Interrontrons - a prompting gimmick or a real production tool


Jon Hilton# TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

The first question for many is what is an Interrotron?

Essentially it is the use of a traditional prompter but instead of the words in the script the presenter sees the interviewer's or director's face.

This technique was pioneered by American film director Errol Morris in his film The Fog of War which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

He explains:-

"Teleprompters are used to project an image on a two-way mirror. Politicians and newscasters use them so that they can read text and look into the lens of the camera at the same time. What interests me is that nobody thought of using them for anything other than to display text: read a speech or read the news and look into the lens of the camera. I changed that. I put my face on the Teleprompter or, strictly speaking, my live video image. For the first time, I could be talking to someone, and they could be talking to me and at the same time looking directly into the lens of the camera. Now, there was no looking off slightly to the side. No more faux first person. This was the true first person."

Interrotrons have been used in this way very successfully and not just for "interviews". One of our first jobs some years ago was to use the monitors purely as a bright light to attract a baby's attention and they have also been used with pets with the owners face on screen to get the animals attention down the lens. However the most typical usage is when working with the general public and shows like 24 Hours in A&E are using this technique to get that open, easy and natural interview

Today we are finding that programme makers are now using Interrotrons also as an alternative to the more traditional use of "word" prompting. This tends to be in corporate videos where often one is working with inexperienced presenters who may not be comfortable in "reading" the script or are intimidated looking directly at the raw lens.

Using an Interrotron means that the director can coach a natural conversation from the presenter (tell me about xyz) who now has a human face to react with. You also have the "through the lens" credibility and as with all prompting styles you are minimising the amounts of takes, to get the perfect one, saving production cost!

We offer today, two variants or sale or hire.

A Passive system which uses reflections by way of the customized prompting hood and reflector and an Active system which takes a video signal from a second camera to feed the prompter display.

How a Passive Interrotron works? - We take the usual prompting rig but remove the monitor and change the angle of the glass from reflecting the monitor at 45° to 90. We then turn this to the left or the right so the presenter whilst still looking down the camera lens, can also see the reflection in the glass of the director who is sitting to either left or right of camera. This allows the presenter to maintain eye contact down the lens and react with the director.

Very simple, effective and cheap (we rent this rig out for £75 plus Vat a day). One tip is to use a simple office screen between the 2 people to break the direct eye-line makes sure the presenter keeps looking at the camera.

How an Active Interrotron works? This to all intent and purposes is a normal prompting rig but instead of a prompting software source (the script) from a PC the prompter head-up display is fed by a second camera which is capturing the director for the presenter to see.

It is more like a video conferencing device and does mean that the director and presenter can actual be in a different locations or even countries whilst still maintaining that all important down the lens eye contact. We have one client who regularly hire theses for one of their shows where they have a presenter in Bristol and another one in London and by using this technique are able to save significant crew and travel costs using Interrotrons but which to the viewer makes it look as if they are in the same place and location and talking to each other!

All of Portaprompt's standard ranges, the 365 Personal Prompter, the Fusion mid-budget Range and our Broadcast Premium and Quasar Range have Interrotron functionality built in as no extra cost!

Summary and benefits - I wished I had known about this before I joined Portaprompt as it would have been the prefect prompting tool for the in house video productions we used to produce for my old company.

Our presenters tended to be from our marketing team and whilst very knowledgeable on the kit and story they were not necessarily all that great as presenters and even when reading prompt some could be rather stilted and we could be doing 10 takes which just ate time, confidence and cash.

The Interrotron takes these limitations away and certainly what we are finding is that this little known technique when understood can add real value at very effective costs. It moves prompting from just "reading words" to an interview style approach and builds confidence to camera while maintaining the all-important eye line - a real production advantage!


Tags: iss116 | portaprompt | interrotron | prompter | Jon Hilton#
Contributing Author Jon Hilton#

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Portaprompt at BVE 2017

    Portaprompt at BVE 2017

  • Portaprompt at IBC 2015

    Portaprompt at IBC 2015

  • Could the new 1550 nit 32 inch Quasar from Portaprompt be the biggest prompter screen at IBC2019?

    Could the new 1550 nit 32 inch Quasar from Portaprompt be the biggest prompter screen at IBC2019?

  • Portaprompt at IBC 2016

    Portaprompt at IBC 2016

  • Portaprompt at BVE 2015

    Portaprompt at BVE 2015

  • IP Prompting from Portaprompt at IBC 2018

    IP Prompting from Portaprompt at IBC 2018

  • Portaprompt Motorised Conference Pole Overview

    Portaprompt Motorised Conference Pole Overview

  • IP Prompting from Portaprompt at IBC 2017

    IP Prompting from Portaprompt at IBC 2017

  • CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

    CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

  • CueScript Prompters at NAB 2014

    CueScript Prompters at NAB 2014

  • Autocue DSLR Prompter using iPad at IBC 2013

    Autocue DSLR Prompter using iPad at IBC 2013

  • CueiT Software from CueScript at NAB 2018

    CueiT Software from CueScript at NAB 2018

  • CueScript at IBC 2015

    CueScript at IBC 2015

  • Autocue at BVE 2015

    Autocue at BVE 2015

  • Autocue at NAB 2013

    Autocue at NAB 2013

  • Autocue at NAB 2012

    Autocue at NAB 2012

  • Datavision at BVE 2012

    Datavision at BVE 2012

  • Autocue at BVE 2012

    Autocue at BVE 2012

  • Autoscript at BVE 2012

    Autoscript at BVE 2012

  • Autoscript at BVE North 2011

    Autoscript at BVE North 2011

  • Datavideo at IBC2011

    Datavideo at IBC2011

  • Autoscript at IBC2011

    Autoscript at IBC2011

  • Autocue at IBC2011

    Autocue at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • KitPlus TV with guests talking JVC cameras, Edius X, Cuescript IP Prompting and Telestream Lightspeed

    KitPlus TV with guests talking JVC cameras, Edius X, Cuescript IP Prompting and Telestream Lightspeed


Articles
Connect A Broadcast-Quality Miniature Camera To Your Computer!
Spencer Doran Upgrade any home working or live streaming setup with a broadcast-quality professional webcam
Tags: webcam | marshall | CV503 | USB | ZOOM | Streaming | Spencer Doran
Contributing Author Spencer Doran Click to read
An Argument for the Z Cam
Jake Ratcliffe Z Cam first dipped their toes into the cinema camera market back at NAB 2018 with the release of the E2 and since then they have proven themselves as one of the go-to camera manufacturers for affordable and unique camera solutions. Their family of cinema cameras has since evolved into a set of 6.
Tags: iss142 | cvp | cvpgroup | micro four thirds | e2c | zcam | full frame 6k | tilta | smallrig | 8sinn | zacuto | rvlvr | Jake Ratcliffe
Contributing Author Jake Ratcliffe Click to read or download PDF
Five Rules for Creating a YouTube Business
KitPlus Ever dream of creating entertaining, impactful videos for a living? YouTube sensation Cherry Wallis and her technical consultant Chris Pearless tell us what they’ve learned throughout her channel’s rise to fame.
Tags: iss142 | cherry wallis | youtube | channel | blackmagic | adsense | google revenue | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Working with Remote Workflows
Alex Macleod At the time of me writing this article there is literally no other subject of conversation going on at the moment. The creative industries are on the verge of a complete shutdown, and it’s a seriously scary prospect. The fear & uncertainty is very real.
Tags: iss142 | mediacity training | premier pro | nle | editing | motion templates | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF
The Importance of Audio Production Systems
Tom Knowles Large-scale entertainment programming presents a unique set of challenges for broadcasters. Often extremely high-profile keystones of a broadcaster’s schedule and increasingly billed as live ‘event television’, as well as delivering the very best audio quality they demand a huge degree of flexibility and agility in terms of their production. With music being such a core component of their appeal to growing audiences, in both linear broadcast and online, nowhere is that more important than their audio production systems.
Tags: iss142 | ssl | solid state logic | system T | tempest engine | binaural encoder | Tom Knowles
Contributing Author Tom Knowles Click to read or download PDF