1$ Teleprompter Method

Paul Shillito Scripting Leave a Comment

1$ Teleprompter Method is something that I came up with to get a around a problem I had with my Blackmagic cinema camera being to big for my iPad based teleprompter.

After I bought my Blackmagic cinema camera and fitting it with the Tokina 11-16mm lens, the only thing that would allow me to use it in my home studio due the the stupidly large crop factor I decided to try it out in my Data Video DV200 iPad based teleprompter.

Now this teleprompter had worked fine with my Canon LEGRIA HF G30, Panasonic SD900 and Canon 600D so i gave little thought to it when I bought the BMCC. However thing were not quite so rosy when i tried to use it. It fitted OK but because of the very wide angle lens, you could see the edge of the teleprompter frame and the ipad in the shot even when zoomed in. So I tried move the camera further forward but again because the lens is so big, its 77mm one so quite wide, when I pushed it forward it hit the glass of the teleprompter.

This meant I had a real problem, I needed the wide angle lens to get the shot but the frame in the shot was messing it up royally.

So as they say, Necessity is the mother of invention and thus if i wanted to do my green screen work and use a teleprompter I had to come up with some thing that works very similar but with out the disadvantages.

In this video I show how to use the 1$ teleprompter method and how it has several advantages over a normal teleprompter certainly if you are just beginning to start read or presenting to the camera.

{Video Transcript}

A 1$ teleprompter!  You having a laugh I can hear you all say, no it’s not this one. This is the iPad based teleprompter I normally use, or should I say I used to use.

But this is not the one I’m going to be telling you about today, because I use a new method that I find it to be just as effective if not more so and if I had known about it, I wouldn’t have bought this.

In this video I’ll show how I did this and how to us this method effectively, you do need to watch the video all the way through to the end to get best from this method, and yes I am using it now to read the script so you can see how effective it is and I’ll be using it through the entire video

OK, let just set a few things straight before getting started, Firstly this 1$ teleprompter is not meant to be a replacement for one that you would use at a live event for example or if you want to talk continuously without a break for more than 30 seconds or more.

This is meant to be used for when you are making videos where you are going to have natural editing cuts or transitions every 20-30 seconds or so, which is about the length of time that I have been talking now.

So why, if I have a teleprompter already would I bother with a much much cheaper alternative, well as always there is a bit of back story to this.

You may have noticed from my other videos that I do a bit green screen work and it was as a result of me getting a Black Magic Cinema camera in order to give me the best quality video without and compression or data loss that I ran in to a bit of a problem.

The Black magic cinema camera and this is one needs a very wide angle lens in order to work at the short distances in my home studio and it was the size of the lens that really caused the problem. You see when I tried to use it in the teleprompter.. Because it has such a wide field of view, you could see the frame of the teleprompter in the actual shot. The only way to get rid of this to try and move the camera further forward so you don’t see the frame but because the lens of so big  it actually hit the glass.

So if I wanted to continue to using a written script, I had knew I had to use a different method but one which would still give me very similar results to the original teleprompter.

So here it is, doesn’t look much does it, that’s because it isn’t. It basically a script or page of the script which is attached to a light stand and placed as close to camera as possible. Now this surprisingly simple method actually has several advantages over the real teleprompter.

The first big advantage is the cost, it’s literally the piece of paper and a couple spring clamps to attaching it to the stand. But this was not originally a priority as I was looking for really for functionality but it’s a very welcome benefit, If a bit belated because I have already spent the money a few hundred pounds the other one.

The second advantage is that you’re not limited by the camera you’re using, unlike the real teleprompter, it can be used with any thing from an iPhone or a full size camera, it still works very well.

The other advantages are more in the way this forces you to work. You see with a normal teleprompter, the text can be as long as you like, and unless you or someone else is controlling it, it just keeps on scrolling. If you have ever worked with a real teleprompter you’ll soon realise that it’s not so easy to keep up the text  sometimes its feels like it going too fast and others its going too slow.

This makes it much easier to make mistakes even when your reading text you’ve written yourself and the whole point of a teleprompter is to try and eliminate mistakes and stick to the script without rambling and the usual ummms and errrrs that follow.

Having just one section of the script in front of you at any one time, like this  makes it easier to read at you own pace and speed up or slow down as you like. You can also place the emphasis at the end of sentences and paragraphs much easier because you know where you are in the script. With the real teleprompter you just see a small window of text which is scrolling up, so it’s not so easy to know where you are in the grand scheme of things sometimes and therefore mentally prepare yourself as you read and speak, this can lead you to sounding rather stiff and ridged as you speak out your script like this sometimes.

If you watch people taking on TV, you may well notice that they don’t talk for long stretches of time. The editor will cut the take in to shorter pieces maybe with a cut away or a transition cut. This makes it much easier to watch someone give whilst they can give what can be quite a long speech of several minutes or more.

Now because you are only reading page of material at a time, you naturally get a shorter section of speech, and because you know when the endings are coming the edits can sound more natural compared to a speech which has been cut up from a longer continuous speech like that you can get from a real teleprompter if you’re not careful, and I know I have done it myself.

It all starts with the script, I normally write it using MS Word but you could use any word or text processor. Once I have a finished version I then select all the text and increase the point size to 36 point.

This gives me the approximate size of text that is easy to read from about 6 – 10 ft away from the camera. Next thing to do is to make sure that you enable page numbers, the bigger text will turn a two or three page document into 15 – 20 page one, so you need to know where you are and which page you’re on.

I normally then tweak the text size on each page so that I have complete sentences or paragraph. You don’t want the sentence to stop half way through because you won’t be able to match it up again in the edit. Try not to go under 30 point because it can make it too small the read easily. You want each page to be self-contained, so the endings sound natural when they are cut together in the edit.

Now place the first page on a stand or pole, I use a spare lighting stand and use a clamp to hold the paper to the pole, if you didn’t have one if these you could use sticky tape or a piece of blue tack maybe.

You need to position the paper so that it is as close as possible to the camera lens.  You need to do this so that when you are reading the text you look like your looking in to the camera.

With a normal teleprompter you are looking directly in to the camera through the reflective glass where the text appears.

Because you can’t put the paper in front of the lens, you always going to be looking slightly to one side or the other. That won’t show if you far enough away from the camera and If you don’t place the paper too far away the lens, otherwise it will become obvious to your viewers you are not looking into the camera and that can become quite distracting.

Now what I would recommend you do, is at the beginning of each take remember to say the page number your reading from.. Then go on to read the page of text in one take. If you make a mistake or you not happy with it, don’t stop the camera just carry on do it again and again and again until you are finally happy with it. Once you have finished, then stop the camera.

Now just replace the page, do the next page and then the same again and again and again until you have done all the pages in your script.

In your editing program you just need to go through each take and select the best version you did, then trim the rest away and save the take as the page number.

When you finish you will have all your best takes in group of videos in page order, now you can sequence them together in your editing software, apply transitions or and that’s it really.

And It’s as Simple as that…….. And you didn’t an iPad or other tablet, laptop or expensive teleprompter frame or software to do it.

Of course this could be just the start for you and if you think that you did need a real teleprompter then at least you have some useful experience reading in the same style but at a much much lower cost.

If you have any comments or ways that you think this could be improved then please leave them in the box below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe so you can keep up with more videos in the future. Better still hop on over to and join our free newsletter. And if you would like to see more video then there are some down the side here or just go you the Video Alchemy YouTube channel for the rest.

So until the next time, my name is Paul Shillito and this has been a video alchemy production, Hope to see you again soon bye.


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