(1) Video camera; (2) Shroud; (3) Video monitor; (4) Clear glass or beam splitter; (5) Image from subject; (6) Image from video monitor. Source: Wikipedia
What is a Teleprompter?
This is a device that “prompts" the speaker with visual text of a speech or script. This allows the reader to read the text word-for-word, ensuring accurate script delivery, while maintaining the illusion of spontaneity to the viewer.
Technically, the script is displayed on a horizontal, computer-driven video monitor, and then reflected on a special mirror in the teleprompter to the speaker. At the same time, the mirror allows the image of the speaker to pass through the mirror to the camera lens with minimal image loss, giving the impression that the speaker is looking directly at the camera (and therefore the viewer).
Professional teleprompters are coupled with specialized software that display and drive the script, usually operated by a dedicated teleprompter operator. The software has features that allow the operator to smoothly speed-up or slow-down the scrolling of the script to keep pace with the delivery of the speaker. Teleprompter software also allows the operator to optimize the size of the text and the margins, and thereby minimize the appearance that the speaker's eyes are reading the text, left to right.
Successful use of a teleprompter takes practice. A good teleprompter operator can make it easy for the speaker to look good on camera. And even though the speaker doesn't have to memorize the words, and can simply read, the speaker still needs to practice the script a few times to find his or her natural rhythm.
When to use Teleprompters
When making a video your first thoughts are "I’ve got the cameras, the lights, the studio, I have everything covered". But when it comes to your on-camera guests or talent, often nerves kick in, the stress increases, they forget the words, the pacing becomes uneven, and it feels like the world ending.
At those moments, teleprompter can become one of the most valuable pieces of equipment to have on set. On occasion it can literally save the project. When you need to deliver a specific script on camera, always add a teleprompter to your production equipment.
On the downside, poorly operated teleprompters can result in footage that is "staged" instead of authentic. As a result, teleprompters are an "Option B" at On Point Video. Spontaneous interviews, led by an experienced interviewer, are "Option A" and will frequently result in more compelling, genuine interview footage. Spontaneous interviews will also often reveal unexpected nuggets of information, spectacular sound bites, that can move a video from good to great.