Debunking the Bright LCD Myth

A guide to ensure you are getting the brightest LCD prompter for your outdoor production

May 29, 2005

What does Bright mean, when we are speaking about an LCD Teleprompter? Bright is a relative term, but I think everyone will agree that all we really care about is if the talent can read the Teleprompter outdoors in bright sunlight conditions without much effort. Thatís all that matters. Really.

However, it has come to my attention in the 8 years that there is a huge misunderstanding! There are vendors out there making claims that their prompter is Bright. Hey, if you canít see the words outside Ė itís not bright!

Now, as the owner of PC Prompting, I would like to detach myself from any bias so that you can take me seriously and allow me to impart some vital information to you. So Iíll make this disclaimer before you read the rest of this article.

DISCLAIMER:

My duty to the Entertainment Production Industry as a Teleprompting Service Provider for over 13 years, first and foremost, is to provide the best solution possible to the end user, you, the producer. My second obligation after offering you the best solution is to shut up and give you what you want.

Based on my 15 years of practical working experience in the Teleprompting field, itís my hope that you would trust us enough to handle what we do best. While I know there are several competitive Teleprompting Service companies in Los Angeles, and across the U.S., the purpose of this article does not lie in shameless self promotion or even hint at casting a bad light on my competitors. However, Hollywood, being a severely competitive town, is not without its ďplayersĒ who are capable of delivering information that is downright misleading, if not malicious, all in the name of being hired on a production over a competitor. Trust me, this happens frequently.

The information I am about to share is for YOUR benefit. Itís meant to protect you and the integrity of your production. Remember, if any prospective service company passes misleading information to you as truth in order to get hired, and you buy it, ultimately, you become the victim. That being said, letís gain some insight so that you can be more knowledgeable in making the right choice for your production.

REQUIREMENTS:

There are several factors that enable an LCD teleprompter to be readable in high ambient light conditions outdoors, but the one basic truth is - if the LCD is not bright enough, nothing else is going to matter.

LCDs have nit ratings, which are brightness ratings equivilent to foot candles. The starting point is a nit rating of atleast 1,000 or above in order for the words on the LCD to be visible in bright sunlight conditions.

The coating on the teleprompter mirror also aids in the visibility of the reflected LCD image. Most teleprompter mirrors are optically coated, including our outdoor mirrors which produce a higher reflectance than the standard teleprompter mirror, and still maintain only a 1/2 stop loss through the glass. Mirrors should also be neutral in their transmission but their reflectance qualities should produce a specific shift for a brighter reflected image.

The interior of the mirror hood should also have a coating or backing that absorbs 97% or more of the ambient light. Since the LCD is so bright, it's imperative that there are no reflective qualities inside the mirror hood that might fog the recorded image in the camera.

Power requirements for the LCD also come into play. Off the shelf LCD manufacturers supply a standard power inverter for nominal performance. When you are outdoors competing with the sun, you want peak performance from your LCD prompter. Maximum power should be delivered to the LCD without burning out the components. There is a fine balance in acheiving maximum brightness as all cable lengths of any gage wire experience voltage drop-off when under a load.

When we are talking about readability outdoors, we are not only speaking of brightness, but of equal importance, contrast. Glare off of the the LCD surface also presents problems in delivering a high contrast image, so special coatings certainly help with image contrast.

All of PC Prompting's LCD Teleprompters have all of these qualities and ratings that exceed the specs mentioned above, plus a few other secrets.

The burning question remains: How will I know whether or not my Teleprompting Service provider has the right stuff? After all, they could have read this article that you are reading now, and feed you the information contained here, even if they don't have the proper equipment for outdoor production.

There is one fail-safe way to find out: ASK THEM FOR A DEMO. If they shy away from a demo or put you off, chances are pretty good they can't produce the goods.

At PC Prompting, we never shy away from a demo. In fact, we are glad to do it provided the equipment is available at a time that is convenient to both of us.

Just to give you an idea of how rare and exclusive our Bright LCD Teleprompters are, an employee of mine was at the recent NAB convention in Las Vegas this past April. He saw several Teleprompting Manufacturers on the convention floor touting their bright LCD prompters, so he decided to approach a salesman whose company claimed to have the "brightest" prompter. He asked the salesman a few generic questions and then invited the salesman to bring the prompter outdoors to see just how bright their prompter was. The saleman was very hesitant and came up with a number of excuses why he could not take it outdoors. Finally, the salesman gave in and brought the unit outside. Needless to say, it was an embarassing discovery amongst a crowd of onlookers who also could not see the words on the prompter.

I received a call the other day from a company in Florida who was looking to purchase one of our bright LCD prompters to mount on a handheld camera. He stated that he was at NAB this year and mentioned that he only saw one Handheld camera prompter by a well known teleprompter manufacturer, but that it had not been released for sale due to technical problems.

While we do not sell or rent our exclusive gear, we'd love to work with you on your next production. We've worked out all of the kinks, so give yourself one less thing to worry about. You'll be in good hands.

You can reach Steve Graham at (818) 831-6554.

 

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Updated 29 May 2005
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