Shooting two cameras simultaneously through the same prompter.
This is a question asked of us many times and, frankly, we thought it possible.
But we never tried.
Put simply, we did not have an answer and were loath to tell a client we could do it when we really didn’t know if we could.
OK, so a client orders our large 17″ Master Series prompter for a 7D shoot which makes very little sense. That is until we realize he is planning on shooting two cameras through the one teleprompter.
The reason is obvious.
He wants to preserve the proper eye-line on both cameras. He doesn’t want to have to cut between a close up with the talent looking directly into the lens and the wide shot with the actor looking off to Kansas.
This is very, very reasonable and I’m privately calling myself a “schmuck” for nor having experimented with all this on my own time and not on the client’s. So, I’m upfront. I tell him we haven’t done it. It should be possible, but I don’t want him to waste time on his shoot here in the studio.
He insists. “Let’s give it a try, man. Don’t be so damn conservative. I want to make this great”
OK, and we proceed to test it with the two Canon 7D’s. One with a long Cannon zoom and one with a wide angle. Naturally, I am concerned about the wide angle as it could very well vignette and spoil the shot.
More trial and error. More wasted time. Did I say I was a Schmuck for not trying this on my own time?
It was immediately obvious that we couldn’t have made it work on the standard 12″ prompter
The 17″ Master Series Teleprompter is not for everyone.. The 12″ Pro Gold Plate model is great for almost all occasions. It will handle all the big boy cameras like the Arri Alexa All the Red Cameras (Scarlet, Epic, etc), The Sony F900, Panasonic Varricam, etc. We don’t want to ever sell our client on a teleprompter that’s too large. What you get with too wide a mirror is the “tennis effect” the talent’s eyes go back and forth on the screen reading the lines left to right, left to right, left to right. Vertigo! Not cool.
So, go with the right size. Bigger ain’t always better.
Exceptions are when you have an older actor or an actor with bad eyesight so you go with what works.
Sidebar: We actually bought the 17″ Master Series Gold Plate to prompt for Dan Rather who is a great reporter but his eyesight is not that good. The 17″ is best for when the talent is standing more than, say, 12′ from the lens. Daylight doesn’t matter as the monitors are both “super bright” and both models can be battery powered for outside prompting. However, we do flag off the mirror. to protect from bright sun)
At any rate, thanks to the client’s ingenuity, the system worked like a charm and he was very, very pleased. He flashed me that “told ya so grin”.
But, I deal with it (we are old friends) happy as I am that a simple, obvious, tech problem was dealt with successfully.
I have attached a load of pictures my prompter operator took with her iPhone to document the set up It should be clear from the images how they did it.
OK, so what about other cameras? Everybody doesn’t shoot with 7D’s?
Well, we will be in the studio testing the 17″ Master Series Prompter system with two Sony F100′s, F3′s, Red Epics and the Scarlett X’s this weekend.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m welcome to any suggestions.