Product Spotlight: NewTek Tricaster

26 Aug Product Spotlight: NewTek Tricaster

Today, video is becoming more and more important to marketing and distributing our messages. Even if you believe social media is the flavor of the day, the most successful social media campaigns now include a video component.

As a consultant, I am charged with finding the right solution to produce effective video message in a cost effective yet professional manner for a wide variety of clients. While one size does not fit all, the Newtek Tricaster professional line of products does offer a scalable solution at a high quality with a low cost and a quick learning curve even for those with little video experience.

Live video studios of old used to involve a room full of equipment and some expensive professional operators. Thanks to advancements in technology and software focused on a creative workflow, there are now many options for content focused productions. While the tricaster family is not the only product catering to these needs I am spotlighting it here because of its robust feature set and easy, intuitive workflow.

Newtek is the creator of Lightewave animation software as well as the Three Play instant replay system and a once clumsy video switcher known as the Video Toaster. In a great feat of both hardware and software engineer Newtek turned their attention to combining all of their products into one great product known as the Tricaster family of products.

In the beginning these video production switchers were almost too good to be true. It was a switcher that combined everything a small production crew needed to produce a television broadcast, live event or studio show. All of the processing power was placed on a single chip set running an amalgamation of video input and output cards. And, in the beginning, hardware reliability issues mixed with software issues made these appliances, perhaps, ahead of their time. It seemed to be simply too much for a single computer to do.

With the multi-core processors of today and graphics cards built for gaming, hardware reliability has improved greatly for products like Tricaster with high demands.   Couple that with a standardized software across all models of Tricaster and you get a production ecosystem that is a force to be reckoned with in its market

OK, OK so enough with the technical mumbo jumbo. “Why do I need a Newtek Tricaster on my team?” you ask.  Good question. Have you ever wanted to produce a professional looking video message or marketing piece without all of the expensive crew? Do you want the expensive looking studio without the cost or the need for a full time broadcast engineer? Do you want to produce video pieces using green scene technology in real time with no post production required? Do you want to train members of your organization or school on industry standard technology providing career readiness? If so, then keep reading.

Newtek’s professional line of Tricasters offers a robust production ecosystem with a self contained and yet friendly workflow. What do I mean by all of that? I mean the Tricaster has the capabilities to produce a finished product all on the same platform while still playing nice with the rest of the most popular industry tools.

To boil it all down, let’s explain a common production example. The CEO of your company wants to do an announcement to all of the offices in your company at the same time and take live questions in the process. You have two options. One, hire a professional live studio and crew at the cost of several thousands of dollars per hour. Two, get a Tricaster, a few technically inclined colleagues and produce it yourself.

You get a Tricaster, some pro-sumer or professional cameras and a green screen cloth. A professional trainer teaches you everything you need to know to be dangerous with the Tricaster. The CEO sits in a chair in front of the green screen and you press the record button. Here is what the Tricaster is doing (with your assistance of course):

  • Taking in between 4 and 8 different camera angles
  • Inserting a virtual set which includes a virtual desk and TV monitor and making the boss look like he is sitting in an expensive studio even though he is probably still in his office.
  • Inserting graphics with his name and important points of his speech as well as intro and ending videos that were prerecorded
  • Taking in the boss’s powerpoint presentation live directly from his computer over your internal network.
  • Taking in the microphone pinned to the CEO’s shirt
  • Streaming the finished product to the streaming service of our choice for delivery around the world.
  • Recording the finished product for posting to an on-demand asset for those who were absent during the live webcast.
  • Grabbing still pictures throughout the broadcast for the marketing department to post later.

All of this is happening in real time, on the same production appliance that runs over the top of a Windows 7 operating system. All of this is happening on location with no post production or special “film school” skills required.

Do you see the usage in other industries and applications as well? In business, teleconferencing and training is so much easier. In schools, technology teachers can bring back or start school news broadcasts school wide. This positively impacts instruction in journalism and media production in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Distance learning can be equipped in all classrooms and at a high quality not just a select few classrooms. Long term, high quality lecture capture and archiving can become a reality of the present not a dream of the future.

Community Media Centers across the U.S. are adopting the Tricasters because they offer industry standard technology with an easy learning curve for the nation’s public media volunteers.  Imagine a production technology that can be taught to a member of the public in two, four hour classes. How is this possible? All because of a User Interface designed to make professional quality media production available to everyone.

Government agencies use the technology to get up-to-the-minute messages mass distributed to wide audiences. We are still seeing new and inventive uses of media production technology that is both nimble and efficient.  Imagine live weather and travel reports produced at the airport for airport customers. Imagine government meetings and event coverage that engage people in government rather than put them to sleep. These are just some of the possibilities.

Have I peaked your interest yet? If so, let me interest you further. If not, read on to see just how easy live video production can be. Tricaster has created many models in their line of professional Tricasters to meet all connection needs and scalability requirements. Here are the model numbers and basic differences. I recommend working with a consultant to make sure a specific model will meet all of your needs.

  • Tricaster 40: Newtek’s entry level Tricaster. This model allows for 4 cameras at component HD and component or composite HD or SD resolutions. This model is best for those organizations still trying to bridge the divide between HD and SD workflows.
  • Tricaster Mini: This model will take 4 HDMI HD cameras both professional and pro-sumer. The form factor is small and compact making it ideal for mobile production as well as semi-permanent corporate production environments. See Newtek’s video about setting up a full production in 5 minutes. If you are just starting out in video production and want to save money on equipment this may be the model for you.
  • Tricaster 410: This model is designed for a 4 input all HD-SDI or SD-SDI workflow. This means the cameras must have SDI outputs and the desired receiving paths must be able to receive an all SDI workflow.
  • Tricaster 460 and 860: These are, at the moment the most popular models. Able to take in four and eight inputs respectively of mixed formats. These models can handle SDI, Component, or composite connections in a variety of popular resolutions.
  • Tricaster 8000: The highly configurable Tricaster 8000 offers the flexibility that the professional video production industry seeks. Buyer beware, with great power and flexibility comes great responsibility. This model will accept all industry standard video connections at all resolutions and offers a highly customizable workflow.

The best part is, all of these models run on the same software with the same user interface. This means you can learn the software once and use the same knowledge to scale to a larger or smaller Tricaster.

Do you see the possibilities now?

If so, feel free to reach out to us at ORE TECHNOLOGIES to put together a package that is right for your needs. If you are still not sure about the Tricaster specifically but know you want to add a video component, let’s talk more generally about your project or needs. One size does not fit all and there are other products in the sea. Look out for more product spotlights in the coming days.



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