Not every aspiring vlogger has luxury on their side. If that sounds like you, the only way to get started is to be creative. And in case you haven’t realized it yet, you probably need a teleprompter to get the ball rolling. Using a teleprompter elevates the quality of the content and the videos as a whole.
But is it realistic to think that you’d survive with only household materials in tow? As they say, it’s not about what equipment you have; it’s what you do with it. So, the answer is a resounding YES! How can you set up a DIY teleprompter? Before answering that question, learn first why you must use a teleprompter in video production.
Why You Should Use a Teleprompter For Your Videos
The ultimate reason you decided to create videos, whether on YouTube or other platforms, is to communicate. You’d want to pass on something valuable and connect with your viewers. It doesn’t matter if your channel is about top 10s, movie recaps, or sports analysis, clear communication is of utmost importance. Unless you have a superhuman memory, no tool in video production will enable you to get your point across other than a teleprompter.
Two general aspects highlight the importance of using a teleprompter when shooting videos. One is that it saves time, and two is that it creates a connection or intimacy with the viewers.
Time is always of the essence in video production. It usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour to edit one minute of footage, and even up to an hour and 30 minutes for some. Without teleprompters, you will probably have to do retakes for every slip-up you make. And second, a teleprompter allows you to directly address the audience as you look straight at the camera to deliver the lines. This helps build a connection and probably makes the content clearer and more understandable.
How to Set Up a DIY Teleprompter in Minutes
You don’t need much to set up a DIY teleprompter for a video project. In the most basic sense, you only need a laptop (smartphones and tablets will also do), a camera, a lighting kit, and a couple of chairs to get started. All you have to do is set up the laptop on a chair (or table) in front of the camera, and you’re basically good to go.
If you want a more permanent solution than just stacking boxes to set up your laptop teleprompter, would it be alright to invest in teleprompter hardware? That’s definitely an option that you have to consider, but if it costs too much money, there are several things that you can upgrade instead. For example, you can buy a bigger camera lens, a laptop stand, better lighting, and a tripod.
But would a DIY teleprompter setup really work? Of course, it could! It may take minutes of troubleshooting and fine-tuning, but it has been proven to work, sometimes even better than using fancy video production tools. The most important thing to ensure in a DIY teleprompter setup is the distance of the laptop from the eye line of the camera lens. Be sure not to get it too close or too far.
In DIY teleprompter setups, it’s even more critical to rehearse your script. The margin of error is high, so you have to be conscious of your delivery and flow. You can make it easier by dividing the script into smaller sections and splitting a long paragraph into shorter sentences. This will allow you to confidently deliver each line and not be overwhelmed by a sea of text. Practice your lines over and over until it feels natural saying them. Also, do not forget to practice looking at the camera so you can get used to it when filming time tolls around.
Are you still not feeling confident enough to give a DIY setup a try? Well, don’t be! Even this makeshift setup is enough to give you the confidence to deliver the lines in your videos. Even though it can’t fully replace a teleprompter, it’s a great alternative to make your videos look professional.
Pros and Cons of Using a Teleprompter
Cue cards or other memory aids are no longer options when a person must speak straight to the camera since even the slightest deviation in the eye-line can be noticeable. The problem is, even for a highly trained actor, all but the shortest scripts will be too long to memorize. This is when a teleprompter comes in handy.
But as always, there are two sides to every story. Here are the reasons why you should and shouldn’t be using a teleprompter.
- It minimizes retakes. Talking to a large audience is different than talking to a camera. Videos are only a couple of minutes long, so you have to be impeccable; the “uhmm” and “ahhh” are almost unforgivable and unbearable to watch. That won’t happen as much if you’re using a teleprompter.
- It is more efficient. It’s been said that it will take an average person three hours to memorize a 500-word essay. A 10-minute video typically has 2,000 words or so. From there, you can do the math. Memorizing lines takes too much time, but an hour’s worth of practice reading from a teleprompter, and you’ll probably get the hang of the speech. It’s a no-contest: Using a teleprompter is more efficient.
- It makes the video more natural because you’ll be filming longer takes. Without a script, you may find yourself scrawling notes on scrap paper to use as a cue card. Because of this, the scene is usually broken up into smaller portions so the speaker can try to memorize individual lines of dialogue. That often necessitates additional cuts and b-roll and doesn’t look natural. Too many jump cuts, while could’ve been done really well, are typically watered down if the presentation is professional.
- It guarantees that every point is covered. Memorizing a script sounds more natural, but you risk missing out on a few points you wouldn’t have forgotten if you were using a teleprompter. You can always edit this into your final video product, but as pointed out earlier, the flow wouldn’t be as natural.
- It’s not as natural as speaking from memory. Sounding natural when using a teleprompter is an art form; it’s a skill that must be mastered. Some speakers end up sounding robotic or less energetic when reading from a teleprompter. The worst-case scenario is that the audience senses that you’re simply reading and may stop listening.
- Sometimes, technical issues may arise. If you’re trusting the teleprompter too much and a monster called “technical difficulties” rears its ugly head, you have no other alternative.
- It may take time to set up. A DIY teleprompter can be set up in minutes, but some professional teleprompters take more time. If the script is only a couple of lines long, you’ll get better results memorizing the text.
Best Teleprompter Software Solutions for Your DIY Teleprompter Setup
Cue Prompter is an online teleprompter software solution that’s completely free. Just access CuePrompter.com, paste the script in the box, and you’re ready to go. The controls are simple enough that there won’t be any learning curve. Thanks to a web-based solution like Cue Prompter, you can turn any device into a teleprompter with the tap of your fingers.
Teleprompter is an iOS app that does all the things you need to record a video using your iPhone or iPad. It supports mirroring, video recording inside the app and all the different kind of remotes you can imagine. You can import your scripts no matter the file format.
Another excellent online teleprompter, Speakflow is a voice-activated teleprompter that scrolls as you speak. It is compatible with popular browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Edge and allows you to control multiple devices simultaneously. Unlike Cue Prompter, though, Speakflow charges $10 a month for their services. Many find this price too steep for the features that it offers.
- TelePrompter Premium
TelePrompter Premium is a professional quality teleprompter software used by various big TV studios. It is versatile and allows you to upload your script through the app. It supports RTF, PDF, DOC, and TXT files. The drawback with the Teleprompter Premium is that the Android version is not as good as their Mac and iOS apps, so that should be taken into consideration.
- Power Prompter
Power Prompter is a cutting-edge teleprompting application for Mac OS X computers. It has all the configuration settings you need, but it’s done in good taste. Like Teleprompter Premium, it allows you to import your script in PDF, RTF, DOC, etc. One of the best features of this teleprompter app is that it enables you to customize so you can create scripts just the way you like them.
You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a teleprompter setup. You can create a competent DIY teleprompter setup using the things you see at your house. You just need a couple of chairs, a stack of boxes or books to raise the laptop, a camera, and lighting. And with the help of teleprompter software, you can create high-quality and engaging videos in literally minutes!