This was a fun shoot. The director and agency were from England and kept using the British term for the teleprompter, which is “Autocue.” This was a challenge, not because of the accents:), but because the shoot called for the CEO of Bebo to read the script while walking around their offices and the streets of San Francisco.
However, most teleprompters attach to tripods and aren’t meant for a camera stabilizer like the Steadicam or GlideCam, let alone hand rigs like Ronin and Movi. I was up to the challenge, since I had used Steadicam rigs from operator Ben Casias, before. I brought in our specialized seven inch teleprompter, the PRomptBox, to make rigging easy and the changing of lenses simplified. PRomptBox makes two models: one with a HDMI monitor and another that’s for tablets. While we own both, I used the HDMI model here. That’s because I feel editing and controlling the tablet’s speed via Bluetooth just isn’t robust enough for high stress, mobile shooting.
Getting the signal to the camera was another issue since Steadicam operators rightfully hate being tethered with cables. The solution was a recent addition to our fleet, a very powerful yet tiny CanaTrans wireless video transmitter and receiver. Most transmitters sit on the camera and feed to the receiver on the monitors that the director or clients see. In this case, I transmitted from my laptop, going through a scan converter in to the CanaTrans. The small wireless receiver was velcroed to the Steadicam Teleprompter.
The final key to working with mobile cameras like the Steadicam, is power management. Both the receiver and teleprompter needed power. Rather than stringing an electrical cable off Ben’s back, I used adapters to take 12V power from the Steadicam chassis. Here I was grateful for CanaTrans’ multiple power options and Ben’s Anton Bauer multiport.
The system was complex but worked perfectly the first time we switched it on, making for a fun and quick shoot. Ultimately, however, the Steadicam spot was too polished for the image Bebo wanted and they chose to go with a more handmade re-shoot the next day with almost no crew. Still, making the original was fun and I loved meeting and working with their entire team.
Update: We’ve since upgraded to a Teradek transmitter/ receiver system to be standardized with the local AC techs in the Bay Area.