Seven Principles for Tech Booth Design

So, we've talked about tech booth placement and the problems that the more aesthetically pleasing locations can cause.

Let's wrap up our exploration of tech booth concepts with looking at some guiding principles for the inside of the tech booth.

Principle #1:

Tech booths are almost never large enough. When you are looking at a tech booth layout on a blueprint, they often look huge. At the church I worked at, the tech booth was about 40' wide and 10' deep. When I looked at the blueprints, it seemed ridiculously large.

And while it wasn't too small, it quickly filled up, and we really had no extra room to expand for large events or future needs.

Principle #2:

It's easy to think about the tech booth in terms of the number of people you need to run your service. But don't forget that your tech team needs to train new people. There should be space to allow two people at every position so that one can shadow another and learn through observation.

Principle #3:
Manuals and paperwork take up space, and if you're dealing with a crisis and need to look things up, you need some space to open the manual while you work.

Principle #4:

Make sure you have good sight lines to the stage. Audio techs and lighting techs need to see the performers on the stage to follow what's going on. Body language of the musicians provides key information to the audio person as to what's happening and what instruments need to be made prevalent in the mix at any given time.

If your audio guy can't see the faces, arms and hands of the musicians, their reaction time will be slow, and the music will not be the best it can be. If you have a flat floor for house seating, you may need to get the booth up a few feet off the floor so the techs can see clearly over the heads of the congregation.

Principle #5:
The tech booth should have good access to the room and stage. The tech booth I mentioned earlier was at the front edge of an unfinished balcony space. Round-trip time to get to the stage was about four minutes, not counting the time working on a problem. That's a lot of time lost in pre-service rehearsals if there are problems that need fixing.

Principle #6:
The tech booth should also have difficult access for the congregation. The last thing techs need is random comments from the congregation during a serviceit's distracting, and the techs probably already know there's an issue and are dealing with it. And frequently, comments are contradictory.

I've heard uncountable stories from techs about how they get complaints about the music being too loud AND too soft from the same service. Don't make it easy for the congregation to get at the techs.

Principle #7:
If there's a way to do it, try to make the booth as distraction-free for those seated behind the booth. Keep monitor brightness turned down, and try to position things such that they are as invisible from the rear as possible. If your tech team needs to talk to one another during services, install an intercom system so they can speak quietly and still be heard clearly by the other techs across the booth.

If you have someone proficient in Google Sketchup or other 3D modelling programs, create a model of the booth you are considering, and place representations of your gear people in it. This can greatly help with ensuring your layout will work, and there's room for everyone to move about freely.