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Old November 6th, 2007, 10:10 PM   #1
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New studio... and a blank check?

The University I'm at is building a new student center, inside which will be a new television studio. The structural elements are pretty solidified, but we were asked to supply a list of things we might like to see it equipped with. I don't know all the details of the new space, but I think we're looking at infinitely walls, green screen painted, a separate control room, and 12 ft ceilings in a generous space (I don't know the exact square footage, but it's big.

Our equipment now is alright, but we obviously want to make this new space as awesome as possible. Our studio cams are going to stay. We have a panasonic video mixer which will probably stay.

Some things we need to look in to:

Automation system- we currently rent a system from Swank Motion Pictures, inc along with our movies, but it crashes all the time and the screen flickers when it switches video files. Plus it used Windows Media Player... is that normal?

Lighting- How can we get this green screen to look good? We get a green halo right now, but only have front lights. Also, an integrated solution to controling the lights... we have a light switch now, we could use dimmers etc.

Studio furniture- Our news desk is from the 70s, our sets are nonexistant. An alternative to folding chairs for live audiences?

Virtual sets and titling- Any suggestions here? We currently run GenCG software on our own machine for titling.

Remote broadcasting solution- we currently have two bulky boxes with switchers/soundboard/titler etc. Should we consider digital/laptop systems?

Field audio recorder- We really should get one of these. DAT, HDD? Needs XLR input, would also be used to record live rock concerts from either soundboard or mic.

High Definition- The tv feed isn't going to change to HD (i don't think high def CCTV is something we can realistically ask for) but we would like to buy a couple HD cameras for short film production. Probably something like the Canon XH-G1.

..... these are just what comes to mind. What types of things should we be asking for to make our studio awesome?

Last edited by Martin Ben; November 6th, 2007 at 10:28 PM. Reason: submitted before finished!
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:23 AM   #2
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Blank Check?

Martin. considering you're building a "New" studio, the absolute Best advise I can give you is to hire a consultant. These guys make a living at keeping up with the latest and greatest and they can fit the gear to the budget. they will also have check list in order to not forget those little necessities that most people tend to forget in a design. a complete studio has so many components and requirements that unless you've done it before it is so easy to miss things that will come back and bite you in the butt. Electrical requirements, heat load, ceiling grid, balanced power, Structural versus technical ground, ADA requirements, HVAC requirements to all rooms, proper cabling for signal, just to name a few things, there is so much to think about even before you bring in the video equipment. these are "real Issues" that need to be dealt with and is VERY unlike a typical office building. If you are going to be using studio lights you're looking at 500w to 5K watts per fixture, you cannot just plug in a 5k into the wall, so you need to be sure this is looked at. as far as Furniture you see on TV its pretty much all custom made, as far as workstation furniture, look at Argosy, Raxxas, Mid Atlantic, these are some of the popular studio furniture guys, For lighting look at Arri, Lowel, Altman, ETC, look at ETC (Electronic Theatre controls) for the dimmers and control consoles. For your automation system look at Grass Valley, Barco.
As far as your audio, check out the "All things Audio" forum. a complete studio consists of so many disciplines that you have to break it down to specific disciplines, and ask those questions towards those groups. but I still think your institution will benefit the most by having a consultant on this. At least create a relationship with an AV contractor that can help with the design, I am sure a good sales guy will work hard trying to get the job that hell pretty much do the hard work for you, but unless you're the approving person on a project they will only go so far.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 01:06 AM   #3
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Hi Gerry,
Thanks for the reply.

Like I said above, the actual structure of the studio is pretty much final. We did have a consultant that made sure all the things you mentioned got done (I hope) I wish he could have consulted them to give us higher ceilings, but that was out of our control.

So anyway, the consultant asked us what the top things we want to ask for were, so we need to give him a list. Thanks for the suggestions you gave, I'll look into them.
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Old November 8th, 2007, 01:56 AM   #4
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I'm going to second what Gerry has suggested. Get a consultant on board! You need someone like Mike Curtis who can look at your current infrastructure, and based on years of experience and knowledge of all the latest new technology, offer suggestions that will provide you with everything you need for both now and in the future.

Your equipment will massively depend upon the facilities. For example, what lights, dimmers, etc. you will need will depend on the size of the wall, rigging points, where the power lies, etc. What lights you can handle will depend on what power you have available.

Proper infrastructure is the most important thing. How sound proof the walls are, how much power is available, where the power point are, how the earthing is wired, how many circuits you have available, which points are on which circuits, data cabling, video cabling, audio cabling, etc. is the stuff you really need to get right.

Information on how to properly light a green screen is widely available on the Internet. Have a look around Google. You ideally want each lights individually on a dimmer connected to a DMX controlled board.

In regards to studio furniture, if it's for your set then your set design team should be able to knock something up if the right amount of budget! An alternative to folding chairs for live audiences? How about, non-folding chairs? Take a trip to a furniture shop! How they get to sit all depends on how much money you've got to blow!

Why change the broadcasting solution if it works? Just because it's digital or on a laptop doesn't make it better! Without knowing specifics, it's very hard to offer suggestions for improvement in this department.

In regards to field audio recorders, there are heaps of discussion on this topic in the audio section of this forum. Sound Devices makes some great units, or if you've got a lot of money there's always the DEVA, Cantar, Fostex, etc.

In regards to HD cameras for short films, you really need to have a better read around these forums! There is so much discussion on which camera is best for this and that it's just not funny! The XH-G1 is a good option - but it all depends on how much money you have set aside, and what you are looking for in a camera. Maybe a Sony Z1P will be all you need. Really depends on your requirements.

You've seemed to ask an impossible question here! Making a studio "awesome" is easy - you just throw heaps of money at it. As this is a new studio, and I've already said this, you need to get the infrastructure and actual facilities perfected before you start worrying too much about what cameras you use. I know you've said that another consultant has already gone over all these issues, but something is obviously a miss if s/he has designed a studio without knowing what you actually plan to do in it!
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Old November 8th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #5
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studio

Martin.

If there is already a consultant on this , then just give him or her what is commonly called a "scope". meaning you give a detailed description of "HOW" you want the studio to perform , and then its his or her job to fit the gear to the Scope and budget, if you're experienced with and are happy with a particular piece of gear, then ask for that, but if its a field you are not familiar with then let the consultant do his or her job. in my many years as an AV tech ,sales and PM, I found input from the client to be very helpful when it came from a knowledge full client that knew why he wanted certain pieces, that let me know that the client was familiar with the gear and it was important to his or her work-flow. however the most un-helpful clients were the ones that got all their opinions from reviews, magazine and other people's opinions, rather than their own experience, after all the consultant is there because his or her experience that is based on this technology being their full time job. so I would suggest that you turn in a scope, discuss with consultant, let them come up with design, then go thru the design with the consultant adjusting the design to fit your needs whenever you see something you just gotta have or something that you cant stand to work with. and by the second or third draft, you should have a design that will work the best for you and also have the infrastructure to expand for the future. this process is the best thing I have found to rattle all the bugs out of a system design, therefore giving me the best chance to have a system that meets the immediate and future needs of the studio.
As part of your "scope" feel free to specify somethings along the line of "we prefer to have all cameras to be brand X" "all SDI cabling is to be plenum rated and terminated with Neutrik connectors" "all monitors are to be no smaller than 9"" , or be specific like "the video mixer is to be a BrandX model Y" . So go thru your head and give a written detailed description about how you want the studio to work, throwing in specifics only when you know them, then let the consultant deal with all the minor details like Component to SDI converters, patch cables and all those little things. one of the best way to get accurate advice is to give a real-world budget, then and only then can you get real advice that you can use. asking what is the best camera for a studio? will yield alot of different responses, for alot of different reasons. now if you qualify the question with "best HD camera/lens combo for music videos under 20k" that will filter out quite a bit of cameras. because if there was really a "Blank Check" then you would end up with an IMax and Alot of gear reassembling CNN Studios or something along those lines. but in reality what you really need to establish some more parameters for the individual pieces of gear you need help selecting, then ask the individual forums that focus on these issues. keep in mind since there is a consultant and you tell them "I only want SONY XYZ300 cameras" then if there is a problem with these, guess what... its your fault. if you let the consultant say" I would like to use JVC XZY5000" then if there is an issue, youre covered, as most consultants have a "performance" clause that is part of their contract, then its their responsibility to rectify the design. ok Ill quit ranting... sorry.. hope this helps a little bit. feel free to ask me any questions if you dont think Im a loon. I just have built alot of systems and know the pitfalls, and unfortunately i have seen alot of systems "Suck, Inside a shiny new building" because there was no professional involved in the design.
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Old November 10th, 2007, 04:53 AM   #6
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Good advice Gerry!
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