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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/teleprompter2.png”>A few months ago, I was approached by a company to audition for the part of a host in a documentary. Even though I had no on-screen experience at all, I felt pretty confident that I could shoot a quick 15 minute audition tape, based on topics that I’ve researched and written about, with very little effort. Four hours later, I finally had a video audition, but the process was far more difficult than I ever imagined it would be.
It was this experience that made me realize how talented all of those YouTube video bloggers and entertainers are. They make reciting monologues on-screen look so easy! Believe it or not, it actually is possible to come across on-screen in much the same professional way as these pros. What separates the expert video blogger from the amateur is the lack of mental pauses that distract the listener and take away from the message you’re trying to convey.
The trick is to remove the need to memorize what you’re going to say, and instead just focus on saying it as professionally as possible. You can remove that need for memorization with free teleprompter software called uPrompt. We’ve offered other tools for making videos, like Israel’s list of 5 tools to make a home movie, and Travis’ list of 5 screencasting apps. But uPrompt is probably one of the most unique tools available.
Let Teleprompting Turn You Into A Pro
Even some of the best TV commentators turn to teleprompting to deliver on-screen statements and monologues. It isn’t that they can’t memorize what they need to say, or that they can’t improvise – it’s just that many people don’t have the time to memorize everything they want to say.
When you first install and run uPrompt, it looks like a fairly simple application. There is a center area where you’ll see the uPrompt logo – this is where the scrolling text will display. There are three control areas that you can use to control the text movement and speed. There are clickable buttons on the lower left, keyboard shortcuts listed to the lower right, and then off to the right side of the window you’ll see two scrollbars, one for speed and one for “course” movement.
If you right click where it says “Right click for menu“, you’ll see the different options you have to bring in the teleprompting script that you want to use. If you don’t have any existing text and you’re starting from scratch with your scripts, go ahead and choose “Quick Edit Script.”
This opens the Quick Edit editor, which is essentially a glorified text editor. The free version of uPrompt allows for about 2,500 characters, which is around 25 full lines in Microsoft Word – a couple of large paragraphs. Once you’re done writing, just click File -> Save and it’ll save the file in .upr (Uprompt) format, and then instantly open it in the uPrompter.
If you used the default font size settings in the editor, the font in the teleprompter will also show up in that same font. As you can see, it would be pretty hard to quickly read the text off the screen when the font is this small.
You can change this in the editor by clicking the “F” button in the menu and selection a larger font size. 36 usually works best if you’re going to be sitting right in front of the computer screen, and using the webcam placed at the top of the screen.
You can also modify the font from inside the teleprompter software itself by going to the right-click menu and choosing “Font“. When you’re ready for lights, camera and action, just click the “W” button on your keyboard, or click the button to increase the speed, and the teleprompter will start. The words will scroll up the screen at the speed that you select. Pause the scrolling by tapping “Q” (or clicking the mouse), and then restart it with the “W” (or clicking the mouse again).
It only takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get used to using the teleprompter, you’ll be able to speak naturally while appearing to look at the camera – people will think that you’re a trained pro!
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to use the built-in editor. uPrompt is able to import script from text or rich text files as well. So, if you prefer writing your script in Word or Notepad, go for it.
In the display below, I’ve imported an RTF file into uPrompt. The speed and course slidebars are on the right, and elapsed and remaining scroll time is displayed at the small bottom panes.
The way to use the uPrompt teleprompter software when you have one of those laptop or computer screens with a webcam installed into the top of the screen is to place the uPrompt window at the very top center of the screen, closest to the webcam. This way, as the text scrolls across the teleprompter window and you read from it, it appears as though you’re actually looking right at the webcam itself. Set the speed of the text just right, and everything will look entirely natural.
If you struggle to create that YouTube monologue, or otherwise need to record yourself speaking on camera, give uPrompt a try and transform yourself from an amateur to an on-camera expert overnight.
Give uPrompt a try and let us know if it improved your video quality. Do you know of other tools that work as well or better? Share your insight in the comments section below.
Image credits: Jgclarke