Video Production Tips

What is a teleprompter?

Posted May 20, 2021
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Whether it's the news or a presidential speech, teleprompters are an essential part of video production today. How does the device work though? Let's find out.

What is a Teleprompter?

The Teleprompter was conceived by Hubert Schafly in 1948 out of the need to replace the use of cue cards in live acting.

A Teleprompter refers to the device used to give presenters visual access to the text they need to speak. Also called an Autocue, a Teleprompter allows the reader to keep eye contact with their audience while sounding impromptu. 

Teleprompter or autocue in use in a video production studio

To date, production teams use Teleprompters in videography and live speeches.

How does a Teleprompter work?

The mechanics of a Teleprompter are simple yet impressive. A mirrored version of the text displays in reverse on a monitor.

The use of a beam-splitter glass reflects the text onto a one-way mirrored glass screen in front of the camera without projecting it on camera.

When is a Teleprompter used?

Teleprompters are very convenient when someone needs to relay a lot of information to a large audience.

Speakers can use Teleprompters when their information is highly technical, too complicated to remember, or contains topical details that need to be gotten right.

A television crew usually places a Teleprompter in an inconspicuous location out of the audience’s line of sight. Displaying the words in front of the camera benefits the reader by allowing them to read their speech while maintaining eye contact with the audience. Crew members may sometimes also place the device so close that it detects the reader’s eye movements. 

Tip: Never place a Teleprompter in a small room where it’s intrusive or uncomfortable for the audience.

What are the different types of Teleprompters?

The 3 types of Teleprompters are Presidential, Camera-mounted, and Floor or Stand:

Presidential Teleprompter

Presidents use a less conspicuous teleprompter device that’s a glass screen on a stand. The monitor sits at the bottom and the glass screen up top is tilted to reflect the monitor. Television crews usually place Presidential Teleprompters one on each side in front of the speaker. 

Camera-mounted Teleprompter

With this type, there's a camera mounted behind the glass screen. The speaker looks into the camera while reading the text. Newscasters, business executives, and educators use camera-mounted Teleprompter devices to deliver a depth of information while staying connected with the audience.

Woman using a teleprompter to broadcast

Floor or stand Teleprompter

Floor or Stand Teleprompters look and operate similar to the Presidential Teleprompter. These devices give production crews the option to wall-mount or stand-mount them. 

Are Teleprompters used for social media videos?

You might think video influencers deliver spontaneous messages to their audience. Some may but many have a Teleprompter app on their phone or tablet. This way they appear to look at their camera while also reading text. 

If you're making a YouTube video or a recording yourself speaking to your webcam, a Teleprompter can definitely up your production value and make your videos look more professional.

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