remote TV interview monitor
I have a client who wants a type of monitor they've used before at a TV studio, but that I'm not familiar with and I have no idea where to start looking. They're doing remote TV interviews and they want a monitor that lets them see the interviewer, but that sits in front of (or "around", as the client put it) the camera lens like a teleprompter so they're not looking off-camera. The camera being used is basically an ENG camera with some basic studio-type add-ons so I'm not sure if this is even possible with this type of camera or is unique to the big full studio cameras. I hope thy way I tried to describe that makes sense. Any help is appreciated.
Here's link to one of several products that do what you ask:
Or just use a regular teleprompter, feed it a video signal instead of the text. You can also look up "Interrotron".
I've done this exact thing with a teleprompter as they mentioned above. Just make sure you use a black background on the shot that is feeding the teleprompter. Maybe even tweek the settings on the teleprompter monitor. Bright video reflected on the mirror can effect your main shot. Sometimes it can look washed out.
Praise to the COW
ImageWorks Media Group
Thanks very much guys. Since there are reasons a prompter isn't practical in this situation, but they're too much to get into here, I'm hoping the "Eye Direct 16x9" John S. suggested will work. Thanks much John!
I'm really hoping it's not called that because it only works with 16x9. I need both aspect ratios since, right now, the signal that'll reflect to the talent is a 4x3 DirecTV signal of TV broadcasts that'll eventually be 16x9. The camera shot of the talent also needs to remain switchable between 4x3 and 16x9. I obviously have no control over the TV broadcasts so I can't make what's reflected black and understand that, as well as the other problems this will cause ... just dealing with clients who want what they want and have this attitude - just do what I tell you and happily accept blame for the problems (which all happen to result from the same things you tried to warn us about) or we'll get someone who will, any questions?
You should see my custom-built prompter; "The Big Kahuna". A 42 inch plasma is the source. You can put two studio cameras behind it, side-by-side, so you can live-switch between a wide and a tighter shot.
We built it primarily for people who give powerpoint lectures, so they can look out at the slides and make perfect eye contact with the lens. The screen is so large that you can pull the unit back a bit from the talent and they can still read it very well, and as for using it as just a teleprompter, it's large enough you can prompt Stevie Wonder with it.
A secondary function I plan to try with it is to use it for skypecasts, where the person in our studio can look directly at the screen image and make perfect eye contact with the people on the other end of the skype video conference. Normally when we do satellite live shots, the cable news folks don't bother to send you a back-haul image to look at, to do so by satellite would double your costs is the main reason, however, we could just patch in a return video off the local cable TV box and then you could "see" the nwes anchor asking you questions, slightly delayed, while you make good lens/eye contact. However, though we can offer that function, very few custoeres ask for it, finding it too distracting and not what they have grown used to, which is to stare down a lens without any return video, and just have the audio in the IFB earpiece with a mix-minus feed.
The folks at one of the big animation companies took this prompting screen thing a step further and made a conference room with an entire floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall video wall like this, so when they teleconference, it looks like two full-sized rooms sharing one long table, with a glass divider between them, and when you look at someone, you look *at* them, not into a lens on the periphery. It becomes very natural after a while.
[Mark Suszko] "when we do satellite live shots, the cable news folks don't bother to send you a back-haul image to look at, to do so by satellite would double your costs is the main reason, however, we could just patch in a return video off the local cable TV box and then you could "see" the nwes anchor asking you questions, slightly delayed, while you make good lens/eye contact. However, though we can offer that function, very few custoeres ask for it, finding it too distracting and not what they have grown used to, which is to stare down a lens without any return video, and just have the audio in the IFB earpiece with a mix-minus feed."
You just described the exact scenario, along with the pitfalls like the high cost of doing it right and the extremely distracting result of doing it wrong. And, in addition to the do-what-we-tell-you attitude I described, it's also do-it-for-less-than-costs. So, that, along with this being a one-man-band operation, makes building a custom contraption out of the question. At the end of the day, they want what they want so watching the end of the commercial from 5 seconds ago while expecting to see the interviewer is unfortunately exactly what I have to give them. I'll bet you a dollar they try it a few times than go back to staring at the lens like everyone else does ... after putting a match to a couple thousand, of course.
Anyway, thanks for the great ideas ... they'll come in handy when I've got a better situation to work with.
Use your imagination when you don't have money. Some carpenters that owed us favors built the chassis for free based on my google sketch-up drawings, it is after all just a black-painted wooden box with two ends open and wood strip cleats inside at a 45 degree angle to support the glass. If you take some time you can build the box yourself, and mount it on, say, the legs and casters from a used surplus stool. I used regular window glass for the mirror for $10, and that works surprisingly well, though I have a real beamsplitter on order for $600. Yours at a smaller size for one camera would be considerably less, in the $50 range. The 42 inch plasma was a freebie: the network control center was surplussing it because it had some burn-in from being used to display one type of readout for a long time, but the burns don't affect it enough for our use.