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STUDIO INTERROTRONS - A PROMPTING GIMMICK OR A REAL PRODUCTION TOOL? THE FIRST QUESTION FOR MANY IS WHAT IS AN INTERROTRON? Jon Hilton Jon joined Portaprompt, a boutique prompting company based in High Wycombe UK, as the Sales and Marketing Manager in January 2013. Prior to this he had worked for over 30 years with Sony Professional Solutions Europe’s in a variety of sales, marketing and senior management roles initially in the UK and since 1999 across Europe. Apparently according to a Linked in endorsement “What Jon doesn’t know about broadcast vendor strategic, product and trade marketing is probably not worth exploring”. 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 52 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 116 AUGUST 2016 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.