Over the past 30 years, since Mirror Image Teleprompters was founded, my favorite activity has been working with students and instructors on their school’s prompting needs.
I usually start with a line of short, easy to answer questions. Are you shooting indoors or outside? In studio or on location? One talent person reading one camera? And how is your budget?
If the plan is to shoot with one on camera talent on one camera in a controlled location or small studio we will recommend the iP-10 tablet (iPad) prompter. This very cost effective unit holds up well in some outdoor shoot situations and works very well indoors. The system is light weight and can usually use your current tripod system for good, steady shooting. The system is normally able to be read up to 15 feet away. An iPad app software can be purchased from iTunes (or Android store for other Tablets) to operate the tablet and give the operator a large, smooth prompting image (words) and control to speed up or stop.
Some schools will definitely be in studio and want a more permanent solution. The PB-15 or the LC-150 are the units we recommend for this area. The customer can start with one system and later, when a budget allows, expand to a second or third system for the studio. The systems have large 15 inch VGA capable monitors that can be read up to 25 feet away. Cost is always a factor and there are several product lines to choose from. The PB stands for “Price Buster” and is our lowest cost entry system. A school district in a southern U.S. state has placed a LC-150 in every public school in the district and will begin phase two, of adding a second system in each studio. These multi prompter systems will be networked together and run off of one laptop computer in studio. A student operator will be able to control or prompt both of their classmates from this laptop work station area.
Creative Learning Systems, Inc. has sold and installed a dozen studio modules that use a green screen type background system for their studio set. The background can be changed behind the on camera talent. A virtual set if you will. Special direct view prompters were developed by Mirror Image for this use with the prompter monitor mounted a half inch under the camera’s lens. No prompter mirror could be used in this situation because of the systems special circular key light placed around the lens. The results are incredible and very professional. Two DV-19 direct view prompters are used in this studio design. Several of the school’s sports programs had the look to rival even the broadcast networks!
Several school systems with bigger budgets were able to purchase Professional studio prompters and their corresponding talent monitors. These systems have large 15 inch or 19 inch monitors and an additional program video feed monitor so the on camera talent can see additional news or sports footage while on camera. The SF-150 or SF-190 come with large, trapezoid mirrors for extra wide lens angles and great reading ability.
Mirror Image recently sold the outdoor capable LC-160HB field prompter to a school system that would be doing all their shooting on location, outside. This very bright outdoor system can handle even the brightest conditions and is still very readable. Its high output LCD panel is 6 times brighter than a normal studio prompter. The system included side shields to help keep ambient daylight off the screen and mirror. Their sports show never looked so good.
So, you have to think about it. What is your current demand and what will your future needs be? Ask a lot of questions and learn all you can. Price and your school’s budget will always be a factor so pick what fits now and what can be added later.