So You Think You Need To Rent A Media Studio?

You’re a filmmaker, a band, a special effects producer, a virtual reality game designer, a vlogger or rapper, and you’re looking to rent a sound stage, a green screen or a recording studio for your project. Many creative and artistic people know what they want their finished product to look like and are thinking about going to a media studio to make it perfect. What you have to determine is what you need, what it’s going to cost and how can you get help with your project. Having seen what people go by in their searches, I know first-hand how frustrating it can be. Although I work at Sun Studios of Arizona and will be focusing on that facility in this article, it’s important to do your research and pick the place that works best for you. Because in the end, making your project all it can be, is the most important reason to pick a great studio.

As many people learn – usually the hard way! – it can be frustrating unless you do your research about the facility you want to utilize. Sun Studios of Arizona in Tempe can give you 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 that choice is an informed one.

Here is the information on the different work spaces at our facility, to give you a good idea of what to expect:

Renting a sound stage

At many facilities, when renting a soundstage you will be asked to pay an hourly rate, and then handed a menu of “a la carte items” you will need for your production or event. Options may include a studio manager, lights, sound, equipment, tripods, monitors, teleprompters, expendables, electricity and wifi. In the end, after choosing all the options, it may cost anywhere up to $3,000 per day to use that soundstage.

We like to make things easy for our clients. Our pricing is a flat rate, either half day or complete 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 strength stations, a 16′ light grid and most of the equipment you need included in a flat rate. It’s a good size space including many things for which other studios charge additional, including a stage manager to help you with every facet of your project.

Do you need a Green Screen rental?

Green screens are a important of the digital media industry and are in great need. They permit the production to record in a stable ecosystem, then add a separately filmed background with ease in post production – basically, pulling your subject out of the real world, and placing them over a digital backdrop. Music videos and video blog (vlog) channels particularly utilize green screens for many of their projects.

Sound stages with green screens can be costly, over and above a regular soundstage, because instead of plain walls, the green screen requires a variety of special lighting to enhance the luminance. Pricing at many studios, again, is piecemeal, with an hourly rate followed by options, including that special lighting (skylights, filters, effects boards and much more), which will add additional costs and may bring your green screen projected total rental up to $3,000 or more for a day of shooting.

Here at Sun Studios of Arizona, we prefer to offer a flat rate. 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 expendables mentioned above in Soundstage 1. We also have an additional option for use with our green screen sound stage: a 20 cam motion tracking capturing system. This system allows for 3D form capture of actor outlines and motions frame by frame, which can then be animated in post (King Kong and Lord of the Rings are good examples of this being put to use). Motion capture is also used in the creation of video game avatars.

Renting an Audio Recording Studio

Always check to see what equipment is obtainable for your specific needs before committing yourself to a studio. You want to make sure your recording requirements, be it audio, voice overs, ADR and/or scoring are met. Some items generally used for recording, may not be included in the initial price at certain studios: Mixing room, drum room, instrument/vocal/foley sound room, mixers, microphones, equators, foley box and more. Pricing for studios are set as an hourly rate and do not usually include a sound engineer except as an option (more money). If you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, it’s worth it to have a specialized sound engineer there to assist in making 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 experienced, specialized sound engineer included in our rates. The recording studio is priced by the hour, with half day and complete day discounted rates obtainable. And, again, there are no hidden fees – it’s all included, meeting your audio recording needs under one roof.

Auditorium/Theater Rental

Many digital media projects may require a pre-screening for the crew, or already a premiere for the cast/crew and fans. Many studios don’t usually have a theater, and media crew may have to “four wall” a commercial theater to view their finished products. Which method renting out a theater and making sure their system can adjust to your media (Video, DVD, BluRay, Computer, Film etc). Costs for four walling can be very high, depending on what day of the week you want to screen your project.

But why not create your project and screen it in the same building? You can do exactly that at Sun Studios of Arizona. Our auditorium/theater can adjust to 150+ with tiered seating in comfortable cushioned seats, a 24 foot screen and 5.2 digital surround sound. We already have a very cool, retro marquee which can characterize the name of your project on it, all lit up to give you a premiere worth talking about. Pricing always includes a technician to take care of the projection and sound, and is very reasonable.

Final thoughts

Renting a studio space can be daunting, but it’s less so if you know exactly what you want and budget consequently. Don’t be fooled by ads showing ridiculously low hourly rates before checking to see exactly what you get. Usually, as the old saying goes – you get what you pay for. Make sure you will have not only the space you want, but the equipment you need, the staff to help you and all the sustain you will appreciate in the long run. Find a space you can call home, because creating a project is an exercise in determination and love, an experience you want to make sure is perfect. Keeping that in mind when renting a studio space will help make it simpler and a 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 brains all you want!

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