Making your own TV studio, a guide

Television-quality broadcasting is becoming more accessible and here at Dreamtek we help many clients put together their first TV studio. For some there’s our BroadcastPod solution, which is all the television studio many clients need. There’s also a growing number of clients asking us to build studios for them, so we thought we’d assemble a brief guide to help explain some of the questions which need to be looked at when doing so.

What?

Video can be as simple as what you grab on your smartphone, but these devices are really only good for catching clips of the pets and children, rather than enterprise-focused video presentations. To create good quality video assets you must invest in the good quality tools. The right cameras and software are part of the solution, but there’s numerous additional equipment needs, such as:

  • A green screen in order to Chroma key different backgrounds within a presentation;
  • Fast, secure, reliable and backed-up external storage, including off-site storage;
  • Break-out boxes;
  • Video encoders and/or transcoders.
  • What video formats need to be supported?

Clients must also decide if they might require teleprompters, lights and audio equipment as part of their in-house kit. Some may hope to capture live or externally sourced video, this need may feed into what cameras and other solutions they choose, and predicate a need for secure transportation.

Where?

Once we’ve established a client’s basic equipment needs, we need to think about where the TV studio will be situated. Clients may even decide there’s a need to acquire more space in which to place the studio.

Even when you have the space, there are still numerous considerations, for example:

Is the space you hope to use relatively soundproof?

— It’s important to look hard at background noise — that hardly distinguishable air conditioning hum may not sound like much most of the time, but it is amazing what sensitive microphones can pick up.

Is the studio space good for lighting?

— A good tip is to ensure a light separation distance between a subject and the backdrop of around six feet — is the space large enough for this?

How?

When it comes to editing tools we find most customers prefer to standardise around Apple Final Cut Studio, Adobe Premiere or an Avid suite. Then they must consider colour-grading tools, audio editing solutions and MIDI inputs for any musical instruments they may hope to use, including best-in-class microphones.

By now clients should have an idea of what they hope to use the studio for along with most of the equipment they might need to capture and edit the video. That’s great, but now we must establish how they want to use the assets they create.

Are these assets for offline use on DVD? If the latter, will these be created on-site, or despatched to an offsite firm for manufacture? What format will these need to be created in– Blu-Ray, HEVC, or more? Does the company want to implement corporate branding within the content of the DVD and the DVD disk itself? Does the firm already have the in-house expertise to reliably create DVDs, or will staff training and/or outsourcing of skills be required?

Perhaps these assets are also/only for online use. This opens up new discussions: What software might firms use to transcode video from HD formats into online codecs? How can these assets be made available live and also as on-demand streams?

When we helped build a TV studio for the Peugeot Academy, we recommended the Adobe Connect Host client. We deployed this in conjunction with our own Point of Delivery (POD) solution, which is preconfigured to ensure the best quality stream is made available (within upload bandwidth restrictions) at all times.

Doing online right 

Online solutions raise fresh questions:

  • What bandwidth do clients have available?
  • Are there any restrictions on the amount of data that can be uploaded from site?
  • Does it make sense to make assets available via free but public services, such as YouTube or Vimeo, or is it more appropriate to serve this content up from a company’s own servers?

We also ask if clients wish to brand the assets they create. This might be through a definite use of on-screen items, such as a logo, or through bespoke company-branded content portals. These decisions also demand equipment and asset costs, does the company have its own on-site designer to develop brand identity, or must such work be outsourced? Which formats must the assets be provided in in the event their creation is outsourced?

Who? 

Expertise, or the lack of it, is another challenge for video studio development for any enterprise company:

  • Are those tasked with using this equipment familiar with its use?
  • Does the on-site technical crew have the capability to support the new kit?

Has the firm considered the difference between the skills required? After all, the best videos are developed as stories, and the person developing the narrative isn’t necessarily going to achieve the best results if they must also address the technical challenges of bringing these ideas to life.

This is where on-site and off-site training becomes important, it’s also where — in many cases — our clients may request that we provide some of the skills they lack. For some clients we have embedded our own employees on their site, tasked with delivering fast and immediate support when challenges emerge that can’t be resolved from within a client’s existing collection of skills.

Hopefully this gives a better insight into the kind of work we do with when it comes to developing these complex systems for clients; these are just a few of the questions enterprises hoping to deploy on-site TV studios should consider early on in project development.

If you are working on projects of this kind, we are always happy to provide help and advice at any stage of the deployment process, drawing on our experience of working with some of the biggest enterprise and consumer-focused brands around, including the BBC, Peugeot, Google, Commerzbank and others, so please get in contact.

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