Videomaker Benchmarks
by Larry Lemm, Videomaker Columnist
April, 2000


 
 
 

TelePrompTer on a Floppy
by Larry Lemm
 

TeleScreen-32 TelePrompTer Software
DRS-DigiTrax Services
www.drs-digitrax.com
 

If youíre an intermediate to advanced videographer and you make video programs that require your talent to recite scripted lines to the camera, youíll appreciate the benefits that a TelePrompTerô can offer. After all, professional newscasters use TelePrompTersô, why not give your on-camera subjects the same kind of help? Buying a professional TelePrompTerô is an expensive option. However, for $165, TeleScreen-32 Software can turn just about any Windows 95/98/NT computer into a TelePrompTerô. 
 

It Comes on a Disk, not a Disc

The first thing youíll notice about this software package is that it is small. The whole program is only about 650kB, or about half of a floppy disc. Not large enough to justify putting it on a CD. You can download the trial version for free, and if you decide that you want the registered version, you can just enter the proper code, and the software will unlock itself for full use. However, just because this software is small in byte count, doesnít mean that it skimps on features.
 

Getting it Going

Installing TeleScreen-32 could have been a breeze. However, to install it, DRS-DigiTrax recommends that you change your screen settings to 256-color, so the program will run fast enough. Changing your color mode isnít that difficult, but it surely wasnít an idiot-proof installation.
Our test system was able to run TeleScreen-32 fine in 32-bit color mode, but that was probably due to the beefy test system (Pentium III 500MHz, 128MB RAM). Bottom line: youíre best off running TeleScreen-32 in 256-color mode, unless you have a fast computer. The rest of the installation was a breeze. 
 

TelePrompTer Basics

Using TeleScreen-32 is simple. Just use your word processor to convert your script to a text (.TXT) file, and open it in TeleScreen. Once youíve opened your script in TeleScreen, you can easily adjust the font size of all of your text to the size of your choosing. This allows you to quickly prepare your text so you can use it with the TelePrompTerô.
After making your fonts large enough to read from a distance (probably 12-18 feet in most cases), youíre ready to play the script. You can click the on-screen Play button, and the default white text on a black background will start scrolling up the screen. If your text is moving too fast, you can use a sliding adjustment to slow it down. If it runs much too fast, you can make the software render the text at 16 or 32 bits per pixel, instead of the default eight bits. That method is sort of clunky, and we wish DRS-DigiTrax used a more straightforward method of speeding up and slowing down the text. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you can use the wheel to jog forward and backward manually through your text, a handy feature.
You can use carrots surrounding a number (i.e. ^3^) to embed a marker in the text. When you hit the right mouse button, the prompter will jump back to the last marker in the text, allowing you to quickly get back on track if the TelePrompTerô gets ahead of you.
TeleScreen-32 also includes a basic titler, and options for outputting the screen to an NTSC monitor (if your video card has TV-out, or you use an external scan converter). The quality of these titles is fair at best. We recommend ignoring this feature and using another titler for adding graphics to your video. 
 

Mirror, Mirror 

You may want to install TeleScreen-32 in a homemade TelePrompTerô case that works like those used on network TV. You know, the type that places the monitor on its back and reflects the text on a two-way mirror placed in front of the cameraís lens. TeleScreen is ready for this, and has an option to reverse the text if youíre going to bounce it off of a mirror. This is a nice touch from DRS-DigiTrax, and on their Web site (www.drs-digitrax.com) you can order an optional foot pedal to replace the mouse, making it an even more professional setup. 
 

Using a TelePrompTer

Getting back to the basics, you donít have to build anything too fancy to fully utilize TeleScreen-32. You can simply set up a monitor right next to, above or below your camcorder. The trick, of course, is to have your talent look like theyíre not reading, but thatís up to your talent.
Overall, TeleScreen-32 fills a void. There really arenít very many TelePrompTerô programs out there. For $165, TeleScreen-32 does the job. Itís easy-to-install, easy-to-use and turns aging computers into viable TelePrompTerôs that wonít leave your talent wondering about the next line in the script. -- LL

TECH SPECS
Platform PC
Minimum System Requirements

  • Operating system Windows 95/98/NT
  • RAM 24MB 

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    TEST RESULTS:
    strengths

  • Works on just about any computer
  • Easy-to-use
  • Can reverse text for use with mirror systems
  • Weak Documentation
  • Speed controls are clunky (completely replaced in version 2.5.2)

  • summary
  • This software does what it promises, and is easy-to-use too.
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