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Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?

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Joshua Gilbreath
Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 4:42:35 am

Hello! I have a question regarding a talking head shoot. Is there any way to shoot the talent, reading a que card, and make them look like they are not reading que cards? I have had several of these types of shoots and they always look like they are reading from cards, regardless were they are placed relative to the camera top/bottom/left/right.

Any advise would be very appreciated.

Thank you!
Josh


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Steve Crook Jr
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 2:45:33 pm

I don't use "cue cards", so my answer might not be for you, but I thought I'd share it.

I use a laptop with an external display (23" 1080p monitor, actually). I put the display just under the lens so the camera doesn't see it. When the talent looks to read the screen, it mostly looks like they are looking at the viewer.

Some notes: 1) I use a huge font so I only get 3 to 5 lines of white text on a black background on the display. 2) I use ProPresenter 5, a church presentation software, but obviously Powerpoint will work just as well. 3) External display is used so my screen shows my control system while the other the prompts; just using the laptop screen is fine if it is large enough.

It's not perfect, but it is much better than my church's normal projection system. :) Which we have used before. Sigh. Remembering growing pains isn't fun.

Steve Crook, Jr.
http://www.stevecrookjr.me

I am a simple creative professional that can get my Adobe suite and a few other creative tools to do what I want. Barely. :)


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Mark Suszko
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 5:19:36 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Dec 17, 2015 at 5:20:12 pm

The pro way to do this is with a teleprompter that puts the glass directly in front of the lens.

Putting a cue card or tablet next to the lens is better than nothing, but to make it work requires shooting from farther back to disguise the difference in parallax. This makes the type smaller and harder to follow. If you then blow the type size up, you run out of room on that screen for longer sentences and have to scroll faster to keep the speed conversational. None of this makes life easier for a non-professional talent.

There are some budget alternatives. One is to use a video projector to shine the text really huge on a wall behind the camera.

Another method is ear prompting: pre-recording a simple reading of the script, then playing that back thru an earpiece and just repeating what you hear. What's cool about ear prompting is that it enables you to speak in any language you can phonetically write down in the first place. real earprompter rigs use a wireless hearing aid type earpiece, fed from an antenna loop worn around the neck, under the clothes. The loop in turn attaches to the playback unit which fits in a hand or pocket, and has star/stop/ reverse/forward controls. You could use an ipod or digital audio recorder for the feeder.

Making a thru-the-lens prompting head can be done with twenty bucks or less, and it will look way better than holding up scripts next to a lens.
Google searches will show you how-to's for this.

Like this:







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Joshua Gilbreath
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 5:55:04 pm

Hi Mark! Thank you for your feedback, I appreciate it! I am definitely going to have to give the through-the-lens teleprompter a go. This really seems like a good approach for our presenters.

I have to say though the in-ear option is also really interesting alternative. I already have my presenter using a lav mic, so I don't won't to overwhelm them by wiring them up to much. We are trying to make the content as conversational as possible.

Thank you Mark, the DIY video was just what I was looking for.
Josh


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Joshua Gilbreath
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 5:49:29 pm

Hi Steve! Thank you so much for your insight, I really appreciate it. For my needs I think that I am going to be giving a thru-the-lens prompting technique a go. I have to say though that the in-ear prompter also has me very interested. I want to give them both a try to see which techniques is more comfortable for our presenters.

Thanks again Steve!
Josh


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Todd Terry
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:00:54 pm

A functional teleprompter is very easy to build. I need to make a video of the one that I have... which was built for less than a hundred bucks (the prompter mirror was the only real cost), if you don't count the two tablets we use to run it. It can literally be assembled and mounted in less than five seconds... no exaggeration. It's much less clunky than the previous "store bought" laptop-based prompter system we used to use.

Ear prompting does work, and can work well. BUT... your talent must be very proficient at doing it. Not everyone is. If you cast a lot of actors, as we do, you'll notice in the "skills" section of their resumes that about a third of them will say "Ear Prompter Proficient"... usually right under "Can ride a bicycle" (why do actors list this and think it's a unique skill??). I'd say that about half those that claim ear prompter proficiency are actually good and natural at it. Conversely, we've seen many people who didn't even know what a teleprompter was that were pretty darn natural with it right out of the gate, first try.

Plus, with an ear prompter it's a lot more difficult to make a script change on the fly (as well as speed, delivery, or pacing adjustments), whereas with a visual prompter it's easy breezy.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:30:21 pm

All true. But an Ear prompter means you don't have to worry about eyesight, so the presenter can walk, do anything physical, at any distance from the lens, make eye contact thru the lens, but still have command of their lines. And the camera can move, too, of course.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:34:18 pm

One more tip I found, about beamsplitters. Good first-surface beam splitters of glass can be expensive in larger sizes. We made ours by adding a mylar layer to regular window glass. But one trick is to buy a regular mirror, like a bathroom mirror, and carefully strip the backing layer of paint off of it, without damaging the very thin metal coating underneath. You can do this with a paint remover solution like MEK. Todd, for next halloween, you could treat a door-sized mirror this way and make a life-sized Pepper's Ghost for your haunting times.


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Todd Terry
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 17, 2015 at 6:58:42 pm

Dang... Mark is very inventive, but that sure sounds like a lot of work (and when you get right down to it I'm really soooo lazy).

For the last one we built, the mirror not only needed to be a very specific size but a very specific shape as well, as it was an oddball shape (I designed it to fit inside our existing matte box, so that I didn't have to assemble or disassemble anything), so it needed a custom shape with funky corners to fit just right....

We designed the exact shape needed and ordered it from these people...

http://www.telepromptermirror.com/

It arrived in just a couple of days and wasn't expensive at all... I don't remember exactly but I think it was in the $70-75 range. Not bad at all for real beamsplitter glass with a custom cut shape and polished edges and all that jazz. I really should have bought a spare, but I didn't. I think they keep the templates on file.



Ok, my quick personal story... 20+ years ago when I worked in broadcast television I was a promotions producer for an NBC station. For afternoon news teases we would actually wheel one of the big BIG full-size studio cameras (remember those?) from the studio into the adjacent control room and one of our anchors would record teases. I cooked this up to give us a different look than the usual "on set" teases. Well this meant wheeling the camera (and dragging its umbilical) about 75 feet from the stage out into a hallway and into the control room (passing through two regular-size doors along the way). One day I crashed it into a door jam and broke the prompter glass. And this was in the days of the BIG prompters with a big-and-heavy CRT tube and everything. This was 3pm... between then and the 5pm newscast I ran to a glass company and had a piece of plain ol' picture frame glass cut of the right size and shape and installed it myself (not non-glare glass of course). I never even told the engineering department. NO one was the wiser. That glass stayed in place... a $7 piece of glass on a $200,000 camera... until I left that job years later. Shhhhh!

If they hadn't switched to much smaller HD cameras and LCD prompters since then it would probably still be there.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rich Rubasch
Re: Question - Shoot a talking head that is reading from que cards?
on Dec 18, 2015 at 2:12:43 am

I'd love to see yours, Todd....do share.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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