by Al Herr on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:11:26 pm
Hello all (again),
A potential client is going to have attorneys reading scripts and need a teleprompter. I wonder if there is a work around with me using a laptop or a tv screen and having the script gradually scrolling that way or is there is some inherent advantage to an official telprompter?
Never used one.
The advantage with an actual teleprompter is that the script is displayed directly in front of the camera lens, so the eye-line is perfect. Some have used a laptop directly below the camera but it just doesn't look right, IMO.
Re: teleprompter by Mark Suszko on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:03:29 pm
NOTHING is as good as the eye line looking into a lens straight thru the 2-way mirror of a real prompter. A longer subject to camera distance can hide an off-center eyeline somewhat, but you have problems working at long distances, yet getting the type large enough to read from that distance and scroll at a good speed for comprehension.
What you can do in a pinch is buy a rectangular picture frame at the dollar store (for the clear glass) and a cube-shaped cardboard box of the right dimensions. The cube box assures that two diagonally opposite corners will locate the glass at the 45 degree angle you need. The laptop screen is laid flat on the table, looking straight up at the ceiling. The cube shaped box is placed over this, lid side down.
Step one: cut a hole in the box.... I mean, um, cut a lens hole in one end of the box. The end opposite the lens hole needs to be cut away from edge to edge, except for a little half-inch lip along the top edge, and one at the bottom, to retain the glass and prevent the sides from spreading apart. Lay the glass into a corner edge of the box and it should naturally fit at the required 45 degree angle if the box is a cube shape. The 45 degree glass needs to tilt towards the talent end of the device. You will count on the prompting software to invert the text for proper reflective display. In a pinch, you can make inverted slides in photoshop and run them using powerpoint or iphoto slide show.
This will actually work okay for a one-off "disposable" use, if you can drive the laptop via a mouse. Helps if the box is painted black inside or lined with black paper or cloth, and helps more if the picture glass is replaced by a half-silvered beam splitting mirror. Crank up the brightness of the laptop display to maximum.
Another cheap shortcut if you own a video projector is to project the text really large on the wall behind the camera, and if your subject is far enough away from the lens, the difference in angle is not too bad. Success depends on the room dimensions and the lighting situation.
Lastly, if you have an ipod, (who doesn't) you can record the speech to an mp3 or wav file, and hide the earpiece (you only need one) while the talent just repeats everything he's already said, reading off the script into the mic beforehand. Most laptops can record the audio and make an mp3 on the spot. This works anywhere, even in motion, poor man's ear-prompter. A dab of spirit gum or medical tape can hide the ear piece behind the ear, or use a real newscaster's earpiece.
What's also cool about this ear prompting method is it lets you make the speech in any language you can read phonetically off the paper in advance, without really knowing the language. Konichi-wa! Salaam Malechchem! Gooten-taag!. You could also do this with a phone playing back an audio file or relaying someone nearby who is reading the script live at the same speed you are repeating it.
Re: teleprompter by Al Herr on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:38:09 am
Wow , that is a MacGyver approach Mark.
I am horrible at making things but I think I might try that for my own home sometime. So far I am in the beginning stages with this client (attorney firm) and will look into renting a teleprompter I think as that seems to be the best. Today we were supposed to meet and as I walk in the door the HR lady said a dire situation has come up so we did not meet.
No projector but I have an iphone and Mac Book Pro, wireless mic.
What controls the teleprompter scrolling of text ? Software on my laptop?
never seen one in action.
Re: teleprompter by Mark Suszko on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:42:06 am
Typically you can use a wireless mouse, wireless slide show clicker, corded mouse, and the space bar and arrow keys and sometimes number keys, to control speed and direction and stop/start.
For windows-based prompting I recommend the fine folks at DRS-Digitrax.
For mac, you can try a dirt cheap prompter call prompt puppy or prompt dog, but I didn't like the stuttery scrolling on it. I can't recall which mac based prompter I have right now, been a while and the case is buried under leftover holiday stuff, will dig it out if you really need to know.
Re: teleprompter by Bill Davis on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:06:15 am
Yep, the scroll control is done by software running on a laptop.
I've got to say, however that teleprompters are equal parts blessing and curse.
If you MUST have someone say a script word for word, they're the only good way to do this.
HOWEVER, put anyone but a trained professional in front of a teleprompter and you screw the NATURAL to WOODEN delivery ratio rapidly toward the latter.
If you need accurate - but stiff and unatural - go with the prompter.
If you want the attorney's personality and command of the subject to come across more naturally, it's typically MUCH better to put them in an interview style situation and have them respond to targeted questions - knowing that you'll likely to have to edit the heck out of the results.
Re: teleprompter by Al Herr on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:11:43 am
that is excellent advice.
When I finally sit down with them I am going to see how glued they are to the teleprompter idea. I know it could increase my editing time however if there are a lot of takes. If an attorney really knows the material they should be able to improvise a little and look natural.
Re: teleprompter by Mark Suszko on Jan 28, 2010 at 3:57:26 pm
Prompters hook up 2 ways, depending on the screen of the prompter head. The old stlye used a CRT (tv picture tube) and thus could take a plain old composite video input, and if your laptop did not have a composite video out, a $100 scan converter hooked to the VGA port would output a video signal the CRT could read.
CRT's also had an advantage in that the coils of the tube could be reversed by a technician so that you didn't need software to flip the video to the proper orientation. Why was this good? Composite video also meant you could run additional free taps to satellite repeater monitors around the set with plain coax and splitters, very handy for the operator to see the screen he's controlling, as well as for other people in the studio like the director to follow along.
CRT's perform better outdoors, IMO, as they can be brighter than LCD's. I'm biased as I still have and rent a CRT-based prompter; I have thought about converting it to LCD but haven't yet made a business case for it. If it never leaves a studio, it matters much less that it isn't as svelte as an LCD model.
LCD's took over because they are lighter and flatter and easier to power, but only the more expensive ones can also take in a composite video source, so generally they are confined by a short VGA cable, and there ARE no deflection coils to reverse, so, you can't do cute tricks like put incoming video on the prompter from another camera feed to the camera itself ( a handy trick for people doing satellite interviews so they can see the other guy eye to eye or, if there is no back-haul image, they can see themselves as in a mirror and control their expressions better on camera). And feeding the VGA to remote extra monitors is much more expense and hassle than a handful of barrel connectors, splitters, and coax.
If you're looking to buy one, get the largest one you can afford. Something only a foot across may look cute mounted to a small camcorder, but the problem with small screens is you can't read them from much more than arm's length. If you increase font size so you can see it farther, you can't fit as many letters per line of text, and this in turn means you have to scroll that text way faster to keep up at normal speaking speed. The eyes of the speaker will dance rapidly up and down trying to read and looking like they are lying or having a seizure.
Also, your eye and brain unconsciously begin to decode the lines just ahead of the one you're on, as soon as they can percieve it. That's one of the keys to speed-reading, btw. A too-small, fast-scrolling display robs the brain of that extra processing time, and this leads to slower ability to decode and perform the line by the conscious brain. Bottom line there is the reader doesn't sound as good, because reading has been made harder.
Use a sans-serif font for the text, and mixed-case; ALL-CAPS prompting is a throwback to the 1950's and system limitations of that time, and hurts readability by average people, because all-caps destroys the natural unique shape of words you've learned since childhood.
More than you wanted to know, probably. It's a gift, AND a curse of mine.