In a time that we work from home, reaching out, presenting is becoming more and more important. where one would stand in front of a whiteboard in the office, present in front of coworkers, these days this is not possible. So we need new ways to present. The best way to present is when one can see the presenter and the presenter is looking at you. There has to be a connection so to say. I once build a lighboard, a glass whiteboard so to say. With a lightboard you present behind the glass, looking at the people. Presenting brings challenges, it is recorded and it is there for eternity. Your recording will be replayed so you better have a consistent story. That’s why I wanted a teleprompter, so I could read the text and not go off script. But a teleprompter has some challenges, will elaborate on that later, so I build an autocue.
I first used a teleprompter on a mini iPad. Simple to use, writing text in word, copy it over and it runs, you just have to read. I noticed that the iPad and the text were reflecting in the glass. I couldn’t always cut it out as sometimes the written text on the glass was there as well.
so I had a challenge there, you don’t want to see the teleprompter in the glass. I tried to move it further away but an iPad mini is just a mini device and my eyes couldn’t handle it. I could move it lower so it wouldn’t show but that would make me look down each time I wanted to read something.,
So, I had to think of something else.
How is this done on the news?
I was thinking about this and decided that I needed an autocue. I had to be able to look in the lens and see the text (or at least towards the lens). So, what do you do? you look at how an autocue works and starts drawing on a whiteboard.
An autocue in basics is pretty simple.. you have a source (the iPad mini) with the teleprompter app on it, that text is shown on a glass surface. The camera is recording through the glass surface while you look directly at it. I’m not going to buy something, we’re in an intelligent lockdown, so I thought of building it.
I quickly, with all precautions, went to get some things from the store and used the rest I could find at home. (never would be a perfect autocue but in this scenario, it would do).
Making of an Autocue
As said before there are a few things you need;
- iPad mini (or iPad if you create a bigger one)
- Teleprompter app (you will need to pay because you need to flip the text)
- Photo frame. – with glass that is as big as the text you want to show
- Wooden plank or MDF board size of the photo frame.
- Small hinges to connect the photo frame and the plank and board.
- Aluminum strip
The photo frame is connected with the hinges to the plank or board (on the widest side of both (Side of the frame and on top of the plank or board). When the photo frame is down it fits perfectly over the plank or board. When you open it to 60 degrees and would lay an iPad in there with the text you could see the text already in the glass.
You need to make something to keep the glass at a certain angle. I used an aluminum strip because I couldn’t think of anything else and while typing this I think of something better. The aluminum strip I folded in three so that it stretches over the whole frame and has enough length to go down to the board. The reason is that I will add a black cloth over it to get it darker for a better reflection of the text. I needed something to keep the cloth up.
So the strip is screwed to the photo frame around halfway and then the strip is cut so the glass would keep up around 60 degrees. It won’t stay like that so I drilled a hole in the strip at the bottom on both sides and used some screws to connect it to the board.
The lighter gray drawing is a aluminum strip that goes around and has a pivot point at both sides of the frame. When it is opened it will connect to the glued parts on the board. Some screw or so will just do.
Things I want to change
Because of the crisis, I didn’t want to go out and hand in stores for hours searching for the best material. So, I used a photo frame I found in the attic, the frame is not as wide and strong as I would like to. A more robust frame would make it stronger, it works but I will build a new one when all this is over.
If you want to create your own lightboard, take a look at how I did it and perfect it by making a better one (please send a picture). DIY Lightboard the series. I posted a small video about T-shirt colours and presenting.
If you’re interesting in editing video’s, starting with recording and more of that, read this extensive blog by Rachel Berry https://virtuallyvisual.wordpress.com/2020/04/01/recording-and-editing-videos-or-screen-graphics-for-demos-promotional-videos-user-support-calls-and-assessing-graphical-performance/
Hope this all is of your interest, if you are stuck at home and wonder what to do. creating a lightboard (they can be way simpler than I build it) and an autocue is a fun project to spend time.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay inside if you can.