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Wolgarston High School

The Project Brief

Wolgarston High School is a community school founded on values of respect and excellence. Wolgarston recently received an outstanding Ofsted report and are therefore keen to keep striving for this same level of excellence in their staff, students, and facilities.


Wolgarston contacted Piranha AV and asked us to project-manage the updates taking place in their main hall. Whilst they were in possession of some good-level, high-tech equipment, such as speakers, sound and lighting equipment and a projector; various issues meant that they were unable to make the most of them. Having no dedicated space for this equipment meant that staff had to unpack, and set-up, all of the different systems each time they were required; a laborious process that demanded a large amount of staff time and planning. This cycle of set-up and pack-down also meant that much of the equipment was being damaged overtime and prevented it from being accessible for use on an impromptu basis.


Piranha AV were tasked with designing and erecting a dedicated booth in which the equipment was permanently set up for use. Due to the equipment often being tampered with, following set-up, this booth needed to be secure and lockable. To eliminate the drain on staff time, all systems needed to be set-up and hard-wired so that staff no longer had to manually connect everything for each use.


As well as the work on the booth, the school required some additional connection points building into the stage floor, in order to plug-in microphones and eliminate trailing cables. Dedicated local connection points were also needed in the space usually home to the school’s orchestra. Further microphones were required above the Choir area, these were to be discreet and to hang from the ceiling to pick up the sound of the Choir, in addition to new radio mics.


In order to improve communication during performances, Wolgarston required the installation of a video relay between the hall and the dressing room. These rooms needed linking to enable those in the hall to communicate with those in the dressing room, via a headset system.


Improving connections was to be key, as the hall’s laptop connections to the projector had an intermittent fault, rendering this system unusable on certain, unpredictable occasions.

The Piranha Solution

The solution involved designing and erecting a raised control booth, measuring 8m by 2.5m, with a locking door. The floor of the booth is raised 1m above the main hall floor, providing the school with some much-needed storage space underneath. The exterior of the booth is finished in oak veneer to match the decor of the hall, with a dado rail fitted at chair height in order to prevent damage. The design is finished off with glass panelling along the top, a feature which added to the sleek look of the design.


The floor of the booth is fitted with a noise-reducing surface to diminish the sound of footsteps in the booth. This same surface also covers the booth’s worktops, working to reduce the sounds of drinks etc. being placed down, a beneficial addition during performances and assemblies.


These worktops cover three sides of the booth, with equipment housed on top, and storage drawers and cupboards underneath. All of the equipment is grouped into ‘zones’ with the sound desk and equipment together, the lighting desk and control monitor together, and the powerpoint and video production together. This contributes further to improving the booth’s accessibility and ease of use.


The sound equipment was given a new equipment case with four new in-built radio mic receivers, a new CD player and media player for playing MP3s from a memory stick, and a speaker management distribution system, all wired to the schools existing mixing desk. This desk is placed next to the new equipment case, with all the cables routed underneath the worktop to hide them from view. The sound desk contains dedicated channels for the radio mics, CD player, mics on stage and orchestral mics; ensuring that the sound system is simple and straight-forward to operate. The storage space in this zone is used for keeping radio mics, cables, headphones, and CDs of background music etc.


As with the sound zone, the lighting operator’s desk is permanently set up and hard wired, with the addition of a monitor for easy use.


In the opposite corner of the booth, Piranha installed an equipment cabinet housing a DVD player, connections for laptops, and an audio visual switcher wired to the existing projector. Due to the distance needing to be covered, standard cabling was insufficient and therefore a long distance cat5e based system was installed. An additional custom patch panel was added in this zone, this includes connections for a camera which can then be linked to the screen in the dressing room, creating the relay system requested.


In order to ensure ease of use, a Crestron control system is incorporated in the sound booth. This system serves two main functions; to enable automatic control of the existing projector and screen, and to control the power in the equipment booth. This second function includes a sequential switching device, technology which automatically switches each piece of equipment on in the

A Crestron control system, featuring sequential switching protocol was incorporated into the booth, in order to eliminate damaging spikes in speaker noise. correct order, following a user pressing the master ‘on’ button. If a user chooses to turn the equipment off, this system will work in reverse, therefore eliminating damage caused by equipment being powered up, and down, in the wrong order. The master power system consists of a remarkably simple interface with a green and red button for turning power on and off, thus utilising Piranha’s one-click system.


In addition to the booth, Piranha AV worked to improve the Audio Visual systems in the staging and orchestral area. Six discreet microphones were hung from the ceiling of the choir/orchestral area and three floor-mounted connection points were installed under discreet theatre traps and spaced across the stage for even distribution of microphones. Connection points are also incorporated in the orchestral area. The radio microphone aerials are extended to above the stage, to improve their range.


A secondary Crestron control panel was installed near the staff computer, allowing for easy control over day-to-day functions such as those involved in operating the projector and screen; this is housed in a lockable box for extra security, which prevents pupils tampering with the system.


In order to meet the client’s request of enabling better communication during performances; Piranha AV installed a fully-integrated communications system. Connection points for this system were installed by the sound desk, the lighting desk, the new media equipment cabinet, the choir/orchestral area, and in the dressing room. These connections enable the operators of these various zones to communicate with one another via headsets; therefore creating a system which is efficient and simple to use. This system can work alongside the footage being relayed from the camera mounted in the media zone, to create a full relay system from the hall to the dressing room.


Piranha AV project managed the build from start to finish, beginning with the provision of CAD drawings, all the way through to completion of the project. All installation and construction was carried out over February half-term, therefore the timing of contractors was key. Piranha bought in joiners, electricians, painters and decorators and our team of Audio Visual engineers in order to save the school having to organise and synchronise all the contractors themselves. All of the design was done in-house and included the provision of veneer samples and carpet swatches. This level of project-management was key to the project as it relieved the staff from having to coordinate teams and ensured the project was simple and straightforward for the school.


This fully managed and tailored Audio Visual solution was delivered within the specified time period and met each of the client’s specific requirements.

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