There’s an amazingly affordable teleprompter solution that you can setup and use, even if you’re a 1-person, self-recording video crew. I’ve even used this in pro productions and I run the prompter myself while I’m on camera. It’s surprisingly easy. Check out today’s video for all the details.
Yesterday I made the case for why a teleprompter is mission-critical for just about any kind of business video. Today we’ll look at a super affordable teleprompter, and a usage tip that shocked my all pro video crew.
Hey, I’m Larry Becker. Thanks for coming by.
So we talking about why a teleprompter is so important and while you could use it for complete scripts, and how, even if you really know your topic, you can still use it for a simple bullet-point list to keep you on track.
So the cheapest prompter is going to be something like this little dry erase board. The problem here is that smaller boards only have so much space for notes. And bigger boards mean people will be able to see you reading them because, as your eyes get further and further from the camera lens, it’s more obvious to the viewer that you’re looking away from the camera.
The next step beyond the dry erase board will cost you around $20 bucks if you already have an iPad. This is what I use in my own productions and with clients, but let me tell you about what we used in the multi-million dollar video studio I ran for years. Then we’ll wrap up with the name of my favorite app and how I use it.
On most of our sets we had a high end, pro prompter that was run by a trained operator in the control room. It was fine and it’s the kind of pro setup you see in TV newsrooms. Occasionally one of my video teams needed to film in a studio with a prompter when the studio prompter was in use by another production, so we used a prompter like this. It holds an iPad and reflects in a mirror that’s right in front of the camera lens so you’re looking at the camera while you’re reading. By the way, these are usually $700 bucks or more.
One day I was in a hurry to crank out a video without bothering to set up the iPad mirror prompter, so I said let me just put my iPad on an easel just below the camera lens and I’ll even run the prompter myself with my Bluetooth keyboard. My team was a bunch of true, high end video experts and they said that you’d be able to see me looking below the camera. Besides, I talk with my hands and I wouldn’t be able to run the prompter without looking like I’m doing something strange with my hands off screen.
They were actually surprised and impressed that both of these concerns turned out to be no problem. With the camera 6 feet or more away, the slight downward glance to read the prompter was imperceptible. And running the prompter was even more amazing to my team.
You see, normally a teleprompter scrolls smooth and steady, and a good prompter operator speeds up or slows down the scrolling on the fly, so the on-camera person can smoothly go through the script. Sometimes when you’re reading very precise technical data, like camera specifications, you slow down considerably. Then when you’re reading conversational stuff, you might speed through it quickly. So a pro operator is a pretty talented person, who has to focus just as intensely as the person reading the script. They kinda have to read your script and read your mind.
The iPad setup I use COULD speed up or slow down on the fly, but that requires pressing specific keys during playback. So I just set my prompter scroll to run a little bit faster than my fastest reading pace. Then all I had to do was press the spacebar to stop the scroll. And whenever I’d start to catch up to the script, I’d just start the scroll again.
But remember… I talk with my hands and they’re on camera all the time. So I just slipped off my shoes and pressed the spacebar with my big toe. I’ve been doing it for years in my home studio, and it’s actually really easy.
So let’s talk teleprompter gear list.
If you don’t have an iPad, pick up a refurbished iPad Mini 2 from the online Apple Store. I saw one today for $229.
The iPad prompter app that’s my favorite, and there are a bunch of these apps, my favorite is Teleprompt+ 3 from Bombing Brain.
Next you need a Bluetooth wireless keyboard for your iPad. I’ve seen these for as little as $20 or $30 and my favorite Bluetooth keyboards these days are Logitech, but they cost a few bucks more. This one is my Logitech Keys-To-Go keyboard that’s $43 at Amazon.
Finally, you’ll need a way to put the iPad right below the camera lens. You can either put it on an easel, if you already have one. But don’t buy a cheap easel for $25 bucks because that’s not the best solution, and for just $30 bucks you can get this iPad mount from Arkon.com and it’s really secure. It clamps onto your tripod like this, and this is what I use all the time. And if you accidentally bump that easel, your iPad could hit the floor.
So that’s the gear. An iPad. Teleprompt+ 3 app. A Bluetooth keyboard. And a tablet mount.
Is it cheap? Yeah. Teleprompters are usually thousands of dollars, and they require an operator or an expensive foot pedal controller. But if you already have an iPad and a keyboard, this solution is just $20 bucks! But even if you have to buy a cheap iPad and keyboard to make this happen, you will save hours of wasted filming time, and you’ll remember all the stuff you want in each of your videos. It’s worth every penny!
So now what do you think about teleprompters?