Setting Up a Video Production Studio

If you want to make a lot of videos, setting up a simple video studio might be the most cost effective way to go about it.

Making video in a studio is easier, faster, and therefore a lot less expensive than making video using field production method.

Why? A studio is more permanent, so you don't have to take the time to set-up and tear down the equipment every time. More importantly, a studio production is edited live, which saves HOURS of post-production editing time.

Here is some advice and a list of the equipment you would need to set up a basic TV production studio.

A typical TV studio has three cameras on tripods with dollys (wheels) for easy maneuverability. With a good director and decent camera operators, three cameras could be made to look like one-hundred, so you do not really need more than three.

All three cameras are hooked into a machine called a video switcher. (Today you can get computers that operate like video switchers and also include graphics generators, but for the purpose of this article, I will just use the term video switcher.)

The video switcher is used to switch between cameras and edit your production live. This is the main reason why studio production is so much faster than field production. In field production, you use one camera and edit it later. Post production editing is extremely time consuming. At a professional level, edit time is estimated at one hour per finished MINUTE. That's sixty hours of edit time for a sixty-minute show. On the other hand, an hour-long studio program is finished at the end of the hour-long taping session.

Any and all equipment that creates anything visual is hooked into the switcher, not just the cameras. So if you have a graphics generator, a video tape machine or DVD player, or a special effects generator it also gets plugged into the switcher.

The director then adds and removes whatever video elements she wants, when she wants, using the switcher. Think of it as functioning like a router. This method is also called instantaneous editing.

A DVD player or videotape player is used to run video clips during the show. Next time you are watching the news and they switch from the anchor person to video of the crime scene, that crime scene video is a pre-edited video being played on a separate player.

Audio is handled much the same way as video. You have an audio switcher, which is usually called an audio mixer or audio board. All microphones, all music/sound effects generators, all audio sources of any kind are plugged into the audio mixer. The audio engineer mixes, adds and removes whichever audio source is appropriate at the appropriate time.
The output of both the video switcher and the audio mixer are then plugged into whatever device you are using to record your finished show.

If you've ever noticed the shots of the control room they use frequently in news programs before a commercial, it has an entire wall of monitors. That's not just to look cool. Each video source needs its own monitor so the director can see what the video source looks like before he punches it up.

A video studio usually has lights mounted on the ceiling, hanging off a metal grid. If you are setting up in a house this might not be feasible. However you can get small, simple ceiling mounts that do not require a grid. Or you can use lights on a stand, same as you would out in the field. They take up a bit of room, but sometimes it is the only way.
If you do have a ceiling grid, make sure you have electrical outlets on the ceiling too. You do not want light cables snaking all over the floor.

The control room, which is where the video and audio switchers are located, should be as sound-proof as possible. The people working in the control room need to have the freedom to talk to each other without being picked up on the microphones being used in the studio.

For control room to studio communication, a head-set system is used. Everybody wears one so the people in the control room can speak to the crew in the studio. The studio crew usually has to come up with some kind of "puff code" or "tap code" so they can answer back without actually making any real noise.

In summary, here is a list of the standard equipment needed for a TV production studio:

* Multiple cameras
* Tripods with dollys for each camera
* Multiple microphones
* Video switcher
* Audio switcher
* Graphics generator
* Lights
* Light mounts
* CD player
* DVD player (or videotape player)
* Cables
* Head set communication system
* Monitors for each video source

Once you have your studio set up, you can crank out polished, professional looking videos quite easily. If you are planning on making LOTS of videos, going to the trouble and expense of setting up a studio can definitely pay off in the long run.

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips
Lorraine Grula


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