Renting a studio for a video or photography shoot can be a little bit of an ordeal. With so much time, money, and hard work being put forth to create a video or photo, it’s important to figure out how to get the most out of a video studio rental. Follow this list to get the best value during your next studio rental.

Know the studio

Studio specs should be available prior to or when booking the video studio rental. The first thing to be done when renting studio space is to become familiar with the specifics of the studio. Here is a short checklist to make it a little easier:

  • What are the dimensions of the studio? These dimensions will give an idea of what can fit inside the studio. To go even further, if you’re filming something large like a car or boat, make sure the studio has a way to load those items in and out.
  • Is there a green screen? As surprising as it is, some studios don’t have a green screen so if you need to shoot with one, make sure to ask before booking a video studio rental.
  • Is there a cyc wall? This will give a seamless backdrop effect, similar to Apple commercials.
  • Can you bring in outside equipment/crew? Some studios will only allow use of their equipment/crew (which they conveniently rent out, of course). Be sure to clarify to avoid any confusion or equipment mishaps.
  • What camera equipment will be provided (if any)? You might be able to use the studio’s camera equipment but it will most likely be an extra charge. The benefit of this is that the studio most likely has top notch camera equipment, the downfall is that it might cost you quite a bit more.
  • What lighting equipment will be provided? Most studios will have lighting equipment available as part of the rental but it might be limited. Make sure to ask if they have additional lighting equipment available for purchase or be sure to have access to your own.
  • Is sound equipment provided? This is extremely important especially if you’re filming a video.
  • How soundproof is the studio? Depending on the structure and how the studio was built, it may or may not be up to the sound standards you require.
  • Are there any props or sets available? Whether it’s as simple as a chair or as detailed as a talk show set, it’s important to know if you’ll have these items available at the studio or if you need to bring them in. If the studio has props/sets to use, you could save a lot of pre-production time by asking the studio if you can use/rent them.
  • Is a teleprompter available? This is SO important, especially if the on-screen talent is an employee, not a professional actor.

Being able to answer these questions is a very important first step when preparing for a studio shoot. In fact, most of these questions should be asked when reviewing and selecting the studio.

Complete pre-production before the shoot

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to pre-production of a video or photo shoot. When booking a video studio rental, be sure these items are all done before the day of the shoot. Here are some of the most common items handled in pre-production:

  • Casting
  • Location scouting – Good news! If you’re renting a studio, this one is already done.
  • Art direction
  • Call times and shoot schedules
  • Scriptwriting
  • Storyboards/shot list
  • Craft services

Art direction and scriptwriting are the two that can hold things up the most during a studio shoot. Be sure to account for any and all possibilities in terms of art direction. For example, say you’re filming a video about eyeglasses, be sure to bring plenty of options to the shoot and also try to find eyeglasses that have anti-glare lenses. Simple things like this are often overlooked and can cause problems when it comes time to shoot in a studio. Similarly, not having a final/locked script is a sure-fire way to cause delays during a studio shoot. Make sure to get approval for the script from all key stakeholders before the day of the shoot. Sometimes this is easier said than done so, if you have variations of certain lines in the script, have those lines prepared for the actors instead of creating new ones on the fly. Also, be sure to have plenty of copies of the script on-hand during the shoot. We’ve found it’s helpful to have one crew member present while shooting to make sure the script is read exactly as it is written.

Scheduling and craft services can also cause problems if you don’t put enough detail into them. For example, some actors might have very short roles while others will be on set most of the day. Instead of making one general call time for actors/talent, make the call times specific to their roles. Especially if they’re being paid hourly, there’s no need to pay someone to just hang out on set all day. Also, if actors need to go through hair and makeup, be sure to check with the makeup/hair artist to see how long they’ll need on each person to account for that on call times. Craft services (snacks, lunch, etc.) is something that can have a big effect on a studio shoot. Get a variety of snacks. We like to get a mixture that would work for everyone – something salty, something sweet, something healthy, and maybe some meat. It’s a good rule of thumb… and it rhymes. Don’t forget about lunch either, especially for full-day shoots. If actors will be present before and after the lunch break, be sure to provide them with lunch as well. Lunch isn’t always very long, especially if you’re paying for a studio rental at the same time so things that are easy to eat (sandwiches are great) are best.

Get the most deliverables possible

A video studio rental is a great place for creating video blogs, demos, or short commercial-like videos. In order to reduce studio rental time and crew costs, make sure to shoot as many videos as possible in the time available. Some ways to do this include:

  • Bringing backup scripts – you could have an actor that knocks it out of the park on the first take. There’s no need to let the studio, crew, and all of the hard work you put into setting up the shoot go to waste. If you bring extra scripts, just in case, you could potentially get way more videos… and they’ll all have a consistent look/feel which is a dream come true for any marketer.
  • Create a time-lapse of the shoot – this footage can be incorporated with your studio footage to make the final video even more dynamic.
  • Create short teasers – This can be done during post-production as well but filming shorter versions of the video could help give you rich content to use on social media and could also help drive traffic to the final video.
  • Schedule a longer day – if you’re planning on renting a studio for half a day, think about extending that to a full day so you can get even more content that has a consistent look/feel. It’ll cost you more in the end to do two separate half-day shoots than it will to do one full day.
  • Socialize the shoot – being on-set all day is really fun, share pictures or other posts on social media to start creating buzz around your new video. To get even more buzz, try to get the social media handles for all actors and the studio to reach their followers as well.
  • Use a teleprompter – it might cost more to rent a teleprompter/operator if it doesn’t come with the studio rental but the time savings could be through the roof. This is extremely important to do especially if the actors are employees who aren’t used to reading scripts in front of a camera. A teleprompter will allow things to move much quicker during the shoot.
  • Talk to the editor – If the studio is handling post-production of the video(s), try to connect with the editor and ask them to keep an eye out for ways to cut the video that will help provide a higher quantity of videos.

If you book a video studio rental for a whole day for $800 and produce one video, then the cost of the video is $800 (plus anything else that went into it). However, if you rent a studio for a whole day for $800 and produce four videos, the cost of each video is only $200 (plus anything else that went into it). This kind of mentality is very helpful to remember when shooting in a rented studio.

Hopefully you’ve found a few ways to get the most out of your video studio rental time. If you have any other ideas you’d like to share with us and our readers, please let us know in the comments section. Want to check out a studio in-person? Our very own SparkStudio is located in Austin, TX and we love visitors. Feel free to stop by and check it out anytime!

12 responses to “How to Get the Most Out of Your Photo or Video Studio Rental

  1. I really like what was said about getting the most out of your studio facilities rental. I especially liked the point about completing pre-production before you you shoot. Pre-production, I imagine, takes a lot of time you don’t need to spend during the rental of your facilities.

  2. I agree that it is important to know your studio and what it will include. I can see why this would help you utilize everything possible in order to make the production better. It might be helpful to make a list of things you will need and to find a studio that can provide most of those materials.

    1. That’s a great point, Scott! Going into any sort of search knowing exactly what you’re looking for is always helpful, both for you and for the company providing services. Thanks for reading!

  3. The company I work for really wants to make some little videos for our site, but we don’t know how to find a good studio. That is a good idea to look at their camera equipment that they have. We would want to make sure that we have the latest equipment to make our videos.

    1. Thanks for your comment Deb! Yes for sure, when it comes to investing time and money on a video you want to make sure you are working with a company who has lots of experience and is up to date with the newest video trends and technology!

  4. I’m grateful for your advice about getting the most possible and expected deliverables. I found it interesting when you said that in order to reduce studio rental time and crew costs, make sure to shoot as many videos as possible in the time available. I think this is correct and I agree with it as we can never redo the said event, so, it’s better to get the best out of it.

    1. Thanks for your comment Joy. We completely agree, if you are paying for studio time you should take full advantage of every minute you have in there and get as much footage as you can.

  5. Thanks for pointing out how people should look for rental studios that have bigger entry points for larger subjects such as boats or cars. I would think that professional photographers will be able to benefit greatly from this tip since they shoot photos of this scale for a living. This is a really well-written studio rental guide. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kit, thanks for your comment. It’s important to choose the right studio to fit the needs of your project. We hope this blog is helpful to you in your next creative endeavor.

  6. Thank you for suggesting that you should check if the studio provides equipment. My husband and I are wanting to use a photography studio for our family pictures and need to find the right one for us. I’ll have to do some research and find a great studio in our area.

    1. Hey Ellie,

      Thanks for checking out our blog! We’re glad you found some of our studio rental recommendations to be helpful. Let us know if we can be any help to you in your search. (:

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