The first question for many is what is an Interrotron?
Essentially it is the use of a traditional prompter but instead of the words from the script the presenter sees the interviewer’s or director’s face.
This technique was pioneered by American film director Errol Morris in his film The Fog of War which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He explains:-
“I put my face on the Teleprompter or, strictly speaking, my live video image. For the first time, I could be talking to someone, and they could be talking to me and at the same time looking directly into the lens of the camera. Now, there was no looking off slightly to the side. No more faux first person. This was the true first person."
Interrotrons have been used in this way very successfully and not just for “interviews”. A recent job used the monitors purely as a bright light to attract a baby’s attention and they have also been used with pets, with the owners face on screen, to get the animals attention down the lens. However the most typical usage is when working with the general public and shows like “24 Hours in A&E” are using this technique to get that open, easy & natural interview.
Today we are finding programme makers are using Interrotrons as an alternative to the more traditional use of “word” prompting. This tends to be in corporate videos where often one is working with inexperienced presenters who may not be comfortable in “reading” the script or are intimidated looking directly at the raw lens. Using an Interrotron means that the director can coach a natural conversation from the presenter (tell me about xyz) who now has a human face to react with. You also have the “through the lens” credibility and as with all prompting styles you are minimising the amounts of takes, to get the perfect one, saving production cost!
We offer 2 solutions both solutions can be rented or bought from us
- Passive - uses reflections – we remove the monitor and swing the standard hood and reflector through 90°. This can be rigged on camera or on a separate stand which can be rolled in front of the camera when needed– (see picture).
Active – a video powered solution – This is a standard prompting rig but instead of prompting software a video signal from a second camera feeds the prompter head-up display. With a second prompting rig this is like a video conferencing device and does mean that the Interviewer and Interviewee can actually be in different locations or even countries whilst still maintaining that all important down the lens eye contact.
How an Active Interrotron works?
This to all intent and purposes is a normal prompting rig but instead of a prompting software source (the script) from a PC the prompter head-up display is fed by a second camera which is capturing the director for the presenter to see.
It is more like a video conferencing device and does mean that the director and presenter can actual be in a different locations or even countries whilst still maintaining that all important down the lens eye contact. We have one client who regularly hires these for one of their shows where they have a presenter in Bristol and another one in London and by using this technique are able to save significant crew and travel costs using Interrotrons but which to the viewer makes it look as if they are in the same place and location and talking to each other!
The Roll in Roll out stand (see picture)
The Interrotron can be rigged as a standard “on camera prompter” on tripod but what we do find is that many clients like to use a separate roll in / roll out stand so that can roll the Interrotron in when needed and away when not providing cameras with the all the flexibility required for shot composition and storytelling!
All of Portaprompt’s standard ranges, the 365/465 Personal Prompter, the Fusion mid-budget Range and our Broadcast Premium and Quasar Range have Interrotron functionality built in at no extra cost!