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Old February 4th, 2008, 05:54 PM   #1
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How to Cool down a Hot Studio

Okay, I know it's the middle of winter and most of you are sitting at your computer with snow outside. How cozy...

But here in Phoenix it's supposed to get to almost 80-degrees this next weekend. So, with that said, when I say it gets hot here in the summer time, it's the understatement of the century.

Some summer days we see 120-degree afternoons. In fact, there are weeks that we don't drop into the double-digits even at night.

It's almost making me sweat just remembering what's around the corner in a few more months.

Now, I'm designing my new video studio to replace my cheap "Home Depot Studio" (I'm sure you guys know what I mean, right?). My problem I ran into last summer was the set overheating. It's hard enough keeping the home or office cool, but setting burning hot lights into the room makes the situation nearly impossible.

On another thread many are recommending florescent lights which should help tame the heat production, but apart from keeping a noisy A/C unit running during the shoot (which totally ruins my audio quality), do you guys know of any other way of keeping a set cool?

I know when I was a teenager, I worked on some commercial sets in L.A. and they used to set these big condenser coolers out in the hallways and pump the cool air into the stage/set using 8" flex-tubes. I didn't know any better then, but I'd imagine they did that to #1, keep the set cool, and #2, keep the noise of the unit outside their set.

Apart from that, is there anything else you all have done or could recommend? Soon, when the snow is still falling at some of your houses, I'll be in 100-degree weather again facing the problem of having a very nice set and lighting system that I CANNOT use because it'll be too hot!

Any thoughts, direction or comments would be appreciated! And no, moving out of Phoenix is not an option at this point! HA! :)
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Old February 5th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Lloyd Claycomb View Post
Okay, I know it's the middle of winter and most of you are sitting at your computer with snow outside. How cozy...

But here in Phoenix it's supposed to get to almost 80-degrees this next weekend. So, with that said, when I say it gets hot here in the summer time, it's the understatement of the century.

Some summer days we see 120-degree afternoons. In fact, there are weeks that we don't drop into the double-digits even at night.

It's almost making me sweat just remembering what's around the corner in a few more months.

Now, I'm designing my new video studio to replace my cheap "Home Depot Studio" (I'm sure you guys know what I mean, right?). My problem I ran into last summer was the set overheating. It's hard enough keeping the home or office cool, but setting burning hot lights into the room makes the situation nearly impossible.

On another thread many are recommending florescent lights which should help tame the heat production, but apart from keeping a noisy A/C unit running during the shoot (which totally ruins my audio quality), do you guys know of any other way of keeping a set cool?

I know when I was a teenager, I worked on some commercial sets in L.A. and they used to set these big condenser coolers out in the hallways and pump the cool air into the stage/set using 8" flex-tubes. I didn't know any better then, but I'd imagine they did that to #1, keep the set cool, and #2, keep the noise of the unit outside their set.

Apart from that, is there anything else you all have done or could recommend? Soon, when the snow is still falling at some of your houses, I'll be in 100-degree weather again facing the problem of having a very nice set and lighting system that I CANNOT use because it'll be too hot!

Any thoughts, direction or comments would be appreciated! And no, moving out of Phoenix is not an option at this point! HA! :)

I would try switching to Fluorescent video lighting. That will make a big difference. Check out http://www.coollights.biz/ these are very affordable and run cool. You'll be surprised how much cooler than tungsen.
good luck
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Old February 5th, 2008, 08:55 AM   #3
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Big studios usually have near-noiseless a/c setups with the air running into the studio through sound-dampening tubes, but I can't tell you how these are built. I've seen one a/c in a studio where the air was blown in through dozens of what appeared to be large plastic tubes, but there was more to it than just plastic tubes, I guess.

Where I work the studio a/c is not noiseless, so we can't keep it on when recording, but it's a big monster a/c and if you leave it on maximum all the time then the studio gets so cool that 1 or 2 hours of recording are possible until the 8-10kW halogen heat it up too much. This is only for very hot summer days, of course. Right now everyone is glad for a little heat from the lights.

Fluorescent lighting surely would help to keep the heat down.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:11 PM   #4
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When I built out my Scottsdale studio, I spent a LOT of time and money on the A/C unit.

Part 1 was a Mitsubishi split unit (separate air handler and condensor) with the air handler located outside.

Part 2 was ducting designed to put distance between the fans and the returns and provide some turns so that sound would be trapped rather than proceeding in a straight line into the live audio areas.

The result is that I can run the AC even with the mics open. But it wasn't easy and it wasn't particularly cheap. (iirc, the air conditioning system was $5k plus for a 1.5 ton unit) Then again, since the studio is largely soundproof - it's also pretty airtight, so there's little leakage and costs to cool it are pretty moderate once it's cool.

Bottom line, it's not easy mixing air handling equipment with live audio recording!

Good luck.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:35 PM   #5
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I've shot in Phoenix in August before; I know what you're saying.

In addition to the compressor and fan being located as far away as possible, and the ductwork making numerous bends rather than in a straight line, the air flow needs to be slowed down do you don't get blowing noise out the vents.

But if you can't do that, best thing to do is switch to fluorescent lights and get the place as cold as possible before you start. Then switch on the A/C whenever you take a break. Maybe put a big fan in to help move air around in between takes.

An above post mentioned Coollights. That's good. In addition to their studio fluorescents, they have even cheaper softboxes that use CFL fluorescent bulbs. There are also some other sites that sell varieties of fluorescent softbox setups using the CFL bulbs. And if you're still in the "Home Depot mode" you can use round reflector worklights and replace the hot bulbs with fluorescents, although like everything else, the professional stuff will do better for you.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:23 PM   #6
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If you can put A/C in an adjacent room, try this DIY solution to getting the cold air into your set:

Stanley blower fan - $50 (on low setting it moves a lot of air without being too loud)
6" flexible duct from Home Depot - $25 for 25 feet (looks like giant dryer vent hose)
6" duct adjustable elbows - ~$7 (the duct is flexible but elbows are neater)

For about $100 you can move air 50 feet into another room. The longer the duct the less noise will transmit. Unless you need absolute silence, this solution is cheap and reasonably effective. It also is light and compact when collapsed. Of course, you need to switch the hot lights to fluorescents/hmi if you want to stay cool from one 6" duct.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault View Post
If you can put A/C in an adjacent room, try this DIY solution to getting the cold air into your set:

Stanley blower fan - $50 (on low setting it moves a lot of air without being too loud)
6" flexible duct from Home Depot - $25 for 25 feet (looks like giant dryer vent hose)
6" duct adjustable elbows - ~$7 (the duct is flexible but elbows are neater)

For about $100 you can move air 50 feet into another room. The longer the duct the less noise will transmit. Unless you need absolute silence, this solution is cheap and reasonably effective. It also is light and compact when collapsed. Of course, you need to switch the hot lights to fluorescents/hmi if you want to stay cool from one 6" duct.
Thanks a lot for that! That's a great idea! I'm going to give it a shot.

I also have a little audio studio that suffers from the same problem, so this should work for both! Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old February 5th, 2008, 05:25 PM   #8
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I forgot to add a few dollars for the 7" hose clamp you probably need to hold the duct on the blower. The Stanley blower fan is just the right size for the 6" flexible duct from Home Depot but a clamp is probably a good idea.

There are also flexible ducts available for road crews that are a bit more robust. It is simply called "blower hose" and there are probably more substantial blowers to accompany it. That is probably the most commonly available upgrade from Home Depot ducts available locally. I'm sure there is flexible ducting for film work available but that may be more of a specialty product.

I just thought of something. I saw a big portable A/C unit at an outdoor venue a few months ago. It was very quiet and had a few 6" flexible ducts coming up off it to direct air at people under the tent. There are also duct systems for dust collection systems that you might find locally.

There is definitely an off-the-shelf solution so you don't need to spend Hollywood money to cool your studio. First, get rid of as much tungsten as possible. You can get an entire fluoro/hmi kit from coollights.biz that can light a greenscreen for about $3000. For every watt of light you remove, that is probably one less watt of A/C you need.

Do you guys see standalone A/C units at the stores near you? At every hardware or appliance store around here there are these standalone units made for people that can't install window units. They have ducts to vent the hot air out a window and are usually fairly quiet. They aren't as nice as the big industrial model I saw at the outdoor event, but they are under $1000 and can probably be ducted easily. Since they aren't mounted in the structure, you can probably isolate their vibrations by putting them on carpeted/padded floor. The downside is that they cost twice as much as the window units per btu of cooling and take up floorspace. They also can generate a lot of condensation around here, but in AZ that shouldn't be a big problem.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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This is what I was thinking after reading your post: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...0053&langId=-1

I was thinking I could remove the vent cover and somehow have a tin vent made at a local HVAC company's metal shop. I could force the supply air into the flex piping and call it a day. If the run gets too long I could add a fan as you described in the middle of the flex line somewhere far enough away from the audio recording, but close enough to keep the air flowing.

Is this kind of what you were thinking?

I just checked craigslist and I see some in the $100-200 range. Even two of these running from a room 20' away and dumping air into the same flex line (via some "Y") would probably keep my studio plenty cool enough as to not have to cut a shoot short because of overheating. And since it's so far away (around corners and inside a room), the audio shouldn't be compromised too much.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 05:35 PM   #10
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Old February 5th, 2008, 05:57 PM   #11
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Hi Lloyd......

Think you may need a bit of lateral thinking here.

Think of your local supermarket.

Think "open top freezer display"

They use an almost noisless system where the cold is produced in a seperate compartment then blown over the top of the produce. Any hot air simply rises over the lip of the display compartment and dissapears.

If you can partition the room so that one section is the chiller producing section (with humungous A/C unit) then the wall between the two sections is solid except, all along the top is vent (for hot air in) and all along the bottom is vent (cold air return) you're almost there.

The only thing missing it to provide a large enough vent in the roof of the "hot section" to allow hot air to vent out.

No fans really necessary and if the "cold room" is adequately sound proofed practically completely silent.

Might mean getting in "Bob The Builder", but worth it long term.


CS

PS. On further reflection it would probably be more effective to go for a commercial chiller/ cold room system than aircon and as much wall insulation as you can muster.

Last edited by Chris Soucy; February 5th, 2008 at 06:36 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old February 5th, 2008, 06:26 PM   #12
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Chris' idea is interesting but it requires constructing/demolishing a wall and relies on convection. Your floor will get nice and cool but you want to prevent people's faces from getting sweaty. Forced air has the benefit of putting the air where you want it and creates airflow that helps the body's perspiration to evaporate.

Concerning the hot air at the ceiling, if you can vent that out it would help. Also, don't run an uninsulated duct through a bunch of hot air as it will transfer energy into your cool air.

Don't connect two A/C units into one duct unless it is huge. You will create back pressure in the A/C and kill your efficiency. You might want to first try just running a duct from your cool room to your hot room to see what sort of airflow you get. I guess if the A/C is cheap it won't hurt to try one but don't spend a fortune on DIY without doing some sort of test.

This was moved from the lighting forum to the studio area but I still think your primary solution is to get rid of the tungsten. If you have 5,000 watts of tungsten heating up the place you will need about 5 of those portable units to cool it down. Of course, the portable A/C creates some heat of it's own where it resides so that area will get hot and kill your efficiency.

I really think that better lights and a blower is a better answer due to the diminishing returns that will creep in with A/C fighting tungsten. You will also save hundreds each month on utility costs if you are running the studio several days a week.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 09:16 PM   #13
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Hi guys.....

Given the special circumstances involved, may I suggest you contact your local "Cold Store" construction company.

You'd be suprised just how many business premisses actuall have massive walk in cold store areas and there's always a company that specialises in turning any commercial property area into one in a given locality.

The easiest, cheapest and simplest is to use 8' X 4' sheets of expanded polystyrene, anything up to 2 feet thick, sometimes installed with smooth skin panels already attached, sometimes having it stuck on after.

Don't think you need to go that far BUT they are the experts at getting an area cool and keeping it cool, might have some good ideas and certainly save you money in the long run.


CS


PS. The company here in Dunedin is simply called "Contract Cold Stores", I bought a heap of polystyrene sheets to insulate the concrete roof of the basement from them. Wasn't all that expensive, either, and sure put a serious dent in our utility bills.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 10:04 PM   #14
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The easiest, cheapest and simplest is to use 8' X 4' sheets of expanded polystyrene, anything up to 2 feet thick, sometimes installed with smooth skin panels already attached, sometimes having it stuck on after.
Sounds interesting, but I don't think that would be too practical in my situation. I think I failed to mention that my studio is not a studio 100% of the time. It's a house studio that also doubles as a play area at times for the kids. But as things are getting bigger and bigger with this, perhaps it's starting to look like I need to lock up the area pretty soon to keep them out! :)

I record about 3 days a week at a couple hours per day max. So I'm trying to come up with a solution that doesn't make my biggest room in my house off-limits to everyone.

Although it's kind of a drag to have to set up and move back to the corner every time... But I think the HVAC duct work pipping cool air into the room is a great idea. Especially, as noted above, you can point and aim it just where it's needed most.
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