Videoconference Eye Contact Teleprompter/Periscope Hybrid

Introduction: Videoconference Eye Contact Teleprompter/Periscope Hybrid

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I just built a teleprompter/periscope hybrid that lets me look directly at a person's Zoom image as I converse with them. It just seems more respectful.

Supplies

Webcam (presumably you have one already)

Polarizing Filter (<$5 from eBay) if you wear glasses. See Glasses for a demo if you're curious.

Teleprompter glass, 6" x 6" x 4mm https://telepromptermirror.com/sample/ This will set you back $28 or so with shipping. A piece of glass from a cheap photo frame at the Dollar Store will probably work pretty well if that's an issue

3/4" shelving, which you'll trim to 5" width.

Hand mirror (from the cosmetics department)

1/3 yard of black fleece or similar fabric

3/4" neoprene washers (8)

3/4" fender washers (4)

3/4" #6 or so wood screws - to fit the fender washers (4)

Nails or screws or glue to fasten wood to another piece of wood

Matte black spray paint

Something to hold the hand mirror - I haven't figured that out yet. I used painter's tape and an old coffee cup behind it.

Step 1: Steps

1) Order a 6" x 6" half-silvered piece of glass for $15 plus a lot for shipping (https://telepromptermirror.com/sample/ - I ordered the 4mm 40R/60T) If you're broke, use a piece of glass from a $1 photo frame from the Dollar Store. It won't work as well, but it's a LOT cheaper.

2) Build a contraption to hold the glass at a 45 degree angle with its top leaning towards your forehead. Design characteristics:

  • The camera needs to sit behind the glass looking at you
  • The camera needs to be roughly an inch or so above the top of one of your monitors (see dim outline of edge of camera in the photo below)
  • You'll need to put a shroud around it so there is no light entering behind, above, or around the camera/glass combo (I used two bucks' worth of black fleece from WalMart).
  • I cut two pieces of 3/4" pine to 5" wide, with a 45 degree angle on the end, and screwed four #8x1 1/4" wood screws into the angled cut: to each I added a fender washer, a nylon spacer, and two neoprene washers to grasp the glass (few bucks at a good hardware store).
  • Add a removable horizontal shelf just below the glass if you want: you can place a call phone there and get some teleprompter software which will give you the reversed crawling text, visible as you look into the glass/lens. See sketch.

3) Go to WalMart and buy their large handheld mirror for $4.22 https://www.walmart.com/ip/Professional-Standard-...

Mount, suspend, or duct tape the handheld mirror at a 45 degree angle directly below the piece of glass, with the toe of the mirror just touching your monitor, somewhere in the lower part of the screen. The reflective part of the mirror will be facing away from you. With the half-mirrored glass and the mirror you kinda have the same thing as a periscope you might have made as a kid to look over a fence, only spun around to look (effectively) under the table. Or, here, at your monitor. You're putting the monitor's image eight or nine inches above where it REALLY is, and putting it right in front of the camera.

5) Set up a Zoom conference, and make the image small enough that you can move it around the screen. Move it until it is reflected in the glass in front of the camera.

Step 2: That Should Do It...

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