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I have just been told that the district is going to move my booth from the balcony (where we took out seats and set up tables) and build a room for it on the main floor, under the balcony. It will be about 12' deep and 15' wide and will be situated between two support beams. They want me to tell them what and how I want it built. I'm thinking sound dampened walls, a widow that opens at both ends and that is tilted to stop the glare, that the sound equipment be on the house left side of the booth and the lighting console on the house right side of the booth. Interior surfaces should be flat black, dimmable work lights for the lighting console, the sound system controls, and a general dimmable work light system. Monitor speakers, headset jacks built into the edge of the work table, and storage and work bench on the back wall. A locking door, of course. All sound system wiring on its side, all lighting wiring on its side, school PA speaker, A/C and heating, and carpeting. Every position should be wheel chair accessible.

What am I missing? Any idea where I can find some good booth plans?

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    (Sorry, but "...a widow that opens at both ends..." has to be the best phrase as a result of a typo that I think I've ever read..! ^.^) – Skarik Aug 12 '13 at 8:50
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You've clearly put a lot of thought into this! I can't tell from your post what the venue and function of the room is... High School theater booth? (I'm going to go with that assumption, but if it ends up being some kind of film/tv thing... just ignore me ;) You can also try asking on the theater-sound-list google group (as long as you're okay with highly opinionated discord).

Try to get equipment in server room, or at least get booth its own A/C control separate from the house. I've been in many booths that are either uncomfortably warm or cold because of equipment or just because there was no independent temp control (venue temp requirements are quite different from small boxes, surprise surprise).

Noise isolation is important so the audience doesn't hear all the stage manager "GOs." But having windows that can open is good when the booth and stage need to easily talk to each other. Putting in a talk-back system at each station would also be helpful.

If you do musicals, let the administration know you still need to move the sound desk out into the house during these shows. It's imperative that you're mixing in a similar zone (acoustically and system coverage-wise) as the audience. Even if you only do lectures or events with a few live sound elements, you might want to look into a console that can be controlled by an iPad or similar remote.

Keep in mind your console dimensions when designing the room, so you have enough room to take the console in and out easily enough. I've been in one booth where the desk position was elevated, so they needed to install a handicap ramp, and then there was almost no useable floor space left.

See if you can get the school to spring for rheostat dimmers. I see them in booths sometimes (they are the iconic huge retro control knobs). They're great since they change the resistance, instead of sawing the waveform (which can induce filament whine).

If it's not a safety/security issue, maybe a volume knob on the PA speaker?

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Thanks for the thoughts, @Stephen and @Skarik. Yes, it is a high school. We seat about 900 on the main floor and about 400 in the balcony. 1960's brick shoe box of a theatre. You're right, Skarik, the way I typed it was odd. I have seen booth windows that have a center panel that it stationary and a right panel and left panel that moved to center when they opened. Stephen, "highly opinionated discord"? I teach a fine art in Texas. More money for theatre means less money for foot ball. You ought to have sat in on that meeting! I'm not sure what you mean by server room. Here it is the room where they have all the routers for the computers. I was hoping to get them to put one of the small a/c units like they have over the door in the router/server room to cool the new booth. I don't think I can get a dedicated heating unit, but the auditorium is usually very toasty in the winter, so I'm not too concerned with heat. We have a Theatre production brand intercom system, but I'm told they are no longer in business, so I'll try and get a new system with a few wireless sets for the adults so we're not tethered to the wall plates. Moving the sound desk out is a good idea. When I talk with the wiring people, I'll get them to put a connection box on the outside of the booth. That way we won't have wires running through the open window. I put a toggle switch on the PA speaker years ago, so I could turn it off during night performances. They office had this habit of calling for the head custodian on the PA when they needed anything. You can imagine the laughs when "Mr. Wright, the faculty lounge on the third floor needs more toilet paper." is announced just as the ghost of Hamlet's Father enters the stage. I'll switch out the toggle for a volume knob. Good idea for the dimmable lights. Thought we might try to have them install some LED fixtures. Anybody know how to tell what the correct angle for the windows should be? Also, I was thinking that the door to the booth should open out, under the idea that it would be harder for a student to break in a door that opens out. Can't put your shoulder into it. The hinge would be on the stage side, that way any light leakage from the booth would hit the back wall of the house instead of the stage and audience.

Thanks, James Smethers

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@Skarik, I had to read it twice before I saw what you were talking about. Ouch! I don't think I'll tell my wife. I don't think she would find it funny, although, it is funnier than you think. See, she was a widow when I met her.

JS

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@James Oh yeah, connection panel and/or built in pass-thru are wonderful things. I think the glare comes down to angle of incidence and reflection math. The one booth I remember having an angled window, the angle seemed to be around 30° (top of window being further away from operator than bottom). Most booth windows I've been in were flat.

Bigger problem I've noticed is if the windows are recessed. It always seems like the further away from the window the operator position is, the harder it is to see the full stage.

I was thinking of your amplifiers, outboard processing gear, etc. It all creates a lot of heat and noise, and is not fun to be stuck next to during tech. One place was smart to put all that gear in a separate closet with A/C control to keep it at 68° F, which makes me think of it as a server room.

(Mods: Sorry for the dup answer, I couldn't figure out how to do the comment reply)

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The main difficulty is going to be learning to mix live sound from a separate room. If you can, split the room in two. One half fully enclosed for the lighting and the other half with a really large window that can slide out of the way, so that you can hear as much of the stage as possible. Within the room you want it to be as acoustically dead as possible, so that all you hear is what comes through the open window rather than the reflections from your own room.

  • Hmm, I suppose vandalism and theft is a valid concern in a school setting, but I wouldn't want to sit behind a window for any kind of live production. Bottom floor is Best, but on the balcony can work too. But a recessed control, windows or not, that is pushing it. Imho. How about a mixing Island located in the audience area, with the gear in tamper-proof cases? Could that work? – christiancoriolis Aug 18 '13 at 11:27
  • Sorry, I See now that have actually been moved from the balcony. Please disregard my nonsense. – christiancoriolis Aug 18 '13 at 11:29

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