Smooth out your words with Imaginary Teleprompter


Article from Issue 237/2020

A teleprompter can help you give a polished look to your speeches and video presentations. Imaginary Teleprompter is a free tool that delivers professional teleprompting capabilities.

Teleprompters have become an important tool in television and politics. The goal of a teleprompter is to display text to the speaker in a way that gives the viewer the impression the speaker is improvising. The recent rise of platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion has democratized video production, which means that more and more private video bloggers have an occasional need for teleprompters to deliver essays, speeches, and other presentations.

You don't need expensive equipment to integrate a teleprompter with your video creations. Armed with just a Raspberry Pi and the free Imaginary Teleprompter [1] software, you will have the same capabilities as speakers at a political event or on TV.

For Everyone

Imaginary Teleprompter is available at the project website for all common platforms. Many distributions also offer their own binary packages. Since the RaspPi does not appear explicitly in this list, the recommendation is to choose the appropriate AppImage from the Other Linux Distros section.

The package listed there (ARM 7L) is suitable for both 32- and 64-bit systems and is about 36MB in size. Type the command from the first part of Listing 1 to grant the software the required execute permissions. Then move the package to a directory of your choice and call it with the command from the second line of Listing 1.

Listing 1


$ chmod +x imaginary-teleprompter-2.3.4-armv7l.AppImage
$ ./imaginary-teleprompter-2.3.4-armv7l.AppImage

After a prompt asking whether the package should be integrated into the menu structure of your desktop, the program window opens (Figure 1). Since Imaginary Teleprompter requires considerable resources, the program takes several seconds to start, especially on older RaspPi models. At first glance, the editor window looks like a conventional word processor. At the top, you will find two horizontal toolbars with design elements for adjusting the text.

Figure 1: The Imaginary Teleprompter editor window looks like the interface of a standard word processor.

Below the toolbars is the large text area that contains the text. And below the text is a status bar, which does not yet provide any information when the software is called up. The integrated text editor is based on the web-based CKEditor [2], which, like Imaginary Teleprompter, is available under a free license.


Click on the gear symbol in the top right-hand corner of the program window to call up the software's setup panel. You will not find a conventional configuration menu but only eight options relating to the text display (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Prompter module configuration dialog only has the bare essentials, which keeps the interface tidy and simple.

In the In-frame prompter selection menu, you can decide how Imaginary Teleprompter should display the text. In addition to the normal output, it can also mirror the output if you want to redirect the screen output to a recording camera with a mirroring system.

For professional recordings, there is the External prompter option to the right. The External prompter configuration options are intended for a second teleprompter, of the type used for speeches and lectures. The second teleprompter can be controlled completely independently of the first one. It is not possible to switch off both prompters at the same time. If you accidentally set both dialogs to Disabled, the program tells you this is an incorrect setting.

The Prompter style setting option lets you visually customize the prompter. By default, you will see a light serif font on a dark background. Several color and font combination presets in the program let you customize the output to suit your preferences.

In the fourth selection field, Focus area, you determine the location of the focus line. By default, Imaginary Teleprompter displays the line at the center of the screen brightest when the text is running, which helps the speaker orient. Alternatively, you can move the line within the playback window.

The line with sliders below the four selection fields primarily relates to the speed of the text, the font size, the fading behavior, and the timer. Modifications to these options take effect immediately for the currently loaded text; the timer only appears at the bottom of the window when prompt mode is started.

After completing the settings, click the gear symbol again to leave the options area.

Entering Text

You enter the text displayed later on in the teleprompter as in a conventional word processor. To do this, first click on New Page on the left in the button bar; the sample text then disappears. Now enter the text for the teleprompter to display as you would in any graphical word processor and format it as required.

You also have the option of importing text you have already written in LibreOffice or OpenOffice format. To import text, click on the floppy disc icon above the button bar. This button opens a vertical option bar on the left where you will find the Import Files and Add Files functions.

To import text, open the Import Files dialog and select the desired document in the file manager. Clicking on Add Files brings up a small dialog that prompts you to enter a file name. The program then uses this name for the new file that you edit in the editor area.

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