Off Camera Rigs

Off Camera

Prompters can be positioned anywhere on a set. Behind bits of scenery, tiny prompters on the presenters desk, hung from the ceiling, in the orchestra pit, anywhere where they might be useful. However there are one or two specific uses which deserve comment.

Free Standing Prompter Rig with On-camera unit

If a prompter with hood and glass cannot physically be fitted to a lightweight camera and tripod combination, it can be rigged on an independent tripod or stand in front of the camera tripod and positioned such that the lens of the camera enters the hood from the back to shoot though the prompter glass. A blanking cloth must be folded round the lens so that no light enters the hood from the back to be reflected from the back of the 45 degree glass into the lens. In this way the words are being reflected over the lens as usual and there is plenty of tolerance for the camera to pan and tilt within the hood to zoom in or out. However there is a problem if a large panning shot is required because the lens will strike either side of the hood. This form of freestanding prompter rig can be time efficient in some situations. It can be rigged to be ready to go and then wait for the camera to arrive, conversely the camera can take the shot and then move on without waiting for a de-rig of the prompter.

Miniature Cameras with robotic pan and tilt heads

The free standing prompter is also a solution where a web cam, or very small camera/remoter pan and tilt heads are in use. In this case the whole camera and miniature robotic pan and tilt head can be mounted inside the hood. Again there is plenty of room to zoom in and out and with such a small camera even quite big panning shots can be achieved.

Off Camera Eyeline Interviews

A very useful way of using a prompter on a stand is where an off camera interview eyeline is required when it can be used to prompt both the answers and the questions. You have the interviewee looking, say, slightly to the right of the camera, at an imaginary interviewer. Assuming the answers have been prepared in advance the prompter screen is mounted on a stand and set in the position of the interviewer. The interviewer can also stand by the prompter which helps the interviewee speak rather than read the text of the answers because they are talking to a person rather than a bit of electronics. The answers can take the form of bullet points so, while the answers are adlibbed and naturally delivered, all the important points are covered, and in the right order. When the interview has been completed the monitor can be repositioned to an interviewee position relative to the camera, for the interviewer to use the prompter for the “ask the question” cut aways. It can save a lot of time and the questions, which have been monitored, and amended if required, by the prompt operator are absolutely accurate.

Off Camera Eyeline Head to Head

This covers the shot where two people are talking straight at each other, usually across a table, with the camera position to one side at 90 degrees to their eye line. Two prompt monitors are used mounted on stands. They should be placed behind the shoulder of each artist. Two points here – they should be over the shoulder which is furthest from the camera and as far back as possible. It is far easier to cheat an eyeline slightly away from the camera than it is towards the camera and by taking the monitors as far back as possible the angle between the true eyeline and the cheated reading eyeline is reduced as much as possible.