The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

FOH booth

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Skervald, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I've been asked to give some input on a FOH position for a 400 seat high school theater. It is to sit behind the last row of seats in the center of three seating sections. (main aisles will be on either side). It's floor is 7" above the row of seats in front of it and then there is a gentle rake toward the stage. There is no overhang to deal with. The total width available is about 12-15'. They would like this to house sound and light desks as well as a stage manager position with the option for one or two more individuals as needed. Power, DMX, sound, com, and internet cabling will be accessed under the counter.

    My initial thoughts:
    1. The counter be built at standard bar height of 42" both for better visibility of the stage and to move the inevitable booth noise away from those seated around it. I'm probably in the minority here but I also like to run shows standing and this would accommodate that. Bar height chairs are also pretty easy to come by.

    2. The booth wall extend somewhere around 14 inches above the counter to shield the audience from booth light and sound.

    3. A 2-3" gap should be left between the far edge of the counter and the booth wall to accommodate running cables.

    4. some sort of custom cover(s) will need to be made to secure sound/light desks.

    My questions for all of you are:
    1. do you have any feedback on the above recommendations?
    2. what do you love/hate/wish was included in your FOH position?

    Any photos you'd like to pass along would also be welcome! (I've taken a look at the booth photo thread already)

    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,070
    Likes Received:
    370
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    This combination raises my eyebrow. I'd fight for a level floor to the control area, if only so the chairs don't slide by themselves...
     
  3. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Sorry, that was confusing language! The booth floor is level. The rake starts immediately in front of the booth. A raked booth floor would certainly add some excitement especially on chairs with wheels.
     
  4. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    280
    Location:
    Near Milwaukee
    Where's your sense of adventure! I say spec a rake in so that adapters and pencils will all roll to one end of the booth, also it will help avoid your techs falling asleep at the board.

    On a serious note, take care with the board cover design. I had a three piece wooden unit that was a huge pain to install and remove every day. Also, if it fell it would slam into the board...

    As for feedback, I like the bar height as well, but what do you do if you have a board op in a wheel chair? We live in a world of ADA compliance and this could be a deal breaker. What I've done is build a platform for my sound board so that we can use the bar height chairs or stand, but I could easily bring it down if I had a board op in a wheel chair. I hate standing for light programming though, so that stays at counter height with a lower chair.
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Member

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    USA
    Bar height seems a bit high to me. Remember that the boards add another couple inches. High Schoolers can also be shorter people. Usually I think people prefer to have a board a little bit lower to the ground, its easier to see what's going on.

    Just my 2 cents
     
    RickR likes this.
  6. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    The booth is part of the rake in our auditorium, so as a result the table and bench are sawed on an angle so as to sit flat.
     
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    367
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Only a few thoughts from an old blind guy.
    In single / combo booth situations, I've always preferred having the SM seated between the LX and Sound operators as cueing can then easily be accomplished by tapping of shoulders should the comms system unexpectedly go down. I'd then add any additional accommodations on the two outer ends when necessary for other uses such as follow spots, understudy's or directors dropping in to observe a performance unannounced. As another general comment, I've always preferred having the sound operator located out side the booth where they can actually hear what the audience is hearing and more easily assess four basic levels such as: My Lord that's painful!, that's plenty loud enough to get the director's point across, that's a suitable background level and that's suitably under dialogue, still audible without masking or distracting from the cast. For decades I've struggled with making these assessments accurately from within a booth no matter whether the performance monitoring be stereo or mono or however well calibrated to a patron's reality.
    I applaud your sensible approach of not pushing the distant edge of the counter hard up against the rear wall of the audience chamber. No matter how many cable access holes you leave in a counter top they're often too small for a connector to pass, in a bad location, allow pencils and useful commodities to vanish out of sight at the most inconvenient times, yada, yada. Of course, do add a low, 1/2" to 5/8" lip on the distant edge to keep things from sliding off the counter top and into the great abyss. It's also useful to push counter-top items back against a back-stop such as mixers and / or LX consoles.
    Lighting can be conveniently dealt with by having a large incandescent or fluorescent or two overhead for when patrons aren't present and work lights are what's required while vacuuming or servicing within sound and LX consoles. For task lighting during performances and rehearsals, I've personally preferred small, individually dim-able, PAR 20 or PAR 30 low wattage floods or spots equipped with four-way doors and, optionally a light flesh glare reducing gel and / or beam widening frost when necessary to increase the width. Having each task light fitted with its own individual dimmer yet commonly controlled by one, overall, master on/off switch permits all the lamps to be conveniently extinguished when departing without disturbing every ones individual dimmer settings. Never place the bright overhead cleaning light's switch conveniently close to the entrance door as it's the first thing non-booth denizens will turn on when they enter from a sunny day into the comparatively dark environment of a booth mid performance or rehearsal while their eyes are still irised down from having been out in the sun. Keep the master task light switch convenient to the door for the booth occupants convenience but always keep the cleaning/work light switch where the booth bunnies can easily access it when necessary but NEVER where it's the first thing to hand for non-residents. Having the task lights bracketed from the wall over the counter allows them to be focused to skim down the house wall past the windows and onto the counter top without spilling out into the house during black-outs and / or glaring back off the glass, if fitted, at the booth bunnies and / or occupying valuable counter-top space which is often at a premium.
    One thing you'll ALWAYS end up fighting are occasional SM's who'll insist on running with their task lights at maximum intensity to the point that their eyeballs are practically bleeding from the glare off their mostly white prompt scripts and then you go for a quick dead black to permit the dead body to exit and the SM with the bleeding eyes is still sitting there asking their ASM's if the 'body' has exited yet. Meanwhile, you've been in black so long, the front rows of the audience are half way to the bars wondering what you're holding for as even their eyes have adjusted and they're tripping over their crutches. Note: The same SM's who can NEVER have enough illumination on their glaringly lit prompt books are almost always the same ones who NEVER switch their mics off between cues, even when there aren't any for ten pages, yet they have no qualms about blowing your ears out when they suddenly feel the need to scream at some poor cast member mid rehearsal. Have you ever noticed, those same SM's that will NEVER switch their mics off are often mouth breathers with post-nasal drip and the same people who slam their headsets down BEFORE they think to switch their mics off? Unfortunately some people, and generally SM's, are like that and by the time they're that old you'll find they're resistant to change and generally beyond your capabilities to educate and / or convert into worthwhile, polite, courteous and generally helpful human beings.
    As an audience member, one of my favorite tests for good booth lighting is can I play shadow puppets on my program during boring parts of a production? If I can, I consider it badly executed booth lighting with too much uncontrolled spill escaping to help me read my program. If I can't see the shadow of my hand on my program the booth lighting is on its way to a passing grade. If I can see the booth's inhabitants when I stand, turn around, and look at them, no problem. I see no fault in them having a little light within their booths so long as it's not distracting the patrons from watching the production they've paid to support or distracting the cast as they've enough on their minds already. Not only that, but I shouldn't be standing up and looking in the booth window during a performance.
    Pardon me for droning on with another of my TLDR posts.
    I'll relinquish both the podium & lectern and crawl back into my little dark hole.
    Edit 1: Corrected a spelling error.
    Edit 2: Corrected another spelling error.
    Edit 3: Missed a space between words.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
    Jay Ashworth likes this.
  8. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,197
    Likes Received:
    728
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    The counter height discriminates against people with disabilities. Do as you please but built as you describe it would be violating federal and probably local laws.

    I'm in midst of helping in changing plans so lighting and SM is enclosed. Hard to argue an enclosed SM and board operator isn't strongly preferred and more satisfactory.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  9. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,197
    Likes Received:
    728
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    Edited - autocorrect apparently doesn't like sm (stage manger?)
     
  10. chausman

    chausman Chase Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    2,978
    Likes Received:
    235
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    If there were facilities in place so that someone with a wheelchair could run from an alternate location, would you still be violating ADA?
     
  11. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    367
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Then can / will able-bodied technicians suggest that such dedicated / purpose designed locations discriminate against them?
    I'm still waiting for the ADA to demand appropriately safe and convenient access to loading floors including in venues with dual loading floors to accommodate longer, possibly double purchase, arbors. 'Now get up there and slug that iron for a few hours then spot a few sheaves on the grid for me while you're up there!'
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard. (Playing the ignorant, and disrespectful, department head. "Seniority? Get up there and show me your seniority now buck-o!")
     
  12. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,197
    Likes Received:
    728
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    Are there ways to get around this? In a work place, if everyone is a paid employee, you can make it adaptable. In a school where it's used for education, no. In a church, well, church vs state probably let's you get away it. But you I have to ask if you want to discriminate? I find it easier and better to design a solution rather than trying to find a way around doing the right thing.
     
    RonHebbard and Skervald like this.
  13. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Of course. I feel pretty stupid for not thinking of that originally. I'll be scrapping the bar height recommendation. Thanks, CB, for keeping me from looking like an idiot. (once again!)

    I should have clarified that this won't be a full booth. It won't have full walls, windows, or a ceiling. Just partial walls so the sound board operator should have a reasonably good measure of levels. As far as task lighting goes, because this "booth" is really in the house, I think we're going to have to rely on some indirect lighting and/or small goose-neck lights.

    @BillConnerFASTC , I see your point about enclosing the SM and lighting positions. That really would be ideal. Unfortunately it just won't be possible in this case. Concern about noise and light bothering audience members seated close to the "booth" was what brought me down the "how high can I make this booth" path. I'll have to find other ways to mitigate those issues though. Perhaps there is a crash course in telepathy I could send everyone to. That would certainly save wear and tear on the coms.

    Thanks for all the input so far. Very helpful! I'd love to hear from some people who regularly work in booths like I'm describing. Is noise/light an issue? How have you dealt with it?
     
  14. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,070
    Likes Received:
    370
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Adjustable height tables are all the rage in commercial offices these days to allow for standing desks.
    Would you be able to use one of these to create a height adjustable operating position that caters to both sets of requirements?
     
  15. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    I like the idea and I'll certainly add it to the mix. I'm kind of stuck on the concept of having the partial wall surrounding this space continue up past the counter/table surface. (I feel like it will help cut the space off from the house and might help keep SM called cues and any light from distracting the audience.) This wall would have to be sized for the lower table height or the view of the stage would be completely cut off. That means there would be of no benefit when the desk/desks were raised up to a higher height.

    Perhaps I'm trying to make this height question more complicated than it needs to be.
     
  16. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,070
    Likes Received:
    370
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    What about a solid wall to the low counter height then a perspex like section above that - one would need to consider the potential acoustic effects though...
     
  17. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    280
    Location:
    Near Milwaukee
    I really feel like a wall won't help enough with the light and sound spill to justify itself. The bottom line is, the seats close to the booth are going to hear the techs, there are 385 other seats that won't have that issue. Get your tickets earlier if you don't like it.

    For our musicals we have the sound board on a folding table at the back of the aud with seats on all sides. It's never been much of an issue, but then again the sound board op doesn't speak as much as a SM or light op may. The light spill is minimal if at all and is pretty much contained to only spilling on the seat right next to the board. I have gotten looks a few times when I was on headset there, but never an actual complaint.
     
  18. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,325
    Likes Received:
    147
    Location:
    St Pete FL USA
    I would suggest making the walls come up about a foot past the desktop, and putting Sonex on them; that will eat a *lot* of booth chatter.
     
  19. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,043
    Likes Received:
    2,445
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
  20. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,197
    Likes Received:
    728
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    Rather they post here and then see if they say same thing. Snicker.
     

Share This Page