THE HISTORY OF TOMPTER
By Thomas Beattie, Founder.
In 2011 I took a pay cut from being an Art Director at a casino to move to Baltimore, Maryland, and work for a new startup as a multi-media designer. It was a chance to learn about video production, green-screening (chroma-key) and video production. Plus, I got to learn from a three-time Emmy Award winning TV producer!
Being part of the maker movement, I built a rudimentary teleprompter because I was so fascinated with the technology. The one in our studio was probably $3k, and with about $300 in parts, I was able to replicate my own. As luck would have it, an actress saw it, and asked to buy it. I had no idea that prompters were thousands, and my teleprompter hobby stalled for two years.
The first teleprompters I built were out of acrylic with a half-silvered film on it. The silver is necessary to beam-split, and the acrylic was superior in terms of breaking. It was good to shoot through, however true die-hard videographers in broadcast journalism asked me to make an optical glass prompter due to the better clarity.
After doing the research, I found the only company in the USA that makes prompter glass. They do massive amounts of glass for all US teleprompter companies, and I followed suit. My product got better as I tweaked little details, and I sourced better parts, better stands, and with optical glass. With a tiny eBay listing, I would up selling over 200 units, each handmade by me. It really was just a successful hobby.
In 2015 I attended the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Manhattan. From meeting various parties, I was contracted to build a special set of teleprompters for my first broadcast studio. The current cameras were hung on motorized rigs from the ceiling, and I had to replace the existing 8" SD prompters with 19" HD prompters, while remaining under the necessary weight on the camera motors. Using various CAD, I was able to create a successful solution. The custom solution is still in use today.
Designing and developing new products and custom solutions is the bulk of what I spend my time on. Whether it’s laser cutting plastics, or using 3D Printing technology, I often can come up with an inexpensive solution for the constantly changing needs of my clients.
I have since developed several strategic partnerships, and the one-time hobby has since become a full-fledged business doing custom teleprompter installations.