Industry Insights: Teleprompting in the work-from-home era
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Last year saw an immediate shift in many broadcasters’ studio workflow due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re looking at how the lessons from work from home and reduced staffing will impact future productions.
How does working from home impact prompting, generally?
“‘Talent support,’ for us, is a more useful term than prompting. The outcome of the support technology is enabling the talent to deliver the most pleasing presentation possible. Working from home has eliminated most of the ‘normal’ presentation support mechanisms; enhanced talent support that is remotely operable has become critical,” said Howard Rothstein, director of U.S. sales and marketing for Tekskil Broadcast Products.
“For studio and light entertainment/corporate production this has been a challenging time, as there is a real personal relationship between presenters and operators, so they like to have them in the facility with them. Working from home has had an effect on this but with a reliable networked application we have been able to keep the immediacy of personal interactions, even remotely. For news production prompting this is not so much of an issue, and we have been able to operate remotely without any issues,” explained Robin Brown, a product manager for Vitec Production Solutions, which owns Autoscript and Autocue.
“With CueScript’s all-IP structure, our customers have been able to implement a brand new, yet familiar, workflow. We can have prompter operators based either in studios or at their homes, operating the script for presenters who have cameras and prompters set up in their homes. This remote workflow, born of necessity, has worked extremely well,” said Michael Accardi, president of CueScript.
More specifically, how is it impacting your products?
“Several of our products have morphed into a multi-function network platform that supports satellite (home) production. 4K PTZ cameras are a good fit for ad hoc studio (home) production – they’re small, easy to transport and setup, and have built-in pan/tilt and zoom operation via network. Our integrated network platform adds elevation and axial positioning to a PTZ camera enclosure with script delivery, clock, timer, tally, camera ID, ad hoc messaging, and aux display functions. Other than our manufacturing was shut down for a period of time due to ‘stay at home orders’, we have not experienced a reduction in activity or productivity,” answered Rothstein.
“We have offered an IP workflow for some time, so if anything, working from home has just increased the speed which users have adopted our already existing method of running a prompter. They have realized that it is really quite easy to integrate and use so it has simply confirmed the flexibility that prompting over a network provides. And that it is at least one less thing to worry about,” said Brown.
“We have seen a huge swing to PTZ cameras with IP enabled prompters for the home studios. However, as important as the products are, our support team has been critical in assisting in configuring systems. With IP, the answer is always ‘yes, it can be done’ – the question is how. The support team has been able to talk customers through the new set-up remotely to ensure the systems work as well as they would in the studio,” said Accardi.
How are prompting workflows being optimized or changed based on lessons learned during work-from-home?
“There is little room for ‘broken field running;’ the tradition of studio operation. Quickly optimizing remote production for unique locations is paramount – the stage can be a basement or kitchen but the performance of the talent must be studio quality,” Rothstein said.
“The ability to control multiple devices and configurations on multiple machines and switch between them is something which has come to the fore during this period. This capacity for one person in one place, which is not a traditional TV studio gallery (control room), to be able to provide prompting configuration and control to many locations is a tool that has definitely been optimized in this work-from-home environment. Running the prompter application on VM’s has also greatly increased the ease of access, and reduced the complexity,” Brown said.
“In many cases, the impressive thing is that workflows did not have to change that much at all. Our IP architecture allows business as normal—from home, studio, control room or anywhere,” Accardi responded.
Howard Rothstein – Tekskil Broadcast Products
Robin Brown – Vitec Production Solutions
Michael Accardi – CueScript