What is a Teleprompter? In some situations, it could be a life saver. Especially when you're renting a location and time is limited. Teleprompters are extremely useful tools when you're working with a host or anyone that needs to read off lines while looking directly into the camera's lens. Most green screen shows like Tosh.0 or Talk Soup have these types of tools. Many ENG reporters are setup with prompters too. You might think that placing a sheet of paper close to the camera's lens would be just as effective, but try it and you'll see that little bit of offset is very noticeable. If you've ever had to wait on a host to memorize lines or had problems nailing a speech, you need to start looking into Teleprompters.
Teleprompters use a reflective angled mirror to display text from a screen while the camera is positioned behind this angled glass. The camera does not see the reflection and looks pretty much normal shooting through the beam splitter. To optimize the reflection, the entire rear panel needs to be covered and prevent any light from hitting the back of the angled reflector.
Here's a DIY teleprompter from Tompter.com. This version I have uses a bent sheet of heavy acrylic with a special tint film to act as the beam splitter. The one i'm showing is an unfinished version of the 'Tompter' and was sent to me to show me how effective this DIY setup is. The finished versions which can be purchased normally includes: Monitor, Stand, Acrylic Mirror & Bag assembly, and 10' VGA cable. That's pretty much everything you need to start shooting except for a laptop. All for not a bad deal (considering you get a monitor too). You can check out some other Teleprompters here at B&H. Free teleprompting software can be downloaded from various websites, all this information is at Tompter.com.
Acrylic itself may have many cons, mainly because it's not as scratch proof as glass and can collect dust. There are advantages to using acrylic though, and even the super high end Teleprompters which run thousands, sometimes provide the option of acrylic over glass for durability. If you're shooting in a war zone, acrylic might be the better type of material to carry around. The special beam splitting tint film on this Tompter is very effective even when the lights in the studio are on. Even when two 1000 watt lights are aimed at it's direction the text was still very readable. I did not notice any color shifts or much loss in exposure. Now the one I have here is an Acrylic based Prompter, but if you need Glass there's also a higher end Glass beam splitter available from Tompter too. By the way Tom is pretty open about making these and is working on a DIY video to share. If you have questions about making your own, you can contact Tom at for more information about Tompter below.
I'm going to finish this version up with a light stand mount and put this thing to use! To keep my iPad from falling out, I figure i'll just add some velcro to the back of this iPad Hard Shell Case.