Filming with a teleprompter


Video production with a teleprompter

I now offer filming with a teleprompter as part of my comprehensive list of video production services when booked as a cameraman, filmmaker or videographer.

Benefits of using a teleprompter

Teleprompters can be a useful aid to any contributors wishing to deliver an accurate and complex detailed script to the camera. Using a special piece of reflective glass set at a 45-degree angle and an iPad  (or similar device) linked to the teleprompter, the text script can be displayed so that it is only visible to the speaker being filmed whilst being invisible to the camera recording the contributor. This enables the speaker to see and read the text (or to get text prompts) without needing to look away from the camera lens and so maintain visual engagement with the audience.

iPad Pro to display the script

To make this a smooth process, I’m using my iPad Pro to display the text script (which can also be used for subsequent script editing). I use Microsoft Word, which is loaded onto my iPad for script editing. With its large 12.9-inch screen, the iPad Pro enables any text script size to be as large as needed, thus enabling easy reading for the contributor who may be positioned some distance from the camera.

Teleprompter App for script playback

I’ve loaded the Teleprompter App onto both my iPhone and iPad Pro. The iPhone App allows me to control the App with the script loaded onto the iPad and vice versa if required. This has been very helpful when filming myself recently. It enabled me to start the script animation remotely using my iPhone. The Teleprompter App also enables control of the font colour, font size, and script playback speed to suit anyone’s delivery speed.

Glide Gear Teleprompter

The Glide Gear Pro Series teleprompter physically supports the large iPadPro screen set adjacent to the reflective mirrors. It comes packed in a hard travel case, so it is easy for me to transport safely to filming locations. The Glide Gear Pro also comes with some different options for setting up and mounting depending on which type of camera is being used. It suits my current camera system the best to use the teleprompter mounted on a separate stand and then have my camera mounted on a different stand or tripod with the lens fitting inside the teleprompter light-proof fabric hood. However, it is easily adaptable to suit other circumstances.

Ten tips for using a teleprompter

  • Allow adequate time before the start of filming to unpack and rig up the teleprompter, camera, microphone and lights so everything looks at its best for any given location. This can be done before any filming contributor arrives.
  • Consider whether the contributor will be standing or sitting so that you can set up your rig for an ideal sightline with the contributor looking directly into the camera.
  • If the location, filming kit, and lens allow, positioning the kit with extra distance between the teleprompter and the camera can help. This ensures that the contributor’s eye movements are less visible to the audience and that the spoken words do not appear as though they are actually being read from a script.
  • If your contributor has no previous experience, they will need time to get used to reading from the teleprompter. So, it would be advisable to have some practice sessions first. They will need to read through the script a few times out loud at least so they can be comfortable with their pronunciation, the script delivery, and the speed of the script playback from the iPad.
  • The script text might need editing slightly, so it works better for the contributor’s way of using language and their tone for speaking. Practising a script read with the contributor will highlight this.
  • If it suits the production, the teleprompter can also be used as a script memoir, showing bullet points for the contributor instead of an actual script.
  • Some contributors might be more comfortable delivering shorter segments at a time rather than a whole script in one delivery if this suits the production and the following post-production process.
  • Delivering a script, reading it with natural positive energy, smiling, and having an upbeat energy level (if that is what is required) will take a few attempts. Ideally, your contributor will be able to maintain eye contact with the audience while delivering the script and not look as though they are reading.
  • From my experience, being filmed can be stressful and nerve-racking, especially if a contributor has not previously been the subject of filming. It’s best to allow sufficient time for the whole process to make the contributor feel as comfortable as possible so that everyone can be happy with the best take. Positive guidance, encouragement, and direction can help the contributor give their best delivery. Letting them view a playback can also benefit obtaining an optimum performance.
  • Check in advance to see if there are any specific timing requirements for the contributor’s delivery so you know in advance what you are aiming to provide for the final delivery. It might be that any piece-to-camera has a specific time slot already allocated which you will need to deliver for. A script document can also be used to add subtitles in post-production later to match the contributor’s spoken words if required.

If you have any questions about filming with a teleprompter for your production, please get in touch.

Julian Langham

Julian started his career in media in 1994; shortly after Julian was invited to join the BBC where he was quickly promoted to Editor. Julian left the BBC to develop his freelance career in 2009. Highly-practised and skilled in constructing engaging narratives, Julian’s key strength is his ability to produce strong visually-led stories. In his work, Julian shares his passion for creating powerful synergies between story content, visual rhythm and music.

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