Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How to make your own School Report teleprompter!

How to make your own teleprompter

Newsreaders need to be able to read a teleprompter - and now School Reporters can follow suit!

But don't worry - your school doesn't have to shell out hundreds of pounds on expensive equipment.

In true Blue Peter style, you can make one yourselves with some cardboard, sticky tape, a CD case and a smartphone!

Using a teleprompter, or autocue, means the presenter can read their lines while looking directly at the camera and can help to make your reports look even more professional.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

Materials:

  • camera/camcorder
  • tripod
  • smart-phone (with an autocue app downloaded)
  • corrugated plastic/cardboard
  • A4 sheet of paper
  • glue or sticky tape
  • CD case (empty)
  • black paint (optional)
  • Blu-Tack (optional)
  • mirror-tinted tape (optional)

Tools:

  • craft knife or heavy-duty scissors
  • ruler
  • pen

If you're struggling for time as you approach News Day, as an alternative, you could also use this website which enables you to create an autocue on your computer.

APP-Y DAYS!

You should start off by downloading a teleprompter 'app' onto the smartphone you will be using.

Several paid and free apps are available for Android and iPhone devices from their respective stores, while other apps or solutions may be available for other devices. Try searching for "autocue" or "teleprompter" inside the stores.

Ensure the app you pick is able to mirror the text as you will definitely need this feature.

The process for getting your script displayed on the screen will depend on the app, so make sure you read the instructions for the app and have a play around to become comfortable with it.

MEASURING AND MARKING

To avoid getting parts of your homemade teleprompter in shot, you will need to do a bit of prep work.

Camera and paper
Mark out the lines on your sheet of paper

1. Turn the camera on and place it at the edge of a sheet of A4 paper; the camera should be pointing across the paper (as in the picture) and you should be able to see the paper through the camera image.

2. Make sure the camera is fully zoomed out so you can see as much as possible.

3. Place the clear plastic front of the CD case on the paper, centred in front of the camera.

4. Put the pen near the opposite edge of the paper to the camera and move it towards the side. Stop when the pen moves out of view on the camera viewfinder. Draw a line using the ruler between this point and the corner of the CD case. Do this again for the other side of the camera.

5. Fold along one of the lines and open the paper so that the edge of the paper is bent up at 90 degrees.

6. Repeat the process of using the pen to find the top of the camera image, this time on the upright (folded) part of the paper.

7. Mark on the other edge of the upright paper the top corner of the camera. Put the paper flat and draw a line between the two marks.

8. Draw a line along the edge of the CD case opposite the camera.

You should now have a piece of paper marked with several lines: this is your template.

DRAWING LINES

1. On the sheet of cardboard or plastic, mark out the lines from the template with the edge lined up with the line showing where the edge of the CD case was.

2. Draw additional lines at 90 degrees from the central lines and extend the outer lines to meet the new lines.

Outline of teleprompter
Draw the outline onto your piece of cardboard

3. Copy the central section of the template to the side of the existing lines. Add a small tab to the side of this section.

4. Mark a line the width of the CD case parallel to and a few centimetres away from the edge of the line added in the last step.

5. Draw another set of lines around the camera.

6. Mark points for mounting plate holes: On the bottom of the camera, find the mounting holes which connect to the tripod mounting plate. Measure the distance from the front of the camera to the holes and use this distance to mark the holes on the cardboard of plastic sheet.

CUTTING CORNERS

1. Cut around the perimeter of the marked shape.

The cardboard cut-out of the teleprompter
You should be left with something like this

2. Cut along the line on the right-hand section to create a slit.

3. Cut holes for the tripod mounting plate.

Depending on the thickness of the cardboard or plastic used, you may need to score along the remaining marked lines to allow them to fold easily.

And you may wish to paint the inside of the shroud at this point. Using matt black paint will reduce the amount of light coming from behind the reflective screen and improve readability.

PUT IT TOGETHER

1. Fold along the marked or scored lines to create the shroud shape. Glue the tab or tape the shape together.

The taped together teleprompter
Tape your template together to create something that looks like this

2. Fit the CD case front through the slit, angled backwards towards the camera. You may need to enlarge the slit or cut additional small slits at the end of the main slit to pass the case front through.

3. Attach the teleprompter to the camera using the tripod mount. Push the screw and point from the mounting plate through the holes cut earlier and screw into the hole in the camera.

4. Finally, place the smart-phone into the shroud underneath the CD front cover and run the teleprompter application.

And you're ready to go...
Et voila!... The finished article!

The reflection of text should be visible on the CD case, if this is the wrong way round, turn the phone around or ensure the app is set to reverse the text.

The shroud and phone should be out of view of the camera. If parts of the teleprompter are visible, try zooming in slightly.

FINISHING TOUCHES

To keep the smartphone in place, the simplest solution is Blu-Tack (or similar) on the back of the phone.

Any light entering the shroud from around the camera lens can make the screen more difficult to read. Use additional tape, cardboard or plastic to fill the gaps around the lens.

A BBC autocue
A BBC autocue in action in the studio

Depending on the location of the microphone on the camera, you may have difficulty recording sound with the shroud attached. If it is not possible to use additional microphones, cut holes or slits in the shroud near the microphone to allow the sound through.

In a professional teleprompter system, the glass sheet is semi-silvered. This means it is more reflective than standard glass, but not quite a full mirror.

This improves the view of the screen but reduces the amount of light entering the camera. To achieve a similar effect on a low budget, a mirror-tinted adhesive film can be applied to the plastic.

NEXT STEPS?

The basic design for the teleprompter can be recreated in a variety of materials, such as metal, wood or acrylic for a higher quality and more robust product.

Other devices such as tablets or laptops could be used instead of smartphones to increase the size of the screen and improve readability.

For an alternative method, you could also use this website which enables you to create an autocue on your computer.

To use these devices, a larger shroud with stronger materials would have to be constructed, while a sheet of clear acrylic would be a suitable replacement for the CD case.



SEE ALSO
How to make your own teleprompter!
11 Jan 13 |  Teacher resources

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