So you think you need to rent a media studio?
You’re a filmmaker, band, special effects producer, VR game designer, vlogger, or rapper looking to rent a sound stage, green screen, or recording studio for your project. Many creative and artistic people know how they want their finished product to look and are thinking of going to a media studio to get it perfect. What you have to determine is what you need, what it will cost, and how you can get help with your project. Having seen what people go through on their searches, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be. Although I work at Sun Studios in Arizona and will focus on that facility in this article, it is important that you do your research and choose the location that best suits your needs. Because in the end, making your project all it can be is the most important reason to choose a great studio.
As many people learn, usually the hard way! – can be frustrating unless you do your research on the facility you want to use. Sun Studios of Arizona in Tempe can provide you with the information you can use in your quest to find the perfect media facility. We always want to make sure you have everything you need and people who know what they’re doing to help you. We may or may not be your final choice, but we want to make sure the choice is informed.
Here is information about the different workspaces at our facility, to give you a good idea of what to expect:
Rent a soundstage
At many facilities, when renting a soundstage, you’ll be asked to pay an hourly rate and then given a menu of “à la carte items” you’ll need for your production or event. Options may include a studio director, lights, sound, equipment, tripods, monitors, teleprompters, consumables, electricity, and Wi-Fi. In the end, after choosing all the options, it can cost up to $3,000 a day to use that soundstage.
We like to make things easy for our clients. Our price is a flat rate, either half day or full day rates. Our Sound Stage 1 at Sun Studios of Arizona is 2,500 square feet of acoustically treated space, with baffled climate control, two 200-amp 3-phase power stations, a 16′ light grill, and most of the equipment you need is included in one flat fee. It’s a good-sized space that includes many things that other studios charge extra for, including a stage manager to help you with every facet of your project.
Do you need a green screen rental?
Green screens are a staple of the digital media industry and are in high demand. They allow production to shoot in a stable environment, then add a separately shot background with ease in post-production; basically, they take the subject out of the real world and place them against a digital background. Music video channels and video blogs (vlogs) particularly use green screens for many of their projects.
Green screen soundstages can be expensive, beyond a regular soundstage, because instead of simple walls, green screen requires a variety of specialty lighting to enhance luminance. Pricing at many studios, again, is piecemeal, with an hourly rate followed by options, including that special lighting (skylights, filters, effect boards, and much more), which will add additional costs and can make your total green-screen projected rental up to $3,000 or more for a day of shooting.
Here at Sun Studios of Arizona, we prefer to offer a flat fee. The cost of a green screen sound stage includes everything you need to make your production perfect, including a studio manager and most of the consumables listed above in sound stage 1. We also have an additional option for use with our green screen sound stage: a 20 camera motion tracking capture system. This system allows for the capture of 3D models of the actors’ outlines and movements on a frame-by-frame basis, which can then be animated in post (King Kong and Lord of the Rings are good examples of this). Motion capture is also used in the creation of video game avatars.
Rent an audio recording studio
Always check what equipment is available for your specific needs before committing to a studio. You want to make sure your recording requirements are met, be it audio, dubbing, ADR, and/or scoring. Some items typically used for recording may not be included in the initial price in certain studios: mixing room, drum room, instrument/vocal/foley sound room, mixers, microphones, equators, foley box and more. Studio prices are set as an hourly rate and generally do not include a sound engineer, except as an option (plus money). If you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, it’s worth having a professional sound engineer there to help you make your project sound perfect.
At Sun Studios of Arizona, our audio recording studio is top of the line, with a list of equipment too long to list in the limited space of this article. Your project will be in good hands with our professional and experienced sound engineer included in our rates. The recording studio is priced per hour, with discounts available for half and full days. And again, there are no hidden fees – everything is included, keeping your audio recording needs under one roof.
Many digital media projects may require a shortlist for the crew, or even a premiere for the cast/crew and fans. Many studios don’t typically have a theater, and the media team may have to “four walls” in a commercial theater to see their finished products. Which means renting a theater and making sure your system can accommodate your media (video, DVD, BluRay, computer, movies, etc.). The costs for the four walls can be very high, depending on the day of the week you want to project your project.
But why not create your project and project it in the same building? You can do just that at Sun Studios of Arizona. Our auditorium/theater seats over 150 people with tiered seating in comfortable cushioned seats, a 24-foot screen, and 5.2 digital surround sound. We even have a cool retro marquee that can display the name of your project, all lit up to give you a premiere worth talking about. The price always includes a technician who takes care of projection and sound, and it is very reasonable.
Renting studio space can be daunting, but it’s less so if you know exactly what you want and have a budget to match. Don’t be fooled by ads showing ridiculously low hourly rates before checking to see exactly what you’re getting. Usually, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Make sure you have not only the space you want, but also the equipment you need, the staff to help you, and all the support you’ll appreciate in the long run. Find a space that you can call home, because creating a project is an exercise in determination and love, an experience that you want to be perfect. Keeping that in mind when renting a studio space will help make it a simpler and more enjoyable experience from start to finish.
The author has been involved in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and will be happy to let you pick her brain all you want!