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STUDIO A new age of Teleprompting? Prompting is hardly a new phenomenon! by Jon Hilton W hilst it may not be the first thing on the production agenda, one could argue it is an essential production tool today delivering at least two fundamental production values. Firstly it can save you money by reducing the time required to get that perfect take and secondly it means that your presenter will be word perfect (and legally compliant) with a professionalism that we all expect to see today by maintaining eye contact (through the lens) with the audience. This is particularly relevant when they may not do this “for a living” such as in Corporate Video and Event Productions If you want to learn more I would recommend reading “The Teleprompter Manual” by Laurie Brown a good, easy read and if the web is more your thing the best information site, in my opinion, is Teleprompting Techniques (http://www. prompting guru Chris Lambert’s site which gives you everything you need to know. I am relatively new to the business having joined Portaprompt in January after a lifetime with Sony (when occasionally I would use prompting myself). My fi rst learning is remembering that beyond the technology there is a crucial relationship between the Presenter and the Prompting Operator. Prompting technology has seen some fundamental changes over the last ten years with the move from CRT to fl at panel displays providing lighter and brighter camera head-up displays and we are still seeing change taking place. Autoscript are buying Autocue (an industry generic name), a new company Cue Script launched at NAB 14 and there are a myriad of new companies arriving with Tablet technologies. Out of this we are experiencing new questions and production language with examples being the Interrotron (what’s that?) and an unusual call from ITV Productions that they need a 32” Prompting Display but with no words - what, why? So where this leads me is to ask the question, is prompting not just about words anymore and if so are we entering a new age? Traditional word based techniques and products are well established. On camera displays from 5” to 24”, rigging for any type of camera from large studio to new robotic pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) devices, sophisticated software packages that can integrate into Newsroom workfl ows, conference products using large displays, motorised (rise and fall) conference poles and “Obama Glass” and of course the all-important Prompting Operator. The business model follows the standard Broadcast TV structure with day to day rental into production and programme budgets and infrastructure into capital budgets. This is as it has been and will continue (we believe) into the foreseeable future. But if the market is growing what are the technologies and techniques that are driving this? The fi rst thing to consider is the arrival of cost effective Tablet and Phone Prompting devices. These are not replacing the existing products but with prices starting at around £75 a day to rent and under £500 to buy these tools are opening up opportunities where traditional prompting may not have been fi nancially justifi able before. The fi rst wave of products have been around for several years now but in Europe have been a bit of a slow burner where as in the USA the company Prompter People claim sales of over 10,000 devices in their domestic market! First generation devices were rather limited but new tools are now pretty sophisticated and can be linked to full function prompting software packages like WinDigi from us and WinPlus from Autoscript. We have created a workfl ow with our 350 series whereby we create scripts in our WinDigi Software (which has far more functionality than the tablet based software), save the script to an FTP server, download them from the server to two tablets and through the i-scroll / glue device run two head ups simultaneously – that pretty much a traditional style workfl ow! There are limitations as editing with dedicated tablet software can be a 58 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 92 AUGUST 2014 TV-BAY092AUG14.indd 58 08/08/2014 15:29