How to Make a Teleprompter

15,819

122

16

Introduction: How to Make a Teleprompter

About: http://www.youtube.com/c/AndrewWorkshop

In this Instructable I show you how I made a teleprompter. I make youtube videos and generally just speak off the top of my head, but there are times when being able to read off technical details or when speaking about complicated topics is useful. So instead of buying a teleprompter (hint they are expensive!) I decided to make my own. There is nothing complicated in how they work.

At it's simplest, a teleprompter is just a piece of glass mounted that allows you reflect an image from a screen (tablet, laptop, etc) so you can read off the text while having a camera mounted behind the glass to record you. The text is reflected directly in front of the camera so when reading the text it appears you are speaking directly into the camera and not reading off a screen.

If you were to just set up a laptop or tablet besides or above the camera and read from it, your eyes would not be looking directly at the camera .

Also this isn't an exact how to with specific measurements as depending on the size of your camera or use case you will need to adjust it to your needs. You can just take what I have done and adapt it to your situation.

Supplies

Here is a list of materials I used:

  • Beamsplitting mirror
  • 1" aluminum square tubing
  • Plywood
  • Small Hinges
  • Wood Screws
  • Wood glue
  • 1" x 1/8" aluminum bar stock
  • 1/8" thick aluminum sheet
  • 1/4" aluminum rod
  • 4mm x 5.5mm x 8mm Hotmelt Inserts
  • 4mm Screws (Various lengths)
  • Tripod
  • Tripod Clamping mechanism
  • Black Cloth
  • Black paint
  • 3D printing filament

Special Tools

  • 3D Printer
  • Table saw

Step 1: Beam Splitting Mirror

The glass/mirror used is important enough that I gave its own step. Teleprompters use a piece of glass called a beam splitting mirror, meaning it lets light through and reflects some of it.  It's an expensive piece of glass and sometimes can be called a first surface mirror, meaning the reflective coating is on the front of the glass and not the rear, thereby preventing a double reflection or what is called ghosting.

A regular piece of glass can be used for a teleprompter and it will work, however you will get that double reflection. It can be distracting but if you don't want to spend the cash on a beam splitting mirror this is certainly a viable option. If you go with this option use a piece of glass that is thin. The thinner piece of glass, the less pronounce the ghosting will be, but of course the glass will be more fragile.

I purchased my mirror from twowaymirrors.com and I believe if you do a search on ebay there are some sellers selling them too.

Step 2: 3D Printed Parts

So I modelled some teleprompter mounting parts in Fusion 360, the mounts are designed so they fit over a 1" aluminum square tube. Here is a link to download them if you want to try them yourself. They aren't perfect so some tinkering maybe required. Also I call the 1" aluminum square tube the "mounting rail" and the length can be adjusted depending the camera setup.

There are mounts for the base of the teleprompter, mirror brackets, camera mount.


Step 3: Mirror Mount and Tablet Base

Making the Mirror Frame and Base

The beam splitting mirror was mounted in a wooden frame, I channeled some wooden strips on a table saw and then mitered them to make the frame. The mirror fits inside the channels and then the frame was glued together. Sorry I don't have any specific dimensions, I built this on the fly, someone with basic wood working skills can could build this easily.

For the base, I cut a piece of plywood to match the same size as the mirror frame. Overlaying them on top of each other some small hinges attached the mirror frame and base together, so it opens like a clam shell. All the wooden pieces were painted flat black to reduce reflections of light that could be captured on camera.

To hold the frame open at a 45 degree angle, some 3D printed mounting parts were attached to the frame and base with 4mm hotmelt inserts installed in the mounting parts. These hotmelt inserts are so 4mm bolts can be used to hold the frame open with a piece of 1" x 1/8" aluminum bar stock.

Holes were drilled into the aluminum bar stock and also cut at an angle so they would fit in the 3D printed mounts. The 4mm bolts then thread through the aluminum brace and are screwed into the mounting brackets. This is hard to explain so look at the pictures it should be clear. This method of construction allows for the unit to fold for storage.

Base of the Teleprompter

On the bottom of the base where the tablet will sit, more 3D printed parts were attached using wood screws. The 1" square aluminum mounting rail slides through these parts and holes were drilled in the positions where the 3D printed mounting parts are. Some 8-32 bolts were used to secure the aluminum tube to the mounting parts.

Camera Mount

The mounting rail has two additional 3D printed mounting parts attached and can be adjusted depending on the size of the camera. The first part is to mount the camera, it's attached to the rail again with 8-32 bolts. Then a short piece of 1" square aluminum tubing is inserted with another 3D printed mounting part attached. On top of the it a tripod clamping mechanism was attached from an old tripod I had kicking around.

The second part is a mount for holding up a piece of cloth to black out the top, sides and rear of the teleprompter, this is so you can view the teleprompter text if there is a bright backlight behind the teleprompter. Some 1/4" aluminum rod are slotted into the mount and on the top of the rods are the final 3D printed parts that can have some Velcro attached to hold the black out sheet in place.

Step 4: Mounting on the Tripod

To mount the whole teleprompter assembly to the tripod, a piece of 1/8" thick aluminum sheet was cut and angled so it would fit in the clamping mechanism of the tripod. The shoe that comes with the tripod could also be used. I found this mounted fine on my tripod but depending on the weight of the teleprompter and camera you should make sure it's strong enough before attempting to mount an expensive camera in this setup.

I adjusted the height of the tripod and then mounted the teleprompter and camera. Then I draped a black cloth over the assembly. To keep the cloth from sliding off, I used Velcro to keep it attached to the front of the frame and on the rear braces.

Step 5: Tablet and Software

If you want to see a video on how I built this and me using it check it out on my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/LPBT2AuJd7g

The final part of the Teleprompter is the software and tablet for displaying the text. A phone or tablet can be used with teleprompter software. My recommendation is to try a few and see which ones you like.

  • For Android I am using PromptSmart Pro, although I dislike them now because they are now a subscription.
  • For Windows I am using Teleprompter Pro, this software is good and I had some issues but developer got back to me. Depending on the setting, you might need to reverse the text and flip it.

Some tips for using the teleprompter:

  • Try to read the text off directly in front of the camera lens or else it looks like you are looking at something above or below the camera. This takes practice but you'll see what I mean.
  • Don't just read directly from the teleprompter, you'll look robotic, try to mimic how you would normally speak, including cadence, tone and emphasizing important parts of your script.
  • Before investing in an expensive mirror, try using a regular piece of glass.

Hope you found this write up useful!

Anything Goes Contest 2021

This is an entry in the
Anything Goes Contest 2021

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Jewelry Challenge

      Jewelry Challenge
    • New Year, New Skill Student Design Challenge

      New Year, New Skill Student Design Challenge
    • Raspberry Pi Contest

      Raspberry Pi Contest

    16 Comments

    0
    Rememberu
    Rememberu

    9 days ago

    Hot tem~ for COVID-19. AWESOME!!!

    0
    Knexified
    Knexified

    12 days ago

    I like this a lot! Seems quite complicated to make. And I agree, this is useful! How long did it take to make this?

    0
    AndrewW1977
    AndrewW1977

    Reply 11 days ago

    It's honestly not bad once you get into it, it's just a lot of steps to make it fit the camera and tripod. Hard to say as I was experimenting with it until I got something to work the way I liked, so actually building time maybe 2 hours but in terms of development and CAD work maybe 10-12 hours.

    0
    Knexified
    Knexified

    Reply 11 days ago

    That's neat!

    0
    charleslinquist
    charleslinquist

    12 days ago

    I built a larger one so I could stand further back and still see the text. I didn't want to hassle with special software, so I used TWO mirrors, one normal, one half-silvered (beam splitting). It is built in a plywood box large enough that I can put up to a 22" monitor inside.

    It is large, but it works magnificently. The image is large enough that I can stand 10' away and still read the print (if I make the font large enough). I also wrote the code to use a TEENSY processor connected as a mouse. I can scroll forward and backward while sitting or standing by simply stepping on one of two pushbuttons, leaving my hands free.

    0
    AndrewW1977
    AndrewW1977

    Reply 11 days ago

    Now that would be ideal to have a foot pedal to control the text!

    0
    charleslinquist
    charleslinquist

    Reply 11 days ago

    I'll dig around and find my code and post it in a day or two. It is actually written for a TEENSY3.2 board,but could also be programmed on an Arduino.

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    12 days ago

    I've seen videos of people making these using a three ring binder and glass from a picture frame from the dollar store. I went out and bought an expensive one (like $100) and honestly, I just don't take the time to write scripts and use it, so it was a waste of money for me. Wish I would have found these other solutions before I shelled out the cash.

    0
    AndrewW1977
    AndrewW1977

    Reply 11 days ago

    For sure a few of my prototypes were made from dollarstore glass.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 12 days ago

    Hence the sage advice "Before investing in an expensive mirror, try using a regular piece of glass."

    0
    solaria137
    solaria137

    12 days ago

    Seems like this would work really well for teleconferences, so that you could make direct eye contact with the person you were talking to.

    0
    AndrewW1977
    AndrewW1977

    Reply 11 days ago

    Absolutely, I made a prototype that was small so it works well with a small camera with just regular glass. The frame was made from just foam board and hotglue and used my phone for displaying the text.

    0
    dennisgun
    dennisgun

    12 days ago on Step 5

    Nicely done and very inspiring, good pictures,links and comments. Thank you !

    0
    AndrewW1977
    AndrewW1977

    Reply 11 days ago

    Thanks!

    0
    ScottS156
    ScottS156

    12 days ago

    You can make one for less than 10 bucks in 10 minutes with a couple of dollar store picture frames, a staple gun and some duct tape. There’s no difference in video output and barely any difference in legibility if you use beam-splitting glass - I’ve tested against various commercial prompters!

    0
    mrehmus
    mrehmus

    12 days ago

    If you watch a newscaster, you will see that their eyes do not move but look straight into the camera. They have taught themselves to read using peripheral vision because the viewer can tell if your eyes move even a small amount.
    Thanks for the information.