Like the rest of the country, even presidential candidates find themselves sheltering in place during this global pandemic. Unlike the rest of the country, those candidates still need a way to get their message out. Enter Joe Biden’s fascinating home studio setup.
While you don’t see too many behind-the-scenes photos of the gear that Biden’s team is using, there are certainly a few out there. Check out The Washington Post’s article on Biden’s basement podcasting mimicking Warren G. Harding’s porch politicking. It appears from the photo provided by the campaign that Biden has a pretty sophisticated setup.
While many news outlets describe the operation as “makeshift,” that’s probably a more accurate description of my storage-room-turned-office. Whereas I went with a single Yongnuo YN360 II LED Light Wand, for lighting ($121), it appears, as far as I can tell, that Biden is using at least four ARRI Skypanel LED lights that cost about $6,550 a pop. The camera is a bit harder to tell, but it looks like a BlackMagic Ursa Mini or Mini Pro, so that’s about $3,000 to $6,000 on the camera body as well, not factoring in accessories such as the tripod or teleprompter. I can’t quite make out the microphones, but the shock mounts look very reminiscent of the Audio-Technica brand.
Surprisingly there appears to be only one camera shooting, though there might be another one just off-frame, if the tripod legs are any indication.
For all those that thought that Biden was perhaps using a green screen and comping in the background, it appears that what you see behind him is the real deal, albeit propped up on random equipment cases it seems.
Does all of this gear make a difference? Yes and no. There’s a point of diminishing returns here, and I think that a few Westcott or Yongnuo lights, a good Sennheiser mic and a Canon 5D Mark IV could pretty much accomplish the same effect in such a controlled environment, and for a lot less money. The perception that such a setup lends itself to is that Biden is certainly well outside of the middle class that he’s championing. That, perhaps is the bigger issue. More than this, with the crew needed to build, maintain and operate this kind of setup, social distancing and maintaining safety is probably difficult. An important consideration for he former vice president, who is in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
By comparison, check out Bernie Sanders’ home studio setup — complete with lamps on the floor — when he did a livestream in late March (although, again, social distancing seems to be an issue):
What do you think of Biden’s setup? Do you see some gear that I didn’t recognize? What would you use if you were creating a basement studio of your own? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.