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Suggestions For A Teleprompter

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Corbin GrossSuggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:07:18 pm

I need to get a teleprompter. I have no idea where to start, I thought you guys could make some suggestions?

I'm an in house guy at an apparel wholesaler. I make videos of our management promoting new initiatives and selling new product. 90% in studio on void white, talking heads, 10-25ft. I use a FX1 currently, and I don't have a super heavy duty tripod, just a basic Manfrotto, so I know I may need something beefier.

Thanks.

Corbin Gross
Photo/Video
SANMAR
Marketing


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Mark SuszkoRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:28:40 pm

First of all, don't let anyone convince you that putting the screen above, below, or next to the lens is "just as good" as an honest-to-god, thru-the-mirror system. It's not. Sometimes you might get away with it, but for the real deal in eye contact, you MUST shoot thru the mirror directly.

Get the biggest screen size you can afford; this translates directly to the max viewing distance for the talent. You can cheat on a smaller screen by making the letters large, but that makes the sentences shorter and the crawl speed faster, to keep the same speaking rate. This all leads to making the talent struggle and be uncomfortable, the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. That's why I'm not a fan of using ipads or iphones as prompter screens: the tiny screen size forces you to work very close. I had a custom prompter built for teleconferencing using a 42-inch plasma as the monitor: you can read it from orbit:-)


If you can't afford a tripod upgrade, you can put the prompter on it's own support system, and snug your camera tripod and camera close up TO it. We did that for years, putting the prompter and mirror on an adjustable height pedestal originally made to hold up slide projectors. While this 2-piece setup restricts your ability to pan and move the camera around, your particular application doesn't sound like it would need that mobility as much. This would let you work with the prompter now, while saving up for a sturdier tripod.

The LCD-based prompting units are very light weight and in theory might still be safe to use with your existing tripod. I caution you though that unless very well balanced, you will always be in danger of the pan head's tilt brake giving way and both the prompter and camera suddenly doing a head-first tumble to the floor if left unattended. A $2 safety chain can prevent expensive lessons.


There's many brands out there that are good these days, I always like to recommend Stewart Instruments myself, as I own one at home and they've been good to me over the years. For PC prompting software my long time fave has been DRS-Digitrax.


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Jim BrownRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:39:19 pm

Mark has valid points. I use a unit from The Prompter People which as an lcd screen and does through the lens glass. Started using it with a PD170, went to a Z1, and now an EX1. The unit works very well on small cameras such as yours. Would recommend a heavy duty tripod/head and something linke the Bogen 501 series works well and is very affordable.

Check out the prompter people at http://www.prompterpeople.com/

Jim Brown
M&M ProductionsUSA


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Jason JenkinsRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 6:05:49 pm

I have a prompterpeople unit as well, which I like.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Bill DavisRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 8:47:13 pm

All these are good thoughts.

But understand that reading a prompter and looking natural at the same time is a skill roughly equivalent to dancing.

Most people can do it competently with practice. Very few people can walk out on a dance floor and do it very well the first time.

And those who don't believe that the third paragraph from the top of this is true, are the people who end up making DREADFUL, stiff, hard to watch teleprompter driven videos.

YMMV.

Good luck.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Corbin GrossRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:21:08 pm

You know, most of the time I am using in-house talent. They're actually pretty good though. It's not like we just get the prettiest blonde girl in the office, put on too much makeup and hope nobody's looking at the product. And many of the videos we do are department heads or the owners addressing internally. That's never going to look good but at least they'll be looking at the camera. I can never get enough handle, they're always looking back at the script on the last word. And paper shuffling!

Anyway. How much does one of these things weigh? I'm just looking at new tripods and want to make sure I don't get something that just barely holds up the camera/prompter combo.

Corbin Gross
Photo/Video
SANMAR
Marketing


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Corbin GrossRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 6, 2011 at 10:24:08 pm

Oh, and another thing. Do you think the prompter can be too big?

Say I can get the whopper, sure I can shoot somebody 30 feet away. But will that be too big when I need shoot somebody addressing from their 8x12 office?

Corbin Gross
Photo/Video
SANMAR
Marketing


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Bill DavisRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 7, 2011 at 4:43:54 am

[Corbin Gross] "Anyway. How much does one of these things weigh? I'm just looking at new tripods and want to make sure I don't get something that just barely holds up the camera/prompter combo.
"


The LCD units aren't particularly heavy. But depending on the kind of cameras you typically use, it's very possible you'll need the prompter manufactures "riser" rig to get your camera high enough to center it in the glass. That means teleprompter rigs tend to be both top heavy, and front heavy (since even an LCD and a lightweight acrylic beamsplitter is a balance issue when it's hanging 12 inches in front of at the nominal balance point.

So a somewhat heavier duty tripod with a well designed head that can handle shifting "center of gravity" issues is recommended.

FWIW.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Richard FarrRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 7, 2011 at 5:46:28 am

We sell the Prompt-it Teleprompter and we use it. I am not trying to make a sale but simply giving you another option - your call if you like it or not:
http://www.prompt-it.com.au

It is cheaper and is very popular here in Australia. Works well, we use it during our video shoots, no problems at all.

Richard
Digital Video Experts
Sydney Australia


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Mark SuszkoRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 8, 2011 at 5:11:51 pm

You can see on Richard's site, a picture of the prompter head resting on it's own individual tripod, with the cloth connecting it to the camera lens on it's own individual sticks. WHile you can't pan or tilt with that rig, you can zoom with it a bit, and for the kind of static work the OP needs, something like that could work.


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Martin CurtisRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Dec 11, 2011 at 11:15:53 pm

I can't add anything regarding brands, but I can for size. I built my own teleprompter (chipboard, perspex, black spray paint and black blanket material) and I've used it for a professional actor at work. It holds a 17" monitor and I use Easy Prompter Portable to drive it (free, runs via a browser on any PC/Mac and you can download a "reverse font") and the actor was fine at a distance of 6' or 7' - I could get mid shots with no problem and the actor got through huge amounts of text in record time. Negatives: weighs a ton; has that 'version 1' look.

Short version: use a 17" monitor to work with people 7 - 10' away. If the monitor is too big, people's eyes may noticeably flick back and forth.


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Sam RedRe: Suggestions For A Teleprompter
by on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:11:43 pm

Hi Corvin, I do agree with the people on the forum. The fac is that the talent makes better eye contact with a mirror system. So im thinking ikan, check out their PT Elite It's under $600 at B&H http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/835808-REG/Ikan_PT_ELITE_Elite_iPad_T...

It utilizes your ipad and the system is not only easily readable. It also is "Very light weight" you should not have a problem mounting it most tripods, However I would suggest something like the manfrotto 546 tripod with maybe a 501 head, if you can still find one.


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