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Equipping a Studio for Web Video Production: Three Models to Match Your Budget

Whether you're an independent production facility or a corporate or institutional outfit bringing professional online video production and webcasting in-house, what will it cost to create a flexible and functional studio? In this article, we'll spec out three different studios at three different price points—$5,000, $15,000, and $25,000.

As both a video industry writer and webcast video producer, when I got this assignment I knew that selecting three different webcast studio builds at set price points would be both challenging and not without some tough and potentially controversial decisions. At the $5,000 entry level, the challenge is finding a balance between professional-quality equipment, with exceptional value and/or budget pricing, and to limit the workflow options to the most basic that you need to pull off a great-looking webcast.

One key consideration in this budget range is selecting components that you can still utilize when your boss allocates another $5,000 to spend because you did such a good job with the first $5,000. It would be a mistake to pick components that you would simply be replacing and would have no place in the upgraded year-two workflow – your boss will want to see that the additional $5,000 do more than just get you a smoother tripod or replace your halogen or incandescent light kit with an LED or fluorescent kit that produces less heat, and—to a lesser extent—less electricity (because that cost is hidden in a different budget item). Your company will want to see the additional investment pay dividends in a higher-quality audio and video stream, and a reduction in the potentially annoying limitations that you face when you don’t pay for enterprise-class services, such as the ability to embed the live video on your website, seeing your video cluttered with ads and streaming service branding. They’ll also like to see you adding more camera angles, graphics, and even a virtual 3D set.

For all my scenarios, I’ll assume that all subscription costs incurred in year one come out of my budget but in subsequent years, additional funds will be allocated to continue to pay for these services. It might be a bit surprising to some that the core selection of gear doesn’t change much in my three studio builds, but it really doesn’t need to if you pick quality components to begin with. You do also need to read all three studio builds to understand the reasons behind my selections because I might explain a selection in the $5K build and not again in the $15K and $25K builds.

The challenge with all of these scenarios is that they assume that you don’t already have legacy gear that you are either trying to (or have been encouraged to) incorporate into new your studio build. This is likely the case for many companies that have dabbled in creating their own video content, and especially for video production companies that are looking to expand their offerings into studio webcasting. Ultimately, these selections assume you aren’t working with any legacy gear, which is actually a liberating mindset to be in, if you can get your head around the immense variety of options for every component you chose to buy.

These three studios builds also assume that you don’t need to cater to a wide variety of computer and video inputs as you would if you were taking your production on the road and webcasting a conference with multiple speakers where you had to interface with their many laptop connections, or A/V companies who offer you an analog VGA output with a 4:3 aspect ratio that doesn’t play nice with your digital and HD workflow. I address those challenges in my Gear of The Year selections.

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