Teleprompting On Location
By Edward Boe, Production Coordinator
SolidLine Media
One of the best things about the off the cuff interview is the fact that it seems, and in fact is, unscripted. The responses and the reactions are genuine, and given the right question, you’ll often come out with something better than you would if they were running off of a script. The problem comes in when you need a subject to say a specific thing, or if you need them to say it within a specific time limit. For those times, you need to have scripted interviews, and that means either memorization… or a teleprompter.

The there are benefits of memorization, but in the corporate video industry, it’s hard to tell a busy CEO or, for that matter any non-actor, that they need spend a bunch of hours working on it. That’s not all either, the longer the script, the more unlikely memorization becomes, and what if the client makes last minute changes? It is for these reasons that we at SolidLine have invested in our teleprompter. We’ve put it through the rounds, learned a thing or two, and have put a system of how-to’s in place for when we need to teleprompt on-location.

Teleprompting requires it’s own station, equipment, and operator, same as the sound, or camera department would. Since each shoot is different, the needs of that individual shoot would be different also, for instance, if the camera is on the jib you’ll need to figure out where you can be stationed with the proper amount of slack built into your cables so that the motion of the camera doesn’t disconnect you. At the same time you have to be far enough away to be out of the shot, and out of the path of the camera from start to finish.

Another thing to consider is, the needs of the person that you’ll be prompting. On some of the shoots I’ve been on with SolidLine, we’ve come to learn that if your subject is racing through the script, you’ll need to force them to slow down through the speed you scroll the text. On the other-hand if you are going too slow, there may be long awkward pauses in what they’re saying, because they are waiting for the next line to pop up. When dealing with subjects who have never read from a teleprompter before, it isn’t un-common to find people skipping punctuation and reading in a monotone voice. The best way to deal with this is through spacing. If you give them a little visual cue via creative spacing, they’ll be able to anticipate pauses and give a much more natural performance as a result.

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Lastly, being close to the action is important! Whether you’re trying to do another job along with running the teleprompter or simply need to hear your cue to start scrolling. Some common issues include figuring out how your computer display options so that it displays correctly on the prompter screen (for PCs anyway, you simply right click on the desktop, click Graphic Options, Display, Notebook + Monitor), turning off your wireless so the notifications stop popping up over the text, and learning how to change the prompt font size in your particular prompting program.

SolidLine Media uses the EZ Prompt software for our shoots, along with a teleprompter from Mirror Image Teleprompters.

Using a teleprompter increases the amount of set-up and tear-down needed on each shoot, but it can also dramatically increase the production value of the final product too!

You can contact Ed at ed@solidlinemedia.com.
For more information about SolidLine Media, visit us online at www.solidlinemedia.smartwebsitedesign.com. Or call 312-939-8600.
Copyright 2009 SolidLine Media, a division of KV Media Group, Inc.

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