Going wireless with a Steadicam teleprompter

Shooting while the talent walks and talks requires a specialized teleprompter and wireless solution.

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 live in studios, attached to tripods and aren’t meant to move with a camera stabilizer like the Steadicam or GlideCam, let alone handheld 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.

Teleprompting wirelessly

Getting the signal to the camera was another issue since Steadicam operators rightfully hate being tethered with cables. The solution was a very powerful yet tiny Teradek 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 Teradek. The small wireless receiver was velcroed to the Steadicam Teleprompter.

The final key to teleprompting with mobile cameras like the Steadicam, is power management.

Both the receiver and teleprompter needed power on the camera. 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 Teradek’s multiple power options and our Anton Bauer multiport.

The system was complex but worked perfectly the first time we switched it on, making for a fun and quick shoot. I loved meeting and working with their entire team.

Decades of success

We’ve since done this approach hundreds of times since, using a variety of solutions for Steadicam, as well as Movi, Ronin, Glidecam. We supply our 7″ PRomptBox, our 10″ teleprompter, and our above-the-lens solutions. We love doing camera prep days to make sure everyone is on the same page with weight and power management, lens diameters, and avoiding vignetting.