The iPad is a notoriously versatile device – it’s used in many scenarios, for everything from music editing to collating data at the top of an active volcano, but what about being used as a teleprompter? While there are apps on the App Store that can automatically scroll through a script to imitate a teleprompter, it’s only part of the solution.
Here, we talk you through how to use an iPad as a teleprompter to achieve professional-quality video, along with a few helpful tips from us at Macworld UK.
The first thing you need is an iPad, of course, loaded with a teleprompter app and your script, which we will come to in more detail below. Once you’ve got your teleprompter app of choice installed on your iPad, the next step is to buy/build an accessory that’ll attach to your DSLR/video camera, allowing you to read your script while looking directly into the camera and maintaining eye contact with the audience at home, helping to show confidence and engage the viewer at home.
The teleprompter accessory may be the most expensive part of the setup, so it’s worth having a think before you decide to throw down £200-500 on an accessory. There is also the option to build your own rig to attach to your camera and iPad, but many issues could arise from seeing a visible teleprompter reflection in the video to being unable to read the teleprompter due to light leakage. We’ve not been successful in making our own on a small budget, but please feel free to let us know on Twitter if you have any suggestions.
Once you’ve bought your accessory and attached it to your video camera, you’re ready to start recording – if you read this article and follow our advice, you should end up with something near professional standard.
Best autocue apps for iPad
The first choice you need to make is which teleprompter app to use. There are (surprisingly) quite a few teleprompter apps on the App Store that offer typically the same thing, although there are a handful of apps that stand out because they offer more than just a standard text scrolling app.
Take Teleprompter Pro for example – yes, at £6.99/$6.99 it’s not the cheapest app available on the App Store, but it does offer something slightly different to its competitors (and it’s a universal app too).
Teleprompter Premium offers the ability to write and import existing scripts, tweak scrolling speed and reverse the text for use with a teleprompter system as many others do.
However, Teleprompter Premium also offers support for both the Apple Watch and Bluetooth keyboards – but why? The app offers you the ability to wirelessly control the speed of the teleprompter via your Watch or keyboard, which should save precious time when recording, especially if it’s only a small-scale operation.
There’s a Lite version available too, for those that want to get a taste of the app before splashing out.
We at Macworld UK have used Voice Teleprompter in the past, an app developed by the brains behind Teleprompter Pro. The app offered similar functionality to Teleprompter Pro, but with one very useful difference – the app uses the built-in microphone of the iPad to detect when you’re talking and when you’re not, and controls the teleprompter accordingly. This means that when you take a pause at the end of a sentence, the autocue should stop instead of carrying on scrolling.
Best teleprompter accessories for iPad
The autocue accessory may possibly be the most expensive part of the setup (minus the iPad and camera, of course!) and thus, the decision to buy one shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Autocue Starter Series iPad Lite Teleprompter Package costs £550 for example, but includes a wide-angle teleprompter hood, mounting system for the DSLR and mounting plate for your iPad, along with broadcast quality prompter glass to provide a clear image when recording. It looks to be a great, albeit fairly expensive option.
We at Macworld UK have used the ForestAV iPad Teleprompter kit, available from Amazon, which costs almost half the price of the Autocue package at £245 and still provides great results. The ForestAV kit includes premium teleprompter glass “designed to provide the perfect balance of reflectance and pass-through without any distortion” and even comes with an aluminium flight case to transport it.
It takes around 5-10 minutes to set up and doesn’t include a tripod so that will have to be bought separately, but we feel that the quality produced makes the £245 price tag justifiable.
Tips for reading from a teleprompter
Once you’ve got all the kit it should be fairly easy to assemble – just follow the instructions from the manufacturer, then slot your iPad and camera into place. But before you go and kick-start your presenting career, let us at Macworld UK pass on a few tips that we’ve found valuable when reading from a teleprompter.
The first one is important – find the perfect scrolling speed. You’ll find that it may take a while to find a speed that is right for you, as if it’s slightly too slow or too fast, this will be obvious to viewers because you’ll either be talking extremely fast or taking pauses mid-sentence waiting for the autocue to catch up.
The second tip is to keep your distance. We usually stay at least three meters away from the teleprompter at any time, simply because the closer you are, the more obvious it is that you’re reading from a teleprompter.
This is because when you’re too close, the left-to-right movement of your eyes reading the teleprompter becomes easily noticeable. Experiment with ideal setups depending on your location, and put a marker (a bit of tape? Rubberband?) on the floor so you know exactly where to stand.
Our third tip is to loosen up. When reading from a teleprompter, it’s easy to forget that you’re being filmed and as such, you may not be as ‘animated’ as you would be when talking to a friend or colleague.
Make gestures with your hands or make facial expressions to emphasise what you’re saying, and move your head when stressing important points. Sitting still and looking straight at the camera for four minutes can look unnatural and again, obvious that you’re reading from an autocue.
And that’s about it! Remember to stay confident, read at a regular pace and most importantly, enjoy yourself.