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 Articles

A Primer
A Pioneer
The Art of Eye Contact
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
             
 
 

The Art of Eye Contact

Anchor persons on the telly look you straight in the eye as they give you world news or make smart, 'well considered' observations on reality shows. Amazing feats of memory? No! Very simply, prompting technology at its best - the teleprompter.

Today's techno generation will find it quaint, but before the advent of teleprompters, newscasters on TV used to actually read news items from a sheaf of papers clutched in their hands. The good ones managed to triumphantly look into the camera lens at the end of each sentence and, sometimes, in between, to make a special point.

But Teleprompters have radically changed the on camera presentation style, elevating it to new heights. And more recently, the teleprompter has even evolved into its new avatar, as the speech prompter, which has become a mandatory requirement for top-notch corporate presentations, live demonstrations, award functions and all genres of stage presentations.

Hollywood actors who prefer not to tax their memory are also known to use the teleprompter when called upon to deliver lengthy dialogue. Not to be left behind, Bollywood actors are also experimenting with the teleprompter to get more packed in their busy schedules.

Harish Bhimani, the renowned TV-Radio broadcaster of India was the first to realize the dire need for the teleprompter in the Indian broadcast media. In an environment where even presenters were wary of using a machine that prompts, he was the first person to acquire a teleprompter and start renting it out. Today, there is not a glittering stage event or an anchor based TV show that does not hire a teleprompter from Mr. Bhimani's SmartAnchor.Com.

Says Harish Bhimani, "I started my career as a TV newscaster. We used to read news items from badly typed or even hand-written sheets. During one of my foreign tours I saw the teleprompter for the very first time on the Trinidad and Tobago TV (TTT). Keen to observe newscasting in other countries, I made it a point to attend a live news broadcast. The news presenter on duty invited me to present news. I hesitated, saying "You guys speak real fast..."

"Not a big deal." He said, "Come try it. Here is the teleprompter."   

And that was the first time I laid eyes on that magical friend of a TV anchor.

Later, during my visit to the United States, I happened to meet the eminent news presenter Jim Jones - whose help led me to fulfil my wish to introduce the contraption to the Indian media.

The teleprompter is mounted atop the camera facing the presenter. The presenter's text scrolls on the monitor screen. An operator moves the scroll in time with the presenter's speed as he reads from the teleprompter. One can also feed the text from a computer or laptop and then scroll it with help of mouse.

      The Teleprompter has two components. The on-camera unit, which comprises the screen & a specially-treated reflecting glass  and the script feed that transports the text or a computer. The distance between the screen and the operator is adjusted with the help of a cable.

      When the script is in the form of a print-out, pages are taped in the form of a scroll. And then this is fed in the script feed table and moved manually, in time with the speed of the presenter. Often, the script comes as an email or a soft copy, in which case it is saved on the laptop and scrolled with the help of the mouse.

     I have a team of operators working for me. One operator per teleprompter, who takes the teleprompter to the location, sets it up and operates it during a shoot.

       SmartAnchor.com provides teleprompters for all major TV shows and stage events - not just in Mumbai but all over India. A superstar no less than Amitabh Bachchan insists on hiring a teleprompter from SmartAnchor.com.           

 

 

 

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