How to Make an Absolutely Flawless Teleprompter Hood FAST

Today I am going to share with you exactly how to make a Teleprompter Hood.

Step-by-step.

In fact, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy and how to sew one on your own to make your teleprompter videos that much better.

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now? Download the PDF.

Let’s dive right in…

How it Works

We’ve all seen it:

The talking head videos that provide information in a well articulated fashion. Never missing a beat. So many jump cuts to pull it together.

You cannot deny that the precise delivery of this type of video can be fast tracked with the use of a Teleprompter… and hopefully fewer jump cuts.

One of the most critical parts of a teleprompter setup for video creation is a teleprompter hood (or shroud).

You need to have one if you are recording videos.  More importantly, you need one that works! Even the smallest amount of light coming in from the back side of the mirror will mess up your recording with extraneous reflections.

This will also make your text impossible to read. You want the text to be clear and crisp so there are no mistakes when reading from it. A compromised teleprompter setup will make your videos take longer to perfect and will waste precious time.

Tools You Need

-Sewing machine: Don’t worry! If you do not have a machine, hand sewing works just as well, however, a machine will hugely reduce the amount of time you spend on this project.

-Fabric: The fabric that I like best is LYLYCTY thin black polyester. Thicker fabrics are totally fine, just expect a little more prep work when getting ready to sew.

-Lighting: You will want to have ample lighting for sewing. Most sewing machines have a light built in, but definitely add more lights to your view for accurate stitching.

-Iron: Make sure that the fabric is flat and lacks creases and folds. These folds could cause mistakes when sewing.

-Template: Templates allow you to make identical hoods time after time. Consistency is key.

-Sharp blade or rotary cutter: This tool will make for precise cutting. Do not use scissors to cut the fabric.

-Weights: Use any sort of weight to hold your template flat against the fabric.

-Binder clips: (optional) Binder clips can be used to hold your ironed corners in place so that they don’t come undone as you work around.

-Scissors: Snip off the loose threads to keep it neat.

-Tape Measure: Measure out your template.

-Cardboard: Assemble the template.

Step #1: Choose Your Fabric

You can buy these teleprompter hoods online for upwards of $30, or you can make your own at home for a fraction of the cost. The first item you want to consider is the fabric itself. In choosing a fabric, you want to pick one that will achieve its purpose – block out light. Opt for a black, opaque material. You may be tempted to get a thick fabric. Thick fabric works fine, but it is a bit harder to work with compared to thin fabric. We will talk more about that later on. For now, know that choosing a thin fabric will work best for you.
Got your fabric? Swell. What’s next.
 
You should know by now the size of your teleprompter glass (hopefully). If not, go measure it! For my tutorial video I used 18”x18” teleprompter glass. It is necessary to know the size of your glass so you can create the proper sized hood. We have premade cardboard templates in our factory for 14”x14”, 16”x16”, and 18”x18” teleprompters.

Get your fabric from a local craft store or order it online. You will want quite a bit in case you make an irreversible mistake somewhere. The type of fabric we use is LYLYCTY black polyester fabric. It is thin, easy to work with, and it effectively blocks out light. We experimented with a few different types of fabric before this. While we are always looking to improve, we are happy with the quality of our choice. Test your fabric before buying by holding a single layer up to a light source. The less light you can see through the fabric, the better.

Step #2: Prepare Your SetUp

Preparation is key.

All right team.
 
Find a workspace with plenty of room.
 
ProTip– lay your fabric on a thick layer of cardboard on a table or other surface. This will protect your table when we get into the fun stuff.
Drape one layer of your fabric flat over the cardboard. Iron your fabric so that it is smooth and wrinkle-free. Ironing out the creases will make the rest of the project much simpler. Place your template on top of the ironed fabric. Position your template to get as many template cuts as possible out of the fabric. Pull the fabric so that it is somewhat taught under the template. Oh and don’t forget to unplug your iron so you don’t burn your house down!

Once you have made your cardboard fabric sandwich, grab your weights and set them on the template. The weights can be anything – dumbbells, a stack of textbooks, or any other heavy item. The aim here is to hold the template down to the fabric. This will prevent it from sliding around during the next few steps. If the template moves, your dimensions will be off and you will have an uneven hood (booo).

Step #3: Create and Use a Shroud Template

Shroud templates are the easiest way to get a neat, straight cutout from your fabric. Eyeballing the size and shape just won’t work for this project. There are a few different methods to making templates, so I will show you the simplest and most effective. The illustration below depicts what the final shape will look like.

The size of your shroud template will depend on your camera set up. Ideally, you would use a camcorder on a tripod positioned directly behind the teleprompter glass. Your shroud should fully wrap around the camera and connect to the teleprompter glass on the top and the sides. It should hang down enough to be clipped at the bottom, underneath the camera and behind/ underneath the glass.

To begin with your template, clip your glass into a sturdy mirror clip. I used a Nikon 7070 Window Mount. While these are not normally used for teleprompting, I find that it works great to safely hold the glass upright. Set up your camera + tripod behind the glass as if you were to begin a shoot. Next, take a tape measure and determine the length from the glass to behind the camera. This length should be the same on both sides.

To make a template, get a hold of a sizable sheet of cardboard. The cardboard should be soft enough to cut through, yet durable enough to withstand a few nicks. The top of your cardboard template will be whatever the top part of your glass is. If you have 13″x 13″ teleprompter glass, the top of your template will be 13″. Trace out with marker on both sides at an angle (see below) at a length of 13″. Going down, your length will be whatever you measured in the first step. The bottom border of the template will connect the two sides.

Cut out the template using a box cutter or rotary cutter. You may want to reinforce the outside edges with thick tape after you cut to keep the cardboard frays to a minimum. There yo have it! You now have a reusable template for you teleprompter hood.

Step #4: Fold & Iron

Prepare your fabric for sewing.

Okay lovely, so now you have one piece of cut fabric (go you). Plug your iron back in and fold each edge over about 1/2”. You could fold it over more or less than that, make sure it is consistent on all edges. Use the iron to cement these folds into place. The type of fabric you chose will make this step either super quick or a bit time consuming. If you chose thick fabric, work that iron over the folds a few times to press them down. Feel free to clamp the folds down with a handful of binder clips to keep them from coming undone. You want to iron the folds to stay intact on their own. This will make our next step that much easier.

Thin fabric will be easier to iron down. It will not block out as much light, but it will allow for the smoothest construction. To combat this, layer up the thin shrouds to block out as much light as possible. Sew two or three separate shrouds, then stack them and sew them together. It may be a bit more work, but it will be worth it to have a functioning hood. Trust us.

Step #5: Sew the Edges

Channel your inner seamstress.

Take your fabric, clamps and all (or clampless if you got bold), over to your sewing machine. The model I use is a Janome HD-3000. This warlock sews like a champ and has produced countless shrouds for us. If you are hand sewing for this step, well, good luck to you. No but really you should have a machine for this part. If you don’t have one, call your local library. Most libraries have equipment like cake pans, instruments, and oh yes- sewing machines.
 
I like to start sewing on the shortest border. If you aren’t comfortable using the machine yet, practice on some scrap fabric. Unclip your folds and line up the edge so that the needle sews through the middle of your fold. This will become important later on. The foot pedal on Janome increases and decreases the speed of sewing depending on how hard you step. Take your sweet time sewing, one wrong move could mean wasted time fixing that mistake. Feed the fold all the way through, clip the thread, and start on the next edge. Make sure all the folds are face-up.

Sew through each edge completely – no cutting corners! Clip off excess threads as you go to keep tidy. These strays are prone to getting caught in the machine and messing up your sewing. You have completed your shroud most. Inspect all the sewn edges for loose threads or frayed fabric and snip them off. If you sewed through the middle of the fold, you should have an even amount of spacing on either side. If you didn’t it may be worth it to sew through again, or cut the fabric nearer to the sewn thread. You don’t want sloppy loose edges. If your sewing didn’t turn out like you want it, you can always cut the thread, take it out, and sew again.

Step #6: How to Attach to Presidential Teleprompter

You have your shroud. You have your teleprompter. Let’s put this thing together.

One great way to secure the shroud to the glass is binder clips. Clip the shroud the top, left, and right sides of the glass. Make sure to clip over the fabric so you don’t risk scratching the glass. It should drape down the back with plenty of excess to wrap around your camera. secure the shroud your camera with as many clips as you need to create a loose seal. Once your clips are in place, remove the little metal pins inside of the clips. This will give your setup a cleaner look.

Step #7: Alternative Ways to Attach

Binder clips are our favorite way to attach the teleprompter hood to the glass. We like them because they clamp nicely on the glass. Pretty simple huh? You could use almost any kind of clips to secure the hood. Be sure to avoid anything too big. The clip should not hang over the hood and touch the glass at all. This could scratch or otherwise damage the glass.

Bonus Pro Tips

Keep all extra scrap fabric for practice with the sewing machine. Depending on the type of machine you have, you can experiment with different styles of stitches and threads.

Add extra lights around your workspace.

Buy samples of fabric to test them out and determine which one you like best.