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The essential guide to building a small film studio

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Published Jul 21, 2022

There is a lot that goes into creating videos and films, but one thing you are going to realise is that many video locations are not suitable for filming or editing. You'll likely find that many rooms are just too dark, there is too much noise, and people have this weird habit of yelling whenever you are recording.

It might not seem like a problem if you are filming b-roll or if you are outside, but you're likely to struggle if you are filming something like a vlog or YouTube video and need a place where you can record the quiet shots of a person talking to a camera.

Maybe you are wondering how to get corporate video clients and are just starting out, or maybe you're established - either way, you're looking at how to build a film studio at home. Whatever the case may be, you find yourself in need of building a film studio. Here is a step-by-step process of how to build a film studio at home.

1. What content do you want to shoot in your film/video studio?

Deciding what content to shoot can influence you when it comes to building a film studio.
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Before you take any further steps in creating the at-home video studio of your dreams, you need to understand what the future of this studio will be, which is accomplished via what is known as a content plan. Now, if you already know what content you are going to be creating, then you can easily skip this step.

What kind of content you intend to create will have a drastic impact on the type of studio you need to create. Thus, you need to be asking yourself the following questions before you start building:

  • What are all the possible videos that you might decide on shooting in the space?
  • What time of day and how often are you planning on using your studio?
  • Whom might you invite into your studio?
  • What camera angles are you going to need to achieve?
  • How much space are you going to need for your studio?
  • Who else might want to use your studio?

These are all part of the considerations that you should be taking into account before you start building a video studio. You might want to consider diving deeper into the planning process if you want to ensure that your video studio will be the perfect fit for you. After all, you do not want to create a studio only to find out that it is not suited to your video production workflow purposes.

When you are creating your studio, it is important to know how different types of content inform both the overall look and feel of your studio. This can include everything from the lighting to the backdrop to the décor that you choose. Although there is not a specific formula, the majority of video content fits into four major categories.

The four categories that content typically falls into are:

  • Inspire: Videos that fall into this category are usually meant to motivate, and inspire the viewers to do more, be more, and expect more. Generally, this category includes inspirational stories – whether those be real or fictional – acts of heroism, inspiring speeches, religious sermons, or recordings of individuals performing impossible acts.
  • Inform: Now, it is important to note that while not all stories are inspirational, that does not mean that they are any less important. Informative videos are those you would see on the news and other journalistic outlets. Documentaries and documentary-style videos also fall into this category.
  • Empower: Here, you empower your viewers in order to educate them. You show, explain, or teach them how to do an action, think outside the box, or accomplish something that they could not do previously. Lectures, how-tos, demonstrations, and interviews with subject matter experts typically fall into this category.
  • Entertain: Now, this category is the broadest and also the most difficult to pin down. These videos are simply for viewer entertainment; they’re meant to be fun and inspire enjoyment in the viewer. Movies, the majority of TV series, comedy skits, music videos, and a majority of vlogs fall into this category.

Now, it is natural for these categories to occasionally overlap, but you need to consider: which categories do your videos primarily fall into? You want to put a lot of thought and consideration into this question because it is going to inform all your decisions in the following steps.

2. Pick the right location for building a film studio

Picking the right location to build your film studio in can be a really important part of the process.
Photo by Curtis Adams

You have probably already chosen an empty room or space that you are going to transform into your home video studio. But you want to consider your options when considering a space.

That is because different types of content require different locations. For example, if you are primarily filming cooking videos, then you are going to need to figure out a way to set up a studio in your kitchen. That might be a particularly obvious scenario, but you also need to acknowledge that not all content easily tells you where you need to record it.

Before you go with that empty, unused room that is just begging you to build a film studio at home, consider whether the connotations of another room would work for your videos. You might want to think about how to build a studio in an already existing room, rather than create one from scratch.

Really, what this comes down to, is considering what atmosphere (thus, what room in your home) best compliments your videos and their content. But most people would likely prefer to keep their studio separate from the rooms in which they live.

3. Consider the walls

A photo showing background ideas for building a film studio at home
Photo by Sam Khamseh

Once you have chosen your location, you might want to think about painting the walls a different or specific colour. That is particularly true if you intend for the room to be specifically for filming or creating videos. There are a couple of different use cases for different colours, depending on whether your plan is to use your studio for multiple purposes or if it is going to be a dedicated film studio.

Dedicated Studio Wall Color Choices

Now, the majority of professional videography or photography studios stick to either white, black, or a shade of grey that’s somewhere in the middle. If your studio is going to be used for a wide variety of content, then you’re going to want to keep your surroundings pretty neutral to keep colours from reflecting onto your background or subject.

There are different advantages to each colour choice. Here are some of them:

  • White: The most popular choice for studios, because it allows light to bounce around and makes it easier to light both your background and subject. It’s also a pretty popular interior colour choice at the moment, so your studio is likely to remain in vogue for a while.
  • Black: Black is a popular choice for the exact opposite reasons as white. It minimizes the light that bounces around, so it gives you a lot more control over what is and isn’t lit.
  • Grey: A lot of video producers and editors opt for some shade of grey because you get all the advantages of black and white. It’s a neutral colour, which also gives you the most accurate view of colours on your monitor.

Wall Colors for Flexible Spaces

Now, for a lot of people, a home studio is generally the secondary purpose of a space that’s already in use. It could be your kitchen or living room. While you might make the executive decision to change your room’s décor to fit a studio aesthetic, you don’t actually have to do that.

If you’re looking at using an existing room as your film studio, then you need to ask yourself: Does this match my brand? Do the colours reflect me and my content? You want the studio space to match your brand and express it, so you want to break down and get into that if you’re going to be using existing space.

Top tip: If you're producing professional, corporate video content - it's worth considering using neutral tones combined with some flexible coloured lighting as it can make for a really eyecatching look and help your video production proposal shine.

4. Choose your backdrop

Cool backdrops, shown in 557 Studio - Available to hire on Tutti

This is probably the fun part. You might want to match it to the colours that you painted your walls or you might choose something else. If you’re new to video studios, then you might be asking the question: What’s a video backdrop?

Video backdrops are exactly that: they’re what’s behind the subject of your video, which can range from a pure black or white background to better focus on the subject at hand, or it might be a more elaborate set-up that compliments the subject or has something to do with the content being discussed.

When it comes to backdrop options, there are literally hundreds out there on the market. To keep things simple, we’re only going to list and discuss a couple of the more popular ones. These include:

  • Infinity Cove Backdrop: Now, these are usually well-lit white or black backgrounds which give the illusion that there isn’t a backdrop at all. They give the impression that the background just goes on into infinity. In a more elaborate studio set-up, they might even include curved walls that are known as infinity walls to further that illusion that the set goes on forever.
  • Single Color Backdrop: With this, you can easily achieve it with some wallpaper or a painted wall that you light in different ways to create gradients that add a little bit of visual interest to the background. Colour is used here to add personality to your video’s background.
  • Minimalist Set: Here, you’ve chosen colours for the background and maybe an object or two (or some minimal furniture) to give context to your video or just to add some visual interest. It can be as simple as a bookshelf or a painting or a shelf with a couple of well-curated knick-knacks. Whatever the choice, you should make sure it serves as a complement to your video’s content.
  • Functional Set: This is a compromise setup. Here, you have a functional room that’s decorated for living and also recording videos. It’s a very popular choice for those who are vlogging from their home.

Studio Set Design: This one is a dedicated space that’s got a set that’s fully designed and built from scratch. It’s far more intensive than the previous ones, so we’re going to go into it in more depth with the next heading.

5. Designing a set

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes

For those who are looking at moving beyond just a backdrop or a functional set, you can actually take the time and make the effort to create and design an entire set that’s solely used for your videos. You can easily skip this step if you’ve already found an option (or combination of options) that works best for you.

When it comes down to building a set, it’s important and helpful to break it down into two key sections: the background and the foreground. This allows for your set to have a lot of depth and you can think about all the elements that you want to include from a different point of view because you’ve got two different dimensions involved.

Set Background

The background of your set or its backdrop is known as the set background. The background might be as simple as a bookshelf and armchair. But the important things to consider are to make choices that best reflect your video’s brand and to give context to your videos about the topic or overall theme of them. So, choose items, colours, and/or furniture that give an accurate reflection of what your videos are about or that reflect your brand and personality.

You also want to take the time to “black the background” far enough behind the set to create a feeling of depth within your videos.

Set Foreground

Now, the foreground covers all those items that are as close to the camera as the video’s subject is. Often, this can be a table or objects that are being discussed within the video – or even objects that appear in every video that you make. You can make these as simple or fancy as you want.

You can look at other creators to see what their foregrounds look like and what they have chosen to include. As with the background, you want your foreground to be a reflection of your brand and personality – as well as perhaps tie into the theme or topic of the video.

6. Purchase a camera and lens

When thinking about how to build a small home film studio - consider the type of camera and lenses you'll need.
Photo by Sirisvisual

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of actual film equipment that your studio will need. There are so many options out there when it comes to choosing a camera and many of these options will work perfectly for what you need. There’s a lot that goes into deciding on a camera for filming videos, but you should do your research and keep the following considerations in mind when you’re looking for one.

Here are some of the considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing a camera for your studio:

  • Sensor Quality: Good performance in low light helps when filming in a studio.
  • Lens Selection: Does the camera have a lot of lenses available at various price points?
  • Colour Profile: How good is the image coming right out of the camera?
  • Auto Focus:  If your videos feature just yourself or a singular subject, then you need autofocus to work well.
  • Flip Out Screen: This makes it a whole lot easier to film yourself.
  • Ease of Use: For those who are new to video production, it’s a good idea to pick out a camera that’s easy to use.
  • Image Output: It’s a really nice option to be able to go shoot in 4k.

7. Choose your camera accessories

When building a film studio its important to consider what camera accessories you'll need.
Photo by Jay Wennington

Aside from lights and a microphone (each of which gets their own steps), you’re also going to need a camera tripod. This is an essential accessory when you’re filming. The majority of tripods available work fine for a studio, but if you’re going to be frequently travelling with it, then it’s recommended you look into one that can fold down for easy transport.

There are a couple of other accessories that can make your video production life a lot easier. These include:

  • Video Monitor: Now, this is a separate screen that your camera feeds into to give you a good idea of what your camera is recording. This way, you aren’t left worrying about what is and isn’t in the frame.
  • Camera Remote: For those recording themselves, then a remote that controls your camera can save you from having to go back and forth between your camera and set.
  • Separate Audio Recorder: It’s a good idea to create redundancy by recording to a device separate from your camera just in case the audio feed or mic happens to fail on one or the other.

8. Setting up lighting

Lighting is everything when it comes building a small film studio
Photo by Jakob Owens

Now, lighting is what makes a studio a studio. There are a variety of options that are affordable on the market and they can really transform your video production more than anything else. It’s recommended that you start with something affordable and then build on top of that. There’s no such thing as having too much lighting equipment.

9. Setting up a microphone

If you're building a film studio you're going to need some quality microphones and voice recording booths.
Photo by Soundtrap

Once you’ve got your lighting figured out, then controlling your audio is the next step to take. Having a studio and having a good microphone set-up is only half the battle.

Now, there’s no right way to set up a microphone in your studio, but there are a couple of options that work. Here are a couple of microphone setups that could work for you:

  • On-Camera Shotgun Mic: An easy solution for those who already possess a mic that attaches to their camera’s hot shoe mount. It’s a good option for cameras that are under 5 feet from your subject and for rooms with little reverb, echo, or other undesirable sounds.
  • Lapel or Lavalier Mic: These are small wired mics that run up your shirt and clip onto your subject’s collar. It’s a good way to get the mic close to your mouth and does a pretty good job at isolating unwanted sounds. It’s recommended for most home studios.
  • Boom Mic: These are typically shotgun mics that are on the end of a boom pole. You can position these close to your subject while keeping the mic itself out of frame. It provides an ideal sound when paired with a high-quality microphone.
  • Hand-Held Mic: For those who don’t mind having a large mic in the frame, then this is an option. It’s typically in frame on a stand or table clamp equipped with an adjustable arm.

10. Adjust Room Acoustics

The final step of building a home video studio is taking the time to adjust the studio’s acoustics to eliminate any of that unwanted reverb, echo, or other unwanted sounds. It’s the hardest part of building a home studio and it can be pretty difficult – especially for newcomers – to figure out why a room just doesn’t sound great on video.

Now, there are typically two different types of acoustic issues that you’re going to be looking to fix in a room. These are reducing exterior noises (or soundproofing) and eliminating reverb/echo (or sound dampening). There are a couple of different options that work for each, so you’re likely going to want to experiment to find out which combinations offer the best solution in your space.

So there you go

Hopefully, walking yourself through these different steps of the at-home video studio creation process is helpful for creating a space of your own. There’s still a lot that you’ll need to learn and do, but this is a good place to start for those looking to create their own studio space or for those looking to get started with video production.

If you're looking to rent a film studio in the meantime, check out what we have to offer on Tutti.

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