I needed a teleprompter to help me make better looking videos for my website on woodblock printmaking, so I built this one, using nothing but a few pieces of scrap wood and glass, and only free software.
When recording videos, I discovered that I'm not much of an actor ... namely, I can't remember my lines! I tried to get around this by printing out a large-type 'script' and hanging it up next to the camera, but when I looked at the resulting video, it was obvious that I was reading something, and not looking directly into the camera. There was only one solution ... build a teleprompter!
Here's how I did it, in just a few minutes, using a couple of scraps of wood, a scavenged piece of glass, and an old shirt ...
Step 1: The Wooden Frame
The whole thing is made from five pieces of scrap wood: a square piece cut in half to make two equal triangles for the sides, and three cross braces.
The second photo shows them quickly tacked together. The width of this thing is just a little bit less than the width of the piece of glass that I'm about to 'steal' from one of the pictures on the wall. (It's evening, and the hardware store is closed!)
(This picture shows the parts sitting on top of my home-made table saw ... that's another story one day!)
Step 2: Support for the Glass
This step shows the only little 'quirk' in the assembly. The lower strut is tacked in place such that it sticks up - this will provide the base support for the glass pane that will lay on top of the 45 degree sides.
Step 3: Preparing the Script File
Before putting it all together, I have to lay out the script that will be viewed on the prompter. I used a word processing program to prepare it with white text on a black background, 36 point Verdana, for easy reading from a distance. I then saved it as a .pdf file ... (I have my monitor desktop set to a flat black tone, so in all the subsequent photos, the desktop kind of just disappears ...)
I opened the pdf file in Preview (the built-in pdf reader on a Mac), and selected 'Flip Vertical' from the View menu (second photo).
Step 4: Prepare the Script for Scrolling
One quirk with the Preview 'Flip Vertical' command is that each page is inverted independently - page one still remains page one. This means that when using the teleprompter, full pages can be changed easily (with a Page Down command), but smooth scrolling doesn't give the proper sequence of script.
So after doing a 'Save' in Preview, I open the same file in Adobe Reader (I'm using 7.0 on a Mac). Adobe Reader doesn't seem to have any way to flip vertically, but it does allow the file to be 'printed' (to another .pdf) with the 'pages in reverse order' option selected. After doing this, I then open the resulting file again using Adobe Reader, select 'Single Page' viewing mode, and I'm ready to (literally) roll.
Step 5: Assembly - Monitor Position
OK, let's put it all together. Here's where the action will take place ... my normal desk.
First step is to move the keyboard out of the way, and lay the monitor down flat on its back (second photo)
Step 6: Assembly - Camera Position
My trusty Sony Handycam goes in place, standing on a thick book to bring it up to about the right height.
Step 7: Assembly - Frame and Glass
Then the teleprompter goes into place, sitting on the flat bezel of the monitor - so it won't scratch the screen. The glass sheet sits on top. That thing up at the top right of the photo is a strip of tape protecting me from bashing into the bare edge of the cut glass extending upwards.
Step 8: Assembly - Hood
Head for the laundry basket and see what we can find for a hood ... A denim shirt should do the trick just fine!
Step 9: Ready for Use ...
This shot is taken from where I will sit while recording the video. I've got the camera flash on, so the teleprompter lettering is wiped out, and you see through the glass to the video camera back there instead. (That thing in the foreground is the bottom of the monitor stand.)
The second photo - taken with my flash turned off - lets us see the teleprompter in action ... Clear and easy to read! When I'm ready to start recording, I'll use the camera's remote to start the recording, then select the 'Automatically Scroll' command from the Adobe Reader 'View' menu (or actually, just use the keyboard command).
The text will start scrolling perfectly smoothly, with the speed controllable by the up/down arrow keys on the keyboard. (If at first, the scroll is in the wrong direction, just slow it down with the appropriate arrow key to the point where it reverses direction ...)
Step 10: Finished!
So here we are ... a couple of lights set up, and the keyboard placed so that I can control the scroll speed. I sit down, use the video camera's remote to start recording, hit Shift-Command-H on the keyboard to start Adobe Reader's scrolling ... 'Roll Em' ... Instant teleprompter!
Total cost: zero! All the software is free, and I'll put the piece of glass back into the picture frame when I'm done ...
Over on my Xmas Present for your Mother page, you can see the first video I made using this system ... it worked great!
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