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Archive for April 16th, 2008

I’m new here, but making a living in video production in Charleston seems to be something of a scramble. And it doesn’t pay to be proud. I know established high-end pros whose typical schedule might include editing a corporate training video on Tuesday, videotaping a segment for Dateline on Thursday …and shooting a wedding on Saturday.

It follows that your client’s budgets will be all over the board. And there are times that you must get creative if you are going to make any money at all.

One of my clients had a thing for cue cards. From 8.5″x11″ to poster size, handwritten to 72-point font Word files. And, of course, it never worked, for all the reasons you can imagine. The need for a TelePrompter was obvious, but the budget never allowed it.

Once, with a shoot coming up on my schedule, I began to brainstorm the possibilities. I could rent a prompter system here in Charleston for $300 a day. I could try to choose from dozens of confusing software options to purchase. There were also several paper-based prompter systems to choose from, but it would definitely be a last resort. I still get nightmares about paper-prompting in the TV newsroom in the (late!) 1980s. Remember, where the long conveyor carried the hard copy past the single-tube black and white camera? At times, it was just like Lucy Ball in the candy factory!

As it turns out, the solution was even more low-tech than that–and definitely more portable. I built my own–see illustration!

The $29 Special!

I saw basically this same thing on the web for $250. I studied the picture, made some drawings, and then headed to Lowe’s. PVC pipe, some aluminum bar, some screws and a turnbuckle (I love that word!) Voila! Prompting goodness for the low price of thirty bucks, and it works perfectly. Sure, it looks like it will give you tetanus–but it works perfectly!

So, all you Tim Taylors out there-share your crazy invention stories with the rest of us!

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