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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Lights...camera...action! » » Home studio for practicing/recording (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of marc_carrion
Hi, I would like to set a home studio for recording my practice sessions and material. I don't have a lot of room, but I have an area that I could dedicate to this and leave it as permanent setup (make it easier to use if it is always available when needed). The setup I'm looking for is 2 cameras, one for the hands/mat, another one for full body (seated most likely). I would like both cameras to be able to record and show on TV at the same time. I would set two small monitors that I will use for instant feedback while the recordings will be used for overall feedback. Cameras would need a decent mic too, or an external mic, I'm ok either way.

Aside from the cameras and TV setup, I would like help on figuring out lighting (how many lights and positions you think I would need to avoid unpleasant shadows) and angle of the cameras Smile

But... there is always a but, right? I don't want to spend 'a lot' on it Smile

Any suggestions are welcome either here or by PM.
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11 Posts

Profile of dnarayan
Hi Marc,


By the fact that you're considering lighting, I'm assuming you need the quality to be fairly good. So I'd definitely recommend an external mic. As you're seated, you could save money by using a wired clip mic. Mic prices and quality vary hugely - if you have an idea how much you'd want to spend, happy to suggest some options.


If on a budget, I'd suggest going for good quality consumer camcorders with HDMI out. Best to set the focus and exposure manually, otherwise it'll change throughout the shot.


You'll need a tripod for the full body shot.

For the hands / mat camera, you could use a second tripod, or if you have attachment points in your room, you could use a small 'magic arm' and 'super clamps' to rig one of the cameras high up in the room. You could even make a mount point that you could screw a 'magic arm' into if you don't mind drilling into your wall and putting in a screw thread. (The magic arms are nothing to do with magic, by the way! They're just called that.)


Assuming you go for cameras with HDMI output (as opposed to SDI), you can use consumer HDMI monitors. I don't think you'll save much money by going for small ones - so you might be best off buying a couple of 20" ones (about 80GBP each).


LED light panels give soft floods (i.e. minimising shadows), don't get hot and are easy to set up. You might get away with just one if positioned correctly, or depending on the size of your studio, you might need two. I'd suggest getting dimmable ones with at least 400 LEDs per panel. The pro ones are really expensive, but you can get some cheaper brands on eBay for ~200GBP.

If you want to make it look even glossier, I'd suggest also using a backlight - but that's a luxury. The backlight can be another LED light or a fresnel - but make sure all the lights are the same colour temperature.

Good luck with it!

Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
22923 Posts

Profile of Bill Hegbli
For best minimum lighting, you need a left - right - an one behind you to remove the shadows. Usually placed on the floor, pointing straight up.

Your point to have the equipment always sit up. Over a few weeks, dust will build up on all the equipment, then you will have dust floating all around the room. Any light bouncing will get dirty, and need to be cleaned or replaced. You camera will get dirty as well.

Best to set-up and break-down as needed. Keep the room clean at least weekly.
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Inner circle
Glen Spey, NY
1577 Posts

Profile of Ihop
David's post above gave some great advice.
If it's any help:
Food cooking shows use a mirror above the food preparation area. It's angled with the camera so you get an overhead shot.
If you have a camera operator, he just has to tilt the camera upwards to get an overhead shot. Otherwise, you'll need 2 cameramen. Also, zoom in to get closer. The mirror doesn't have to be big.
If you're going to edit, you can use 1 camera and shoot twice.
George Ledo
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Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2919 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
This thread is almost three months old, so I'm sure marc has already set things up. However, from reading it, and if it were me just wanting to record my own practice sessions (and not for posting online), and I had a tight budget, I'd keep it very simple. Actually, I did it a number of years ago. I had one cheap video camera (with a built-in mike) mounted on an inexpensive tripod, and I used an old b/w TV as the monitor. Room lights. It gave me all I needed for the purpose.

Two cameras, fine. Two small monitors or old TV sets. And room lights.

Today, if I wanted to do that on a miniscule budget, I'd set up my laptop, which has a camera and mike, and a nice big "monitor," and use that. I did that too, a couple of years ago. A second camera? My DSLR on a tripod, with my Android tablet as a monitor. Guess I'm frugal. Smile

There are security camera systems out there that provide anywhere from one camera to eight, plus a recorder, plus a screen that can be split into multiple windows, and some of these systems are fairly inexpensive.

Now, if I wanted to set up a studio to record for posting on YouTube or wherever, or for selling DVDs, that's a different story.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

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