Building the wall

I’ve walked past this building a million times over the years and I have always admired it. It was originally a machine shop built in the 1940’s. There is nothing fancy about it. It’s just a big open box with big windows on either side. It sits just off Crown Point’s historic downtown square. It has been transformed into a few different businesses over the years like a pool hall and hair salon, but back in June of 2020 this beautiful rental space miraculously became available. The timing was perfect because we had just started Real. A few phone calls later and it was ours! The day we got the keys we met over there, pulled out some old chairs from the basement, cracked a few beers and started to dream about how we could build out the space to best fit our needs of a video production studio. 

The space is essentially a 2,000 square foot box. One thing we knew we wanted to do was break the space up in half. The front of the space would be for production and the back of the space would be for office space and post production. 

Another issue we knew we were going to deal with was storage space for our equipment. So one thing we did was take inventory of our gear. We noticed that a lot of production equipment is long and skinny. We’ve got tripods, light stands, speed rail, paper rolls, flags, bounce cards… the list goes on. 

Well, the solution to our problem was inspired by an art show I had attended in Chicago. It was in a big, beautiful gallery that was broken up by false walls. It wasn’t until another guest dropped her glass of wine on the floor that I discovered these false walls had another purpose other than displaying the art. Someone walked over to one of the false walls, opened up the side of it, and pulled out a broom to sweep up the glass. I glanced inside the wall and noticed that inside it was storing a bunch of canvases and other cleaning supplies. It was genius!

So we decided to take that same concept to not only break up our space, but to store some of our awkwardly shaped equipment. 

After taking measurements of our space and of the gear we needed to store, Josh decided to build a 3D rendering in Sketchup. He accounted for each piece of gear and created a custom space for it within the wall. He even took into account what type of wood would be needed for each space depending on what would be holding. For instance, a cubby for a metal tripod could be built with OSB while a cubby that holds a nylon flag needed to be made with smooth plywood so it wouldn’t snag the fabric. 

We also really enjoyed the industrial look and durability of the plywood so we decided to do the outside of the wall in plywood tiles instead of drywall. To class it up we made 56 2’ X 2’ tiles, routed the edges, and stained each one with a white stain. We hung the tiles on the wall switching the direction of the wood grain with every other one. 

We knew we wanted this wall to be versatile and hold many different items other than production and lighting grip. We found while in the design phase that we could fit two hidden drawers in the center of the wall under the 60” 4k Conference Display. They are hidden because the face of them matches the 2’ plywood panels that make up the pattern of the entire wall. Both drawers are soft close. We also integrated 120v outlets and usb charging ports into both drawers. These drawers would be perfect for charging appletv remotes, camera batteries and powering a raspberry pi with emulation station to unwind by playing a quick game of Super Mario Brothers!

Above the drawers, but behind the 2’ panels, we built in some space for a sound bar, below the drawers hidden inside the wall we added the sub.

This wall is now the centerpiece of our studio and is a great example of form and function.