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Articles in Category: November

Magic "Mini-prompter" for flexible filming

As filmmakers, one of the challenges we face is how to get natural-looking pieces to camera from our subjects. The obvious choice is to use a 'teleprompter', but these can be expensive and cumbersome - especially when working on location with HDSLR cameras.

Sure, there are many videos on YouTube demonstrating how to create your own teleprompter with iPads etc but that is not an attractive option for busy video producers. DIY may be cheaper - but the cardboard and gaffer-tape results are rarely compact - let alone rugged - enough for the rigours of a professional shoot. 

When we saw the Look Lock (articulating arm and phone holder solution) on the Tethertools website recently it occurred to us that the mount gets a screen near enough to the camera lens to use it as a 'mini-prompter' with one of the prompting 'apps' available for smartphones. 

With free apps (like Listec's Promptware Plus), most filmmakers already own a smartphone, and the Look Lock system being a fraction of the price of a traditional teleprompter, it's a cost-effective alternative. 

We bought the 7" version via UKLight and tested it on two colleagues. The feedback was positive so we tried it on a 'live' video project. Our subject was used to being filmed but had never used a prompter before. Still, he gave it a try and got on really well with it. This enabled us to work much faster because we were following a script.  

Back in the edit, we looked at the different video takes. The results were even better than expected - it was almost impossible to tell the subject was reading because they appeared to be looking right down the lens. 

We're really glad we made this purchase and are sure we'll use it often - especially in situations when a prompter is needed that is lightweight, manoeuvrable and compact enough to sit with other gadgets on our HDSLR rig.  

Another potential use for this arm would be to use the torch apps, compatible with newer smartphones as a lighting aid (some of these are dimmable). 

We would love to hear of any ideas on how you might use or adapt equipment to make your video shoots more efficient, so do post your comments below...