In this blog, BizVid Communications, a San Diego video production leader, answers the question, “how can on-camera spokesmen and women memorize so much material?” Most often, the answer is, they don’t.
An invention called the teleprompter offers a way for a person or people in front of the camera to deliver large amounts of information without looking at notes, cumbersome cue cards, or trusting their memories.
The concept is both ingenious and simple. You’ve seen the mirrored glass in interrogation rooms on television. From one side people can look straight through, but the other side is mirrored. The glass in a teleprompter is plated in the same way. Behind one side is the camera lens, looking unobstructed through the glass.
On the mirrored side, the script is projected and reflected. Since the mirror image is reversed, the operator sends the signal backwards, so it will appear on the mirror properly oriented. As a result, the spokesperson can read the text while looking directly into the camera lens and the viewer is none the wiser.
The teleprompter apparatus is often mounted on the camera itself, but it can also be placed independently. The teleprompter operator has the desired script pre-loaded into their computer and sends the signal to the screen. It is the operator’s job to scroll the copy at a proper speed, so the reader can deliver the copy in a normal fashion. It is the teleprompter operator’s responsibility to follow the tempo of the speaker, instead of the speaker struggling to stay with the teleprompter.
Sometimes you’ll see a thin sheet of teleprompter glass mounted on stands just to the edges of the camera’s view when the president speaks. Often, when it sounds like a great impromptus delivery. It’s not. Thanks goes to the teleprompter and the operator.