Microsoft Word has been spellchecking me for decades with TelePrompTer whenever I type in teleprompter. Why?
Well, much like Kleenex, Xerox, and Google have become generic words for facial tissue, to copy, and to search, respectively, so has TelePrompTer.
No one capitalizes it that way anymore… sorry Word…
Originally though, the company TelePrompTer was created around 1950 by three people: Hubert Schlafly, Fred Barton Jr, and Irving Kahn from Schlafly’s original design. The teleprompter side of the business was sold in the 1960s and then the company invested in cable networks. In 1973, TelePrompTer was actually the largest cable provider in the US. It was since merged and sold many times but the weird capitalization remains for the company’s name… but not in real life usage.
Oh, and there’s a British thoroughbred horse called Teleprompter, too. He won a bunch of races in the mid 1980s and died in 2003, RIP.
Do you have to type all those speeches in?
Speechwriters or the speaker themselves do the writing. We end up doing a rather critical task of formatting a .docx file into larger font and specific styles.
We will often then do some wordsmithing like adding specific hyphenation, emphasis, or phonetic spelling so the final text flows off the tongue because sometimes sentences that work okay on paper, like this 75 word run-on monster, don’t really hold up as well when spoken aloud which can cause the speaker to turn blue or take awkward breaths so hire a good teleprompter operator who can edit horrors like this sentence into a smooth phrase.
We’ve seen much worse in real life:)
Once the script is input and formatted, we’ll scroll the speech at the speaker’s pace, word for word.
And what do you call the person who DOES the teleprompting?
Actually, the machine is the teleprompter. The person who operates it is called a teleprompter technician or teleprompter operator.
Or, often “Hey, teleprompter dude…”
While we’re on our teleprompter soapbox I’d like to address where to place the teleprompter technicians on a production call sheet: with the camera department, not with the Production Assistants.
Thanks for listening:)