Viewpoint: Build Your Best Corporate Studio

Will Waters, NewTek
(Image credit: Future)

As organizations continue to assess doing business in a hybrid world of interaction, video production has become one of the top needs as they work to reach customers and employees alike. According to Wyzowl’s The State of Video Marketing 2022 report, more than 40% of businesses use live action video for marketing, which was the most used of the types of video.  

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While some organizations outsourced and hired firms to create live video content, others chose to build production studios and hire teams of their own. And for good reason—there are considerable benefits to building in-house capabilities, such as lowering costs and the ability for teams to create content faster with fewer external hurdles. If you’ve been tasked to design and build a livestream studio for a corporate client, here are several additional important considerations to help set the project up for success.

Think Like a Storyteller

Always keep in mind the audience that a client is trying to reach. Knowing who is consuming the product generated by the studio you’re building is the first step in thinking like a storyteller. This is where an integrator can differentiate themselves from the rest.

Whether it’s connecting people down the hall or across the country, you must design systems that have the flexibility to have inputs and outputs in the AV system that are not constrained by any single piece of hardware.

Is it for streaming? Where is it going to be delivered—a mobile device, displays in the lobby? Does it need to be simulcast? What is the proposed experience? Working through these questions with clients will give you the details that will be integral to the room you are helping to build. Knowing the end experience will help you make more thoughtful recommendations for the technology needed to deliver that experience.  

Of course, budget will always dictate your plans, and you will need to use it as one of your key guidelines in every decision you make. It may limit the technology you buy and the extent to which you can alter the physical space. 

Location, Location, Location

For the proposed studio, you need to have a clear understanding of what space will be dedicated for production and how the client will coordinate a production if there are space size constraints. If the room is built for AV only, planning where the video content originates from (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or PowerPoint) and where it needs to be displayed is most critical.

Also, if the client has chosen a location within an existing building because it was the only space available, such as a location near the manufacturing floor or cafeteria, alert the occupants early enough so they are aware to “keep it down” to prevent potential audio quality issues. You’d hate for the clients to avoid using it because sound control and noise factors were not considered enough in advance. 

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With the steps above complete, you can proceed to designing signal flows, choosing signal types, and selecting equipment. This is when you must decide how to capture sound and video, how it needs to be displayed, and the pipeline for delivery. For audio specifically, what do you need to reinforce your sound? For example, do you need a public address system in addition to the stream? If your intention is to create a streaming broadcast, you will need to plan for and design all aspects during this phase.

Lighting may be the most underappreciated element in production. You might have a great space with large plate glass windows and lots of sunlight. It might look great if you are in the room, but on camera those windows might be too bright, which could affect the color balance of the cameras. And when heated, they may trigger the air conditioning, which could affect the audio capture. If that happens, video and audio quality will be poor, and no one will want to use the room for streaming. 

Hardware and Protocols

Assuming the budget and other constraints exist, hardware choices will determine how the client makes or saves money. Additionally, every new studio you build today needs to account for some type of hybrid component. Whether it’s connecting people down the hall or across the country, you must design systems that have the flexibility to have inputs and outputs in the AV system that are not constrained by any single piece of hardware.

Which leads us to protocols. You have a choice to make in the technology designed to move audio, video, and metadata. Choose the protocol that best suits your needs. That sounds simplistic, and it is, but you need to embrace it.

There are similarities in that all modern AV protocols use Ethernet cables to connect, but most protocols will require you to buy at least one piece of hardware to serve as the clocking mechanism for it to work. Certain protocols are agnostic and enable connectivity without issues. The right protocols can reduce complexities and reduce the time spent on programming and integration. 

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The use of multiple cameras is the standard in high-quality broadcast production, as they help make content more interesting and keep viewers engaged. A switcher, like the NewTek TriCaster 2 Elite, is required to connect and manage camera switching—and will modernize the production capabilities instantly as well as facilitate a better overall visual and audio experience. Other hardware like tally lights, microphones, and even lighting also connect through a switcher to help improve overall studio production efficiency.

The best integrators consider the story of every project and combine it with good system design while acknowledging the various constraints. Choose the hardware pieces, standards, and technology partners that are best for the project and the storytelling needs. If you start with trusted partners, tech, and protocols, you will have better outcomes, happier clients, and greater success in creating live production studios.

Will Waters

Will Waters is the head of global product management for NewTek.