Can I Say That?


     Your company has finally decided to do that much talked about corporate video to put on the main page of the website and be the flagship video on the launch of their new You Tube channel. They also decided to put the company president at the beginning of the video because they feel it will personalize the message, all of your clients really like him and they want people to relate to a familiar face. Actually, these are all great decisions but there may be one glaring problem to the whole plan.The boss has never had to deliver lines on-camera before and he has never memorized a script in his life. How do you get him to remember all of his lines for the entire opening of the video? Cue cards, notes written on his hands or weeks of memorization are solutions but really not at all necessary. The solution is as easy as the trusty on-camera teleprompter. 
     An on-camera teleprompter is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic text version of their script. The electronic text is reflected for reading by the talent using a specially prepared one-way glass mirror mounted at a 45 degree angle directly in front of the camera and lens. This reflected monitor gets its signal from a computer that a teleprompter operator scrolls at the same pace that the talent is reading. Because the speaker does not need to look around or down to read notes and will look directly into the camera lens, they appear to have memorized the speech or to be speaking “off the cuff”. Using a teleprompter is similar to using cue cards except the prompting screen is directly in front of camera lens. Cue cards always tend to be placed away from the lens axis, making the speaker look away from the camera, which leaves the impression of being distracted.
      Now this doesn’t mean that the talent won’t need to read the script beforehand. There is a definite difference that can be seen on camera between simply reading the lines and “delivering” them. Going over the script to smooth out the delivery and become comfortable with the word flow is always a good idea, especially if the script was written by someone else. Sometimes it’s best to change the wording into something more comfortable for the person reading the script because not all of us write the same way we would speak. Rehearsal is also an important factor in the comfort level of the delivery because as you practice more, you “read” less and your delivery becomes more fluid. If you’ve seen “Anchorman”, we also don’t want to have a Ron Burgundy moment where they just read everything written on the teleprompter no matter what. You don’t want to have a “Did I just say that??” moment. It is best for the talent to have an understanding of the lines they are delivering instead of just reading them because it will help them with their performance.
      There is also something we sometimes use called an ear prompter that is geared for use by more professional talent. It uses a small recording device and an ear piece. The talent reads the script into the recorder beforehand and then while on camera, plays it back and “simply” repeats what he is hearing.  They can even prompt themselves with camera direction so each take is exactly the same.
     So sometimes it can be fairly easy to put exactly the right words into someone’s mouth. With some practice, most company executives can get the hang of a teleprompter and do a great job on camera delivering their lines.  It’s convenient, portable and it just might make you an office hero when you suggest it on your next project. Go ahead…read this line, “Let’s just use a teleprompter!”

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Bob Richthammer

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05 2012

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