New AV Studio – Need Advice for Hardware

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    • #43713

      I was granted money at work to build a simpleav studio. About $20,000.Until now I have been producing videos with a consumer level camera, a wireless mic from Radioshack and Pinnacle Studio software. I will be scrapping all 3 in favor or a more professional approach. Any equipment a MUST? I was thinking a mixer of some kind and multiple cameras. We do a lot of talking head shots. Lighting and mics, any suggestions? Camera suggestions? Thanks, I am new to the site but would love to collaborate going forward.

    • #183142

      I am using the Canon XL2 MiniDV Camcoder and its an excellent little camera. It will do your talking head shots really easily but will also double as a portable camera if you need it to be one in the future. Its also a great price for the kind of quality it produces.

    • #183143

      The XL2 looks like a camera that will work well. Thanks, I will be checking it out. Any suggestions for peripherals such as wireless mic, mixers, tvs, etc? Or just somewhere I can read and educate myself on building a production studio?

    • #183144

      I need to get a good Apple desktop system to edit FCP projects. My budget is about $1500. Does anyone have advice or guidance? What is a minimum system in your opinion?

    • #183145


      When you say “studio”, do you mean a studio that has a room with the cameras and a set and then a control room, which contains things like a mixer, switcher, monitors, decks, CCUs, etc.


      Do you mean just a big room where you can record with multiple cameras and then do multi-camera editing in post?

      I don’t think 20 grand will get you much if you are going for the first option. So hopefully you are going with the second option, and I can give you some good advice on that.

      No matter what kind of video you produce, I think the bare essentials are a camera(obviously), camera support, lights, and mics.

      Let’s start with mics. If what you’re mainly shooting is talking heads, then some wired lavalier mics would beefficient. I use the Sony EMC-44B microphone and have had a lot of success with it. I’ve never had a problem with this model. If you shoot subjects who get scared in front of the camera, they may become even more stressed when they have a mic on them. So you could use a shotgun mic and place it as close to your subject without it being in the shot. Ideally you would want a long boom pole to hold the mic above the subject as the shotgun is aimed downward and toward the subject. If you can’t afford that, I’m sure you can rig up a stand using a crappy tripod from Best Buy or something, and place it in front of your subject. When you research mics, you want to look at the signal to noise ratio. 64db = fair, 74dB = good, 84dB = outstanding. The Sony lav mic I suggestedis 62dB and I find it to be completely acceptable.

      There’s also a lot to select from when it comes to lights. I’ve used Arri lights a lot in the past. Not that I throw my stuff around, but I feel like Arri is quite rugged, but they are pricey. I’d say 3 150-watt lights and 3 300-watt lights would be enough, depending on how many people you typically shoot per video.Tungstenlights also give off a lot of heat, which may be annoying to your subjects. Soflorescentlights may be a good option too. Kino Flo seems to be a decent brand of florescent lights. You may also want some gels and scrims.

      When you buy lights, don’t forget to buy things like reflectors/bounce cards to use for fill light and flags for blocking excess light. You’ll also needs some more stands and clamps for securing these. I don’t get high tech when it comes to this. Just go to an art store and buy some stuff foam core to use as reflectors and flags.

      When you buy a tripod, you definitely want something sturdy, otherwise, what’s the point? Luckily you’re in a studio, so weight isn’t an issue. Just buy a heavy one that you know can support the weight of your camera. Some features you may want in a tripod are pan and tilt drag adjustment, pan and tilt locking, a leveling bubble, height, a sliding plate for balancing the camera forward and backward, aaaaand…i guess that’s about it. Definitely get one that has a fluid head, not a friction head.

      I guess last is the cameras. If you aren’t connecting to a mixer in a control room, then I believe genlock and timecode out isn’t an issue, which is nice because those features in a camera really jack up the price. Unless your clients really want HD, I wouldn’t buy into it. For what I do, I don’t like the XL2, but it does seem like it would be a nice camera for studio work. Although Canon does make good lenses, if you have enough money, I would buy the body of an XL2 and then get a really good lens. From what I’ve heard, the quality of your lens is more important than the quality of your camera body. If that is too pricey, I’m sure the lens that comes with the XL2 would be acceptable.

      Some other things you may want to invest in is a monitor so you can really see what your camera is shooting, and a mixer if you will be putting mics on more than 2 people. If you’re not broadcasting, regular 13-inch TVs will work fine and save you money. Just be sure to set color bars. Mackie makes good mixers.

      These are all the things I can think of now. Now that I think of it, this will probably come close to the 20 grand budget, especially since you’re probably getting more than one camera. That means more tripods and monitors. Don’t forget to save money for making a set.

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