A teleprompter may not ideal for every situation but it is a necessity for creating videos when the story includes plenty of details, a tight script or a lengthy single take with no camera changes.
For those scenes with growing tension levels or where the on-screen talent has memorized the lines and has some room for ad-lib, a teleprompter may not be needed. However, on many productions, script aids, such as portable full sized teleprompters can reduce retakes and keep production on track.
Capturing strong emotions and earning empathy for the speaker may return better results without a teleprompter. However, for many video productions, from corporate programs to video PR, and from product explainers to tech-topic walk throughs, it is essential the person on-screen reads the script exactly as written. In most such instances, the script has been carefully considered and vetted by everyone from C-suite executives to the in-house legal counsel and on down the line.
Departing from the script in most such productions may result in a reshoot, possibly at the production company’s expense.
Making Eye Contact
Most experienced on-screen personalities favor teleprompters because it allows them the confidence to proceed without having to memorize every word in the script. It also helps reveal their persona and conveys their professionalism. Eye-contact with the viewer always enhances the connection between the storyteller and the audience and greatly improves trust.
Teleprompters work best and produce the best results when the talent is familiar with the script, knows what to expect and can add tonal variations, keyword emphasis and a proper inflection at the end of sentences.
Under ideal conditions, where an approved script is in place and all on-screen personalities have had plenty of time to memorize, a teleprompter may not be needed. Unfortunately, less-than-ideal conditions are usually the norm. Last-minute script changes, unprepared talent or distractions on location can trip up dialogue and disrupt continuity.
Teleprompter placement should not be overlooked. If too close to the presenter, eye movements while reading may be noticeable. Likewise, if the teleprompter is too far away the talent may not be able to read even with enlarged text. Wide-angle and outdoor landscape shots may handicap the placement of the prompter. Consider blocking and object placement to conceal it from view.
For closer shots, adjust the teleprompter display so the text is centered and make the size of the font as small as needed to reduce eye movement.
Some stories may only need bullet points or a few words to nudge the reader along. A PowerPoint slide deck is easily adapted for many teleprompter applications and the file format is familiar to most reviewers and on-screen talent.
With the rise of personal video production and vlogging, the ability to capture long takes while maintaining eye contact with the camera lens can make the difference between an efficient, timely production and an extended, and expensive session in the editing suite. Likewise, a teleprompter is essential to most livestream and in-house events, especially those produced by company staff rather than a professional video crew.
Whether it is for a brief message to the sales team, a year-end report to shareholders or an incisive documentary, a teleprompter can add credibility and help control production costs on your next video project.