I first became aware of the value of a teleprompter when working with a YouTube / Internet Celebrity known as Jason Capital. My friend, Taylor Layne, was Jason Capital’s Creative Director and had hired me to provide some additional support for him for some webinars, YouTube videos, and other ads they were putting together. They had a teleprompter that used an iPad Mini as the device to supply the words and it worked GREAT. Better than great actually, it was amazing. Jason was already a good on-camera personality but this teleprompter allowed him to produce a lot of content without needing to memorize a script.
Now that it is a few years later and I’m starting to work with high-end corporate clients, I figured it was time to purchase a teleprompter as well. I had one case where I needed to film some content with a Financial Institution’s CEO and I was told that he would be fully prepped to deliver his information but of course right before we start filming he says to me “Where’s the teleprompter? I need a teleprompter.” We ended up using an 85″ flatscreen TV with the camera and tripod positioned on a table shooting down from above the TV. It wasn’t ideal AT ALL.
That experience prompted (yes that pun was intentional) me to purchase the Pad Prompter and an iPad Pro. I haven’t had many chances to use the Pad Prompter, but here are my thoughts so far:
The Pad Prompter folds into something that resembles a large laptop and it comes with a neoprene sleeve to keep it safe during travel. The device comes with a few foam “panels” to help protect the breakable glass but overall your main protection for this thing will come in the form of the neoprene sleeve and just making sure to be extra careful with it. The foam panels feel a little cheap / low class and I’m sure that for many people they’ll get damaged or lost quickly, rendering them useless. If you’re like me and try to keep your gear as nice as the day you bought it, then you might be ok.
All of the components for the Pad Prompter pack down into the inside of the teleprompter so you can travel pretty easily without risking losing any of the parts.
The materials of the teleprompter itself feel high quality, no complaints there. The rail components that allow you to attach the teleprompter to a support system such as rods also feel high-quality, but not as much as what you might get from RED or Wooden Camera (think SmallRig level quality).
The Pad Prompter is designed to mount onto either a standalone light pole with a 1/4-20 thread on it or a 15mm rail system. Unfortunately, I had neither of those things so in order to make this work with my 19mm rail system that I have for the RED I needed to purchase an adaptor from Wooden Camera. This adaptor attaches between my 19mm rails and has two 15mm sized pegs that allow you to mount a centered 15mm accessory. Using this in conjunction with my 19mm rails and the Pad Prompter I was able to create a pretty awesome setup with the RED and iPad as well.
Without having too much experience with teleprompters, it’s hard to say how this stacks up against other options but for my needs it’s great. Once you get it built and setup your camera, it’s super easy to get the iPad app (I use PromptSmartPro) running with the script and let the talent run away with their content. You don’t see any evidence of the teleprompter in the final image which is great.
Depending on how you have your shot set up, you MAY be able to tell that your talent is reading. This could be because your talent is being too robotic with how they read their script but it might be due to how you have your shot set up. In order to help hide the fact that you’re using a teleprompter, you want to move the camera back away from your talent and use a longer focal length (zoom in) for your shot. This will make the teleprompter smaller for your client and therefore their eyes won’t have to travel left and right as much to read the script.
The one thing to be aware of is that the iPad Pro 11″ is a little too big to fit in the built-in tray in the Pad Prompter. As you can see in the image below, the iPad has to rest slightly up and out of the tray so it doesn’t lay flat. This doesn’t impact functionality, but it does prevent the iPad from being secured with the little elastic bands at the corners of the Pad Prompter’s tray. If you do need to move your camera rig while you have this thing all set up, it would be best to first remove your iPad and then move the camera. Other iPad models that are smaller (like the “regular” iPads) should work fine.
The iPad app PromptSmartPro is great. Very simple to use, but it has the powerful feature of being able to listen to your speaker and automatically scroll based on what words it hears them speak. In practice, this doesn’t work perfectly, but for the most part it’s pretty great. This means that your client or on-screen talent can just speak naturally and read their script and the teleprompter will move at the same rate that they’re speaking. It will even jump ahead or jump back if needed.
If you don’t want to use this auto-scroll function, then it also has scrolling speed settings so you can really use it however you’d like. At $20, this app is a bit pricier than most people are used to spending for an app but it is definitely worth it if you’ve already bought the iPad and the Pad Prompter.
In conclusion, I can confidently say that I’m a fan of the Pad Prompter. I’ve used the iPad Pro for more things than I thought I would so it was definitely worth purchasing that (read my iPad Pro review here) and having the ability to help your camera-shy clients is a huge win.