6 Tips for Setting Up a Home or Office Studio

Today on The Slanted Lens we are going to talk about 6 tips for setting up a home or office studio.

We will show you how to make a backdrop holder you can put on the wall that takes up very little space. How to control your window light and even how to make lights at home. Finally, we will show you how to set up these lights for a 2 light video interview. Thanks for watching. Keep those cameras roll’n and keep on click’n.


The Final Image




The How-to Breakdown

6 Tips for Setting Up a Home or Office Studio: How-to Breakdown
6 Tips for Setting Up a Home or Office Studio: How-to Breakdown
6 Tips for Setting Up a Home or Office Studio: How-to Breakdown
#1 We start with an empty bedroom. This one is great because the walls are a neutral color and there is great window light. If your walls are not neutral, you first need to paint them.
#2 I put down a tarp to protect the floors. I put the brown side up since it is also a neutral color and won’t bounce light around.
#3 You can use simple parts to hang a backdrop. A half-inch galvanized pipe with a plate can screw into the wall or ceiling. Screw a 3” pipe and an elbow into that. Then, add a 6” return (or longer). That is a very simple half of a backdrop holder. Also, add a 1” conduit from which to hang your backdrop.
#4 This is a simple white fabric backdrop. The wrinkles need to be steamed or stretched out.
#5 A stool is one of the first things you need for you studio. A 3’ stool is good. Another option for a backdrop is a 9’ wide seamless. A seamless is very easy to use, but it will not last as long as fabric.
#6 Eclipse blackout curtains are great to blackout your natural window light. This allows you to set up completely controlled light in your room.
#7 There are several options for homemade lighting. This is a softbox made out of a laundry detergent bucket. It has an overall fill in the room with a key light on the face.
#8 This is a Styrofoam cooler softbox. The light doesn’t bounce as much as the laundry detergent bucket. The front diffusion is a little further away from the bulb, which gives us a little more directional light.
#9 This lighting is from a Bankers Box softbox. It’s a very soft light. It doesn’t bounce as much as the Styrofoam cooler softbox.
#10 The DIY softboxes were great, but started falling apart quick. For a great professional light, I recommend something like the Photoflex StarLite.



Jay P recommends for this shoot

Photoflex StarLite kit



Video Transcription

Don’t forget you only got ’til February 26 to enter to win your NorthStar Lite. Go to TheSlantedLens.com. Enter the win for your NorthStar Lite.

Hi, This is Jay P Morgan. I’m at a location with Caleb and Lars, and we’re going to show you how to turn a bedroom into a home studio. We’re going to show you how to create a very simple backdrop holder. You could put it on the wall. That takes up very little space. We’ll show you how to control the window lights that comes through the windows and last of all some lighting. Things you could make at home. Then we’re going to show you how you’re going to set up your lights for a two lights video interview and we’ll finish with that. Let’s get started, see what we can do.

Just a couple of things to think about before you start your studio interview in your extra bedroom. One is the color of the walls. If you got walls like this, which are great, they’re neutral that’s not gonna bounce any color back into your image, that’s perfect. If you got a room that has very heavy color, greens or reds, those kinds of things. They’re gonna bounce right into your shot. They’re gonna kill your color balance. So the first thing I do, I get a paint roller, I roll some paint on all over the walls. You got neutral room, neutral color. Secondly, I’m gonna put up a tarp on the floor, just to protect the hardware floor. Laid on the floor, it’s all gonna be brown, and that’s gonna give us a nice neutral color. It’s not gonna bounce any blue back in the shadow of green, so those are our first principle in getting our home studio started.

In my hand, I have a very simple backdrop holder way to hang your backdrop on the wall. Well this is a half inched galvanized pipe. You’ve got a plate, which you’re gonna screw into the wall. We simply screw in a three inch pipe and now screw in an elbow, and now a six inch return or we can make this longer. That’s a very simple one half of our backdrop holder, so you could put this against the wall like that and you could put your seamless on it. Put on the ceiling. Put your seamless on it, it gets everything out of the way. You don’t have to have stands on the floor that create a big problem on the background. This makes this very easy. You also could put on here a one inch conduit. That one inch piece of conduit is very rigid so much heavier or stronger than PVC or rubbery items items but this is gonna give you a great hold of your backdrop on as this hangs on the ceiling. Now unfortunately because we’re in someone else’s apartment here we can’t shoot this into the ceiling but if I was doing this in my house, I would shoot this onto the ceiling or onto the wall. Once you got your two backdrop holder, your going to get the right distance from each other. Obviously, you kind of understand this principle. We have our one inch conduit, just few down on you’re there. On my end, I’ll bring this out , towards it’s gonna go on there. I can slide that back far and then we’re gonna put an A clamp on each side to keep this from falling on. Again, we would have this up onto the ceiling against the wall so it’s a great way to get your backdrop up and now we have C stand on the floor. It’s gonna eat up all the space on the floor of the room. Great for tight areas.

Now, next thing that we’re gonna do is put our backdrop up. This is a cheap backdrop that I got up from Amazon. It’s a white backdrop and is like 30 bucks. It’s got a pocket in one end. There’s our pocket. It’s been sewn on the one side and it drop itself, I think it’s 20 feet . So it’s gonna give us a long area. I can run that pocket on here, and that’s great because it hangs very nicely. One of two things, either saw a new pocket on the other end but then you got a sawed up pocket just just enough distance to fill the distance right before. So I’ll do the opposite I’m gonna put the pocket on the floor with another pipe in it. I’m gonna drape the drop over this and then A clamp into this bar in that way I could use the pocket on the bottom with the pipe in it that create weights so it takes out all the wrinkles on the backdrop. Then if I wanted to, I could flip around and hang a pocket here and I could sweep without as seamless. We used the whole piece. Now we got a lot of wrinkles on this backdrop. It’s little hard for that to be really smooth, we may have to steam it out a little bit. For one thing you can do if your just going to use this as backdrop. You’re not gonna sweep it, just take this a little pole, and Caleb’s gonna grab it for me and we’re gonna put this, we’re gonna roll our backdrop up on the pipe. So this will make your wrinkles start to go away.

One of the first things you need to get for your studio is a stool. You can get this at Walmart, Kmart, Target, any of those places. They use to have a three foot stool, get wood one, a metal one what ever you like but you’ve got to have something to sit down . Now you can already take a picture with our naturalized studio. So let’s put in up a fabric backdrop. The problem with fabric backdrops is they wrinkle. You got to try to keep it straight but their long unless you can curl them out. They’re very nice in that way, but a simple solution, you got a savage or serve it like a seamless. A nine-foot wide seamless or a 12-foot wide. 12-foot is very expensive. A nine-foot wide seamless is perfect. Just put it there, drop it down, build a backdrop behind them or you can roll them down on the floor to undo full length. So let’s put up a seamless just to see how that works on backdrop set up. So you can see up there, I put the cast back on so you can see that’s the way that will be hanging up back there. All you could see is that pipe on the ceiling. So those are our seamless. You’d have to set your backdrop holder on the ceiling distance to make that cardboard work. Just easier to have the seamless on this pole, in that way you can slide it out backdrop they’re gonna last a lot longer. They can get dirty so you have to wash them at times. But the disadvantage is they’re harder to keep them wrinkle free, they’re harder to roll up and they’re hard to use. Where the seamless rolls out very easily, goes up very easily but things like this start to happen to them. They don’t last forever. But you do have a synthetic call out the paper more paper out and you’ll get a new one. This is all the same as seamless there.

This time let’s have a couple of shots and let’s see. We got a window light from the right hand side of the frame but now what we’re gonna do is were gonna control that light from the window so we can either have it as part of our shot or we can get rid of it completely. So we’re gonna put some eclipse blackout curtains which you can get from Amazon. They’re really really quite inexpensive, 20 or 30 dollars. This you can put up on your window. It will give us the ability to either use this. Open up and use this or close it off and use it to completely controlled light in this room in this room. If I were doing this, I didn’t have to set this up on the side, I would put this on another bar and put this bar up on that wall. You can hold them up or you can put them on the curtain. Rods are already there. Just somewhere to put this blackout curtain on there . Usually, I want them to exceed the frame of the window cause if you just get it on the frame of the window lights still beams through. So’ I will exceed the frame and very close and it would blacken out. We blacked out the window and that’s why you you can’t see me. Where am I? That’s pretty effective. Those blackouts curtains called eclipse are just heavy and take all the light out. Another thing is that we added light here on the camera left side it’s not gonna bounce out into our white wall over here. So it’s going to give us the ability to add more dramatic, little more creative lighting. This room, ceilings and all , walls are closed when you put one light up, it’s bouncing everywhere. So at least, it takes us one wall out f the way. If you put your light on the camera left side, I mean most of your light will be out of that camera left wall, it’s going to be hidden in this black curtain and it’s going to give us a nice shot of a person without a lot of fill. Now you can control the fill, you can bring it up or down whatever you wanna do.

So now, we need to have lights. We’re gonna show you some simple things you can build and you know those are interesting and kind of a beginning place but they’re gonna show you using just same really decent lights. We’ll give you a good light on you person. Now we’re going to talk about lighting, we’re gonna talk about home made lighting. You know, there are several things you can do. Everyone starts up with this little baby thing right here. They go to Home Depot, they buy all these things at and they plug it in, put the diffusion on the trunk. Back this on to an inexpensive stand. – You got a light. It’s a simple very easy to start. This things you can put up a 100 watt bulb into them. Actually have a 300-watt at home depot. I don’t think they’re ready for that. But they do have a 300 watt bulb at least give you an starting place for light. The hard thing about this is there reflectors are very hard and it’s very focused and it’s just seems like everywhere. So not my favorite solution but it’s not terrible solution. For eight bucks, it’s not horrible.

So now let’s go on to making a softbox. A softbox is simply a four sided container that keeps your light around your light and then nice soft diffusion at the front. So you can put your light well controlled. It gets light away from the light bulb the diffusion material, and lets the light bounce inside the soft box so you get a softer light as it comes out. It does a directional quality about it cause you are looking straight at the light you can feel the diffusion so you can diffuse across the fuse and focused light source at the same time. So lets talk about how to make a soft box. I have three different options, I have a plastic detergent container here, we get from a plant in here in California. Just a normal everyday laundry detergent. This is a little heavy , but in my work I have a cooler which is Styrofoam. What is interesting about Styrofoam is that Styrofoam set is an incredible diffuser as far as bouncing light. Bouncing light out of this piece of foam they call it.. This set has some quality. This is going to be soft and a light nice coming out from his cooler and it comes with a reflector. I’ve got a Bakers box which again is a soft box with a detachable reflector. So let’s put up these together and just see how successful they are. Let’s start with an inch a little bit. It’s very very simple , gonna stick this, gonna pull at back of my plastic container. Drill a hole Now, we have a hole attached to our light box. I’m gonna start to this light and Caleb is gonna hand me the yellow handled thin snips out of the tool bag. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna take and cut this little tin part of in front of here. Like this. The reason why I’m doing this is because I want this little ring and it’s going to and around my container for my soft box so we’re gonna disregard this. Now I got a ring here, I’m gonna cut my hand. So this is gonna go through this opening. I’m gonna move this clamp here from the front to the back and I know that’s exactly that way it meant to be is used, but quite frankly, as a soft box holder, it’s not exactly what it meant to be either. So we’re tighten up in there , so now this can go through the hole like this. Perfect, and this will twist on the front. So hold it in place, with that 300 watts light bulb in there. I’m gonna take a diffusion paper on there and then we use an A clamp to help hold a little bucket, gonna hold on to stand, because that’s not very tight at the back. it doesn’t work very well. So you could A clamp on there. You got a nice little light coming through the light and also gives us a little glow around which is something we didn’t really anticipated but kind of a cool thing so let’s put a piece of diffusion on the front so there you have it. A 300 watts light bulb in a laundry detergent basket and quality light look on my face. It has a little bit of an over all fill on the room because the bucket itself is glowing. So you got the key light on the face. A little bit of glow in the room which is interesting look. You make that for about 9 dollars and 50 cents. 15 dollars with the label and we got laundry detergent so you get clean clothes.

Option number two, is the start from cooler. I think this has a lot of promise and we’re going to draw a hole at the bottom of the cooler. Now for our Styrofoam Cooler Softbox, we’re going to take again a metal container. Put that in there. We’re gonna cut this open again. All right and I’m gonna slide down at the front here, attach right under the front just like what we did before. Now this is much lighter than our plastic tub because the cooler was just so so light. Look inside here, we’re gonna put our 300 watt light bulb in there. Now, another option that we have here, I bought this on the internet, bought everything on the internet and there’s an adapter we could twist this in and this will give us the ability to use this for regular household light bulbs and that would be put on this like that which really makes it nice, we’re going to use regular household light bulbs. We could use four, four hundred watts. Right now, we could just use a single and put 300 watts so we could compare of what this one looks like. Put it on to our stand. This seems to be a little bit of a glow around this. Well, not as much as the last one. So lit by the Styrofoam Cooler Softbox. Pretty light. It doesn’t bounce as much as the other one did. The back of the cooler is more secured. Also the front diffuser is a little further away from the bulb which gives us a little more directional light. For 300 watt light bulb, you buy from Home Depot for 4.99, this is a pretty decent setup.

Okay, now we’re going to make a softbox out of a Banker’s box. The reason we’ve chosen Banker’s box is because it’s white. So the first thing that we’re gonna do, separate on that edge right there turn it over and reattach it, so it’s going to be inside out. So now as we turn our stuff in, we’ll separate the box here like that, and now we’ll reverse our box to a white interior. The problem that we have is that it flips on the other side so we’re gonna tape that down. So again, we got the Banker’s box, we’ll take and we will do a hole on the box . I’m gonna cut a little off like this. Okay this is a little easy. I’m not gonna have to move that bracket back at which is a better place for bracket to me, because the cardboard is so much thinner. Print softbox assembly instruction is on the inside. So we could use that for later so we’re gonna attach our soft box to the stand and clamped on the back. We got to tape and use and use an A clamp for security. And now we’re going to tape long. Actually, we’re going to put a 300 watt light bulb. on the front and there is our Banker’s box . It’s a very soft light actually and I think it’s because it doesn’t bounce around as much as it did in the Styrofoam and the plastic was harder in the surface and not the light out of the front of the box a little harder. This seems very soft, it’s actually not a bad light at all.

So let’s wrap this up. We’ve got a soft box made up of a Banker’s box is very soft. We got a box as soft made up of soft detergent box and that was kind a little more illuminate but still very soft. Our start from cool is a little harder and a little brighter almost brighter, but in the end when you look at all the different lights the colors off it’s kind of are all over the place. This is fun. We’re gonna light our transits. Whatever our transits would be just because its a fun thing to do. But in the end, if I’m gonna work and take this on sets somewhere the one they’re not gonna transport because they’ll gonna fall apart in two. I can’t walk into a CEO’s office with a detergent soft box. It just makes you look like you aren’t really a working professional videographer or photographer so you need an entry level kind of trans light and even if you do now home studio. Get a good set of entry level transit lights you could set up. Bigger lighting just right and really become workable situation. You can use for years and years and years . Great one is StarLite by Photoflex. You get a great set up. You put those, you could use on location. A very durable great soft box that are really on color white and easy to transport and still a way to go but anyway the box is made up of a detergent box and you know a bakers box are fun. You got a set of lights up so it’s a easy to do and we’ll get to show how to set our lights up.

We’re gonna wrap up what we’ve done today We talked about creating a studio in your home, a small room you’re going to make into a studio a. The principles I want you to understand from this are- 1. make sure the walls are of neutral color , 2. You put up black out curtains to cover your window which kills some of the bounce in your room. You can really get a little more dramatic light but give’s you the option of opening all those curtains so you can use window light if you wanna do that as a light source really gives you different options there. Two, that you can create a drop holder for your ceiling . You get out of the way. You don’t have to have expensive stands, you don’t have the floor spaces stands that takes up. Get all those stands. Rid all those stands. Put those drops from the wall on the ceiling. Very easy backdrop container to make. You know making things. I’m not a huge fan of making things, I’m just not. But when they work and that backdrop holder really does work then it’s worth it. There’s no other else out there. I mean for other things, you get little pleasure rolling up there’s a lot of steps out there. But that one is cheap and easy and it really works so it’s worthwhile. The soft boxes were great. They have great light. They’re fun but we did our transfer and they were starting to fall apart a little bit. They disintegrate a little bit. I expect them to burst them to flame at any moment. So but anyway, it was an interesting experience but again if you want to get into decent light, you’re gonna get something like the StarLite. It gives you a decent light you can use to travel with. It really becomes a professional piece of equipment.

Don’t forget you only got ’til February 26 to win your NorthStar Lite go to TheSlantedLens.com. Enter to win for your NorthStar Lite. I hope you enjoyed our lesson on creating a studio out of your spare bedroom. Kick your dog out of the spare room or your husband, or your wife or whoever is in that spare room and make yourself a home studio cause it’s a great thing to have. We wanna welcome our new sponsors Squarespace, they are great web platform, great for hosting, for galleries, for videos. Check it out. They have excellent templates. They’re new sponsors of ours. We’re gonna talk about a little more about web designing in the future. So check out Squarespace. It’s a great platform.

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  1. George says


    Thanks for the great video and ideas. Could you please tell us what exact Eclipse blackout curtain you used, and / or provide a link to where you puchased them?

    Thanks again for all of your great turtorials!

  2. says

    I recently setup an in home studio in a section of my finished basement. I had the bright idea to make a backdrop holder out of PVC. It worked but with all of the problems you mentioned. Not sturdy, takes up to much space. You idea is great. I’m headed to Lowes today. Thanks!!


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