About six weeks ago I began building my own DIY video studio to make it easier to vlog on a regular basis. While I’ve had a blast picking wall colors, painting, selecting the perfect gear, arranging the lighting, and learning about acoustics, there are some things I wish I would have thought before I started.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I started on the project and that I am figuring these things out now, but it would have been nice to look over a checklist of things to consider before I began building this thing. So, now that I am two-thirds of the way through the project, I thought I would leave behind the list of questions I wish I would have asked myself before I started. I hope you find it useful.
Here are 18 questions to consider before you build your DIY video studio:
Why do you feel like you need a studio?
Before you begin answering any of the other questions below, it’s important to start with why. Building a studio is going to require some time, energy, and money, so it’s important to make sure that building your studio is the best choice before you commit to it.
Review how you are currently feeling about building a studio. Why is that? Are you running into roadblocks while recording that a studio could help with? If so, briefly write out all the obstacles you are facing and then honestly assess if a studio will eliminate or reduce that obstacle.
Do you find your videos need a more professional look to them? If so, are there alternatives to increasing the professionalism of the video?
Personally, I found that I not only wanted more professional looking videos but that I wanted to be able to make them much faster without having to think through all the little details like lighting, audio, and on location distractions. I wanted the ability to walk in, hit the power button on the lights and camera, and start shooting as soon as inspiration struck. Not all studios could (nor should) accomplish that, so it was important for me to keep that in mind as I made choices.
I actually wrote a whole blog post that are all the reasons why I choose to make my own studio a few weeks ago. Take a look at it and see if any of those reasons resonate with you.
Whatever your reasons why it’s important to write them out briefly so that you can keep them in mind as you plan out your space.
What are you hoping to accomplish with this space?
This might sound similar to the question of “why you feel you need a studio” above, but there is a difference. The why is related more to what happened in the past or is holding you back now, but it’s just as important to think through what you will want to accomplish in the future if you had your own personal video studio.
It’s good to envision where a studio can help you go and how the videos you will make with it will help you reach your goals. How will building a studio help you grow your audience, expand your influence, sell more of your product or service, spread your message or cause?
I’m using my studio as a means to recruit more students for BGU, mentor college students, and (coming soon) teach others about how to build a studio and vlog. I would like to produce more videos consistently to accomplish this.
What are all the possible videos you might want to make in the studio?
You may have thought of a few things you want to do with this studio already, but have you considered all the types of videos you might want to shoot in this space?
Here is a short list of types of videos to consider:
- Talking head video
- Training video
- Whiteboard explanation
- Product demos
- Unboxing videos
- Overhead flat-lay videos
- How-to or demonstration videos
- Music videos
- Gaming videos
There are thousands of ways to make a video. Take a moment to think about what kind of videos you will want to make your space.
This is one of the major questions I wish I would have considered before I started building my studio. For example, I was expecting to make talking head, vlog, and tutorial type videos and began constructing the space for those videos. I didn’t think through the fact that I might want to do interviews some day in there. It’s now hard to undo the layout and lighting set up I have developed for interviews.
Where should you build this studio?
Where you build your studio can be just as important as how you design it. I wrote a whole article earlier on the subject of where to record youtube videos, but I’ll write a summary below.
For the most part, many of you will choose to build out your home or office DIY studio in an empty (or near empty) room. This gives you an advantage of being able to start from scratch to design the whole space around recording. You can select lighting and a backdrop that fits the mood and tone of your subject as well as treat the room for the acoustics.
There is another opportunity that can be a blessing and/or a curse. That is to build your studio around a specific place related to your content. For example, if your videos are related to cooking then you will build your studio around a kitchen. If your videos are related to auto mechanics, then your studio will be in a garage. You get the idea.
The blessing is that your “where” is selected for you and your set or backdrop is nearly complete from the beginning. The curse can be if your existing place needs a lot of work to look attractive. It’s also difficult of the space needs to be multifunctional and you still need to cook a few times a day in that kitchen you are making your videos in. Now it doesn’t make sense to hang acoustic foam on the walls to deal with the echo coming from all the tile and have the lighting set up permanently on the counters.
One last consideration as to where you choose to build out your studio are the electrical outlets. Are there enough of them? Are they were you would need them and would you need to add more?
When do you plan on using this space?
After thinking through where you might build this studio, when, and possibly how often, should be your next considerations. This matters more if your studio space is not the primary function of the space you selected to use.
To stay with our example in the question above, if you want to use your kitchen as a studio space, then you will want to consider when to shoot those videos and how often the kitchen is being used for cooking in general. If you wanted to record videos in the kitchen and use it for normal use frequently, you may want to invest in better gear that is more easy to stow away and can withstand daily set up and tear down. It will require more careful planning to ensure the permanent lighting fixtures, acoustic treatments, and general look and feel of the area can serve both purposes.
Thinking through “when” can also affect empty rooms as well. Many of the spaces I shoot video around the college campus I live on can be very noisy during school hours or in the mornings when the lawn mowers are running.
Who might you invite into this studio?
You may want to consider who you will want to bring into your studio for interviews, demonstrations, or any other number of videos you may want other people for. This matters more if you are developing a studio in your home more than the office since it may be awkward to invite people from the community into your bedroom or back closet for interviews.
You might also want to consider how many people you will want to fit into your space. My home video studio space, for example, is long and extremely narrow. I am still trying to figure out how to get two people in there to record, let alone groups.
What camera angles will you want to use?
As you begin to think through the location you selected, when you will record there, and who you will record, the next consideration that you will want to think through is camera angles.
Here are a few questions related to different camera angles to consider:
- Will you want a single angle, two, or multiple?
- Do you have enough budget for more than one camera?
- Will you want an overhead angle for flat lays?
- Will you want to change your camera angles on occasion?
- Do you need to have the flexibility to change the whole set up every time?
As you can see, there is quite a bit to think through, but simply thinking about all the future videos you may want to make in this space will give you the clarity you need for camera angles to consider. Once you have your camera angles narrowed down, you will be ready for the next consideration.
How much space do you need?
With future videos in mind and camera angles down, you will start to get a sense of how large this studio will need to be. You may not have any options of which room your studio will be in, but if you do, the size will be an important factor.
Note: Very small rooms (like closets) or huge rooms (like gymnasiums) are hardest to fix any acoustic problems you may find in them.
How does the space sound?
One of the major reasons for constructing your own video studio is to perfect acoustics of the space. Personally, this was often one of the major drawbacks of running and gunning with my camera around the college campus and work on. Noise was everywhere and many rooms had an echo and/or reverb that would make the audio unusable.
Part of evaluating different possible locations for your studio will be reviewing how the room sounds and what will be needed to improve the sound. If the room is empty, you may want to bring in furniture from other rooms and/or budget for sound dampening/diffusing devices.
Who else will want to use the studio?
Are you the only one who is going to use the studio? It’s good to take into account anybody (present or future) who may want to use this studio to get their input on all the considerations mentioned in this article. Not only will that help you avoid conflict later on, but it will likely improve the utility of the space as a whole.
If you are building a studio for your employer, you may want to consider who will use the space after you move on. If your employer is hoping to get more than a few years out of it, investing in some sturdier equipment or designing a more intuitive layout may be in order.
What is your overall budget?
This is a consideration you likely have already been thinking about but it’s worth mentioning just the same. Hopefully thinking through all the other considerations is helping to inform that budget.
After the camera and lens, much of the other equipment, and furnishings are more reasonably priced and can also be added over time if the budget is tight. There are also hundreds of options for every single category of expenditures to fit any level of budget (even no budget).
The important thing is to make a list of what is needed to start and what would be nice to have after thinking through all the possibilities of your future studio.
What gear and furniture will you likely need?
Evaluating and purchasing the gear is my favorite part. I spend hours mulling over all the details of every possible item for my personal home studio and work studios.
I created a whole page for gear recommendations with every category you would want to consider, but I will write out an abbreviated list for gear you will want to consider for your studio here:
- Cameras and lenses
- Studio lights
- Soundproofing and dampening devices
- Tripods and mounts
- Smartphone video accessories
- Camera monitors
- Studio furniture
The last consideration is studio decor (paint, furniture, decorations) if you are building a permanent set that matches your video contents subject and style.
What video equipment do you already have that will be useful?
All the equipment you need for a studio can make it feel impossible to get started. I promise it is very attainable over time and most of the stuff you need is generally less than $100 an item. I am assuming you are starting out with a camera and lens.
An easy way to make due until you can purchase everything you need is to get creative with items you already have around your house or apartment. Go room by room, closet by closet and start taking a mental inventory of what could be repurposed for your studio (temporarily).
Here are a few items to consider:
- Desk lamps: perfect for directional lights
- Lamps and lamp shades
- Curtains: for backdrops
- Thick Blanks: to hang on the walls for sound dampening.
- White sheets: To diffuse light coming from your various lamps.
- Furniture: Create your own set with existing furniture.
Note: If there was one thing I would recommend buying that you likely don’t have at home are bright daylight balanced LED light bulbs. They cost about $10 a piece, but nothing else can make up for these. You can pick these up at Walmart, Home Depot, or Amazon. The standard 40-watt tungsten bulbs you usually buy just won’t get you there and they run hot making them harder to wrap things around them to diffuse the light (LED bulbs are cool).
Can you repurpose anything around my home/office for the studio to save money?
Furniture is one of the tricky parts of the studio. Do you build a background setting or just shoot the video in front of a wall or curtain? Do you sit on a chair or stand. Table? This is where thinking through what you want to record and who you want to have in your studio will help guide the decisions you are making.
I recommend starting with furniture you have readily available around your home or office while you figure out the rest of the details like lighting, sound, and the content you want to shoot.
For my studio, I put some bookshelves behind me for a backdrop and used an old table we had around. It’s wasn’t great, but it was a start. Later on, I went to IKEA and picked up a white table and adjustable stool for just over $100 to make my videos look a little more polished.
If you need help figuring out what to choose for furniture and decor, you should check out this post I wrote: 8 Design Ideas for Your DIY Video Studio. It will walk you through different types of studios to consider from bedroom vlogging to custom sets.
Will you be recording yourself primarily?
If you are recording yourself, there are a few extra pieces of gear to consider. For a couple of my first videos, I would have to run back and forth between my desk and the camera to make sure I was in the frame and I was capturing audio.
A few things that make the process of recording myself easier are a remote control of the camera and a monitor. With the remote control, you can start and stop recording without getting up, saving you time. The monitor is a large screen you can mount on top of your camera to check for framing and audio peeking. While my camera has a flip out screen, it was too small to see from eight feet away.
These two things together make filming yourself in a studio much easier.