Friday, August 21, 2009

Do-it-yourself Teleprompters "for the other 90%".

In an effort to empower "the other 90%" (see Paul Polack et al.'s "Design for the Other 90% for other ideas about this!) Al Silva and I innovated this simple do-it-yourself teleprompter. Rather than spend over a thousand dollars on a teleprompter, this adjustable unit can be built for 40 dollars in lumber and screws, a 20 dollar computer table, a 3 dollar piece of glass and a used LCD monitor. The laptop running the software is the expensive part (but you can get them now for about 300 bucks) and the software is a free download from the internet. The idea is to allow the disenfranchised to speak with their authentic voice, without having to memorize or edit.

But what about out in the field, off the grid, in villages and urban slums and shanty towns. For this we need a "porta-prompter" that is battery powered. It turns out to be much much easier than you think:

This prototype of the Culhane "hand-held field prompter" or "porta-prompter" (TM) is probably the least expensive teleprompter money can't buy: An Acer One Mini Laptop ($339 after tax from Radio Shack), an 8 x 11 plexiglass angled picture frame from Office Depot ($6.95) and some black construction paper with a hole cut out at the top for the camera lens (5 cents?). The software is a freeware program called UltraPrompt off the web. Works great!

The advantage of the Culhane "portaprompter" is that you can shoot almost anywhere. The plexiglass will be velcro'd onto the computer. With this set up one can shoot indoors and follow the subject around the room. The next phase is to build a "black box" around the set up so that it can be used outside (otherwise sunlight makes the screen hard to read) and to make a shoulder mount so one can free up both hands. Stay tuned!

Frank DiMassa tries out the "anyone can make this" Culhane PortaPrompter, assessing it for the 460 Lucas Green Retrofit Training Videos we are making for the website that will help low to moderate income families learn how they too can "go green" and save the green paper in their wallets..

I will also figure out a good way to stick the camera to the plexiglass so it lines up with the hole perfectly, and make a way to mount the whole thing on a light tripod. Hope to have it all ready to work by the time we go to Cairo to make youtube and blog reports.

1 comment:

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