Prompting Technology

  • With David Kirk

Prompting Technology

Contributing Editor David Kirk has another look at what’s new and happening in the ever-evolving world of teleprompting..

Teleprompters have long been key components of the television production scene, both in studio and on location. The following summary looks at the latest developments in this category over the past year. It is a story of gradual ongoing refinement, notably the integration of voice recognition and closer interfacing with IP.

CueScript's SayiT VAP application brings voice recognition to television production as an additional control option for presenters. It is fully integrated into the CueScript IP workflow that has been in continuous development since 2014. As a presenter reads from the prompter, the prompter matches the speech speed in a smooth prompting style using voice recognition software. If the presenter misses words or skips ahead, the system is intuitive enough to catch up. Should the need arise to go off-script or have a discussion off-air, either the presenter or a member of the production team can press an assigned 'mute' button on a CueScript controller to disable or re-enable SayiT. The system can also auto-scroll through non-speaking parts, including slugs and production cues, and SOTs if broadcasters want to caption them. "Introducing new ways of working can be daunting, says Charlotte Latham, International Sales & Operations Manager, CueScript. Having presenters control the prompting application was resisted at first but now it is being considered more regularly. 

Datavideo's TP-700 teleprompter can be used with ENG style cameras where the camera is mounted directly to the teleprompter rig, or with any camera in its freestanding configuration. It supports up to 19 inch talent monitors with VESA 75mm and 100mm mounts. The TP-700 has a 15 inch 4:3 LCD screen with dvPrompter Plus software built in. The prompter can be controlled over a local network using any device with a modern web browser. Multiple TP-700 prompters can be connected using the HDMI input and output or via IP synchronisation over Ethernet. The HDMI input also allows the 15 inch LCD screen to be used as an HDMI monitor with third party software if required. The HDMI output can be used to drive external displays. Operators can remotely change the font size, type, colour and justification on a per script basis and even use multiple different fonts within a single script.

The editor also has support for embedding images and creating playlists from multiple scripts. Datavideo's TP-900 teleprompter has similar features to the TP-700 but designed specifically for PTZ cameras.  The camera mounting system allows both horizontal and vertical adjustment and supports most PTZ cameras in the market.

Portaprompt reports further refinements to its range of prompters. "We are predominantly a rental company and the kit we manufacture is initially designed from the feedback of our own operators and production companies we are commissioned by," says Sales & Marketing Manager Jon Hilton.

"In the broadcast space, our real strength lies in the light entertainment genre with shows like Strictly. Our product development here continues to be on screen size with increasing requests for large screens in our Quasar broadcast range which now includes 24 and 32 inch. In Jan 2023 we added DVI input to the Quasar range for greater flexibility in signal distribution. We now offer composite video, VGA, DVI and SDI workflows as standard plus IP as and when required. Rigging continues to be important for us. In summer 2022 we introduced a new set of telescopic rods which ties in with the large-screen requirements and also the use of longer lenses in studios.

"On the software and control side we have also updated our Wi-Fi Hand and Foot controllers for IBC 2022. Outside of the studio and new to many customers will be our 'Roll in/out Stands' which allow the prompter to be rigged independently of the camera system. These have proved very popular over the last 18 months especially for streaming or Zoom-style meetings using PTZ cameras. Rigging for PTZ operation, especially for one-person studio operation, is now a very regular prompting request and we use the rigging from our mid-budget range Fusion / Fusion Hi Bright for this. We have yet to find a PTZ camera that we cannot mount our prompting systems onto. Our 365/465 Tablet and Microprompt rigs continue to prove popular in both broadcast news operations and on location production."

Prompter People is now shipping new teleprompting software, TeleScroll, with all of our monitor based prompters.  It is claimed to be the only scalable prompter software on the market, meaning its editor or output can be sized on the user's desktop.

TeleScroll is also remotely controllable over a network or VPN. One device running TeleScroll can remotely control the other device.  The software is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android.  Prompter People has also introduced Shuttle Cue Lite, described as an easy-to-use controller. 

Telescript offers IP monitors enabled with NDI. The company's Expert 190-NDI and Robo 210-NDI allow NDI to trigger the tally. By installing and running the Screen Capture App, Telescript’s ProNEWS software becomes an IP source. NDI tools are a free download from the NDI website.

“Some of our clients who purchased ProNEWS software are using it not only for live broadcasts but for 'recorded live' shows as well," says Chris O’Brien, Managing Partner at Telescript International.

"VIP Prompting, a long-time prompting service company in the industry, is one of our power users. They have found ways to use our NDI monitors, paired with our PRONews software, to seamlessly handle live broadcast events where live script changes are required. To help control costs, broadcasters are embracing robotic pan and tilt heads and even the even more price-friendly PTZ broadcast cameras for their live broadcasts. A lot of these PTZ cameras are being used on live broadcasts are NDI-enabled cameras. When you pair those cameras with our 16x9 NDI prompters designed for PTZ cameras in an NDI production environment, they all can communicate with each other, which creates endless possibilities". “Being able to easily integrate video over IP into broadcast environments is extremely important to users," adds Jim Murphy, Telescript Product Specialist.