Way back when, I worked as a contractor for a Perth company called Computer Television, and this job entailed writing scripts and directing educational / training films written around the use of Microsoft products, specifically Windows and Office. (We also did the training videos for AutoCAD and Filemaker Plus, plus a couple of medically based ones I would rather forget thank you!)
The gear used was Panasonic M5(?) based – tape of course, no digital back then – and final output was to VHS videotape. And we sold SHEDLOADS of ‘em, mainly to corporate types at $2K a set for Office.
Initially, these were very dry in content, very factual, and well, boring. And tedious to write. So, I had a Bright Idea. Wouldn’t it be fun to rewrite these and create training videos based around how an organisation might use these applications in the real world?
I had contacts in the radio world – back then, Radio 6PM in Subiaco specifically – so approached the station manager who I knew (Gary Roberts) to see if we could shoot the stories in the studios and around the station, and yay! He agreed.
All this is leading to the fact that at the time we had cutting edge tech for cameras, lights, audio (oooh radio mics!) and the like, but the script was read by the talent from a l-o-n-g sheet of paper holding the printed words in something like 72 or 96 point, and gradually unrolled from an old alfoil cardboard tube by a gopher.
Fast forward 20 years + to a few months back when I received the fabulous Microsoft Surface for review, and wondered; “Is there an app that allows the Surface to become a teleprompter?”
And so a quick Google search found Teleprompter Pro from UK based Phillip Littlewood, who runs a company called Purple Wizard Software. And it costs the princely sum of AUD$8.99. Yep. Eight Dollars and Ninety Nine Cents.
Now for less than 9 bucks, you are probably thinking pah! Must be crap. And you’ll be very, very wrong.
Teleprompter Pro is a Windows app that needs Windows 8 or greater to run. I have it on Windows 10 Professional, and so get all of the functionality, and that is a lot indeed.
Once loaded, Teleprompter Pro shows two menu bars, one along the top of the screen and one along the bottom. Either or both of these can turn off in operation. The top menu contains information relating to screen dimensions, font size, type and colouring (including foreground and background), text alignment and scaling. Other options include showing the total time of the script and the time left when reading (more on these in a second).
Also available are switches for control overlay (more on this shortly too), side triangles denoting the current actual position in the script, microphone on / off and the option to also use a camera which is useful for podcasting while reading a script (the person seeing the podcast won’t see the script of course!)
There is also an option for dual view where the script is duplicated on a secondary monitory (hard wire connected or via wi-fi).
Its important to note that Teleprompter Pro supports mirrored and reversed text if you are using teleprompter glass, and this is also reflected (pardon the pun) if using a secondary monitor.
The bottom menu contains the transport controls for the script and these will be familiar to anyone who uses any sort of media controller – play /stop / fast forward / reverse etc. As the bottom menu can be hidden thus also removing these, the controls overlay button mentioned earlier then displays larger transport buttons over the script. These can either be accessed by touch (Teleprompter Pro fully supports a touch screen) or the mouse.
Two important buttons are text size and scroll speed. Depending on how these are set dictates the times shown in the Total Duration / Remaining Time display mentioned earlier.
Whilst Teleprompter Pro at this stage won’t read native files from the likes of Microsoft Word, text can be pasted in from these applications (or even copy from a web browser) and saved. Scripts can also be entered directly and edited and saved. Information such as text size, font, colour schemes, scroll speed and so are saved as met data in the saved file – which is a pure text file by the way.
STOP PRESS! Teleprompter Pro WILL now read Word native files!
Oh, and if you are a muso, if you use the Courier font in Teleprompter Pro, any script that also shows the chords will keep the annotations of the chords in the right place. Using the text scaling option means they will stay there even if screen sizes change.
A new feature which is a ripper, allows voice recognition. As you are reading the script, the scroll speed is monitored by voce recognition algorithms so that if you speed up or slow down, the scrolling speed alters accordingly to bring the on screen copy back to the side triangle marker levels.
As I said, for a teeny, tiny AUD$8.99 you get a program many would happily pay 50 times as much for; a quick search of the cost of teleprompters tells me a dedicated unit can costs between USD$500 and USD$2000, so the cost of a basic Microsoft Surface and Teleprompter Pro is a bargain.
And you get all the other functionality the Surface offers too being a full on Windows based laptop / tablet combo.
We’d have to say, whilst it is early in the year of 2019, Teleprompter Pro gets our vote as Software Find of the Year so far – and is more than likely to hold it.
Below you’ll find a 20+ minute tutorial on using the software we found on YouTube, narrated by Phillip Littlewood the author. This does not contain reference to the Voice Recognition option by the way which is a later addition.
If you doubt what I have said, just read the comments at the YouTube site by the way.
If you have the slightest interest or need for a teleprompter solution, I urge you to watch it! You’ll be convinced I promise.