This video kicks off our four-part series on teleprompters with a broad overview of the indispensible tool that facilitates truly professional on-camera presentation. The series examines what a professional through-the-glass teleprompter can help you do, and spells out some of the advantages it provides over other options such as cue cards and off-camera teleprompters. You’ll learn the basic components of a through-the-glass teleprompter system, including both hardware and software. In addition, the series delves into more high end, professional hardware setups and software options—software that might include advanced script-management features for environments like newsrooms and applications such as distance prompting.
A through-the-glass teleprompter allows on-camera talent to read naturally from a script, with their eyes fixed on the two-way mirror that displays scrolling text directly in front of the camera’s lens. The lens shoots, as the name suggests, through that two-way glass. Teleprompter software enables the formatting and playback of the text, and typically a producer actively controls the rate of scrolling. This series does not serve as a buyers’ guide to various specific models and systems, but rather serves as a primer on teleprompter technology, so that you can get a comprehensive idea of the hardware and software options that are available.
Teleprompters: Software & Entry-Level Options -
This segment focuses on simple, entry-level teleprompter systems and teleprompter software. It touches on topics such as smooth scrolling, the distance from the presenter to the lens, and (related to that) the appropriate size for text. For simple teleprompter systems, several freeware teleprompter programs are available. Some of these can smooth out the jitter that can sometimes plague teleprompter playback, and many include views for both the on-camera talent (flipped view) and producer (standard view).
However, for advanced functions such as working with multiple scripts and segments, a commercial software program might be necessary. Advanced setups rely more on the display hardware to accomplish various tasks, such as flipping the teleprompter image so that talent can read the text. The advantages of assigning tasks to hardware are clear—it takes some of the processing load off the CPU driving the display, so the computer can focus on presenting smooth-scrolling text.
Teleprompters: Better Hardware for Pros
Complex, time-sensitive video projects require higher-end teleprompter gear. This section covers the advantages that higher-end teleprompter systems bring to the table, in both software and hardware. For news programs and for pre-taped multi-segment shows, teleprompter software needs to be capable of handling multiple scripts and multi-segment scripts. For these higher-end programs, script importing needs to incorporate not just simple text, but also bold and multi-colored text. And of course, image flipping needs to happen through the hardware in the monitor—not with the software.
The professional user has many considerations to make when choosing a teleprompter system. How bright does my monitor need to be in order to operate properly outdoors? Does the system need any special mounts, such as Steadicam or jib mounts? Does it need an uninterruptable power source or DC power input? The segment explores the challenge associated with proprietary system components, such as hand and foot playback controllers, that work with only one manufacturer’s system.
Teleprompters: Broadcast Quality, High-End Prompting
News broadcasts and live, multi-camera shoots are demanding projects and as such, they require extremely high-end features from their teleprompter systems. Script changes often need to be inserted into the teleprompter script stream in real time. Computer crashes cannot be allowed to derail prompting, which means a backup system of some sort is required.
At this level, the teleprompter hardware and software will come from a single manufacturer. This segment explores the features that the highest levels of professional users demand from their teleprompter systems, and also examines the requirements of field-prompting systems that pit the prompter screen against high levels of ambient light. Software might be capable of advanced applications such as distance prompting, and hardware is often suitable for multi-camera shoots, serving scrolling text to multiple cameras at once.