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Location of the Control Booth

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Paul Hannah, Jan 8, 2018.

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Is locating a control booth backstage a foolish move?

  1. Yes

    94.1%
  2. No

    5.9%
  1. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    I am designing a new theatre in an old building and I am thinking about control booth location.
    If I go the traditional route and put it behind the audience, it will be small, low ceilinged and impossible to access for the less well abled users. If I put it backstage with two redundant video and audio feeds, it will be large, adaptable, comfortable and accessible. It will also give me 16 more seats in a 100 seat theatre.

    What do you think? Is locating it backstage a brave move too far?
     
  2. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Is audio live mixing ?, or just playback of sound cues in a play ?, or something in between. Sound almost always wants to be where they can hear what the audience hears.

    Is lighting getting modified during the show ?, then you likely want the operator to see what’s happening and not on a monitor. If you have an LD sit in the theater and cue a show, then the operator is just pushing GO, then you can get away with a hidden booth location.

    If I had a choice, audio in the house, lighting wherever, best of bad choices.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  3. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Can you put a camera out in the house to see the audience view of the stage or just put the audio position out there? Stage Managing positions backstage are pretty common and I've certainly run lights backstage before.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  4. EdSavoie

    EdSavoie Well-Known Member

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    answer to the thread name: Why on the internet of course!

    In all seriousness though, I'm not a fan of putting the control booth backstage.

    For Lighting, it means hauling out the desk into the audience every time you want to really change anything, and sound backstage sounds a lot different than sound in the house.

    Auxiliary boards backstage are brilliant though!

    During our H.S musical last year, we had a tech backstage controlling some pre cued intelligent effects, (no, the 1993 board could not control this.) as well as monitoring actor's microphone packs / status. It worked wonders for reception, as well as clearing up comms from battery level chatter.
     
    Ben Stiegler likes this.
  5. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    Sound will exclusively be SFX like phones ringing and cars arriving, that sort of thing. Lighting would be a plotted extensively with no unplanned modifications.
     
  6. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    I was thinking of two cameras in case of failure, and mikes to listen for audio cues. Sound wouldn't be mixed as the play runs, any music would be pre recorded and the only audio input would be the playing of SFX.
     
  7. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    Based on the 'just SFX and pre canned light cues" I would say that a backstage booth would be reasonable but not ideal.
    (And I don't understand the need to give up 16 seats AND to have it small and cramped if behind the audience)

    The real issue I would strongly suspect, is that at some point you will have to have a speaker with a mike, or do a small musical with wireless mikes so that in those cases you will need to find a way to put an auxiliary mix position in the house. Same thing for lighting. IE I can just about guarantee that at some point in the 30 year life of this renovation someone will have to busk a show.

    If it were me, I would consider putting your 'permanent' booth backstage - but pull support in terms of cable, etc to a planned aux location in the back row of the theatre. And plan a way to take out some seats in the back row and put the sound / lights there when needed.

    Just my 2 cents. Worth exactly what you paid for it.
     
  8. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I think if you don't make a plan for an foh control area, you'll find someone making one up.

    One I'm working on now in same size - just three seats. It can move to wheelchair spaces as well. (Ignore the fuzzy lines - that's architects pdf under my cad)

    upload_2018-1-9_10-49-7.png
     
    Ben Stiegler, EkkoJohnny and Van like this.
  9. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    +1 house alternative
    I was thinking of a solid tech rehearsal position so all that pre-programming can be done properly.

    These days a fully programed show can be done with a hand held remote. So 2 seats if needed, until all h!! breaks loose.
     
    Paul Hannah likes this.
  10. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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  11. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    Thanks. That sounds like a plan.
     
  12. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    Thanks for that
    I think I'll put a couple of cameras on redundant systems to fail safe things.
     
  13. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    Yeah. I think I can position a rehearsal light/sound board in the foyer or even the in the Box office with a drop down wall section so the op can see and hear the stage directly.
     
  14. Paul Hannah

    Paul Hannah Member

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    Thanks everyone, you have all given me ideas and important things to mull over.
    This will be a long process so, I expect I will be back asking again.
    :-D
     
  15. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    That would be great for LX but not good for any sound level setting or mixing. The usual solution is a custom table over a row of seats with connections in a floor pocket under the seats. Using any rear/middle wheelchair spots (or some removable seats) would let you bring in normal table and chairs.
     
    Paul Hannah likes this.
  16. mikefellh

    mikefellh Active Member

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    Back when I was in school the lighting board (which was 8feet tall and the dimmers were as long as my wrist to elbow) was stage left so we could see the entire stage except when the main curtain was closed, and the audio/projection was BOH. The director could be anywhere with a headset giving cues.

    The only thing was when it came to re-aiming lights some had to stay by the lighting board and listen to what the person aiming the lights wanted on.

    Now the setup I use today is mostly duplicated BOH and FOH via Cat6 cables and extenders, VGA & HDMI extenders for computer monitors, USB extender for keyboard and mouse, audio extender to a second mixer, etc.
     
    Paul Hannah likes this.
  17. mikefellh

    mikefellh Active Member

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    If you want to see the type of setup I'm referring to check out post #200 in the "Booth Pictures" thread (I had to refresh the link to get to the actual post in the thread):
    https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/booth-pictures.19170/page-10#post-375747
     
  18. Jim allen

    Jim allen Member

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    the op may be able to see the show, but the op won't "hear" the show in a room through a window. The biggest problem with sound is hearing what the audience hears and that can't happen if the operator is in a booth.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I also want to point out that just as it's impossible to properly mix audio in a closet. You can run lights via a camera from another room, but you can't design that way cameras are not the same as eyes. My guess is if you put the booth backstage it'll be great for a the first show but people will change their minds, want to experiment and you'll find that 5 years from now they have figured out some crazy way to put the booth where it should be.

    Theater techs are not robots. They are creative people who work in the moment with the show, and feel the show from the audience's point of view. Putting the real people backstage drastically limits their abilities and makes the show feel mechanical and canned.
     
  20. Jim allen

    Jim allen Member

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    another way to get around the issue is to go to wireless or either-net control Qlab will fire audio, video and lighting from anywhere, so your boards can be backstage, but you ops are FOH sitting in a chair with an iPad. An Ipad will run ETC Eos boards or Nomad wirelessly. You don't even have to have a board - you can run just with Nomad on a laptop with a Gadget II
     

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