Frequently Asked Teleprompting Questions

What is a teleprompter?

A teleprompter is a device used in video, film and TV that prompts actors for lines that may be forgotten or missed. Teleprompters are also used for speeches and for providing information such as a news anchor or reporter.

What is a Teleprompter Operator?

A teleprompter operator transcribes scripts or recording into readable banners or special screens that are used to prompt people to remember what they are to say. Some teleprompter information may be provided in advance in the form of audio or videotape that must be transcribed into text format.
Teleprompter operators must have a good working knowledge of the language being used in the film, and must also be able to work with various individuals in the film that have different speech patterns, dialects and personalities. Since the teleprompter operator must match the information on the screen with what is occurring in the scene it is very important that they have an ability to work in highly distracting settings and under considerable pressure.
A teleprompter operator needs to have excellent organizational, time management and communication skills. Since they are part of the production team they will be required to attend planning meetings as well as operate the teleprompter during the event or filming. Most teleprompter operators work flexible hours and may have to work long hours, evening and weekends to complete filming on schedule.

How long does it take to set up teleprompter hardware?

The average time is about 20 minutes.  But the range of time can be anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour depending on the location and set design.  I have a wide range of teleprompters that can be used inside or outside and can be mounted on a shoulder mount for a walk and talk, tripod, Jib, dolly or Crane.  For example mounting on crane with 100 feet of video and power cables, outside on pier could take 60 minutes to set up.  I always arrive well  before the talent to make sure everything is running properly and there’s time to input changes into the script, if any.

How long does it take to load a Script into the prompter software?

I prefer the script be provided in a text format like MS word or a notepad file (No PDfs), then it takes a few minutes to load it into my software.  Please make sure the script you provide contains only the words that your on-camera talent will read.  Leave out any graphics and all technical or directorial comments.
Depending on how long the script is, it could take another 5 to 15 minutes to make it “talent friendly” allowing the talent a smoother read, so they can focus on the natural and the emotional part of the content delivery to camera.

Should the script be e-mailed  before the shoot?

Only if you are certain that it’s the final version. We can always make changes on set and “on the fly” as necessary.  If you can’t e-mail the script ahead of time, bring it to the set saved on a USB drive only, no CDs, SD, ZIP disk or any other portable media!  As a last resort the script can be transcribed from a hard copy, please allow the time necessary.    I type about  55 wpm so a 3 page script would take me about 20 minutes to type.

What if I need to make changes to the script on-set or behind the stage?

This happens all the time and can be done very easily.  We can change whatever is necessary, just keep in mind that the more changes you have the longer it will take to make them so keep the schedule in mind. Changes can be given to us verbally, on hard-copy or we can accept a new electronic file. If a new electronic file is given it may take us some time to make it ‘Talent Friendly”  the file so that it is easier to read on the prompter.

What if I need an additional teleprompter “off camera”?

We have additional free-standing monitors and teleprompters that work great for interview style shoots or  if you want to make sure that there’s a script visible anywhere on the set.

Let us know ahead of time, so we can bring the right equipment for your production

What are your rates?

My full day rate is $700 including all equipment and travel for any of my single prompter Rigs, if multiple prompters, the Presidential or Concert prompter configurations are required there will be an additional fee of $150-$250 per additional prompter or monitor required (depending on configuration).  I only charge for the extra hardware rental not labor.
Full day rates are based on a 10 hr. day on set, and lunch on the clock.  Overtime at time & a half for the 11th and 12th hour. Double time after 12 hours.

Other charges I need to be aware of?

First 120 miles round-trip are free from my office in San Jose.  After that its  .75 cents. per additional mile.
All parking and meals are to be provided by the production or by a set per diem amount.

What if my Video Shoot or Event is cancelled?  It’s the nature of the business…

100% percent cancellation fee applies for all cancellations occurring within one day’s notice
(24 hrs. or less – i.e. canceling the day before, or same day of shoot.)

50% percent cancellation fee occurs within two days or 48 hrs.notice.

Do I need insurance in order to rent a teleprompter?

No, I do not require insurance unless  your production is going to carry a general liability policy then you need to provide a certificate of insurance naming TeleprompterJim.com  as an additional insured and loss payee. The amount listed to cover the rented equipment should be for at least $20,000. You can either e-mail the certificate as a PDF or Word document to teleprompterjim@gmail.com or bring it to the set.

How do I know if I need to use a teleprompter?

Great question, there is really no definitive answer, but in general,  if the length of the script or presentation is such that the talent or presenter won’t be able to memorize it then having a teleprompter is a good idea.  Also, use may depend on the skills of the speaker as well, if the talent has a hard time being constant in the content delivery — if there is any question it is good to have a teleprompter available.  Many times a teleprompter is used if there are specific facts, data or numbers that have to be stated accurately, for legal reasons,  regardless of length of the presentation.

We are often hired and placed on stand-by on video shoots in case the presenter is unable to deliver the script well without it, then we swing into action. Likewise, we find ourselves at conferences for the same reason — for the eventuality that a presenter realizes that their presentation is lengthy enough to require one.

What kind of teleprompter should I rent?

I have many different teleprompter configurations, so please review them when you get a chance.  For most video shoots my flexible 12 inch prompter rig will work great.  It can been seem from between 2 to 20 feet and can be mounted on a tripod, c-stand, dolly or jib very easily.  I do work on many video shoots where multiple camera-mounts are used, and sometimes combinations of camera-mounts and floor stands are used depending on circumstances. Camera mounts are used when you want the talent to directly address the camera/viewer. Floor stands are for interview style situations where the talent is looking off-camera.

For conferences, concerts and live corporate events, the presidential prompter and/or floor monitors are what are used. Sometimes it is clear what equipment a speaker needs, other times they may not have a preference. We often operate on shows with both because some speakers prefer to roam the stage (Floor Monitors) while others prefer to stand behind a podium (Presidential Prompter).

The shoulder mount 6 inch is a more specialized teleprompter that can be used on video shoots where both the camera and talent are moving and a dolly won’t be used, also called a walk and talk or stroll and scroll. Common uses in our experience are the talent walking down a sidewalk or other area with brief scripts. This prompter is particularly useful if there are multiple setups in several locations throughout the day at which both the camera and talent will be mobile.

Can I rent just the teleprompter equipment?

No. We are a turnkey provider of teleprompter, so all of our rentals include both gear and an operator.

What if I have more than one script?

I work with multiple scripts all the time. Sometimes, especially on video shoots, there will be different scripts for the same talent to take advantage of their availability. We will load the scripts as necessary in this type of circumstance.

On conferences where there are often many presenters, we will keep them separate for rehearsals, which makes changes easier, but will link the files together into one file for the actual show. If there are presenters in the show that aren’t using the teleprompter we will “black out” the teleprompter screens for them.

How do you handle presenters who only use bullet points, or ones that may ad lib?

For presenters who use bullet points we cannot emphasize enough how important a rehearsal is so that both the teleprompter operator and the presenter can get comfortable with one another. With bullet points we space them out so that there are usually never more than two on the screen and we advance each bullet as the subject is read by the presenter.

Ad libbing is fine as long as the presenter understands that the teleprompter will stop until they return to and continue with the words on the screen.  This happens most on educational videos when Engineers or doctors are presenting

Is any special equipment required on our video shoot for us to use a teleprompter?

No, we have designed our camera-mount packages so that we can accommodate most cameras and tripods.

What if I want to use a teleprompter on a jib or dolly?

We regularly mount our full-size camera mounts on jibs and dollies with no problems — just keep in mind that you will need to bring additional counter-weights to balance it over what you normally use for just a camera on the front.

What if I don’t see the kind of teleprompter equipment I need on your web site?

I would be shocked, but if you want something I don’t have, please feel free to ask and I will see if it is something I can build for you.

Do your teleprompters work outdoors?

Yes, I have worked on outdoor sets many times.  I prefer a generator or other power source on set, but if that is not possible I have an special battery pack that will give me about 5 hours of power for the prompter.  I usually charge it at lunch and that will give me another 2 hours on top of that.  All my prompters work outside, but for those jobs where there the sun is very bright, I have a special “High Bright” prompter. Please let us know in advance that it will be outside so I can prepare and bring the right gear.

Extreme cold or heat can cause issues with equipment so we will take additional measures to try and ensure that our equipment works.

How does teleprompter in a foreign language work?

Understand that the teleprompter operator does not need to be, nor is it likely that they will be, fluent in the language they are teleprompting. There are two essential elements to ensuring that it works:

  1. that a sample of the foreign language be sent to us in advance (especially if it is a language that uses symbols like Mandarin, etc.) so that we can test it and make sure it imports properly, and
  2. that a translator be on site during the event or video shoot so that there is someone who can help the teleprompter operator properly adjust the speed as the talent reads. The translator is also helpful if any changes to the script need to be made. Changes would be made using the characters on a standard English keyboard unless it is possible to copy/paste them from somewhere else in the script.

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