Get a good job as a Teleprompter Operator
By Amy Bursor
A teleprompter, aka autocue, is a computerized device that cues actors their lines and prompts anchors with their scripts.
Basically there are three types of prompters:
1. The standard teleprompter or autocue, which is generally placed before the lens of the camera. The talent looks directly into the lens and sees their lines displayed in a type size which is adjusted by the operator for maximum readability.
2. The presidential teleprompter. This is usually a pair of devices usually positioned to the left and right of a speaker at a podium. President Obama uses one to great effect. The device looks like a pair of tilted glass panels mounted on a pair of vertical poles. The computer screens mounted at the bottom of the poles project an image of the script upon the reverse side of the “partially silvered” glass. The speaker only has to glance left and right to read the copy.
3. The Errol Morris Interrotron: This is a new invention used to facilitate interviews. It addresses two problems: People being interviewed (especially non professionals) tend to be uncomfortable looking into a camera lens and often look off camera to the interviewer. This results in a less than relaxed subject and problems with eye lines. The Interrotron projects a video image of the interviewer in front of the camera lens for the interviewee and vice versa. This makes interviews go faster and look better.
The Interrotron, once set up, does not usually require an operator but a trained operator is essential in the efficient operation of the standard and presidential models.
A professional prompter operator must be punctual, well organized, (and being a good writer is a definite plus). It’s an entry-level position, but it’s a very helpful way to get your foot in the door in the TV and professional video industry.
Practice your computer skills. A good teleprompter operator types well, understands how to import and format documents from the Internet, a CD, DVD or memory stick. Note: I can’t overemphasize the importance of proofreading the copy to eliminate errors.
Learn TV lingo. Be at home on the set by familiarizing yourself with film & TV protocol. Know what the pros call all the industry commands, positions, equipment, etc.
Try to organize a tour of your local TV station and ask lots of questions. It’s really important to understand every individual’s responsibilities to the production. And if you want to aspire to one of these positions you should know what your goal is.
If you don’t already know, ask the operator to show you how to enter data into the computer and how to scroll through a script. A good teleprompter operator rolls the script at the pace the on-air talent reads his/her lines.
One way to do this at home is to download free trials of various prompter software systems and experiment with them.
Always ask for business cards from the film & TV professionals you meet. The industry is all about networking.
Thank the facility’s staff for their courtesy. Follow up with a thank you email to the producer and/or director. Include a resume and let him know that you hope he/she would consider your for any future opening.
Teleprompter Operators get to be on set where the action is. It is a great job for actors with flexible schedules.
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