I just came back from a company sales meeting where I was originally asked to shoot during the week and complete a video to be shown on the last day. As it turned out they asked me if I had the capability to teleprompt during the meeting. I had Listec software on a PC with me and the in house AV guys connected me by vga to a 22 inch monitor sitting on top of a confidence monitor the was positioned on the floor. I did not have a good feeling. Well, it worked out a whole lot better than I thought and I am looking for a better solution for future gigs. I shoot plenty of on camera stuff using a teleprompter but the live aspect is really promising. So my question is, what's the best way to go? What's out there as far a solutions for events between 100-150 attendees. Is there anything else I should consider? This has opened a whole new avenue of opportunity for my company and I want to pursue it. Any advice would really be appreciated.
Well, for big events, you should get some of the presidential style prompter screens. They run about $3k for a slick and easy to assemble unit. Expensive, but you might get a contractual deal going with a local hotel to have them "on call".
Another method I've heard of, is to use a video projector facing the "wong" way, to paint the text onto the wall or a portable projection screen behind the audience at a large size. This is a little less "private" since anybody can see it, whereas with the presidential type units, only the speaker can see it. But it's fast and easy to set up:, a netbook or laptop and the projector and a portable stand, and you're up.
Can you give me the brand name of what you would purchase? Does it come with it's own software or can I hook up my laptop and use the Listec program?
Being me, I usually ignore brands and purchase the cheapest one that does the job reliably:-). Shop around. Listek and Mirror image are two popular brands. Since you already have an on-camera prompter system, maybe the next step for you is to see if you can convert it to stand-up presenter mode by just buying the floor frame, pole, and glass assembly, and using the LCD, laptop, and software you already have. Though generally, you do these kinds of gigs with two units at 45 degree angles.
There are also lectern-top mini prompters on the market, based on a netbook or ipad or whatnot, they clamp or mount somewhere near the front of the lectern like a little windshield or a rear-view mirror on a gooseneck stalk. I don't have much faith in these, myself: the view angles are too restricted, and there is good chance the thing will throw spill light on the speaker in an unfavorable way.
The laptop and software you already have probably will work for any unit you buy. The thing to watch out for is to see if the unit you buy takes a composite video out or does it need a VGA or other format out, and can the unit manually flip-reverse the text you feed it, or must you do that part (when required) in your software?
The nice thing about old CRT based prompters is one cheap coax can feed everything with some barrel connectors and a tap. Want to add another confidence or operator monitor? No big deal. Long runs? Nyet Problem, comrade. *Maybe* you'd need a video DA for long runs or multiples, but these are like $20 at radio shack. If you need to feed multiple VGA cables out instead, this adds complexity and reduces flexibility, to my way of thinking. The cheaper LCD units will not offer hardware flipping of the signal from VGA or composite, because in essence this requiers a scan converter inside the unit at higher cost. Also, cheap units will lack an anti-glare matte coating on the LCD. Considering the vagueires of various hotel lighting setups, you're in for some vexing situations if you don't insist on some kind of anti-glare treatment.
One other method I feel I have to mention is ear prompting. While it costs about the same as a teleprompter, it's invisible to an audience and the speaker can roam anywhere on stage. The system comprises a tiny hearing-aid like ear plug that picks up a radio signal from a loop antenna worn under the shirt. That antenna connects to a larger but still pocket-sized radio reciever relay, fed from someone backstage with a playback unit, or to a pocket mp3 player or digital voice recorder with a miniature, concealed remote control. Before the event, the speaker reads from a script while recording his own voice. During the event or taping, he plays it back and speaks out loud what's in his ear. Takes a little getting used to, probably somewhat more than a mirror-based prompter, but, it has a lot of advantages too, in terms of flexibility and mobility. By reading a script phonetically, it can even enable your speaker to pretend to understand a foreign language, just by repeating word for word what he hears. The remote controls stop-start, rewind, and overall speed.
Thanks for the great info. I did end up purchasing a presidential setup with two 19" monitors and a travel case. I keep a folder with your posts and your approach to teleprompting has been very helpful to me over the years. One of the benefits I get from this kind of work is the relationships that get built coaching and providing feedback to clients who don't have much on camera experience(which is almost everyone these days).
They are also CEOs and decision makers in the companies I work for.
Appreciate your sage advice.
Can't be a very thick folder :-)
It sure is and it has been a great resource for me over the years.
Thanks for everything.