Video teleprompters can cost over $1,000, so I built my own cheap, portable DIY prompter with a camera mount, for only $35 in parts. I used a 10" LCD monitor I already owned, but you could easily modify the build for an iPad, Kindle, or tablet PC. Without the camera and LCD, the unit weighs 4 lbs.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions!
I LEARNED 1) It's easy to build a cheap teleprompter! 2) Regular glass, although not super bright or sharp, works pretty well. You may not need to spring for more expensive beamsplitter glass designed for teleprompters. Update: I found even better glass, for free: http://youtu.be/hZaQWkRGtw8 3) At 10' from the camera, it's hard to notice the talent's eyes darting back and forth while reading, and it looks much better than an off-camera monitor or cue cards.
SHOPPING LIST ($14) 8x10 solid wood picture frame -- to position the reflecting glass ($7.50) 2x2' sheet of birch plywood -- as a monitor base ($1) 4' pine 1x2 -- for the camera mounting arm ($3.50) small hinges -- to attach the frame and monitor base ($0.60) 5/16" dowel rod -- to support the frame ($1.20) 4 shelf hooks -- to hold the monitor in place ($0.20) 1/4-20x1.5" screw -- to mount the camera ($1.10) 1/4-20" wood insert -- as a tripod mount ($4.50) square yard of flannel -- to shield the unit from light ($1.40) and an elastic band -- optional: for a lens-hugging sleeve
TOOLS I USED jig saw miter saw drill hammer screwdrivers screws and nails wood glue gaff tape sewing needle and thread
-Text on the regular picture frame glass looks slightly blurry, especially at small sizes, because the image is reflecting off both sides of the non-mirrored glass, creating a slightly offset duplicate.
-I included a thin strip of aluminum sandwiched between the monitor base / camera mount and bottom strip of plywood. It makes the design slightly more wobbly, but it gives me peace of mind that the camera mount won't crack and fall off.
-The 6x6" transparent mirror sample my local glass shop provided was too dark (even if I bumped up my camera's exposure in a well lit room), but after this video, I found a lighter, 12x12" sample, and my glass shop cut it to 8x10" for free! Video update: http://youtu.be/hZaQWkRGtw8