DIY Teleprompter (cheap and simple) [#TBT]

[UPDATE: I have recently upgraded to actual ‘beamsplitter’ glass via TeleprompterMirror.com. They make good stuff! That upgrade/build will be made into a future episode]

Here’s a quick and dirty version for those of you who are not subscribers and just stumbled onto this video by ‘googling’ “DIY Teleprompter”.
Take a clip board, attach a couple L brackets, add the glass, attach it to a rail mount or spare tripod or whatever, cover up the camera side, add a tablet or cell phone. Boom one of the least convoluted do it yourself teleprompters available.
You’re welcome, internet.

Now for the full version…

Recently, I decided to add a teleprompter to my production equipment. It occurred to me that I’m doing more and more ‘talking head’ stuff these days (this way, I can produce more content between my sketch and/or narrative productions) and I was not very happy with having to choose between

1. Memorizing is for “Drama” 
taking my sweet ass time to memorize a script (a script that’s just gonna be non fiction to camera anyways),
2. Typical Youtube Editing
a lot of jump cuts,
3. The self-documentary-ie
looking off to the side at my tablet, or
4. Looking for my Motivation
constantly looking down at my own script like an asshole!

No offense to fellow youtubers who do all this. For instance, Steve Shives looks down at his script like a sexy boss, but when I do it, I think I look like a dumbass. Though ‘jump cuts’ have really got to go.

The Non intellectual elite are basically taking over.
Jaclyn Glenn

I love your personality and perspective, Jaclyn, but come on.[1] I don’t know if you’re doing a ‘confidence man’ schtick to be more relatable to your audience.

I do Dude Bro so well... Why is that?
“Hey! She makes videos the way I do”

But the jig is up, you’ve made hundreds of videos; you have the equipment and software for much better production value.[2] And please hit me up sometime, and let me run sound for you just once; I’ll even give you the creator discount.

We were both featured in Skeptical Inquirer
Brian can vouch for me…after he calls me a “whiny little bitch”

Anyways, for those of you not familiar, a teleprompter (a screen that people can read off of while looking to camera)

My favorite picture of Mansplaining :)
I don’t mean to be condescending…That means ‘talk down to you’

is quite literally a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle in front of the camera with a monitor displaying the text below. That’s it.

Seriously, just an angled piece of glass.

You put a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle in front of a camera, and you’ve basically made a teleprompter. All you need to do then is add a monitor (these days, a tablet or even the smartphone that’s in your pocket right now), and shield the camera side of the glass from light, and you’re done. Pretty basic piece of equipment. Shouldn’t cost more than–


500 bucks!? Are you fucking kidding me?! OK, maybe…maybe. Nope, the monitor is not included. Maybe, like many do it yourself projects, I’m just not anticipating the incurring costs. For example; a follow focus is really just a right angle gear with teeth and knobs, but even the most modest gearbox starts at 40 bucks, and once you’d added all the other bits, you’ve spent like 120 dollars. You might as well save your time, effort, and potentially wasted money on false starts, and just throw down the extra thirty bucks for a modest, but solid piece of equipment. Because in many cases, like my own DIY focus pull…

Ikea is amazing!
You get what you pay for.

However, it seems that teleprompters are the exception to that rule.

In fact, the only thing that separates the DIY teleprompters in the world from the retail ones, is the type of glass that is used. Retail teleprompters use beam splitter glass, which is probably what ends up costing–

That’s it?!

60 bucks?! That’s it? Are you telling me that the other 400 bucks goes into a few metal plates? Anyways, if you’re on a budget like mine, and don’t even feel like dropping 60 bucks for marginally better results because you have 20/20 vision, regular glass will do just fine.  

$4.00 [8×10 frame from Target]

The Build

When thinking about putting together my own teleprompter, I took a look at some other home teleprompter builds, and I must say they were a bit more involved than I was anticipating.

Go ahead, Googe: "DIY Teleprompter" I dare you!
Some of these industrial builds are labeled as ‘DIY/SIMPLE/CHEAP’ :/

I mean, it’s just a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle. All you need to do is cut a square in half, or prop up an isosceles right triangle. So I went to the hardware store down the street and bought some isosceles right triangles.  

$8 [4 L brackets]
{My total: $12}

I grabbed an old spare clipboard (apartment managers never seem to collect these after having me do a walk through)

$0 [hypothetically $5]
{My total: $12}
{Hypothetical total: $17}

a spare rail mount that I got off a broken follow focus Mr. Deity gave me.

$0 [hypothetically $20]
{My total: $12}
{Hypothetical total: $37}

In fairness, he warned me it might not work; plus (a week later) he gave me one that does work; for free. What a pal! I know that sounds sarcastic, but seriously, Brian Dalton is one of the coolest Mother Fuckers alive. I mean, I would tell you to go subscribe to Mr. Deity, but that would be a waste of breath since, obviously, you already are. Cough, cough

Back to the project; I drilled a hole in the clipboard (after measuring twice, duh!), attached the rail mount, and temporarily attached the L brackets since I wanted to test this guy out before making anything permanent, and I’d like to consult my badass co-producer on the best way to achieve such permanence.
As it turns out, it works! Quite succ essfully, I might add. To block out the light, I picked up a 7 dollar towel from target

{My total: $19}
{Hypothetical total: $44}

and threw another clipboard on top of my gearbox rig. (I’ve moved into a lot of apartments in my life)

$0 [Hypothetically $5]
{My total: $19}
{Hypothetical total: $49}

Anna Maltese decided, due to the nature of the material I was using, we should use epoxy.

{My total: $24}
{Hypothetical total: $54}

Plus, I think she just loves epoxy. In hindsight, I can see why; I wanted this guy in permanent place, and it is fucking permanent.
I did leave the frame free for storage, and potential replacement purposes. After all, I might get to the point in my career where I decide I can afford some high falutin beam splitter glass or maybe I just decide I’m worth it, and I’m too fucking good to be associating with slightly blurry letters, and their urban references, and their slightly blurry letter smelly food. No offense; some of my best friends are slightly blurry letters, I just don’t want to have to work with them for the rest of my life.

I don't really hate Blurry Letters

Because that’s not why I got two bachelor degrees, Lower Case ‘n’! Or are you lowercase ‘r’? You guys all look alike.

So it works very well. I’m currently using my Nexus 7 in conjunction with A Prompter for Android by ManocoDevDroid, which is fine at the moment, but a very weak app (Yes, I have the paid version)

{My total: $26}
{Hypothetical total: $56}

and I wouldn’t really recommend for the reasons I specify in my Play Store review.

So there you have it: My DIY teleprompter that successfully achieved maximum function over price.
Well, I hope you enjoyed. Let me know if you would like some more behind the scenes tutorials, builds, and tips:


[1] UPDATE: Until I realized that she thinks the “n word” can just instinctively happen like swearing or sneezing

[2] Not to mention the Patrons