Monday, May 27, 2019

Why You Should Build a Set or Studio

We took the long road to decide on our design.  The great news is you can too!  Or you can learn from our process and skip ahead to what has worked well for our space.

Lets look briefly at how we developed our space plan and what we considered. In the beginning there was a very, very echoey room. It came with an A/C unit at our backs and store front windows facing 4 lanes of traffic to our sides.  

Room sound testing May 2018 at Gainesville Hackerspace.

With minimal equipment including items like a trusty H4N recorder that had provided me free preamp hum for years, we tested the sound of our room and even some of the techniques our friends from the Nation of Makers Podcast were using.  What had worked well for them was quickly seen as a nonstarter for our use case. For a space that anyone could easily learn and use even from an instruction sheet, we decided to go another route.

Pilot web series intern and host at same location above.
We broke the design process into multiple stages and you can too.  First we selected a backdrop that filled our space and used MakerPipe to hang it and blackout curtains from. We also settled on a camera that offered an acceptable quality to cost ratio for spaces and an app that could remotely control and view it. That camera was the Panasonic G7 and a year later the G85 dropped enough in price to replace the G7 as our go-to camera for the project. Checkout our Kit page for a full list of the gear we use.

The second stage was sound isolation. Once we were satisfied that the recording equipment would be easily used and trained on, it was time to lower the pain in post production by removing the audio issues inherent in the room.  Lavalier mics, even our hypercardioids, still pick up a fair amount of road noise, A/C hum, and things like the people in the backroom.  We created a set that would breakdown if needed for mobility and storage.  It would also act as our sound deadening.

Sound dampening walls, ceiling, and rolling
 wall for training. Bonus blue walls chroma key.
For a maker or tutorial video space nothing will drain your creativity and kill your sharing dreams more quickly than hours on something that if done right is almost entirely overlooked by the watcher.  In our process that was the two hours it took to steam a backdrop each week and hours editing audio for a five minute video. You chose to do this at a dedicated space.  So take the time to treat the room and invest in quality audio components.  When you go to edit your struggles should be with which moments to cut, where to add b-roll, and if that font really is the right one for that graphic.

Sound that was unusable in the first photo turned into a few hours of work with a guest and host track in the second picture.  In the last picture with the blue set, audio edits are more about leveling audio and raising levels for youtube. What sounds better hours in Adobe Audition or minutes with a focus on their quick tools and scrubbing for those deep breathes that drive your listeners nuts?

You don't have to build a set or studio, but isn't better than spending loads of cash for someone else to edit or hours of your life doing it yourself?