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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a teleprompter?
What kind of teleprompter do I need?
How do I get a script generated?
What kind of tripod do I need – how much weight does a prompter add?
What size of teleprompter screen do I need?
What is required for using a teleprompter outdoors?
My talent is having problems reading the text – what needs to be done?
I need a portable teleprompter – what should I look for?
What sort of teleprompter do I need for presentations?
What is available for robotic pan & tilt heads?
How many teleprompters do I need?
What’s wrong with just putting the display below (or above) the lens?
How bright should the teleprompter display be?
What’s the difference between LCD and CRT teleprompters?
What’s the difference between VGA and Video feeds?
How many teleprompter characters per line?
What about center justification, line spacing, etc.?
What about using different fonts?
What about Newswire feeds?
How is the script speed controlled?
Im moving to HDTV, what lenses require Wide Angle Beamsplitters and which Tekskil Hood would you recommend?

What is a Teleprompter?

Teleprompters are the technical solution to imperfect human memory — their main function is to deliver script to the presenter as it is needed. Visual prompting systems consist of two components, a display device and a storage/control device. Displays can be either CRT, Plasma, or LCD — their task is to present smoothly scrolling and readable text (similar to credits at the end of a movie). As the text is read by the presenter (to a camera or live audience), a prompter operator uses a controller to vary the speed of the scrolling text to match the delivery rate of the speaker. There are significant benefits to be gained with a teleprompter:

    • Script does not need to be memorized to be delivered with confidence, polish and accuracy
    • Eliminates need for notes, cue cards and index cards
    • Enables speaker to maintain eye contact with the audience
    • Allows the speaker to focus more on style and delivery rather than memorizing the content of a speech or presentation
    • Reduces video production costs by making it easier to get longer and more accurate “takes”
    • Makes complicated speeches consistent time after time

What kind of teleprompter do I need?

Teleprompters are available in two basic configurations – Camera Teleprompters and Presidential or Executive Speech Prompters.

Camera teleprompters come in 2 varieties, tripod mounted and pedestal mounted the choice depends on whether the camera will move or not. A pedestal telerompter is independently supported in front of the camera and not attached to the tripod. So, if you pan, tilt or dolly the camera to follow your subject, a pedestal telerompter will not stay in front of the lens. When a teleprompter is tripod mounted, it stays in front of the lens wherever the camera moves.

Business leaders and lecturers who deliver lengthy speeches without ever once looking away from their audience rely on Speech Prompters to assist them. Take note of the two panes of glass that are positioned at the corners of their podiums. Those glass beamsplitters reflect images from monitors (at the base) that have the entire speech scrolling on them. While the text is seen clearly from the podium, it is completely invisible to the audience. These “Speech Prompters” can be used by anyone who speaks to a live audience

How do I get a script generated?

Modern teleprompters bypass the hard copy phase (using cue cards or long rolls of printed paper copy) – instead displaying directly from a computer, much the same as the computer-monitor displays the text you are reading right now. This approach has several advantages. First, because the text is a direct, electronically generated image, it is sharp and easy to read. Revisions are easy to make without the legibility problems associated with crossing out words or phrases on paper and penciling in last-minute corrections. Scripts can be created in any of the popular word processing programs and ‘run’ directly from EZ Prompt XP. Once the script is entered into the computer it can be electronically reformatted and displayed in a standard prompter format- narrow lines with large bold letters. If a color video prompter monitor is used, the text can be color-keyed to set off the words of different speakers, or special instructions to the talent (which are not meant to be read aloud).

What kind of tripod do I need – how much weight does a prompter add?

The tripod or pedestal should be sized to allow proper pan & tilt operation without fear that the teleprompter will tip over the system and become damaged. Load capacity of the tripod or pedestal head should be greater than the sum of the weight of the complete camera system and the weight of the prompter system. Some popular tripod/pedestal heads with their weight capacities follow:

  Manufacturer     Model Number     Weight Capacity (lbs)  
Arri Arrihead 2 110
Bogen 516 22
3066 22.1
316 35.3
Cartoni Delta 35
C20S 55
Lambda 55
C40S 100
Omega 150
O’Connor 1030Z 30
1030B 39
2060 65
2575B 100
Quick-Set 4-52816-2 50
Sachtler Video 18+ 44
Video 20+ 55
Video 25+ 70
Horizon+ 77
Video 30 110
Dutch Head 35 110
Video 60 132
Studio 9+9 132
Video 90 200
Vinten Vision 8 24
Vision 11 28
Vision 100 33
Vision 250 55
Vector 700 154
Vector 70 154
MK5 180

What size of teleprompter screen do I need?

That depends mostly on the distance of the talent to the prompter for distances under 9 feet, a 10″ display will usually be fine; for distances less than 16 feet, a 15″ display should be used; and for distances 20 feet or over, a 19″ or 20″ display is normally used. If the speaker has poor eyesight youll have to stage whatever size works! Most studios today are finding that a 17″ display offers the best combination of size and performance. The talent like the larger display while providing enough ‘real estate’ for countdown clocks and margins for stage directions and cues.

What is required for using a teleprompter outdoors?

What are normal ambient light levels? Indoors it can range from 50-150 nits. Outdoors, on a sunny day, it can range from 250-500 nits. So, the LCD has to put out enough light to compete with its surroundings, say twice the ambient light level, or 250 nits indoors and 1000 nits outdoors. (A typical CRT is about 150 nits). But light output alone still doesnt provide a useful image unless there is adequate contrast a 1500 nit display with a low contrast ratio is only a bright fuzzy blob.

Contrast Ratio is the difference between the least brilliant and most brilliant areas on the screen. javascript:Route(‘U’); Update What’s a good CR? The 400:1 and 500:1 contrast ratios proclaimed on the back of the brochures are measured (you guessed it) in a pitch-black room. In the real world of ambient light, a pleasing display will have an effective CR of about 5:1. The effective CR is a result of the nits produced by the display and ambient nits reflected from the display face. A 1000 nit display being used outdoors might have 300 reflected nits added by the environment in this case, the brightest area of the display will be 1300 nits (1000+300) and the darkest areas will be 310 nits (10+300). 1300:310 yields a contrast ratio of about 4:1 a mediocre display. On the other hand, an 800 nit display with well designed anti-reflectance filters and glass will reduce reflected light considerably say down to 100 nits – resulting in bright areas of 900 nits (800+100) and dark areas of 110 nits (10+100) yielding an effective CR of 8:1. End users will experience the image quality of this 800 nit intensity display as being much brighter and clearer than the 1000 nit display described.

How can you select a LCD that is truly sunlight readable? Narrow choices down to LCDs that have at least 1500 nits of light output and contrast ratios of 600:1 and greater and then try them out on a nice sunny day. Side by side comparisons will allow you to easily determine which panels have been engineered with the best ambient light management. Select from the winners the one that has lowest nits output that display will use less power, generate less heat and last longer.

My talent is having problems reading the text – what needs to be done?

The answer may be as simple as making the prompted text larger. EZPrompt XP uses standard TrueType fonts, so you can make the prompted text an size you wish. You may also be able to improve the situation by moving the prompter closer to the talent. Depending on individual circumstances, you may need a larger prompter monitor and beamsplitter … if it improves the effectiveness of the message you are trying to convey, a modest investment in equipment upgrades can yield substantial returns.

I need a portable teleprompter – what should I look for?

The major considerations for field teleprompter design are the size and weight of the prompter system, and the ease with which it can be set up and torn down. Our basic rule of thumb is that a 10.4 inch monitor can be comfortably read at a distance up to 10 feet and a 15 inch monitor at 15 feet. The weight of the teleprompter equipment isnt much of a consideration for studio applications where cameras are mounted on hydraulic or pneumatic pedestals, but in the field, size and weight is very important. In a broadcast studio situation, 17 to 20 inch monitors are frequently used because the weight capacity of the pedestal is such that it can handle weight far greater than that of the camera tripod used at remote location shoots. The weight capacity of the portable field system is very dependent on the camera and tripod to be used.

Field crews are now being tasked with the longer, more complicated pieces that used to be done in the studio. Tekskil has been recommending its Premium Series High-Bright teleprompters, which combine light-weight (as low as 8 lbs total) and screens that are bright enough (from 1600 to 2000 Nits) to be read outdoors. This technology allows for very light weight and ultrabright prompters that are direct sunlight readable.

What sort of teleprompter do I need for presentations?

Many presentations include complex concepts and tongue-twisting terms. We also live in an age of ever increasing litigation and regulation, so a lot of information has to be presented in very precise terms. People speaking extemporaneously, or from memory often forget an important point or overstate another. With Speech Prompting, the words can be the same every time.

Prompters outperform even the best memory – once a speaker has memorized a piece, it is often difficult to make last minute changes as the speaker may inadvertently revert to the previously memorized version. With a Speech Prompter, simple or complex changes can be made and presented immediately. Very few people have the time or the ability to memorize a lengthy presentation – and even the most experienced professional experiences bouts of panic in remembering the next word. This resulting body language (a sudden change in pitch or the proverbial “Deer in the Headlights” look) will detract from the best presentation. A Speech Prompter ensures the words are there when needed, so the presenter is relaxed and can concentrate on the delivery and not the script.

Eye contact with the audience is a principal element of effective communication.. A speaker whose eyes are constantly shifting; to look at a script or note cards on a podium, to glance at a cue card or as a reflex of memory recall is not able to maintain good eye contact with an audience. The presenter can appear to be shifty-eyed, leading to a perception of deception. Some of the benefits of using an Executive Speech Prompter are:

    • No pressure on the talent to memorize.
    • Eliminates the need for notes or cue cards.
    • Allows speaker to focus on style & delivery.
    • Enables speaker to maintain eye contact and build rapport with the audience.
    • Permits last minute changes to material
    • Makes consistent delivery of complex material a snap.

What is available for robotic pan & tilt heads?

How many teleprompters do I need?

There should be a teleprompter on every camera that the talent looks directly at. For example if you have three ‘manned’ cameras that traditionally are tight shots on the talent and you have a fourth camera that is unmanned and only gives a wide shot, then only the three ‘manned’ cameras would require prompters. In the case of a Speech Prompter application, one Speech Prompter on each side of the podium allows the talent or presenter to look left and right at the audience and still maintain eye contact with the script.

What’s wrong with just putting the display below (or above) the lens?

Do you trust someone who won’t look you in the eye when they are talking to you? Putting the display anywhere except directly in front of the lens (behind a beamsplitter) means the on-camera talent can’t look the viewer in the eye. Television (and by extension video production) is mischaracterized as a ‘mass medium’. It is in fact a very personal medium where one person … your talent … is talking to one person … your customer.

How bright should the teleprompter display be?

Clarity results from the brightness and contrast of the image relative to the ambient light conditions. A display that looks perfectly wonderful in a darkened room may be partially washed-out on a brightly lit stage or totally invisible in full sunlight. Brightness is typically specified as cd/m2 (candelas per square meter) or “nits” but this is only an indication of the panel itself and not the system as a whole, as much of the perceived brightness depends on the actual reflectance and transmission properties of the display surface. Generally, LCD displays offer more choices in brightness and contrast than other forms of display a conventional CRT has an upper limit of about 250 nits whereas an LCD can be driven to 1800 nits or more. As a rule of thumb, 450 nits are fine for most studio use, 750 nits for highly lit indoor studios, more than a 1000 nits for outdoor use, and direct sunlight will require as much as 1500 nits!

What’s the difference between LCD and CRT teleprompters?

  • Screen Size: Flat panel images look bigger than the same size CRT monitors. They look bigger because they are bigger. CRT monitors are measured by their bezel sizes, (such as 17″, 19″, or 21″), but a CRT monitor’s viewable image size is smaller than its bezel size. For example, a 17″ CRT monitor usually has a 15.6″-16″ viewable image area. By contrast, flat panel displays measure viewable image size only, so a 15″ flat panel display has a 15″ viewable image area.
  • Ergonomics: An average 17″ CRT monitor measures about 17 inches deep and weighs 40 pounds, while an average 17″ LCD takes up half the space, with a depth of less than 8 inches and a weight of 15 pounds.
  • Brightness: A typical LCD monitor has a brightness of 200 to 300 nits, compared with a typical CRT brightness of 100 nits. Since an LCD acts like a shutter, it can be made brighter by increasing the brightness of the backlight, without degrading image quality. However, when a CRT is brightened, the beam spot size also increases, which lowers effective resolution and degrades resolution.
  • Color: CRT monitors hold the advantage in regards to color purity and quality, but a quality LCD monitor is very good, and the average user would be hard pressed to note the difference. For professional-level image editing, the difference can range from slightly to significantly noticeable, so side-by-side comparisons should be made before choosing a particular model.
  • Focus: In a CRT, the electron beam is circular when aimed directly forward, but becomes distorted when aimed up, down, left or right as it sweeps across the screen and may cause image clarity or focus issues at the screen edge. In contrast, an LCD has millions of pixels, each one effectively independent from its neighbor, with no scanning electron beam, so distortion problems are negligible. The image is always perfectly “focused” over the entire screen – geometrically perfect, distortion-free images.
  • Viewing Angle: CRT monitors have a wider viewing angle than LCD monitors but quality LCDs now provide a viewing angle over 160 degrees, which is all that is required in practical situations.
  • Response Time: Response time is the time the screen takes to update pixel colors, important for fast moving images like movie playback. The best LCD monitors now offer sub 20 millisecond response times, acceptable for all moving images. (CRTs still hold the advantage, since their response time is not noticeable).
  • Screen Flickering: LCD monitors have no flicker at all as a result of their shuttertechnology. CRT displays must have a 85 MHz screen refresh rate or better to avoid sore eyes and headaches from screen flicker – many CRTs do not have that capability.
  • Screen Burn-in: LCD monitors are not subject to screen burn-in, unlike CRT and Plasma displays which can be ruined by displaying a fixed image for a long period of time.
  • Magnetic Interference: LCD monitors are not affected by magnetic sources, such as speakers, and do not require special shielding. CRT monitors are affected by the magnetic fields even a moderate one will cause picture distortion.
  • Emissions: An LCD causes no electromagnetic interference and is essentially emission-free, while a CRT monitor generates electric, magnetic and even some X-ray emissions.
  • Operating Temperature: The liquid crystals in an LCD operate within a fixed temperature range (10-60 degrees Celsius. The brighter the backlight, the more heat is generated. Placing an LCD under direct sunlight will generate additional heat – all of this must be controlled for the display to operate correctly and maintain long-term reliability.
  • Power Consumption: LCD monitors consume between 20-50 watts of power, while CRT monitors generally consume 50 to over 160 watts. In addition, the amount of heat generated by an LCD monitor is considerably less than a CRT monitor, resulting in a lower load on air conditioning (cooling needs may be decreased by up to 20%).
  • Lifespan: The only item that ages on an LCD monitor is the backlight, which is composed of tiny fluorescent tubes with a typical life of 50,000 hours. CRTs age in two ways: beam intensity decreases as the electron gun oxidizes and, the screen phosphor emits less light as it ages. Typical CRT life ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 hours.
  • Total cost of ownership: LCD prices have been decreasing in recent years. When the total cost of ownership is considered (including power savings and lifespan), LCDs are now less expensive than equivalent CRTs.

What’s the difference between VGA and Video feeds?

Composite video has been around for many years and offers about 500 lines of display resolution. Most broadcast cameras provided for a composite video feed for teleprompter usage. This served them well when all teleprompters were monochrome. Now that the industry has moved to full color displays, there is an opportunity to utilize improved resolution. A VGA input on the teleprompter can go as high as 1280 x 1024 pixels which offers more than 6 times the resolution. VGA inputs are also desirable in the field where the laptop is directly connected to the teleprompter without going through a scan converter.

How many teleprompter characters per line?

The most important function of a prompting system, whether its an oncamera or speech prompter is its readability. And yes, size matters. Compare the easy to ready 12-point font of a childs book versus the 6-point font of legal fine print. So setting the size of the text being scrolled is a good place to start within limits. If the font is too large, it will result in too few words per line the speaker may not be squinting, but the chopped up text will result in broken words and sentences, and more importantly, rough delivery. Conversely, too many words per line will result in noticeable side-toside eye movement the right number of characters per line for prompting ranges from 16-24. In general, you may find it desirable to use plain fonts, as opposed to the more ornate fonts, and select sizes from 48 to 72 point in size.

What about center justification, line spacing, etc.?

EZPrompt XP’s General Options menu includes user settings to permit not only line spacing (single, space-an-a-half, and double) and center justification, but also permit right-justification as well as right-to-left display of prompted text.

What about using different fonts?

EZPrompt XP can use any standard Windows TrueType font. A simple open font is easiest to read. We suggest Arial or something similar. You can select any font that is installed on your computer, and make it any size or style you wish. This includes Cyrillic, Greek, German, French and Spanish fonts with all of their additional inflections and symbols.

What about Newswire feeds?

EZPrompt XP is not a networkable product, and, as such, cannot be used as an interface to systems that provide newswire feeds. EZPrompt XP has a sibling … EZNews … that fills this niche. EZNews is a multi-user, network-ready, fully integrated production and prompting system that can receive and process data from any standard format newswire service. EZNews is competitive with systems selling for many times the price, and includes one of the best prompting engines available anywhere.

How is the script speed controlled?

Script speed is regulated by either hand or foot pedal controls depending upon whether therr is a prompter operator. If scrolling speed is being governed by a prompter operator (versus the talent) a desk mounted controller such as the ShuttlePro and ShuttleExpress are desirable. If the Talent is using the control a foot pedal or small hand controll can be used. ShuttlePro and ShuttleExpress controllers provide the Prompter Operator with a traditional Jog/Shuttle knob that mimics the feel of a VTR controller.

The key here is: EZPrompt XP requires NO PROPRIETARY CONTROLLERS. The software is designed to use any standard Windows pointing device (ijavascript:Route(‘U’); Update.e. mouse, wheelmouse, trackball, thumbwheel, etc.). In our view, companies that require proprietary (read: single-source) controllers are doing their customers a disservice. If an EZPrompt XP user has a problem with their prompter controller, a replacement is no further away than the nearest store that sells computer products.

I’m moving to HDTV, what lenses require Wide Angle Beamsplitters and which Tekskil Hood would you recommend?

Many HDTV Studio Wide Angle Lenses will not work with your existing prompter systems. The problem is especially true with the newer 16:9 wide angle lenses. The field of view is so wide that the lenses “see” the edges of the prompter hood and the front of the prompter display. Tekskil offers two sizes of wide angle beamsplitters to solve this problem. The following list shows which lenses require the wider beamsplitters.

Canon HD Studio and ENG/EFP Lenses

  16:9 Lens Model      Angular Field of View
H x V
  Prompter Hood and Beamsplitter  
XJ22x7.3BIE-D 66.7″ x 40.6″ SX Extended Studio Hood
XJ23x7BIE-D 68.8″ x 42.1″ HDTV Studio Hood
XJ25x6.8BIE-D 70.4″ x 43.3″ HDTV Studio Hood
HJ11Ex4.7B 91.2″ x 58.8″ HDTV Studio Hood
HJ17Ex7.6B 64.6″ x 39.1″ HDTV Studio Hood
HJ17Ex7.7B 63.9″ x 38.7″ SX Extended Studio Hood
HJ21Ex7.5B 65.2″ x 39.6″ SX Extended Studio Hood

Fujinon HD Studio and ENG/EFP Lenses

  16:9 Lens Model     Angular Field of View
H x V
  Prompter Hood and Beamsplitter  
AH13x4.5DERM 93.6″ x 51.8″ HDTV Studio Hood
HSs18X5.5BRD 64.7″ x 39.2″ HDTV Studio Hood
A18x7.6DERM 64.5″ x 39.0″ HDTV Studio Hood
AH20x8 ESM 61.9″ x 37.2″ SX Extended Studio Hood
HA22x7.3 ERM 66.6″ x 40.5″ HDTV Studio Hood
HA26x6.7 ESM 71.2″ x 41.8″ HDTV Studio Hood
AH24x7 ESM 68.8″ x 42.1″ HDTV Studio Hood
AH50x9.5 ESM 53.6″ x 31.7″ SX Extended Studio Hood
A22x7.8 DERM 63.2″ x 38.1″ SX Extended Studio Hood

Have a question about teleprompting equipment you’d like answered?
E-mail us at [email protected]

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