Open source telemprompter

In a former life I directed and produced television commercials. I quit and then edited news for a while as I tried to figure out how to get the media monkey off my back. Now I teach guitar for a living and while I’m much happier, I still have the urge to produce consumable media once in a while. I also have a great fondness for open source software.

One of the things that helps me satisfy both itches is a program called TeleKast. It’s an open-source teleprompter software. For those of you not familiar with teleprompters, they’re devices used to make TV hosts, newscasters and politicians seem as though they’re looking right at you as they speak, when in reality they’re reading from scripts rolling up on screens, right underneath the camera’s lens.

TeleKast lets me do the same job at a fraction (as in 0%) of the cost of a professional teleprompter package. TeleKast provides a Script Editor window to type in my script. Another window called Segments allows me to organize my script into scenes. While I’m working on a script, I can see it in the upper-right hand Segment Preview window. I can also add cues for camera, audio, video, talent and one for other.

When I’m ready to roll, there’s a pop-up window that scrolls up my text to read while I record my on-camera or voice-over work. I can adjust the text size and scroll speed and the text background and cue colors. I can start and stop scrolling with the space bar. It’s simple, flexible, powerful.

It pretty much keeps me from sounding stupid when I have to do a read of some sort. While reading my lines on my monitor, I can look directly at my webcam and appear to not in fact be reading my lines, just as the transparent screen of a teleprompter allows speakers to look at an audience and appear as though they’re not in fact reading from notes — even though they are. It’s very useful for webcasts. It looks like the software has been in an alpha state for a while, but I’ve been using it for more than a year and like it very much. Works with Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP/Vista and Linux.

-- Jeff Bragg 02/12/10