Translation booth AV requirements
Now that your event team has cleared the placement of the translation booths with the language vendor, it is time to talk about translation booth AV requirements. It is important for the AV team to understand not only what AV cables to run, but also power hookup requirements as well.
Below is a typical setup for a 2-person full-size translation booth. Portable booth will look about the same, typically less monitor: there’s simply not enough space to put one.
From left to right:
- Desk lamp for interpreter 1
- Interpreter 1 laptop
- Interpreter 1 headset
- Interpreting console receiving direct feed or relay
- Monitor with the feed from the stage camera
- Interpreter 2 headset
- Interpreter 2 laptop
- Desk lamp for interpreter 2
As you can see, none of the equipment is particularly power hungry: a console usually draws on the order of 18-20 watts. The rest of the equipment will take anywhere from 10 to 85 watts. All of this combined will be far below a threshold of 1800 watts from a typical 15 amp circuit.
One piece of equipment not pictured here is a couple of fans that circulate air in the full-size booth (it can get quite toasty in there). These also draw a negligible amount of power, so you can safely daisy-chain several booths on one circuit.
We prefer to put each booth’s equipment on its own socket if possible – for redundancy, and daisy-chain all fans on a single cable for ease of control, when shutting down equipment at the end of the day. It is possible to continue working with the fans not spinning, but if someone from the audience accidentally trips on the cable and disconnects all booths – it could be a disaster (proper cable management is extremely important).
As far as the AV team is concerned, requirements for translation booths are quite simple: a main-mix fed to the translation booths via an XLR cable. When working in a large event space, the AV team will typically have a dedicated XLR out with the main mix, containing all stage mics, including any handhelds, lapels, and video tracks broadcast on stage as well.
Interpreting console is capable of individual gain control for each of the interpreters, as well as input/output gain control. In the instances where the level coming in from the main mixer is too low, we can put a pre-amp in the middle to control delivery to the booths.
With smaller spaces, the AV team may not have a dedicated XLR out (usually main mix is occupied by speaker connections), so we always bring a splitter like WhirlWind Split6 just in case. Coincidentally, we use this same splitter to feed all of the booths from the same XLR out if there are multiple languages working at the event.
If the booths do not have a direct line of sight, we need to put a monitor into the booth, so that interpreters can see what’s happening on stage. Delivering video feed these days is quite painless: we put a BlackMagic SDI to HDMI converter into each booth, and daisy-chain them between the booths if needed. Now interpreters have a crystal-clear picture on a large monitor, so they don’t have to strain their eyes trying to understand a busy power-point presentation on stage.
We are always looking for more streamlined and technologically advanced solutions, so if you have your own tips and tricks of the trade – leave us a comment!