In this article about Teleprompter Operators
There are currently many offerings when it comes to Teleprompters and Autocue's from established manufacturers like Autocue and Prompter People along with a myriad of newer entries to the market like Ikan who offer a fantastic range and then there's all the Chinese interpretations that you will find on amazon.
Whilst you can always choose to operate a teleprompter yourself you will find that using a professional Autocue or Teleprompter operator will ensure you have access to the very best equipment for your project and the experience to get the equipment set up quickly once on location.
Autocue's and Teleprompters are simple devices but be careful as they can become a hinderance if they are incorrectly setup and the scripts are not prepared and delivered smoothly if you don't get it right your talent will quickly become frustrated and you could end up with flares or artefacts that you might not notice until you get to post production.
Types of Teleprompter Operators
Teleprompters can be used in a variety of ways and in differing environments resulting in specialist applications wherever script delivery is required.
Teleprompter and Autocue operators all have a vast knowledge of the software used for prompting and preparing scripts for a smooth delivery and can work under pressure when inevitable script changes are required.
The main sectors of specialism that operators can be provided to cover include:
Using on camera Autocue and Teleprompters for corporate, TV commercial, social media campaigns, Training videos and the like when your script needs to be delivered down the barrel of the camera.
For these setups your operator would use a multitude of Autocue's or teleprompters ranging from wireless 7" above the lens systems specially designed by Teleprompted for steadicams and hand held filming through to a range of 7" to 21" over the camera lens teleprompters that can be attached directly to the video camera rig being used or standalone in front of the existing video setup.
Conferences and Live Events
Using presidential (glass panels) prompters for conferences, awards ceremonies and in times when a script needs to be viewable to the talent but not the audience and you do not need to deliver the script directly down the video camera lens but are delivering to an audience.
News Script Delivery
Live studio teleprompting and "in the field news reporting" requires an advanced skillset and knowledge of advanced software meaning operators need to be confident and up to speed with packages like WinPuls-IP, QTV, Autoscript and the like.
Documentaries and TV Series Production
Using mainly wireless over the lens prompting solutions for use in the field and on ever changing locations with heavy scripting and on many occasions multiple units.
Benefits of using a Teleprompter Operator on your project?
Whilst on many productions a teleprompter can be a last minute request and one that you may be tempted to supply and operate yourself there are many areas that using a skilled operator will add fantastic benefits to your production and in most cases save production times, costs and enhance results.
Having the correct tool for the job is a key consideration and a quick setup time is vital. In most cases the teleprompter or autocue is the last part of the equipment setup once the camera is set and framed or once the stage at a conference or live has been made ready. In most cases an experienced technician can have the optimal equipment set up for you in under ten minutes.
2. Best prompter for the job
Prompters come in many sizes and varying quality having access to the best solution is key to a smooth production a skilled operator will use the best size screen. To small the talent will struggle to read the script and too large a screen and the resulting production will show the talent's eyes reading the script defeating the object of having a teleprompter. Choosing to mount the camera to the prompter, attach the unit to 15" rails on the existing video camera rig (perfect for slider, dolly and crane shots) or attaching the Autocue or Teleprompter to a stand alone tripod are all considerations to get the very best results.
3. Quality of Prompter
Operating the equipment is a key consideration but not all teleprompters are the same by using only 70/30 UK made beam splitter glass that ensures that colour quality is retained with vignetting or artefacts including glare being reduced and in most cases the use of a prompter over the lens will only reduce exposure levels by less than half a stop.
4. Script Delivery
Delivering a smooth script is a skill not to be under rated, it takes many months to master and years to hone especially with demanding talent who like to drift off script and back again and often requires editing on the fly these can all be daunting to the unskilled. If your production includes professional actors, celebrities, royals, TV presenters or members of parliament then they will expect a slick delivery all only deliverables with a skilled teleprompter operator.
How does your Operator set up the Teleprompter?
There are two styles of prompters available and three key considerations when preparing for your teleprompter set up which will dictate the type of prompter used and the style of setup.
Style of prompter operator
Will you be filming down the barrel or do you require Conference, stage, and live event prompters.
Down the Barrel Filming
Video camera on a Static Tripod;
Your operator will set up the Autocue or Teleprompter on a separate tripod so once the Camera operator has fixed his framing and is set for filming to commence the teleprompter will be put in place in front of the existing setup. Choosing the correct size prompter to keep the talents eye-line and easy of viewing optimised. You can see a range of on camera teleprompter operator set up here.
Steadicam, Slider Shots or Crane Shots;
You can choose to have the operator attach an over the lens prompter via 15" rails to the existing setup or use a wireless system just above the lens that keeps the eye-line directly down the lens. You can see a range of above the lens camera prompter operator set ups here.
Conference, Stage and Live Event Teleprompters
Two options are available and your operator can use glass presidential prompters, large comfort style monitors or tap into a venues existing AV equipment to deliver the best prompting solution.
Glass Presidential Prompters;
allowing the talent to easily read the scripts on a glass panel that reflects the scripts from a monitor on the floor viewable in a sweet spot only readable by the presenter allowing the presenter to keep their eyes on the audience utilising two screens allows the reader to engage with the audience whist always having the script viewable for a natural delivery whilst the audience will see straight through the prompters after the operator has fine tuned the setup. You can see a range of glass presidential prompter operators being used here.
Comfort Monitors or Existing AV screens;
Connecting the autocue/ teleprompter control unit directly to on stage comfort monitors or venue screens allows the reader to easily see the scripts during any event this is especially effective when the stage is higher that the audience so the talent looks like they are naturally looking down at the viewers. if the stage is not that much higher than the audience then the readers eye-line will be looking down whilst delivering the scripts and will not look optimal in this event you would be highly recommended to use the glass presidential style prompters for a more natural unscripted look.
Which format should Teleprompter scripts be in for your operator?
Scripts come in many formats and all occasion the teleprompter/autocue operator will need to ingest the scripts into the prompting control software so the less formatting the better and as the scripts are delivered in a white font on a black background for ease of viewing changing colours of fonts and words will not get carried over.
Whilst professional operators use a control system based on a Mac book pro this allows pretty much any format script to be easily copied into the prompting solution by the operator and technician including MS word docs, PDFs and all widely used document creation software. The key is to keep things simple with no fancy layouts, font characters or paginations and no columns.