There are many reasons why building a home studio could be right for you. Perhaps you want to make your interviews look more professional with a variety of backdrops or a chromakey setup. Or maybe you need more lighting control for product shots. Certainly, if you occasionally rent someone else’s studio, the long term cost savings and convenience might make a home studio an obvious choice.
Whatever your reasons, there are many things to think about before converting a space in your home into a studio. Let’s take a look at some of the more important considerations.
Choosing and Altering the Room Itself
Ask yourself what you are using the studio for and what you might need it for in the future. Is the studio setup permanent, or do you need to be able to alter it on a whim? Making your space convertible back into a living space will take a little more time and money, but it may be just what gets the buy-in you need from your family to take over a garage or living space. If your garage currently has workbenches and stationary tools, by adding lockable casters, you can wheel everything to the side when you need to shoot. If you want to go a step further, you could even create a fabric room divider that separates the stuff you store in your garage from the videography equipment. You can
even turn part of this into a large light source by including a strip of white rip-stop nylon in the middle and placing lights behind it. Of course, if you plan to have clients in your new studio, a garage usually requires a bit more touching up.
You can sheetrock or cover unfinished ceilings, walls or stairs. Additionally, you can hide unsightly water heaters and AC units by carefully walling these items off, but use good sense. Make sure to allow for adequate ventilation, and never restrict airflow or introduce a fire risk by placing flammable materials near flames.
The actual square footage is not as critical as how you set things up. More room will give you greater options for placing your camera, lights and backgrounds. But just because you are converting your garage into a studio doesn’t mean you’ll be able to shoot something as large as an average-sized vehicle. You need to take into account the distance the subject will need to be from lights, background and camcorder. A smaller area will necessarily limit you to smaller subjects. Of course, if you primarily need to shoot tabletop items then you can easily get by with a smaller space.
Ceiling height is one of the most important factors as lights will likely need to be above the subject’s head and out of the camera’s view. Standard interior rooms are often only 8-feet high which is not enough if you will be using hot lights up high on stands. And they do not allow you to install even a simple grid for hanging fixtures. Look for 10-foot ceilings and twelve-foot is even better. You’ll find many garages will be in this range. Think about how you will get your equipment and props in an out of your area. Are doors and hallways wide enough to handle them without too much effort? Try to avoid using a space that has more than one step. You will find a hand-truck is your new best friend but it can turn into your foe if you have to muscle it up a series of stairs.
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