If producing videos is becoming a bigger part of your business or turning into something more than a hobby, it might be time to build your own studio. Not to worry—we’re not talking about spending millions of dollars on creating a Hollywood-style studio. However, with enough space, a few key pieces of equipment, and a small investment in time, you can produce sharp-looking videos that will wow your clients, impress your advertisers, and increase your hits, clicks, and leads. Get ready to take notes on how to create a professional-quality video studio without breaking the bank!
Make Sure You Have the Space
If you’re simply taking pictures of products and the like, you don’t need that much space to produce professional photoshoots. A table, tablecloth, and white background should be sufficient. But if you plan to shoot explanatory videos, presentations, skits, newscasts, interviews, and more, you need a bit more wiggle room in your studio. Look around your workplace for a quiet area—preferably with a door that can be shut for privacy—that measures no less than 12-feet by 18-feet. You’re going to need space for the talent to stand, room for set furniture and props, and enough room for the camera or cameras to maneuver. If you don’t have enough room on-site, look for another space you can rent or, better yet, borrow.
Clean It Up
That might seem like obvious advice, but give the place a good going over with a broom and vacuum, dust rag, wet cloth, and window cleaner. A clean studio prevents dust and grime from showing up on-camera or from dirtying up the camera. After the cleaning, repainting the place in a nice neutral but bright color like white can make things pop more on-screen. Consider whether you plan to do some green screen shoots. Painting the wall with green screen paint and adding chroma key flooring can create a permanent place for producing green screen special effects and more. If you can’t paint, pick up a green screen backdrop you can easily attach to and remove from the wall.
Light Up Your Life (and Videos)
One of the best investments you can make in your studio and all your future productions is a good lighting kit. Don’t cheap out on these. Look for a lighting kit that provides the three main types of lighting: a key light, a fill light, and a backlight. The key light, as suggested by the name, is the main light. It trains its light on the subject or talent of the shoot to create shadows that provide depth. The fill light obliterates the shadows the key light causes the subject to cast behind itself/them. Finally, the backlight provides even more depth by being positioned behind the subject, creating a fine line of light behind them. As your production expands, investigate buying other lighting for sundry effects.
Turn Your Camera On
You won’t get far without a camera, but which one is best for your purposes? Yes, you can get away with using your smartphone to shoot video, and some can capture beautiful, quality video, but eventually, you’ll want to upgrade. You don’t need a $200,000 broadcast camera, though. You can pick up an affordable digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) for around $400 that has chroma key capability (for green screen) as well as other features that will give your videos a professional look. And don’t cheap out on a tripod. Get one that’s sturdy and secure yet lightweight enough to move around.
While there are plenty of big, fancy, and expensive boom microphones out there, you don’t need to go overboard. You can usually get away with a lavalier microphone that can attach to your speaker or talent’s lapel to beautifully pick up every word they say. Lavalier mics are often very affordable, not to mention convenient. They take much less muscle and stamina than a boom mic too, and your speakers will appreciate the ability to move around the set without any extra hassle.
Is your talent having trouble remembering their lines? Get away from the inconvenience, clutter, and clumsiness of cue cards, notecards, and scripts and explore the freedom offered by a teleprompter. Again, you don’t need to purchase a thousand-dollar presidential-style setup for your talent to read from every once in a while. There are plenty of apps that can turn a smartphone, iPad or other computer tablet, or laptop computer into an instant teleprompter you can position just under the camera.
We talked about finding a quiet place to shoot, but did you know you can make it even quieter? If there’s nearby machinery like an HVAC system, vending machines, and the like, reconsider your choice of space. If it can’t be helped, though, figure out how you can impose radio silence during a shoot. Signs asking passersby to be quiet are, of course, one of the more basic and effective ways to shush people up. Deactivating nonessential machinery during a shoot should be a standard operating procedure as well.
You’ll also have to deal with the noise generated by you, your personnel, and the shoot itself. Adding acoustic tiles and foam paneling to the walls and ceiling is a clever idea, as is hanging thick blankets to absorb surrounding sounds. Eliminate echoes and hollow sounds as well—otherwise, they’ll be especially noticeable in the final product. Also, remember those lavalier microphones? Make sure they’re not brushing up against the fabric of your speaker’s clothing. And make sure your crew knows they need to stay mum during a shoot!
Set the Set!
Here’s our final advice on how to create a professional-quality video studio. Go for affordable, not cheap, when it comes to buying furnishings for the set. Get strong and sturdy tables and chairs and any other pieces you might need that you know won’t fly into flinders under regular use, as well as being broken down and stored between shoots. Nothing wastes more money or time than set pieces that collapse on-camera, let alone during a live broadcast. And it’ll look better too.