As we move into a new hybrid year where the enterprise workforce is split between an onsite and virtual workplace, it’s more critical than ever to create an automated, dynamic, and more comfortable home office studio.
New Year. New Gear?
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is strategically held on the first few days in January, when many consumers have an “out with the old and in with the new” mindset. However, before you run out and buy all new gear and tech, the production pros at Worktank recommend first thinking about how you can maximize your current home office studio setup.
Take a seasoned photographer, for example. They understand that their craft improves by learning and investing in peripherals, such as lenses and lighting, not buying the latest camera or changing their entire tech ecosystem. We think about your home studio in a similar way.
First and foremost, your home office should be comfortable, and your production elements – video, audio, lighting – should be easy to operate.
Automating Your Home Office Studio
Making it to your 9:00 AM meeting after getting your kids off to school is enough pressure. You need a home office studio that is simple, reliable, and easy to use, which means choosing a camera, lighting, and audio gear that instantly connect to your meeting platform with as little fuss as possible.
Home Office Studio Lighting
In my home studio, I use two small, but effective Aputure MC LED lights as back and fill lights. These lights, and any I decide to add down the road, sync from a single app on my phone. Before I walk into my office to start meetings, I turn on and adjust all the lights in seconds via the Aputure Sidus Link app without even touching the lighting gear.
While we recommend staying within the same brand whenever possible, Aputure doesn’t offer a cost-effective, desk-mounted flat panel light yet. So I went with the incredible and affordable Godox ES45 flat light panels, which include a small physical controller that sits on my desk and allows me to adjust light temperature and brightness across multiple lights.
Turning on lighting in two clicks is an incredible timesaver and, with multi-colored LEDs as fill and backlighting, I can easily change up the look of my home office studio.
Integrated or Separated Audio
Most remote workers use an integrated camera and microphone, such as the workhorse Logitech Brio, which is better than most all-in-one options. If you’re a road warrior who needs a strong camera/mic combo to take meetings from remote locations, this is the way to fly.
If you’re working from a single workspace most of the time, go bigger than a webcam to improve your audio. Even if your camera is so-so, strong audio makes a huge difference in perceived quality and professionalism.
While stepping up from a webcam introduces complexity, the pros will outweigh the cons if you’re going for dedicated audio. For example, if you’re using a mirrorless camera/DSLR as your video, your best bet is to attach a microphone, like the Rode Podcaster, directly to your camera using a 3mm or USB-C input.
As most mirrorless cameras have weak audio pre-amps, you can use a mixer like the Rodecaster Pro II, which connects directly to your computer via USB-C and gives you more flexibility with audio levels. If you’re producing more complex virtual events, meetings or podcasts, the mixer is more robust and lets you integrate music or sound effects, as well.
Making Your Home Office Studio Comfortable
The year 2022 was a huge and painful growth year for me and my home studio. Instead of first creating a comfortable space to spend my work week, I began with big thinking about pro gear, and building a state-of-the-art studio with cameras, lighting, and microphones. What I ended up with was an unbalanced and impersonal space.
I faced the window, so I wouldn’t be backlit, yet the sun – my all-important natural light source – blinded me through the afternoon. I installed an enormous LED light, stand, and umbrella as my key light, but it took up a third of my office and penned me into a small 400 square foot space.
My advice for 2023 is to first set up your furniture so you’re comfortable. When I replaced a pro light, c-stand, and softbox with two low profile, desk-mounted light panels, my space opened up significantly. I also focused on bringing things into my office that bring me joy, such as paintings, prints, and books, rather than the standard green-screen and blurred background. I realize not everyone wants to share personal things with clients and colleagues, but it’s a great way to showcase your personality and interests.
Creating the Perfect Home Office Studio
For me, the transition from 2022 to 2023 is all about automation, ease, and usability. You’ll need to achieve your own balance of tech and livability, yet when it comes to modern and connected gear, automation and a personal setup is (almost) perfect.
In an upcoming blog post, I’ll share my favorite and least favorite gear for 2023 to help you make smart choices as you build out your best workspace. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning how the video production pros at Worktank can help you level-up your virtual broadcasts, meetings, and hybrid events, contact us online or give us a call at 877-975-8265.