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I've always wondered what these things are such an awkward angle. I only see them in Whitehouse shots.

Picture of dumb ass

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They are for the teleprompter. The words are on a screen below, the angle is to reflect to the speaker's line of site...

I'm sure there are different implementations, but that's the basic gist.


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oh how awkward, I'd think it would be very hard to read that viewing angle. – Evan Carroll Apr 25 '13 at 18:06
@EvanCarroll, well, I guess it's less awkward than looking down at the podium when you're speaking :) – JoshP Apr 25 '13 at 18:38
It isn't an awkward viewing angle at all. It looks like the page is held vertically in front of you. That is why the monitor is also at the 45 degree angle. – Dr Mayhem Apr 27 '13 at 8:09

These are teleprompters, or more accurately the upper mirror of a free standing teleprompter. The screen is at the base of the device and can be larger and brighter than would otherwise fit on a small stand. They place the screen at a 45 degree angle and then place the mirror at a 45 degree angle such that the image looks like the screen is hovering directly in front of the speaker.

Teleprompters are actually used for far more than political presentations, but typically if the speaker is not presenting to a live audience, they will be presenting to a camera. For camera setups, they actually use a half-silvered (see-through) mirror that will project the text directly in front of the camera lens. This allows the speaker (such as a news caster) to read a script directly off the camera as they are looking at it.

In the case of live presentations however, they need to be able to engage the audience, which means they need to look around but still have the script close at hand. Using multiple teleprompters allows for this.

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