I work alone sometimes and, sometimes, I have a need to shoot an on-camera piece with myself that can’t be just an impromptu web-cam piece. I want to address the camera directly and I want it to be scripted, therefore, a teleprompter would be nice. (Saves my aging brain from the stress of memorizing a 3 min. presentation and keeps my eyes from wandering to cue cards.) Well, this week I have just such a need. But I don’t own a teleprompter.
Here’s what I did, using a few pieces of ‘real’ gear and some things I scrounged from around my house. It’s a basic, but very functional teleprompter that takes advantage of my iPad and the ProPrompter app.
I built a minimal rail set-up using a few pieces of my GiniRigs rails, with the addition of an extension bar that I use to hold up the picture frame.
I found an old picture frame, diploma-size, and pulled out the picture, leaving just the glass in the frame. Be careful, it won’t be safety glass and it’s very fragile!
I placed my iPad on the rails and, with a little piece of gaffer’s tape, made a hinge for the frame on the camera-side edge. Then I just moved my arm piece to give the proper 45 degree angle on the picture frame.
The ProPrompter software lets you flip and reverse the image as needed to get the proper orientation in the reflection.
When using a minimal rig like this, you will likely run into problems with reflections and glare. I would likely build a little tent or place something dark behind the camera and above the prompter to kill the glare. There is plenty of brightness on the screen, but you will want to make the iPad brightness up full.
I happen to be shooting with my iPhone 4S for this piece (’cause it’s about mobile production) and so I have my phone mounted in a Phocus mount. The odd little cube on the top is a bubble level.
These are rough photos as I was testing it. If I have a chance I will post some better ones. But it works!
Update: I forgot to mention that, when you’re working alone and shooting with an iPhone, monitoring can be a problem. You can hardwire to a monitor if you have an i-device-to-VGA or HDMI cable and a portable monitor. Today I’m using my laptop as a monitor via AirServer software. The phone broadcasts (mirrors) to the laptop so I can set my framing and such. There is lag but it helps a lot if you’re flying solo.