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PromptSmart Automates Teleprompters with Voice Recognition

By: Mich Donovan

In the move from DIY video production kits to professionally produced recording sessions, providing faculty with prompting material has become more integral than ever. The approach changes with each presenter. One goes low-tech with a large white board with bullet points below the camera. Another uses Keynote slides on an iPad attached above the camera that the they remotely control with an iPhone. We’ve also used a more standard teleprompter setup using a mirror to reflect scrolling text, while the camera shoots through the mirror.

To facilitate the mobile nature of our shooting kits however, whatever teleprompter software we used needed to be on an iPad. While autoscrolling text got the job done, it was inelegant solution compared to a professional driving the pace. This too was not always smooth as remote speed control always came with a lag negating its usefulness. Enter PromptSmart.


By simply copying in a text file and hitting play, faculty could now read the script at their own pace. The app uses voice recognition software to automatically scroll and keep up with the speaker. No calibration required.

Most of the time, it is pretty seamless. We often screen-record faculty driving a slideshow, and we add special characters like *** and ### to cue them to click through animations and slide advances. The app has no problem handling these and jumps right over them. If anything, it is maybe overly flexible – if similar phrases are close together in the script, the app might jump straight to the second reference. If casually chatting before shooting, the app might pick up a few keywords and scroll right to them.

The voice recognition usually works best with loud and clear voices, though it can depend on the person. Anecdotally, out of the four faculty I routinely use it with, it picks up the three men just fine but can’t seem work with our female instructor. Your results may vary. We record with the instructor standing about 5 feet way from the iPad in quiet room. While iPhone/iPad microphones are supported we’ve not yet tested their effectiveness.

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