Dual Brain Teleprompting

If you’ve worked with me, you know I love a challenge. 

I worked with CPMC/ Sutter Health Hospital system in the past, by providing standard teleprompter services to camera. I also helped them with their annual Length of Service Awards, where they celebrate employees’ milestones having been there for 5, 10, 15 years, etc.

That’s a live event where they have a hospital executive reading the honoree names as they are shown on the screen. Because people applaud, or honestly names get mangled in pronunciations, the speed can never be constant, like how credits for a movie are. Starting back in 2016, they hired me to lightly adjust the speed as needed. I sent my feed to the graphics op to key out the signal before projecting it on the screen. 

It’s a fun process with some prep the week before. Reordering sometimes 400 names in Excel and attaching their job titles and departments, and then stacking them. The final prep step was making the name and titles different sizes and colors.

But teleprompting this year was different.

They wanted to avoid people hunched over note cards and ignoring the live audience in front of them. They asked if I could provide presidential teleprompters for the hospital executives at a lectern, so that the eye contact with the audience was better than years past. 

But the feed of the names to graphics was small, like 36 font. Presidential Teleprompting font sizes are larger, around 84 or 96. So sending one feed to both the graphics station AND the presidential teleprompter wouldn’t work. On top of that, the graphics op wanted the names near the top of the screen at all times, while the speaker needed the text centered.

Well, I have two brain halves, right?

We had only an hour to practice teleprompting with executives. It was rough while being very productive. We learned some lessons and limitations which helped temper their requests. 

In the end, I was operating two laptops, plus the remote for the height adjustment of the robotic presidential teleprompter system. We use the Telestepper so that speakers who are different heights can still read all of their text without hunching over or standing on boxes.

I want to thank my piano teacher for skills for just this moment— because the two systems ran at different speeds. One was smoother, and one more stop and start. Think orbiting planets and how the speeds are different, and now throw in random stops and starts:)

I had to actively stop to think and make sure which machine needed attention was the hand that was going to adjust it… live in front of hundreds and the streaming audience as well. 

Whew. It worked. I still have all my hair. And best of all, the whole team got praised and asked back next year. But now I know some new tricks to make it easier for all next time 🙂