Using TelePrompters....

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Existential Angst, May 23, 2012.

  1. Awl --

    More along the lines of production ( but rec.video.production is DEAD!! What
    happened??), I've always been curious about teleprompters and performance.

    I watch the PBS stumping at fund-raising time, Dr. Amen, Furhman, even that
    absolutely ridiculous Dr. Wayne Dyer, and I'm always amazed at the utter
    *seamlessness* of these lectures/performances. I've done classroom
    lecturing, spent too many years as a stoodint, and have NEVER seen anything
    like this is a natural setting.

    Now, I know the response will be, Well, PBS fund-raising et al is *not* a
    natural setting..... and that is certainly true.
    But these performances seem almost supernatural, even WITH teleprompters,
    even with (proly) the wireless ear-bud prompting, etc.

    I'm thinking these guys just have some extraordinary ability (proly way
    beyond their medical expertise!!), because if I was up there, none of that
    cueing/teleprompter stuff would help me!! And I can chat a bit.... LOL

    But if they *don't* have extraordinary talent, is there some super-coaching
    going on, some special method/technique of practice? This must require
    MEGA-rehearsal, practice -- even with teleprompters....

    Also, as I watch these guys, they're not standing still long enough to read
    or even focus on anything, from what I can see. Amen is all over the
    place!!!
    I don't think I've seen any of them flub ONCE, yet. Nary a single flub!!!
    Simply seamless.

    Plus, you have singers all the time forgetting the lyrics to *their own
    songs*, so hour-long monologues can't be a trivial feat.

    Iny insights into this process??
     
    Existential Angst, May 23, 2012
    #1
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  2. Existential Angst

    Rich Brown Guest

    That's the miracle of editing. If there is a flub the host person can
    back up a paragraph and say it again. If the host person doesn't notice
    the flub someone in the control room probably has. The host person can
    go back and re-say stuff after the audience leaves.

    Since recorders are now cheap typically there is a recording of every
    camera, so there are lots of options when slipping in the corrected
    information.
     
    Rich Brown, May 24, 2012
    #2
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  3. I was under the impression all this was un-edited/live type stuff -- even
    tho clearly it is recorded for multiple broadcasts.
    So I guess it could very well be edited. And perty good editing, I must
    say.

    I know sitcoms are heavily edited, and half the fun the audience has is with
    the flubs.
    But with the Amen lectures, I would think that would be more difficult....
    but mebbe his audience is having a ball with the flubs, as well.

    Still, I imagine a great deal of work/preparation/rehearsal/memorization
    goes into all of that, must be a full-time job preparing for one of those
    shows. Cancel my patients, eh?

    I hope my audience don't mind hand-held index cards... LOL
     
    Existential Angst, May 24, 2012
    #3
  4. Existential Angst

    Steve King Guest

    Here are some insights from my own experience. A week ago I saw a stage
    performance of Eugene O'Neil's "The Iceman Cometh", 4 and a half hours long.
    Many of the actors, particularly Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy, had
    monologues many minutes long. No mistakes that I heard. None. There are
    many examples of actors doing one-person shows that may last as long as 90
    minutes with few or no mistakes. I used to do a presentation at sales
    meetings for a large company, 20 minutes of information about marketing
    plans, advertising buys, special promotions, plans for coupon deals, etc.
    Twice a year the presentation I was a part of travelled the country to
    present the sales meeting in major cities. I got a script for my part of
    the show. I was allowed to suggest rewrites for language that didn't feel
    natural to me. I memorized the script. I reheased it on my own until it
    was flawless. Fortunately, I don't remember ever 'going up' on stage, not
    remembering my lines. So, that's one method. Memorization and lots of
    practice.

    I once knew an actor, Ward Ohrman, who had an amazing knack for
    memorization. In addition to stage work, he did a lot of corporate film and
    video work, on-camera presenter stuff. He could learn a 25 minute script
    sitting in a coffee shop in the early morning for a couple of hours. He'd
    report to the set and ask the director which scene he wanted to start with.
    He look at the scene on the page for a few seconds, literally a few seconds,
    and he be ready to go. His flubs were very rare. He isn't the only actor
    I've known who had extraordinary memorization and performance skills.

    At corporate meetings, where I was 'hosting', which is to say introducing
    executives and performers, MC work, nationally known speakers often
    appeared...sales experts, marketing experts, etc. Most had one or more set
    speeches that client companies could choose. These people, Wayne Dyer being
    among them, practically never flubbed in a way the audience would recognize.
    In addition to their initial preparation and rehearsal, they had given these
    speeches hundreds of times. It was as much a part of them as saying the
    pledge of allegiance to the flag is/was to school children.

    In short, IMO, memorable performance is possible for many people. However,
    most people just cannot bring themselves to do the extraordinary amount of
    preperation that is normal and expected of trained actors and others who
    make their livings presenting themselves to audiences.

    Elsewhere in this thread someone asked about teleprompters/cue cards and
    audio in-ear prompters. Using teleprompters while appearing to speak
    spontaneously is a learned skill. Some people require much more practice
    than others. Same with the in-ear prompters, where one records ahead of
    time one's lines, usually monologues, then uses a playback of those lines in
    a little ear bud to cue live speech. A learned skill, a skill usually more
    difficult for most to learn than using a teleprompter. The in-ear prompter
    has many advantages, though. Mainly no restriction on sight lines. One
    isn't locked to looking at a prompter screen. The in-ear prompter literally
    changed the way a certain class of video production is done today, both work
    flow and economics. Before the in-ear prompter and people who could use it,
    scripts had to be broken up into many short shots to accomodate the
    imperfect memories of actors who had little opportunity to memorize and
    rehearse before performing. When pages of script had to be done in one
    take, it was expected that many, many tries might have to be done before
    both actor and camera crew got everything right. With the in-ear prompter
    and actors skilled in its use, that is all in the past. Now, it is
    perfectly reasonable to do pages and pages of a monologue script flawlessly.
    The director's choices are increased immeasureably. With a steady-cam long
    travelling shots encompassing lots of copy are routine. Take after take
    without needing re-takes are normal. This means that a video script that
    might have taken three (stressful for the actors) days in the 1960s now are
    done in a leisurely single day, saving thousands of dollars.

    This is probably way too much information. I'll stop.

    Steve King
     
    Steve King, May 24, 2012
    #4
  5. Actually, very informative, and for me, very bad news, due to my
    swiss-cheese brain.
    Indeed, that memory stuff is very impressive. Ditto the memory req'd for
    choreography.

    It seems, ito the Amen/Fuhrman/Dyer type stuff, that the catalyst of their
    success is not their product or message, but rather their unique ability to
    deliver it!!
    Too smooth, for my taste -- almost like the smooth guy at the bar, with the
    great pickup lines....

    I hope my audience don't mind index cards, cuz that's what it's looking like
    for me.... :(

    What did you think of Dyer? Did you get to meet him?
    I email PBS now and then, lambasting them for sullying the air waves with
    that TaoMaoChao stupidness (no offense to *real* buddhists, btw), but then
    having the eminent likes of Bill Moyers (finally back). I tell them their
    programming dept has to be schizophrenic....
    Dyer has good memory for his shtick, but it seems like he has trouble
    remembering the names of his 8 kids.... LOL
     
    Existential Angst, May 24, 2012
    #5
  6. Existential Angst

    Steve King Guest

    Dyer was very pleasant and considerate to me on the only chance I had to
    really have a conversation. What I come away with about all of the really
    A-group business speakers is that all have spent a huge amount of time
    researching and developing their subject matter usually later published in
    book form. They know far more than they are able to communicate in the time
    allotted to them. So, a smooth,. polished presentation gives them the best
    chance to deliver value for the high fees they command. As for speaking
    style, there is a lot of research in support of their presentation. Going
    back 40 years a fellow from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ralph Nichols,
    did serious research on listening and retention of the spoken word. The key
    thing that he found, that I remember, is that we are capable of listening to
    spoken word much faster than most people speak. His experiments with a
    large group of subjects showed that, whenever listeners got ahead of the
    speaker, whenever they had the jist of what the speaker was saying and could
    anticipate what the speaker was going to say next, their brains took a
    little side trip. They thought about something else. What they were going
    to eat that night. What their spouse was doing. With whom. Etc. Each side
    trip the speaker allowed during a single presentation tended to get longer
    and longer before the listener returned full attention to the speaker. The
    result was that that their cognition and retention suffered more and more.
    When I heard the Nichols speak to a group of about 250 people, he spoke
    faster than anyone I had ever heard before. I and the rest of the audience
    was riveted to what he was saying, riveted because of how he was saying it.
    He gave us no opportunity to take mental side trips. He had our complete
    attention for the full 60 minutes of his presentation. I suspect that many
    of the A-list business speakers are aware of this research and prepare
    accordingly. I surely do wish some of my professors had learned that
    lesson. Next time you speak, ask an assistant to guage the attention of
    your audience/students every five minutes or so. Give it a grade. You may
    not be able to, or choose to, change your presentation accordingly, but at
    least you will have a better sense of how much teaching you are doing and
    how much time-filling. I do not mean my use of "you" to be personal. Nor
    do I imply that speaking fast is the only effective way to communicate.
    But, I have done this for my own presentations, when I was speaking often as
    a hired hand for companies. When I had a client complain that I was
    speaking too fast for the audience to absorb what I was saying, I asked him
    to guage the audience's attention, when I was speaking modestly fast vs. a
    much faster rate in a later presentation. He was convinced. In the
    theater, new acting students hear this from their teachers more often than
    any other criticism, "Faster. Louder. Faster. Louder."

    Steve King
     
    Steve King, May 24, 2012
    #6
  7. Existential Angst

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    I seem to recall that the dialogue in a lot of old American crime
    dramas was a lot faster. Perhaps not an new idea, eh?
     
    Geoff Berrow, May 25, 2012
    #7
  8. Existential Angst

    Steve King Guest

    Probably not new at all. I do love to hear that stylized acting that was so
    prevelent in both movies and radio drama in the 30s and 40s as well as the
    common nasel placing of male voices. However, for acting students, the
    criticism of 'louder, faster' generally has to do with the fact that they
    have so much going on mentally not only about the words but also about the
    physicality of their performance. All that thinking tends to slow
    everything down. With training and practice many of those early concerns
    become intuitive leaving mental space to get on with it.

    Steve King
     
    Steve King, May 25, 2012
    #8
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