Those who know business recommend saying "yes" and then figuring out the details later.
However, when you get asked to do something BIG like, can you build a production studio at our manufacturing headquarters? Saying yes is not easy. In the past, I’ve typically stalled or asked questions, but I’ve found that the hesitation can make my worst fears come true. On a recent occasion, I did not stall. Instead, I said yes and went to work.
In the past 20 years, the world of production has changed. Technology has flipped the industry on its head and now almost anyone with a camera can make a video. Where once agencies were making all content for all brands, now companies for major brands are processing requests for consumer tutorials and 'Help Content' in ways they never could before. To fulfill those requests, they often need an onsite production team and a studio but have no idea how to build them. This is where my story begins and where overcoming the fear of the unknown answered the question of a growing need in the industry.
Early in February 2021, I got a call from a manufacturing company that produces vacuum-seal storage bags. You know, the ones you can suck all the air out of with your vacuum cleaner to make your comforters and off-season clothing shrink to a third of their size for easy packing? Like the Shrink-Pak storage that you can buy at Walmart. My wife loves those things.
At the time of the call, the nation was in the full throes of COVID madness and the company’s distributors were backed up on content creation. This backup forced the manufacturers to tackle the job of creating videos for themselves, and that is where the studio came in. During the call, they wanted to know if I could help with designing the build-out of a full production studio and then make some videos. I was not 100% certain of what I was getting into or how I was going to tackle this request and I started to worry that I might fail. Instead of letting my fear drive me backward, I decided to go forward and say yes, knowing then that I would have to figure it out on the back end.
The studio needed to fit into a room that was 18 x 20 square feet and still feel like it was a legitimate place to film. In addition, it needed to function for multiple filming purposes including product photos, green screen backdrops, audio recording, and also a place for internal interviews where leadership could do press releases and product announcements. This felt like a lot to do in a small space, hanging up the call, I began to question what the heck was I agreeing to.
Sitting in front of my computer, I decided to combat my fears with hard work and set out to gather all that I knew and all that I didn't know about making this happen. Relying on some professional experience, the advice of colleagues, and the all-knowing, all-powerful internet, I ended up surprising myself, and within a few weeks, I was flying out to share my plan for building out the space.
Phase 1 of the build-out with cyclorama wall installed
Looking at the 18 x 20 square foot space in person, I realized it was very small and we needed to maximize our use of space. We planned to turn one end into what is called, an infinity wall or a cyclorama wall. This wall was designed to remove corners and drop-off shadows to give a small wall the feeling that it is infinite on camera.
For the opposite side, we planned to install a Wall Mounting Kit for Backdrop Rolls. This allows you to create a multi-purpose wall with roll-down backdrops of various gradient colors that could be used for interviews, as well as green screen walls to add digital backgrounds. With this design, a company would have two studios in one.
Next, we set to work on centralizing all power outlets and switches onto one wall, so that despite having many outlets they are out of sight (we also were certain to run enough power to each outlet). We added “constant” LED lights to the ceiling, which are production-grade and reduce flicker or shutter issues. We increased insolation, added sound tiles, and recommended that a sound curtain be hung on a railing system to deaden echoes that might bounce off walls during recording. Finally, we gave the option to speed rail systems to allow them to insert production lights on the ceiling above, as needed.