Did you know that our prompter monitors can also be used as an ‘interrotron’ system? Never heard of the term? Neither had we until someone asked for it by this name- although clients have been using our gear for just this purpose for many years.
It’s a technique pioneered by legendary documentary producer Errol Morris, which solves the age-old interview problem of not engaging the interview subject with the audience as much as with the interviewer- the former are always simply observers of a conversation.
Instead of feeding a video signal displaying text on the prompter screen in-front of the camera, you instead display an image of the director, or interviewer, fed from a camera pointing at them. (in the image above you see two cameras because we were recording Mid shot and full length at the same time- the prompter is on the MS camera)
In this way, interviewees can maintain eye-line not only with the audience but also with the interviewer making it much easier for them to engage than it would be if they were simply addressing a camera lens. Something as simple as eye contact is very important to have between interviews, subjects and audiences because it greatly affects the intimacy and connection between people.
On a recent shoot for a major NZ company where the producers had limited time to record both scripted endorsements and in-depth interviews we used both the teleprompter for both text and interviewer display (not at the same time- that would be a bit confusing). In this case the Director/Interviewer had to look directly at his camera rather than at the subject, but for future recordings we would recommend mounting our light-weight Pro-Prompter on that 2nd camera so that both participants could maintain eye-line simultaneously.
It might sound- and look- a bit complicated, but Morris believes that the machine helps to explore the relationship between “monologue and language, and how people present themselves to camera, and express themselves to camera.”*
The name “Interrotron” was coined by Morris’s wife, who, according to Morris, “liked the name because it combined two important concepts — terror and interview.”*