Faulty memory and last minute scripting changes lead to the introduction of cue cards in early media and entertainment. The next step in the emergence of that sort of memory aid was the appearance of the teleprompter in the early 50’s, when the founders of TelePrompTer Corporation saw the potential of such a device. In this incarnation, the mechanical device (originally designed by Hubert Schlafly) was typically located near a camera that was filming the subject who was reading the prompter. The machine slowly turned a specially made scroll with inch tall letters in easy view of the talent being filmed. The writing was accomplished via printing from a specially equipped typewriter. Demand for this new technology rose and by 1952 it saw its first major use in the political arena. It was used in addressing the Republican National Convention in Chicago of that year. Other politicians quickly saw its advantages and its usage began to appear on both sides of the aisle.
The next advancement in teleprompter technology came rather quickly in 1953. It addressed a major
flaw with the original teleprompter, which was that the subject being filmed reading a script was always obviously looking off to one side of (or above or below) the recording camera, while reading the lines printed on the big scroll. Jess Oppenheimer (not to be confused with Julius Openheimer of Manhattan project fame) the producer and lead writer for the “I Love Lucy” show, made the first line prompter that allowed the subject to read while looking directly into the camera. This was done essentially by reflecting an image of the script off a piece of glass placed in front of the camera.
Autocue purchased a license from Oppenheimer in 1955 to use the teleprompter system in the UK and QTV licensed in the Americas. These companies continued to lead the pack in teleprompter innovation. Both companies used a rental system with their studio customers. Oppenheimer’s original system of the reflected scroll lasted until 1969 when Autocue made the next advance in tech via a CCTV system. QTV followed suit quickly thereafter. In the 70’s, both companies started also selling teleprompter hardware in addition to their continuing rentals. In 1984, the two titans of the teleprompter business united under one corporate umbrella, but continued to maintain each brand within its marketing area.
One advantage that cue cards had managed to retain until that time was the fact that they could quickly be changed to adapt to up to the minute news and last second script changes. In 1985, the Autocue Group rose to that challenge with ScripNet, a computer-based prompt system. Computer-driven prompt systems began to sweep across the world. WinCue was a windows compatible program that Autocue developed as the company began to explore its digital teleprompting options. In 1994, another Autocue Group innovation began to sweep the industry – flat screen prompters.
Today, most modern teleprompters are like a personal computer hooked to a video monitor on a fancy camera that has adjustable scrolling speed. Of course, that analogy is somewhat like describing a Lamborghini as an engine connected to 4 wheels and a seat, with a gas pedal and brakes.
Autocue manufacturers teleprompters and accessories and is a member of the Vitec group brand. This makes Autocue all the more cutting-edge, due to their access to over 100 years of photography, film and digital image-making know how. Broadcast Beat recently acquired two premium Autocue prompters. The quality is the stuff that brand loyalty is made of! Why get just any set of wheels with an engine if you can have a Lamborghini instead, right?
Autocue has been there since the beginning; they have the best teleprompters, period. For the start-up
studio, Autocue offers-up The Starter Series Teleprompters. At this level, there are still many different options available, and they come to the customer complete with all the necessary cords, cables and (Mac or PC) software. There are two different 7” models, a 10”, The iPad model (attach it to your iPad to get the script your talent will be reading), 17”, presidential teleprompters, and even more economical is the lite range of teleprompters for those customers using smaller DV cameras or DSLR.
Autocue still runs their rental service, so that remains another cost-effective option. Rental may be your answer if you don’t see the need to always have a teleprompter on hand. They have a wide variety of options for rental, but the two most popular are renting the Master series teleprompters or the executive speech prompter (a favorite of politicians and upper management everywhere). In either case, you still have the option of having an Autocue technician tag along to ensure everything goes perfectly.
Autocue is THE name in teleprompters, and they have it all – a teleprompter for each conceivable need, the ideal software to use them, and all imaginable teleprompter accessories. You can check out some of their stuff at booth #C6025 at the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Remember, for the latest 2015 NAB Show news-and-information, stay tuned to Broadcast Beat Magazine! Broadcast Beat is an official 2015 NAB Show Media Partner. Visit our NAB Show Booth #SL15217.
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