every situation. Why waste money on a cinematic camera when you are confined to a 10X8 studio space and are creating 5 minute training videos for your internal employees? Don’t get me wrong, purchase good, sturdy equipment, but don’t waste your money on things that won’t benefit you when something cheaper will do the job just as well (and maybe even better, depending on your circumstance).

When it comes to specific equipment, a lot of people struggle with the question, “what do I buy?” Well, I don’t know exactly what your needs are, so I’ll give you a basic idea of things you should get.

Camera: Find one that works for what you need and has the right ports for mics, etc.

Tripod: Keep that camera steady!

Mics: I’ve used boom mics before, they are great when recording on location or recording multiple people if you don’t have enough individual mics for everyone. I currently use a lav mic for my in studio trainings. The quality of the audio is drastically different. I would steer clear of a handheld microphone, unless maybe you are doing karaoke videos? But in all seriousness, it’s a good idea to keep your hands free so you can utilize your hands and be more natural.

Lights: You’ll want a good lighting setup no matter the size of your studio. You can get a variety of three-point lighting kits to suit your exact needs. Check out my article on Utilizing a Green Screen for more information on lighting!

Teleprompter: You can go big and get a nice, large teleprompter. We currently use a program that we put on our iPad and purchased a special tripod with a mirror. We currently use an iPad application paired with a special tripod with a build-in mirror. This setup didn’t add any extra space which was a nice touch since we are in a smaller studio ourselves.

Soundproofing

This goes back to the first item on the agenda, space. Is your space quiet enough? You’ll likely need to purchase some acoustic foam, but do you need to purchase some soundproofing blankets? Or maybe you need to seal your door better? One thing that many people seem to forget about is overhead space. What’s going on above your ceiling can wreck your recordings. Noise can carry if the ceiling is insulated appropriately. As you can imagine, this may require a little bit of construction to fix if you have an open ceiling. But trust me when I say it is worth it and will make a huge difference in your recordings.

 

There’s a lot that goes into building a studio, these are just a few of the many things you should absolutely think about. I know it can seem incredibly daunting and you may not know where to start. The absolute best piece of advice I can offer it to ask questions. Search online for the things you need and utilize that “contact us” button as much as you need it. I have spent a lot of time in ‘instant chats’ with employees at various companies asking questions about specific equipment and guidance. Do not hesitate to reach out to those in your network (think LinkedIn connections that might benefit you in this area), or anyone you may stumble upon during an internet search.


Speaking of questions, do you have any? What’s your biggest concern when building your studio? Let us know in the comments below!

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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