Because of the desire to comply with social distancing norms, it was impossible to send technical crew to the homes of talent to set up these home studios. So simple setups and ease of use proved to be especially important when building these home studies fell to non-technical on-air talent.
Of course, at-home studios are nothing new thanks to YouTube and social media influencers looking to create professional, but cost-effective streams at home.
But unlike video bloggers leveraging online platforms, however, broadcasters contributing from home have to blend seamlessly into a well-established on-air look and workflow to maintain the quality viewers have come to expect.
What equipment you’ll need to setup a home TV studio
There are a lot of considerations to take into account when setting up a home studio, such as: Will the contribution be live or recorded? What internet connectivity options and performance are available at home? Will a single camera do, or will multi-camera production be required? This guide is generally intended for news broadcasters and media production companies looking to create a home studio for their anchors, but many of the tips can also be applied for just about any situation.
Unpacking The Equipment Considerations
What camera to use
Whether or not to use a broadcast camera depends on many factors, but for those wishing to keep the setup as simple as possible, smartphones are a good solution and will be suitable for almost all home studio productions.
Keeping a steady shot
Whether contributing live video or edited packages, steady shots are a must. A tripod is essential. Models designed for use with smartphones are available for under $100. Shaky camera footage will make your production look amateur.
Connectivity is king
Reliable internet connectivity is crucial. Wireless networks and wired Ethernet connections (100Mb/s) are good. Back up with hotspots are advisable. To ensure a high-quality transmission, many broadcasters choose to equip their anchors with the TVU Anywhere app, which bonds multiple connections together and utilizes HEVC encoding. Alternatively, the TVU One pack can also be used, which provides a high level of performance and redundant connectivity across multiple wireless provider networks.
Single Camera or Multi-Camera
If a home studio truly is being built as a temporary alternative to a traditional broadcast studio with the goal of keeping talent safe from Covid-19, it’s hard to imagine many scenarios in which multi-camera production is necessary. A single camera trained on the talent should be sufficient in most instances.
If two cameras are needed, twice as much bandwidth will be needed. Ditto the number of tripods and teleprompters.
A PTZ camera under remote control from the broadcast facility could bring another dynamic to the shot, but will be added expense and complexity.
Classic three-point lighting –key, fill and backlight—offer great results. Again, working remotely with production personnel on the positioning of lights is a sound idea, giving talent the guidance needed to achieve the best result. There are also many good online resources.
Sound & Communicating with the newsroom
Whether the home studio is intended for an anchor or a correspondent, the need to communicate with the control room and studio at the TV station is essential. TVU Partyline offers real-time, high-quality IFB (interruptible foldback) and intercom-like connectivity via an Internet connection along with HD-quality video return.
A small audio mixer –perhaps three or four inputs—between the output of the computer used to establish the Partyline connection and the earpiece being worn by the anchor or talent offers control over IFB audio levels as well as gain control, level equalization, filtering and other controls over the mic in use.
A lavalier mic worn on a lapel is a popular solution. Wired lavs and wireless alternatives are available. Once again, a wireless mic and receiver is one more layer of complexity with which talent working from home must contend.
If TVU Anywhere is being used on a smartphone to stream video from the home studio back to the station, inputting mic audio via the mixer to the smartphone will be required. An XLR adapter to 3.5mm plug should help, but remember some newer smartphone models have eliminated the 3.5mm port, making another solution necessary.
Another important piece of the technology puzzle is access to the station’s newsroom computer system via the internet and a virtual private network. The connection will provide access to the wire services, scriptwriting tools, video editing and even footage archived on the facility’s MAM used in creating a news story. It also will allow the remote talent to submit completed stories to be inserted into the newscast rundown.
Meteorologists producing weather reports from home require a variety of more specialized technology, which is beyond the scope of this article. However, an interesting description of one prominent meteorologist who set up a home studio during COVID-19 is available here.
Tips for broadcasting at home
- Always do a test run before going to air to ensure everything is working correctly and you have the result you want
- Check your internet connection and cellular signal before going live, make sure no one else in your household is downloading or stealing bandwidth, you want the best connection possible
- Make sure your background is appropriate and not distracting, or use a TV with a still image as a backdrop
- Ensure no one is going to walk in on you when broadcasting or there aren’t going to be any distracting outside sounds
- If possible, ask someone to be your production assistant, who can help set everything up and check on things like signal and picture quality when you’re recording
- Rely on other station personnel for their expertise. Even if they aren’t with you in your home studio, you are setting up a remote video feed so they will be able to see what you are doing and guide you through the rough patches
If you need any advice on solutions for setting up a home studio, our team can be contacted 24/7 via our contact form here.