Video Recording Equipment

The amount of equipment involved  in studio video recording can be a little daunting, especially when modern consumer equipment (eg a mobile phone) can do very decent recording at the press on a button. All the equipment in the microstudio, and the way they've been set up  ensure a consistent environment, with as few visual and audio artifacts as possible - the cleaner the image, the  least amount of post processing will be required.

There are 5 main pieces of equipment that the users of the microstudio will notice:

  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Teleprompter
  • Lights
  • Background

The good news is that for any standard recording setup, the equipment is mostly preconfigured and ready to go. The only minor interaction will involve the choice of background, and loading the script on teleprompter.

For anyone interested about the specifics of the equipment, how they are used and some of their further capabilities, please review the following sections. Please note that in-depth knowledge of equipment operation is NOT required to use the ABP Microstudio.

  • Camera

    The camera used in the Microstudio is a Canon EOS C100 Mark II, fitted with a Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens. Both are professional grade equipment.

    The camera can record at Full High Definition (1080p) at a frame rate of up to 50 frames per second. All settings (format, iris, exposure, white balance, focal length, focus etc) have already been preset for the Microstudio and should not be changed prior to  the start (or during) recording. The footage is recorded on a dual media (2x SD cards) for data redundancy.

    The camera is powered directly from the wall socket so does not require batteries and will not run out of power during a recording session.

    Other accessories connected to the camera include a teleprompter and a handle to allow an external microphone to be connected directly to the camera so that higher quality sound can be synced in real time to the recorded video footage.

    The entire setup is mounted on a Benro tripod. The tripod is NOT to be moved or altered as it has been setup in conjunction with lights and lens settings for the microstudio. The only tripod function that can be changed is the tilt, which can be adjusted to suit the height of different talents.

  • Microphone

    An external microphone is used in the microstudio for higher audio quality. The microphone used is an Audio Technica AT4053, which has been specifically selected to suit the size and shape of the microstudio.

    The AT4035 is a hypercardioid condenser microphone, which means that it is very directional. The microphone is boomed from the ceiling of the microstudio and points directly at the talents. A windshield is fitted on the capsule to protect the microphone and act as a pop filter to attenuate the plosives. The microphone is also mounted on a shockmount to absorb any building vibration coming through the structure from which it is hanging.

    Because of its hypercardioid pattern, the microphone is designed ideally to pick up on a single sound source (one speaker), but if two speakers are standing close enough to each other the microphone will be able to pick up on the sound. The other issue with having one microphone for two people is that it makes it more difficult to isolate and edit individual dialogue (both speakers are recorded on a single channel) in post-production.

    Other flexible miking arrangements (eg lavalier microphones) can be used should the hypercardioid microphone produce unsatisfactory results. The position of the talents is very important during recording, as standing too close, too far or off-centre from the microphone can result in unexpected audio outcome (eg echoey if too far, clipped if too close, or muffled if off centre).

    The audio from the microphone is recorded directly into the C100 camera so that no audio syncing is required during post production.

  • Teleprompter

    A teleprompter is attached to the camera to allow talents to read text while still looking into the lens. The teleprompter used in the ABP microstudio is the Ikan PT-ELITE V2. The teleprompter itself consists of a baseplate assembly, a reflector glass assembly and a hood. The device projecting the text to be read is an ipad standing on a holder. The iPad is linked to a remote control that can control slides on a proprietary app on the iPad. For instruction on how to prepare files for the teleprompter. click here.

  • Lights

    There are several sets of light in the microstudio, each used for a different purpose:

    • Standard cool LED light tubes
    • Daylight fluorescent recording lights (for video recording)
    • Adjustable key light (for screencast recording, will be discussed further in another page)

    The standard lights are very similar to the light that can be found in office spaces for general illumination.  These should be turned OFF during video recording. The recording lights on the other hand, have been calibrated and positioned specifically for the space and the camera and should be the ones that are ON during video recording.

    There are three sets of recording lights:

    Key light
    Key lights are used to illuminate the front of the talent and are mounted on top of the camera, pointing directly at the talent. Two lights provide the key light.

    Back light
    The back light is used to illuminate the back of the talent. It is mounted in front of the screen, pointing directly at the back of the talent. Back lighting is important as it creates separation between the talent and the background. One light provides the back light.

    Background light
    The background lights are used to ensure that the background (green or white) is uniformly lit. Besides looking nicer, a uniformly lit green background is essential for the successful keying out of the green background. Three lights provide the background light.

    All 3 sets of light need to be switched on for video recording.

  • Background

    There are two types of background that can be used for video recording - white and green background. The difference between the two are discussed here.

    The back wall is painted chroma green and the white background is created by pulling down the white fabric screen using the chain on the left of the screen. The screen needs to sit very close to the wall because of the lighting calibration so please be careful when operating the screen as any abrupt movement of the screen can scratch the green paint from the wall.

    Make sure when using the white screen that the bottom of the screen does not touch the floor to prevent any rippling in the fabric (which can also cause permanent creasing). Moreover, when rolling up the screen, make sure the fabric does not get creased (which can happen if the screen is rolled up too fast).

    While green screens are far more versatile than white screens, they do require post-production which requires time and a reasonable amount of post-production skill. White screens are less versatile but footage out of camera can be used straightaway with minimal or no editing.