What is a teleprompter?
Here is the answer to the question what is a teleprompter?
Teleprompters have become pretty common these days and are used all over the world in professional production studio all the way to the basements of a Youtube video blogger; however we still find that a lot of people don't really know what a teleprompter is. So we created this page to help you understand.
Short description of a teleprompter
What is a teleprompter? A teleprompter is a device that scrolls text on a one way mirror that sits in front of a camera lens so that the subject can read words that are scrolling in the reflection of the mirror while at the same time look directly into the lens of the camera.
Long Description of a teleprompter
A Teleprompter is a piece of hardware that holds a bearmsplitter mirror at a 45 degree angle away from the lens of your camera. The beamsplitter mirror both reflects and allows light to pass through which is what makes it work so well for teleprompters.
The hardware, if engineered correctly should allow you to center the lens of your camera to the back of the mirror allowing the camera to look through the mirror at the subject in front of it. Usually there is some type of an enclosure that shields light from getting between the mirror and the lens (the darker the bitter).
One the front of the mirror, laying flat, and facing straight into the air, there is some type of a display device(monitor, smartphone, tablet, etc.) that has scrolling words. These words need to be inverted because if they are not, the text will appear backwards in the reflection.
The scrolling text is controlled by a program that allows the operator to pause, speed-up, slow-down, or stop the scrolling. What the operator sees, is what the talent sees. So the job of the operator is to read along with that talent and advance the words so that the talent always sees what they need to ready next.
What is it that makes a good teleprompter?
A teleprompter is broken down into three basic components, the hardware, the mirror, and the software. Each of these components are as important as the others, although I might say that the mirror is a little more important. Below is a list of these three things and what you need to look for in each.
What about the teleprompter hardware?
When looking for a teleprompter you are best dealing with a manufacture that has experience engineering teleprompters. It isn't hard to come up with a way to place a mirror at a 45 degree angle in front of a camera lens, but there is a lot more that that to consider. Here are some of the thing that should be considered. How does the camera attach, how does it attache to a tripod, how much does the unit weigh, can the weight be centered on the tripod by making some adjustments, how long does it take to set-up and break-down. This list can go on forever. Telmax Teleprompters has been engineering teleprompters since 2007 and know exactly how to approach the design of a teleprompter through both customer feedback and trial and error over the years.
What about the beamsplitter mirror?
Beamsplitter mirror is the type of mirror used in teleprompters and is the last optical component between the lens of your camera and what you are filming. It is important that the quality of the mirror matches that quality of the glass on your camera. Next comes to the business about 70/30, 50/50, 60/40 and so on. If you haven't seen this yet, trust me during a teleprompter search you will. These number are the ratio of how much light gets to the camera lens and how much reflect back to the talent (the scrolling text). So the less the first number is, the less pass-through rate and the second number is the reflection, so 50/50 has fifty percent pass-through and fifty percent reflection.
Considering that you are making a video, this last thing you want to do is reduce the transparency leading to light loss, that would be like putting sunglasses on your camera. But if you don't have any reflective then the scrolling words won't be viable. So you have to deal with a little light loss. We have learned that a 70/30 beamsplitter mirror minimizes that light loss but allows a brilliant reflection which leads to the optimal performance of a teleprompter mirror.
Because it is totally dark between the mirror and the camera lens it doesn't take much to get a brilliant reflection. See the illistration below.
What about the teleprompter Software?
Since the subject is reading scrolling text off of the teleprompter it only makes sense that it has to be good. The more control the operator (the person operating the teleprompter) has over the scrolling the more natural the talent will seem while presenting their script. A good software will have great script management capabilities and a lot of tools built-in to make it easier to operate. For example the ability to speed up and slow down the scrolling, or changing the font size. In addition, is the software good on the platform you are using, for example if you use Mac's does it work on Mac's. Telmax Teleprompters has had one of the most successful teleprompter software's in the industry for years ZaPrompt Pro. It is one of the favorites for many professional production studios, news outlets, and basement Youtube producers. We are so sure of it that we allow it to be used free for 30 days as a trial. What is even greater is that we include it free with most of our studio and professional teleprompters.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, we hope that now you are not asking yourself; What is a teleprompter?