How to Use a Teleprompter Correctly

Lydon Johnson Using a Teleprompter

Staring Strait Ahead

When watching your nightly news program you may have noticed that the anchor rarely looks down at the paper in his hands, which is supposedly layered with notes. Instead he or she has his monologue scrolling in front of him on a teleprompter. A teleprompter is a device that displays the words you read aloud for the camera, allowing you to never actually have to look away from the camera.

Cue Card

The teleprompter is a more efficient technological remedy to the classic cue card. These were used mostly in the earlier days of television so that on screen talent could just read their lines directly instead of memorizing the large amount of text for live broadcast every day. These were often held by the technical director or production assistant off stage and move quickly. Cue cards are no longer efficient because of the shear number that must be used and the incredible speed that they must be done in.

News Anchor Read Off of a Teleprompter

Staring Strait Ahead

When watching your nightly news program you may have noticed that the anchor rarely looks down at the paper in his hands, which is supposedly layered with notes. Instead he or she has his monologue scrolling in front of him on a teleprompter. A teleprompter is a device that displays the words you read aloud for the camera, allowing you to never actually have to look away from the camera.

Things to Remember

The teleprompter always goes directly below the camera lens because this way it always looks as though the talent is looking directly into the camera. If the camera is too close to the talent then the audience will be able to see that they are looking slightly below the frame, but at a reasonable distance no one can tell. Make sure the teleprompter text size is reasonable enough for the talent to read, and since everybody’s reading sight level is different it is best to do a test before the live broadcast. It is common to use all capital letters in the teleprompter, but most people will tell you that this is harder to comprehend quickly because we are used to a mixture of capital and lowercase letters. It is also important to make sure that the talent looks away from the teleprompter/camera area once in a while; otherwise the direct eye contact will make the audience uneasy.

 

Always Use Capital Letters and a Sans Serif Font

Too Costly

Teleprompters are often too expensive for home digital video producer to use, as models tend to start at around nine hundred dollars. Quality machines can run well over a two thousand, not to mention the addition of software and computer peripherals such as the scrolling wheel. If you have a low-budget production it may be best to use antique cue cards instead.

If you want to employ the same feature you can often times use an iPad with a free app or a laptop to work as this, though it does not have the same control as an active teleprompter.  This will often force you to set the speed remotely and you will not have active control over it when you are actually in live production.

iPad is the Future for the Mobile Teleprompter

About the author

wrote 13 articles on this blog.

Shane has been working in online publishing for years, writing about topics ranging from media technologies to mobile platforms. He works professionally in the film and video industry, working as an independent filmmaker and producer.

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