Teleprompter questions?

domineaux's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: 08/15/2008 - 6:47pm

Is it possible to just use a laptop as a teleprompter?

I was thinking of just buying a simple adjustable tripodstand with a flat plate at the top that would allow me to put the laptop screen directly below the camcorder lens. More specifically I was thinking of a flat plate type of music stand to support the laptop.

Is there a specificdistance it would not be noticeable that the actor is reading the screenjust below the camcorder lens?

Also,teleprompter softwareseems to be designed for mirror image re-directionand the script flows frombottom to top. Is there a teleprompter software that scriptflows normally down the screentop to bottom?

I found some plans for teleprompter stands and such, but they are too bulky andwould be in the way for many shoots. Also, they look amateurish for the most part.


D0n
D0n's picture
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

have you got a projector?

in studio location, you could project on the wall directly behind the camera...


Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

I think even if you put it right under the lens, you'll be able to notice that your subject isn't looking into the lens. That's why real telepromters are nice.


BarefootMedia's picture
Last seen: 10 years 2 months ago
Joined: 01/13/2007 - 8:13pm

The are some fundamental problems with using a laptop as a teleprompter. robgauert is correct that it is every noticable when the host looks either below or above the lens. But looking just to the right or left of the lens isn't nearly so obvious. The next most common problem is the viewing angle limitations many laptop LCD's. Assuming you're able to clearly read the screen from eight to ten feet away, you still have to have a solution for the speed of the script. You undoubtably already know you can't just the the text roll past at a steady rate. There has to be a control to slow down & speed up the text so you can adjust for natural speech rhythms. Although some people can read the text aloud, they will sound very odd as they speak at an unchanging pace.

The most effective teleprompters I've seen use a B&W TV monitor under the lens to reflect into a two-way mirror set at a fourty-five degree angle directly in front of the lens, then the whole unit is covered with opaque fabric. The text speed is controlled by a small, usually corded, remote which is idealy controlled by the speaker, but can also be operated by another individual. While I've not actually seen the DIY teleprompters, I don't understand what would make them look "amateurish." I assume you're familiar with professional models. They look like a TV under the lens with a box around the lens.

Now I have seen a couple of stand-alone teleprompters built from 2x4's that looked homebuilt. But they worked fine and if they'd been built with angle iron, you wouldn't know they were homebuilt. The biggest difference between the homebuilt I saw and the professional units I've seen and/or used is the camera mounting. Whether they are used in the field on a tripod or on a pedestal in a studio, the camera is mounted to the teleprompter, then both are balanced atop the camera stand. This lets the camera be moved without having to also move the teleprompter unit.

I've never understood the high cost of teleprompter units, even on B&H they run very near $2000. But I'm sure they could be built in a metal shop for something like a couple of hundred dollars, plus the cost of the TV, semi-silvered glass & software. Then you have a teleprompter operator to control the speed of the passing text or you'll have to come up with something like a WiFi or USB remote. And remember, an amateurish appearance is under your control. Finishing using paint and flashing goes a long way towards a professional appearance.

But to answer you question concerning the scrolling on your laptop, at wwww.Download.com, I found sponsored links that would do what you want (and much, much more.) Since I'm not familiar with the companies, I encourage you to check them out. (By the way, PrompterSoftware.com actually recommends using their software on a laptop beside, below or above the camcorder as a way to test it out.) So you may want to give their free trial your own trial.

Good luck with your productions.



birdcat's picture
Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am

I have used a laptop as a teleprompter with decent results - The best way I have found to do this is hook up a large external screen (at least 19"), move farther away from the subject and zoom in to frame, place the camera just over the top of the external monitor. Just remember to mic your talent appropriately (although a quiet room with a decent shotgun mic should be OK).

The software I have used is called Prompt and they have a free version for smaller scripts (the full version is only about $40 so not too bad). What I have found, however, is that it is best to have a person to control (adjust on the fly) the speed of the scrolling (which typically I have done myself).

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


NormanWillis's picture
Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: 12/08/2008 - 5:56am

I tried using a laptop as a teleprompter. If you try looking only at the laptop, it works. But if you try to look back and forth at the teleprompter, and at the camera, then it makes one look 'shifty eyed'. Not good.

I found a really nice rig at www.prompterpeople.com. I would recommend them. They have some nice units and some are even reasonably priced. I spent about $2K, but you can get them for less than a thousand. And then you can basically look straight into the camera lens without really even having to try. It is a lot (lot) easier, if you can afford it.

Norman