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using teleprompter with GL2

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Ruby Gold
using teleprompter with GL2
on Jul 29, 2005 at 6:40:54 pm

I'm shooting a narrator with a ton of lines for a production with a GL2 and I was thinking of using a teleprompter. It seems that most rental companies require you to either use their operators and/or have liability insurance before renting the equipment to you. I saw a company on-line that sends you the stuff necessary to "build your own" teleprompter for less than the cost of a daily rental fee. I'm on a very limited budget, so that was appealing, but I don't want to end up with something that I can't really use.

Anyone out there there have experience with using a teleprompter on a low-budget production using a GL2? I'm wondering how difficult it is to operate a teleprompter and am looking for suggestions, thoughts, warnings, etc.


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Re: using teleprompter with GL2
on Jul 29, 2005 at 11:00:18 pm

[Ruby Gold] " I'm wondering how difficult it is to operate a teleprompter"

It all depends on the "prompter" you're using.

Many are PC-based so you need a laptop PC if you go on-location.
Some are Mac-based, so a Powerbook or iBook is needed.
Some even use a small video camera that shoots the script and sends that to the prompter screen.

Regardless, you need lots of extra set-up time and you will LIKELY need an extra crew member because YOU can't run the prompter and shoot at the same time (unless its a total lock-down for each take.

Don't bother with any system that just sits "close" to the lens... the talent's eyes will never look "right" (they will be looking "off-camera" all the time.)
The secret to a GOOD prompter is the special "front-coated" two-way mirror system that mounts in FRONT of your camera lens.
That allows the talent to be able to look directly into the lens as he reads.
BUT that also requires special mounting hardware so that it will all fit onto your tripod.
A heavy-duty tripod is better, sometimes EXTRA heavy-duty is needed (see below).

Electronic (computer-based) prompters run the gamat from being very simple (with not many choices of settings) or very complex (with difficult to navigate menus).
Electronic prompters are the most versatile, as you can quickly change the copy by just retyping with the computer keyboard (or import it from a Word Processor document).

There are LCD monitors which are small and lightweight (and therefore you need to be quite CLOSE to the talent for her to see it well), and there are LARGE CRT monitors that the talent can read from a greater distance, but require the use of counter-weights and an EXTRA HEAVY-DUTY tripod to carry it all.

Otherwise, there are one or two totally NON-electronic "through-the-lens" (mirror) prompters as well.
You simply PRINT the copy on a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet, and lay that sheet on the top of a mirror setup. No computer, no operator.
The downside is, for each take, you can only use as much copy as will fit on a single sheet of paper with type large enough for the talent to READ. (But, you can even print by hand with a Sharpy pen, if you don't have a computer and printer handy.)

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David McClave
Re: using teleprompter with GL2
on Aug 10, 2005 at 8:10:10 pm

I just built my own teleprompter last week for a big shoot. Worked great, and the client was VERY impressed that we had a portable telepromter. I used a small DVD player and a 13" tv/monitor, a 14" piece of glass and some wood. The whole thing cost less than $80. I made a VCD-format slide show of pages for the talent to read. There were 40 pages, but an assistant off-camera was able to change the pages via remote-control, while reading along with the script. It worked amazingly well, and now my teleprompter is for rent! I'll be happy to forward the VERY simple plans to anyone interested.

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