Currently watching a lot of presidential videos (you know why) and I noticed there are these two black things on the side of the stage:enter image description here

What are they and what are their purpose?


I believe they are teleprompters. They contain the text of the speech the person at the podium is reading. In this case, the camera is very far away, so they can't be projected onto a half-mirror in front of the camera as is normally done.

Here is a close-up of one used by President Obama.

  • Interesting. Why would a far away camera preclude the use of half mirrors? – Oddthinking Jan 22 '17 at 12:51
  • Because you can't read the text if it is too far away. – Jörg W Mittag Jan 22 '17 at 12:54
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    Having read this I think I see the confusion. Teleprompters come in 2 styles - You obviously can't use a camera-mounted prompter, normally used for recording presentations to camera - there are many cameras, too far away. These are speech prompters. One or two speech prompters are normally used for speeches. But my question still stands - why use a mirror, instead of a "beam-splitter" half-mirror that the audience can see through? I suspect the answer has nothing to do with camera position, and is to do with having a bright background. – Oddthinking Jan 22 '17 at 13:22
  • @Oddthinking you are right that it has to do with the light level. A beam splitter works when mounted on a camera because the area behind the beam splitter is dark. Typically, fabric draping will be wrapped around the lens to make sure no light gets in behind the two way mirror. Any light at all getting in there can make the prompter very hard to read. – Michael Liebman Jan 22 '17 at 16:32

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