A VIDEO STUDIO MIGHT BE EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THE VIDEOS YOU WANT
There are two basic ways to make video.
- Studio Technique
- One-Camera Technique
Studio technique is significantly faster and less labor-intensive. If you want to make a lot of videos, perhaps putting in a studio would be a good idea. This post will explain the basic function of a video studio and describe common equipment used.
It’s easier and less expensive to set up a video studio today than at any other time in history, so it’s doable for even a small enterprise.
WHAT DOES A VIDEO STUDIO ALLOW YOU TO DO?
Setting up a studio allows you to crank out lots of videos quickly. Studio production method uses multiple cameras and microphones at once. It’s all edited live, on the fly, like a live TV show. This saves TONS of time in editing. Post-production editing is incredibly time-consuming, and studio production eliminates it.
So think about it. Once a studio is set up, the actual production becomes quite simple.
Look at QVC with the mind of a TV producer, and what do you see? A couple of people sitting on a simple set, holding up products, and chit-chatting non-stop. How easy is that? If you do just about anything in a video studio, and edit it live, you have a finished TV show. Doing it with one camera and editing software is outrageously slow and tedious by comparison.
“Live-to-tape,” or “as-live,” is an expression in TV production that means it is done in a live manner, but recorded for playback later. If you make minor mistakes, you keep going, just like you would if it were live. Live-to-tape is a great method because it is fast and inexpensive.
All studio production, even if you do edit it some later, is MUCH faster, and therefore cheaper than standard field production, which is another term for one-camera technique.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED TO SET UP A VIDEO STUDIO?
Today, an entire video studio can be run using one high-powered computer. The process can be referred to as desktop video production, and the possibilities are incredible!
However, standard studio equipment is still commonly used.
Here is a post about the NewTekVT5, which is an example of the equipment used for desktop video production, or in this case, a remote van.
Traditional Video Studio Set-up, Equipment and Operation
Even though the methods themselves are very different, much of the equipment needed to set up a studio is basically the same needed for one-camera technique, AKA field production, you just need more of it. If you want to do both studio and field work but don’t want to buy two sets of equipment, you don’t have to. Much can be the same. You’ll just have to get used to putting your studio together and tearing it apart again. Think of all the great exercise!
Typically, a TV studio has at least three cameras and some way to switch between the cameras live as the show is happening. Editing live is an incredible time-saver. A video switcher is used for this instantaneous editing.
A video switcher has all the possible video sources routed into it. By pushing the various buttons, knobs, or levers, the switcher allows you to control which visual source is seen at any one time.
Using multiple cameras and a video switcher (or computer software) to edit your show on the fly was originally invented in Hollywood when TV came along as a cheaper and faster way to produce shows. Movies had traditionally been made using one-camera technique and still are today.
If you are going for meticulous high art, one-camera technique allows you more precise control.
Studio technique is primarily done for speed, ease, and budgetary reasons.
LAYOUT OF A TYPICAL TV AND VIDEO STUDIO
Usually, a TV studio is divided into at least two rooms. The studio where the lights, camera, and action take place is next to a separate “control room” where the director and technicians are. It helps for the control room people to be able to see into the studio, so a window is usually built in. Keep sound proofing in mind; take a look at this article on how to make a room soundproof from outside noise — you don’t want the control room noise to be picked up by the mics in the studio.
Inside a video studio, the crew members traditionally communicate via headset like the ones pictured here. This allows camera operators, or anyone in the studio, to speak discretely and quietly to people in the control room. The person doing the most speaking over this headset system will be the director, giving instructions to the camera operators.
The audio and video switchers, the two main components of a standard video production studio, are both in the control room along with lots of monitors, all the graphics generators and other various pieces of equipment. (Note. As computers get faster and more powerful, they are replacing video and audio switchers.)
You have multiple monitors because individual monitors are attached to everything. Every single video source needs to be seen individually, and this is what the many monitors are for. Often, they are small and black & white, because that’s enough for the task.
If you are a lower budget operation, the biggest concern you should have is locating in a quiet place where you have as much room as possible. You also need to have control over the lighting and sound. Rooms that are built for the purpose of a video studio would be built without windows to maximize lighting and sound control.
Usually, a video studio will have lights mounted on a heavy metal ceiling grid. That way, you can easily put them wherever they’re needed. If you do not have a full grid, you can hang lights to some types of ceilings using c-clamp-like mounts. (Most of the news photographers I worked with carried various adapters and clamps, so they could hang a backlight out of the way of the camera shot.)
Lights hung from the ceiling give an angle to the light that seems natural. Plus, hanging lights from the ceiling keeps them out of the way. Run your cords along the ceiling and then tack them down the wall.
Hanging studio lights from the ceiling is the best way to do it, but is not 100% necessary. You can use portables. Portable lights on stands take up more room than those mounted on the ceiling, but your shots will still look OK, and that’s all that really matters. The design of studio lights and field lights is significantly different.
HOW DOES A TYPICAL VIDEO STUDIO OPERATE?
The director or technical director operates the video switcher, going from shot to shot when appropriate. The director also adds graphics when appropriate. All video sources are plugged into the video switcher and are under control of the director. A large operation will have separate components and operators for graphics, pre-recorded stories and other sources of video, such as satellites.
A small operation can get by with one director and all the cameras locked down on tripods.
Today, powerful computers can take the place of all the video and audio switchers and graphics components, which makes it even easier to set up a portable studio. You can do it either way.
Here’s a list of the video production equipment you need to set up a fully functional, yet simple traditional TV studio
- Multiple Cameras
- Tripod for each camera
- A video switcher that can handle every single video source you have (or computer system)
- Multiple microphones
- An audio switcher that can handle every audio source you have (or computer system)
- Graphics generator
- Multiple TV Monitors, minimum of one per video source
- Video record capacity
- CD/audio tape players
- Cables and connectors to piece it all together
- Set furniture – usually something homey. Avoid detailed patterns. Go for solid colors that blend.
If you don’t have a video switcher of some kind, and still want a studio show look, run multiple cameras simultaneously and record the show in its entirety from each of the cameras. You could have different priority audio going to each camera, but it would be easier to mix the priority audio and input into one of the cameras. (Make sure the other cameras record audio because it’s essential in order to find your place in editing, but you do not have to use that audio in the final mix.)
Synch up all the video during editing and choose the best shot. You can do this easily by stacking the synched video lines on top of each other. Then just chop out the video shots you do not want, leaving whichever one of the three is best on top.
If you do this correctly, it’s actually very fast, not at all time-consuming like the old cut and splice method or the analogue methods used for editing years ago, but now obsolete.
If you want even more detailed information on the equipment you need to set up a functional video studio, see this post. It contains an even greater amount of information specifically about the equipment needed than this post.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- Explain why studio production is faster than one-camera technique.
- Why are headsets traditionally worn by crew members in a video studio?
- Why are lights in a studio traditionally hung from a metal grid on the ceiling?
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips. I always recommend shopping and researching video equipment at B&H Photo. They carry absolutely everything and have great prices too.