Excuse me, please listen on this Tannoy (public speaker system) I am asking you to hoover (vacuum) your astroturf (artificial turf) while sipping from your Thermos (insulated mug) before operating our Autocue (Teleprompter)

autocue and presenter

Commonly referred to as an Autocue (even spell check capitalises it!) it is in fact part of the Teleprompter family. A Teleprompter, is fixed to a camera tripods head with the camera attached to it. It is an angled 1 way mirror that reflects a mirrored version of text in such a way that a subject standing in front of the camera/Teleprompter combo can see the text while staring right down the lens of the camera as they deliver their lines like they know exactly what they are talking about. Very useful for live TV and makes recorded corporate videos very simple to shoot.

Most presenters will not have a clue about the new sleek type of tech, product or service they are waffling about.

Having the relevant text appear right in front of them, without distractions of cards being held aloft with prompts mean that their gaze is routinely focussed on the most important factor in the message process, the audience!

Keeping eye contact is very important to an audience member as they feel like they are the ones being talked to. This subtle psychology is most important when selling a product or service as the good looking lady or gent is not only selling the goods or the company, but themselves too! Eye contact can go a long way to presenting the message that you want to people to hear.

So, how do you go about using those puppy dog eyed and intense stares in the most effective way? Having a good Autocue and operator can be essential to getting the most out of those precious studio hours.

Text too small can make the eyes scan, so pre-read and adjust for the eye contact. Text too large and words jumped out at the presenter, catching them off guard. Ideally you should get a crew member to practice with the autocue software and operator to get familiar with the operation and flow before your potentially time-conscious client or presenter comes in!

Practice the flow, the pace, try some different speeds and evaluate the text. Text from someone’s fingers rather than their brain can sound so different and strained so ask the scriptwriter, beforehand, to go over the lines in their head. Some words, lines and even paragraphs can sound repetitive. Editing these carefully is the key.

Having a good Autocue operator is key. They should have a wide array of experience with all types of production from tense live TV productions right through the seminars, public speakers and corporate videos. The Autocue operator will work closely with the director and on screen talent. They will also be very in tune with repetition, dodgy takes, eye-line and will react accordingly the speakers needs and wants. This will offer a subtle calming effect to get the most out of the subjects performance.

Read the script out loud before ever presenting it to the Autocue operator. They will add the text as offered by the production team. Although they may make suggestions of glaring mistakes by the actor/presenter they are not the director and may not be part of the production process or general editorial ‘line’.

Also reading the script will give a good idea of pacing, structure, effectiveness of the spoken word. It can also be a good way to go through any directions the speaker may have to do and the Autocue operator can add in bullet points or stage directions in a different colour or format

The Autocue operator’s job is often very pressured; especially in live tele situations. If they have this experience it is likely they will easily be able to handle your seminar or corporate gig. You can be assured that they have a steady head for the task in hand. They often will be able to hear things that others may miss. They often arrive earlier than the cameraman as he will set up with them, in time and ready for text amends and updates. They will often have the best software and will know it like the back of their hands so set-up and issues are easily resolved. This is key when studio production time is tight and beholden to the needs and wants of the most important person on the day. The one in front of the camera.

Cameramen will usually know what works and what doesn’t.

Some tips for cameraman setting up the Autocue:

  • Check the type of camera being used with the Autocue/Teleprompter rig – Will the tripod’s baseplate fit your model?

  • Will there be sufficient space to tighten those screws?

  • How much extra height will be added with the Autocue rig?

  • What type of lens can they use before it encroaches on the back of the mirror?

  • Can the lens functions still be used with the rig?

  • Can the camera zoom and focus with the rig’s hood covering it?

Sam Parkinson, Studio Manager at Camberwell Studios.

Any question? do not hesitate to contact us we are happy to help.

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