Light Remodeling, Pt. 1

When we moved into our house nearly two years ago, it came with something I had never had before -- a garage.

In theory, two cars are supposed to go in there. In practice, ours has remained an junk pile staging area since the move-in. We generally have one car parked inside. Which of course means that my car stays out in the rain and snow.

Such was the crazed schedule of DVD post production a few weeks ago that a weekend spent reclaiming the garage was actually starting to look good.

Besides, I wasn't just in it for the marital brownie points. I had an ulterior motive in mind. I wanted to be able to use it as a studio.

The Big Box

First of all, the photo above (a fold-out of three frames) is pretty flattering when it comes to showing the available space. In truth, the garage was half-full of stuff before the car even got in there.

But it did have one thing I found very cool: 12+ foot ceilings. Which is what got me jonesing for a convertible studio space in the first place. All I need is a big box, really. And this could certainly be that. Biggest problem: No money.

Filming, producing and printing the DVDs requires a steady stream of hefty checks to be written in advance. And that pretty much soaked up our savings. But I was convinced I could take this space and make it into a quick-swap studio for not a lot of money. I budgeted $200. And that included a strong determination to scrounge whatever I could from closet or attic.

I needed to get control over the space, control over the light and, hopefully, enhance the ambience a little -- all on the extreme cheap. And if it works out well, I can go in and do some enhancements later when the cash flow is, um, positive.

So the goal was to spend $200 or less, spend a weekend not thinking about DVD production, score some brownie points with the missus and get myself a shooting space in the bargain.

Here's my biggest physical problem. These garage door rails take up nearly half of the room at a height of ~7 feet. That would really cramp the lighting style of any permanent background orientation. Hmm.

Problem number two: The light from those windows would have to be controlled. I wanted to be able to start off with very little ambient light, even in the daytime.

Number three: Had to get all of that crap off of the ground. Wasn't looking forward to that, either. If it was small enough to go up on the wall, it had to go up on the wall.

Number four: Ambience -- as in, we sure could use some. Problem was (as anyone who has ever eaten a cheeseburger at a nice restaurant can attest) ambience costs money.

So, those were the constraints. If any of you are considering cleaning out and multipurposing your garage as a convertible studio, hopefully this process will get you thinking about your own problems and potential solutions.

Next week: My targeted, ultra-cheap solutions.


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