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Help me out - control rooms

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by BillConnerFASTC, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Working on a private HS, new 450 seat theatre. I showed an enclosed lighting control room for two positions - lights and dm or whatever - and open for sound. Architect thinks both should be open because he doesn't like asymmetrical look.

    Do you think lighting control should be enclosed?
     
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @BillConnerFASTC A few comments: Having an enclosed booth, at least one capable of being open or closed, is useful in many situations for instance: When having to train a guest / replacement / standby operator. When director's wish to visit and observe over the course of a run without a cast's knowledge until performance's end. When you need to add a noisy spotlight for the mayor or President Trump's visit. If there's space and budget, and SYMMETRY IS IMPORTANT, why not bounce this notion off her / him?
    Enclosed booth / Open booth centred / Enclosed booth.
    Possible uses:
    SFX production or simultaneous translation. Live mix reinforcement in the centred open booth. LX in the second closed booth. Keep the open booth shallower (US - DS) and place a follow spot or two in an enclosed booth behind the live mix position and shooting over the live mix operator's head. Tuck an SM in along the way. Not an economy project but SYMMETRICAL and workable. At that point you'd possibly learn how important symmetry is to your architect.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  3. chausman

    chausman Chase Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Open potentially means more gear to keep secured and I usually end up talking more on coms or in person. Compared to sound, which generally has to listen to what's going on on stage and doesn't talk as much (in my experience).

    Keeping it closed can make balancing lighting for seeing scripts/consoles and seeing through glass to the stage problematic. I don't think I've ever been in a booth with windows that it was easy to see everything on stage in darker scenes due to reflections.

    Given the option, I think I'd rather have it closed so that there is somewhere more separated from the house to talk if need be.
     
  4. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    The best open / closed hybrid booths I have used have the capability of being closed, but have drop out windows that allow for open live mixing from the booth when necessary and can still keep gear secured in a normal closed configuration.
     
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Security is handled that because of existing construction the control area is nearly a floor above seating (so stairs/elevator existing).

    So simply a question of is it necessary to enclose lighting op and possibly sm for chatter.

    I am thinking about exactly what you suggest Ron - two enclosed rooms flanking a center sound control area. Probably wide sound area - 15' or so - and reverse wedge enclosed rooms - 10-12' facing stage. Thought about sound racks in one of enclosed rooms. Maybe lighting rack too (network switch and patch).
     
  6. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @BillConnerFASTC Most times I've been involved with this sort of configuration, the booths have been a floor above the rear rows of the balconies in venues with only a single balcony. Dimmers have been in a rack room beyond the prosc' and in a room three or four stories up adjacent to a wardrobe or costume storage room thus not contributing noise to the audience or performance portions of the building. Likewise amplifier racks were at the second dressing room level one story above stage level. Racks in booths were limited to a lighting control rack, definitely sans dimmers, with a mic and line level patch rack also housing the head-end of the stereo and mono production monitor system. Because of physical convenience in at least two venues, a rack housing the FOH recall chimes, lobby amp, 'God mic' and booth monitor amps was housed in one of the spot booths on both ends of the symmetrical suite. In at least two theatres, amplifiers and associated electronics for facility wide monitor and paging were in the SM's office next to star dressing rooms at stage level off SR. In general, noisy items requiring HVAC were backstage above deck level and beyond the side walls of the stage. Equipment racks operating more or less silently were permitted within booth areas only when it made good sense and was not an impediment to a happy booth life. One theatre contained fourteen (14!) booths spread over 6 elevations [Courtesy of several of your FASTC brethren from a rock in New York] The venue reminded me of 'Fiddler On The Roof' "with one more leading nowhere just for show" but I had to admit they had ALL their foreseeable options covered including at least 3 dedicated projection booths in case you wanted to front project full width scenes prosc' to prosc' from Pani's in booths between the 2nd and 3rd balconies with a larger booth on the CL and smaller booths on each 1/4 line PLUS a fourth projection booth on the CL at a higher elevation exclusively for the projection of 'Surtitles'.
    Thanks @BillConnerFASTC for sparking my jaunts down memory lane.
    Edit 1: Miscounted the booth elevations.
    Edit 2: Forgot the dedicated 'Surtitle' booth.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  7. Skervald

    Skervald Active Member

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    I like to keep SM and lighting op enclosed whenever possible. If the two are in the same enclosed booth, they can speak at a normal level and the lighting op doesn't need a com. I also find it's extremely useful to have an enclosed space to deal with a crisis in the middle of a performance. So to clearly answer your original question: No, an enclosed space is not absolutely necessary but it is extremely useful. If I were building from the ground up, I would definitely include one. (or two!)
     
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  8. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

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    My .02ยข, open for sound in middle...and closed with windows that can open(a little or a lot) as needed on either side...

    Sean...
     
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  9. Aaron Clarke

    Aaron Clarke Member

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    In my novice and especially HS years I never cared much for being behind glass when running lights. Typically shows were not 'formally' called and my own senses had to make up for a lot. Seeing and hearing what is happening on stage even in a blackout was important and glass always impeded that. This was especially the case during tech. If they have a quality program with skilled people that follow the basics in running a show I wouldn't object to it at all. My preference would be for some type of option to have the glass open. My HS had sliding showcase style windows and it was nice to have the option of partially to half open and if we really needed it open the panels just lifted out.
     
  10. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    I prefer lights in a booth, audio in the open. Easier to get a nap in between lighting cues when the audience isn't observing everything you do.

    That said, our control locations are open, at the rear of the orchestral seating. No choice as the alternative was the enclosed booth 5 flights up with no view or ability to hear what's in the house. Thus audio moved and lighting followed to a position behind the rear orchestra where we removed 2 rows of seats. We built nice wood console positions with lids that get removed and can secure the positions.

    The operators just have to remember to speak softly on headset.

    Our new space (220 seat proscenium) has audio and lighting in a booth with badly designed windows. If live audio needs to get mixed, the last 2 rows of seats can move and there's a set of complete audio system connections in the floor.
     
  11. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Open/Closed/Open.

    Put sound nearest center in one open, and followspots at the ends -- assuming they're quiet enough. Lights and SM can go in the middle.

    Being off center a little shouldn't be fatal for sound, since in a wide room, you have no business mixing in stereo anyway. :)
     
  12. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Jay Ashworth Possibly we need to steer our thinking back to @BillConnerFASTC 's original problem / query: Dealing with his architect who's priority is SYMMETRY. We're veering off-topic into sensibilities, practicalities and common sense (By no means bad concerns) but we are straying from Mr. Conner's original query.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
    [The reigning king of TLDR topic swerves and 'The pot calling the kettle black']
     
  13. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I should not have mentioned the symmetry because it's about being challenged about the need for an enclosed control room in a HS theatre for acoustic reasons, not security. It just seems obvious to me that light board ops do talk on come and especially in a small room it is disturbing to the audience. I suppose it's relevant that this is a live, reverberant room, supportive of natural acoustics, so probably everyone would hear even whispering.
     
  14. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I might be in the minority here, but I've never been a fan of windows in control booths except for security when there's an audience-level walkway directly in front of the booth. Almost always too much glare off of the glass.

    I'm used to running lighting and sound from an FOH mix position and have become accustomed to talking quietly on headset. If you're on headset and an audience member is 10' away from you, you should be able to fully communicate with anyone else on headset without disturbing that audience member.

    If a booth has hard floors/walls, once you open up one pane you might as well have all the panes removed because once you introduce that flanking path the rest of the panes have minimal effect on knocking down noise levels unless you have partitions or dividers segregating each work area.

    I typically recommend carpet on the floor, drop-tile ceiling or Tectum on an open deck, and 1" or 2" absorber panels spread around on the walls to knock down extraneous noise exiting the booth through the windows into the theater. Whether that's cutting down footsteps, chatter, clacking of keyboards, or followspot fan noise.
     
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  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    In a school you need to deal with training techs and kids that talk. Therefore you need a closed area for lights and stage manager (and probably a teacher). I have room for 5 people in my booth and often wish there was room for more... (assistant student director anyone?). And they all talk. My booth has large sliding windows and I wish there was a way to close off the sound side.
     
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  16. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I like everything to be open... and I want to be as close to the audience with both as possible. Open air is always best in my world. When I taught I always wanted the students to be in the room with me and be seeing what the audience is seeing.

    One booth configuration I liked though IF you must go booth... put a glass sliding wall in like this:

    https://goo.gl/images/7nt2jy
    [​IMG]
     
  17. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    What's the price on that with the full beach view package?
     
  18. samtech26

    samtech26 Member

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    I prefer a closed space for lighting unless you can be far from any audience members. Most sound folks prefer to be in the open where they can clearly hear what the audience hears. My picture shows our local HS auditiorium seating 1300. Both control positions are open at the back of the house with seats rignt in front of the consoles. I've had audience members stand up and shush me during orchestra concerts while talking on the com as a board op. In a local theater space, the control positions are in a booth in the back of a raked (stadium style) seating area with sliding windows on the lighting side. For many productions, sound sets up ouside of the booth even though the sound booth (separated by a wall with a passthrough from lights) is open to the hall on the front.
     
  19. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    I have long ago move both lighting and sound to a control Bay at the back of the house. We have a booth that is used by the SM when calling shows. To have both would entail a lot of stair climbing as the booth is up one flight.
    If the booth was on the same level as the back of the house I might reconsider.
    I do feel that having them together in close proximity is a huge advantage. As is they were separated I would spend much time scurrying back and forth.
    Chatter is really not a problem, by the time tech is done most of the yelling and screaming is over. (apart from the SM in the booth) The bay is small, more than 4 is very crowded. At one point I had audio at the extreme right. This left a 4or5 foot space between the stations. Often that space rapidly filled with many unnecessary persons who did not really need to be there and interfered with operations. Now I just have lighting and sound right next to each other, the extra space is still there but you must make your way around the sound op to get to it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017 at 1:30 PM
  20. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    I have a similar project on the boards right now. We have a sound 'porch' and enclosed lighting. Seats right in front!! Fortunately the architect realizes the audience is looking the other way so isn't pushing symmetry on the booths.

    Students will talk, panic and need help. One curious thing came up, real time translation for the audience. Someone nearby did it and the school loved it. So where to put someone who talks constantly?
     

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