We all know what it looks like : that backstage room, storage area, or as it was often-referred to, "the AV closet" - it's that dreadful place where everything and anything gets tossed that's related to technical systems. In the back corner, you might even find a few overhead projectors sitting around or a rubbermaid bin full of cables that no one has touched in years. It's time to get organized!
Staying organized is so important to what we do, since we need to take care of the equipment we own and need access to it quickly. I'm going to share a few basic tips that I have seen utilized and are implemented at the church where I serve thanks to a few great guys who make it their mission to keep things in order.
#1 - Everything Has A Home
No question, this is a definite must. Decide where something lives and ALWAYS return it there. This is probably the hardest rule to follow, but without it, every organizational system you put in place will fail. Determine where something belongs and enforce its return with a vengance.
#2 - Group same-type items / Seperate different-type items
Reaching into a bin/box of all XLR cables means you're going to find what you came for. In contrast, reaching into a bin full of all types of cables means you'll be sifting around, pulling at cables, throwing others back...and before you know it you have a huge rats nest on your hands. Look to seperate out the different types of items, whether it's cables or connectors or discs - keep em seperate! If you have larger amounts of cables, connectors, DIs, etc - consider building some cases for them. We'll post some pictures of our cases in a later post.
#3 - Label
This seems like a very simple one, but actually you need to think carefully about what how you will label your stuff. Sometimes people can go nuts with labeling to the point where it's worthless. I've seen labels that list the room number it belongs in, what type of cable it is, when it was made, etc. Not necessary. You need two descriptors on your cable : (a) an indicator of designation and (b) a length. The designation shouldn't be what type of cable it is - if you can't tell that by looking at it then learn. Instead, we use colored tape. Blue is for audio cables. Yellow for video. Purple for lighting. Each of these systems use XLR cables and edison power cables, but now with the color we know which area they came from. Cleaning up becomes a snap - throw them into the appropriate areas based on color. The reason we also label length is so we don't have to pull them out one by one and find the one we want. A simple white piece of tape with 25' on it makes everything easier.
Equipment should be labeled too. It would be a good idea to put your church's name on the piece of gear so that if it every wanders off, it can be identified.
#4 - Coil cables
Again, a no-brainer that it needs to happen, but enforce it strongly. Train your team on how to properly coil cables.
Do you have any organization tips? Share them in the comments!