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Need help building a an awesome editing/podcasting/voiceover suite

Chris Harmon's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 05/10/2007 - 12:04pm

I want to put together a sweet little editing/voiceover/podcasting suite in my home. I won't say money is no object, but I'm not a pauper either.

I'm going FCP on the Mac, so that is out of the way. I am also going a tapeless Panasonic workflow. My main target is documentary/corporate and high end web promos.

What I really want to hear more about is opinions on studio audio & video monitors,input/output boards, and mixers for the Mac.

I plan on doing some podcast work, and want to record straight into my Mac. Do you guys use USB/Firewire mic interfaces? A digital mixer? And what kind of mics? I'm looking at either an EV RE20 or Shure SM7.

And any furniture suggestions would help too.



BarefootMedia's picture
Last seen: 7 years 6 months ago
Joined: 01/13/2007 - 8:13pm

I assume when you ask about a mixer for the MAC you are planning on using the computer as a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and there are lots of DAW's to choose from. I would also recommend Musican's Friend to read about the various options, costs and capabilities for DAW's, mics, cables and anything audio related. They also have a full selection of mics designed for podcasting. But I am somewhat surprised you don't have a mic input on your audio card. I would be afraid that is you don't have an input on the card, you won't have very good output. So you may want to consider an upgrade. Or you can get an external (USB or Firewire) audio interface, often they are part of the better DAW's. (I use a PC and Sony's DAW with great results, but I don't think they have a MAC version of Sound Forge or Acid.) So I'd recommend checking out what is available at Musican's Friend, then asking for advice about picking one over another.

But I do have some specific advice about furnishing a studio as I've been responsible for "decorating" about half a dozen studios. Let's start with chairs. You will get the most flattering video of people sitting in straight backed reception room chairs. You absolutely must avoid couches & stuffed chairs. Their main problem is being too low to the floor so people will slouch and thrush their stomachs out, which is very unattractive. Reception room chairs keep people more vertical, from the floor to the top of their heads. And they also provide less freedom of movement so you can set shots without concern over talent moving out of the shot. You will also need an end table to set between the chairs to form a right angle between the host & the talent. If you want a coffee table for your set to help hide the feet & floor, you generally do better with a low table with out a lower shelf. You will also want to select wooden furniture, any glass or chrome will cause unwanted reflections and can cause exposure problems. I recommend you get at least four identical chairs with their matching end table and consider the matching coffee table.

Next we come to set dressings and backdrops. I'd recommend painting the two walls behind the set in chromakey green then covering them with drapes or a curtain. This will give you a nice flat surface for chromakey lighting, but you'll have the curtains to provide a softer background for interview shoots. You will also be able to easily exchange the curtains so you interviews don't all look the same. Don't forget about the value of curtains for taking the ring out of a room. And don't forget about the back walls, you may want curtains all around to help deaden the echos. Or you could buy sound dampening panels from a variety of sources.

Okay, now we have furniture that encourages talent to sit upright (the way people look the best,) a background that is easily altered and helps take out the room's echo and more dampening behind the scenes. Since interview cameras should be at eye level, you may want to build an 8" to 10" carpeted riser for the set. This is mainly for the convenience of the camera operators; otherwise they will have to be bending over their cameras. But either with or without a riser, the set is very stark right now. The most flexible set decoration for taping a variety of programs are fake green plants and flowers. You will need plants with several different heights. Artificial trees are great for breaking up the edges of the frame and can put something in the background of the talent close-ups. You will also want plants that are a bit taller than the seat of your chairs. These go beside the chairs to disguise their vertical lines. Then you need a short & wide arrangement if you have a coffee table and something between the short table & the floor plants to set on the rear corner of the end table between host & talent. I always like to have a couple of options for the end table, like a green plant and a couple of pastel flower arrangements. And don't forget about matching cups for water for each individual on camera.

And if you will be doing a lot of interviews, I'd seriously consider getting some sort of snoot lights that can project cookies on your background. Not to mention getting gels to alter the colors of the background. A lot of shows use a light grey curtain with colored lights & cookies creating an easily altered background. If you need ideas for your set dressings, watch talk shows for ideas. "Ellen" is great for seeing how plants are worked into a set. And the "Price Is Right" used to be an excellent example of curtains & lighting as a background. And pretty much any of the infomercials in a talk show setting use lighting cookies to project the product name on the wall behind the talent.

Hope this is what you were asking about. Good luck with your future productions.


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

if you have a video projector, but no snoots, spot lights...(and photoshop_)....you may find it useful to create and project patterns onto your background (both moving and still images.....try projecting an old b+w movie completely out of focus for example, onto you background (sheet, cutrtians, or set) for intersing lighting/shadow effcts).


chrisColorado's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 04/03/2008 - 10:48pm

For a mixer/DAW/audio software,I use Audacity which is free. It's popular since it can edit one track, multiple tracks and even record. Totally free and you can use it for professional jobs. It's also multi-platform, so it will work on your Mac as well as it does on my PC.

More info on Audacity including links to the download are on my blog: http://videomaker.com/community/blogs/freeware/audacity/Being free, Audacity does have some quirks, such as not being able to import WAVs or export MP3s, but i show ways to get around that in the blog.

If money is no object and you'd like something better, I suggest Adobe Audition or Final Cut's audio software Soundtrack Pro.


Johnboy's picture
Last seen: 9 years 4 months ago
Joined: 03/18/2005 - 5:37pm

you mention voiceovers, so you need a recording booth or a sound treated room. I use my walk-in closet that has a TON of clothes hanging on both sides. There isno vent from the hvac, so room tone is minimal. You'll need a pop filter to eliminate plosives.

Best of luck with your setup

John



butterflyguy's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: 05/15/2008 - 12:05pm

One of the early Systm podcasts has a great equipment video with Leo LaPorte

also - the Gear Mediapodcast has lots of great info on equipment to use.