Many clients prefer to use a teleprompter to deliver scripted messages to camera. Before the pandemic crisis, this was easily accommodated. Now that filming has moved into the virtual space can you still use a teleprompter?
By taking advantage of Zoom’s screen share function, we now have the ability to provide a virtual teleprompter.
Here’s how it works.
In a normal shoot, you would have a camera operator and a teleprompter operator. In a web recording, you still have a camera operator and a teleprompter operator, just virtually.
On the Zoom call, the camera operator records the call, while the teleprompter operator shares their screen running teleprompter software. The subject being “filmed” sees the script scrolling on their screen along with the pace of their delivery.
To them, it is functionally the same as an in-person shoot, and we can make speed adjustments and copy edits on the fly.
If you’re thinking about using a teleprompter during your next web recording session, there are a few things to consider in order to get the most out of your recording.
#1: The Set-Up
The key to a smooth teleprompter read is to create distance from the person reading and the teleprompter. This minimizes eye movement and makes it look much more natural.
We’ve found the most natural-looking read involves using two screens- a laptop and a second screen (either a cellphone, iPad / tablet, or tv/computer monitor). This is because it allows you to place the screen displaying the script just above and behind the webcam at a distance.
The drawback of using only one device is that since the speaker is much closer to the screen displaying the script, it could appear as if they are reading (remember: distance is key).
The best option – place the second screen slightly above your laptop (on a shelf works great) and read from there. It should be slightly higher than the webcam (but not too high!). This ensures your eye-line matches the webcam. The distance depends on the device you are using.
We recommend setting up a cellphone 1 ft away from the webcam, an iPad/tablet 3 ft away, and a computer monitor or TV 5 ft away
If you don’t have access to a second device, we can still make it work by formatting the text to be as close to the webcam as possible.
#2: The Background
Use a simple, clean, practical background without clutter. Set up in a location without bright windows or lights behind you. As we highlighted a previous blog, avoid virtual backgrounds.
#3: The Lights
It’s important to make sure you have adequate lighting for your recording.
The best type of lighting to use is natural light. Position yourself by a window if possible. Be sure to always keep the window in front of you, not behind you.
If natural light is not an option, then the next best lighting source is a simple lamp with a white shade. Place it close to the monitor so it’s hitting your face as frontal as possible. But don’t mix and match – windows and lamps don’t work well together!
#4: The Camera
Next, make sure your camera is placed appropriately. Ideally, it should be at eye level and feel natural, soo you’re not looking too far down or up. The more extreme the angle, the worse the shot will look.
Sit or stand far enough away to see from top of your head to mid-chest level, also known as a medium shot. This will be roughly an arm’s length away from the screen.
#5: The Action (and preparing for it)
After you’re all set up, it’s best to do a dry run of the script and make any adjustments. Once you’re confident and ready to go, we’ll hit record and it’s showtime.