Kitplus - The TV-Bay Magazine

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COMMENT Looking at the Teleprompter by Beth Zarkhosh T alking directly to the camera - a basic fundamental in the world of TV presenting. If you’ve dabbled, you'll probably know just how hard it is to remember an entire script word for word without taking your eyes away in order to keep things nice and smooth. So, (please excuse the pun) cue the teleprompter. A device that will be familiar to presenters of all sorts, the teleprompter was originally conceptualised in 1948 in the USA where actor and Broadway veteran Fred Barton Jr suggested the idea to Irving Khan, the then Vice President of 20th Century Fox, of using cue cards connected in a motorized scroll. Therefore he could rely on flowing prompts without risking an on- screen blunder. This idea was then brought to the attention of Fox’s electrical engineer Hubert Schlafly who quickly developed an alternative solution involving half a suitcase, a selection of belts, pulleys and a motor all set up to turn a scroll of kraft paper that showed the actor’s lines in half-inch letters. As the paper gradually turned, the words were read, thus marking the invention of the very first teleprompter. Since its inception there have clearly been vast design improvements meaning that the modern day teleprompter has become an easily attainable, if not essential, tool for production companies, freelancers and film studios alike. Over time, the implementation of the teleprompter has had a clear impact on the quality of video output. Valuable filming hours have been saved by cutting down on multiple takes involving script-related errors and it also enables the presenter to focus their eyes directly into the camera, which ultimately gives that professional look to a production. 38 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 104 AUGUST 2015