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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Embedding Flash in a Web Page

So I'm working on a new web site for Digital Arts and I need to embed a flash video clip in a page. Turns out this isn't as straight forward as you'd think. I found a great page that explains things pretty well at JeroenWijering.com

Friday, May 30, 2008

New Site Sponsor

We've picked up a new site sponsor in Host Excellence.

Digital Arts has been hosting our web sites with them for about two years now and we've had zero problems. The tech support, on the couple of occasions I've needed it, has been fast and helpful. So if you are looking for a good place to host your web site you can't do better than the guys over at Host Excellence.

As an extra bonus use DigitalArts in the promo code blank when you sign up and you'll get a free 10% increase in your bandwidth allotment. This is perfect if you're going to be hosting video clips.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blob...

...err blog...

TriCaster Studio 2.0 Update

NewTek has released a patch for the new 2.0 software:

In keeping with its tradition of aggressively improving products, NewTek is happy to announce the first update for the next generation TriCaster™. The update adds new features while improving work-flow and stability. While all new units will come with this version of the software installed, this update is designed for TriCaster BROADCAST™ or any TriCaster STUDIO™ shipped between May 12 and May 28. If you are not sure whether this update is installed, go to the Admin panel and check for updates, which will automatically contact the NewTek web site and report whether or not you have the latest version.

New work-flow enhancements include:
• When recording live productions, or using the capture media tab, in addition to an MPEG-2 interleaved audio video file, a separate MP3 file will also be generated. This file includes an exact copy of the audio data that is included in the MPEG-2 file. If you are using Apple® Final Cut® this will allow you to import TriCaster media without the required, tedious step of first extracting the audio streams from the video file.
• TriCaster will now shut down, restart and log off much faster.
• Some extra checks are performed on start-up ensuring that TriCaster is less likely to give you problems.
• The “Safe Initialization” script is improved to exit without warnings if you choose to log off the computer.

The stability improvements are:
• There was a situation in the Capture Media tab where analog audio might be muted when recording.
• There was a potential when using a user created title template exported from the Edit Text tab with gradients on the text that could cause the TriCaster to restart.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Live Control LC-11

People keep asking me exactly what the LiveControl LC-11 actually controls. I still haven't got my hands on one but I do have a nice big photograph of one:
Beats the 3D renderings in the brochure (which weirdly enough have 12 buttons on the buses).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Opportunities Abound

Phillip over at NewTek just finished streaming a twelve hour concert for Boston radio station KISS 108.
NewTek has a press release here.
Philip's blog post is here
The stations page with video here

My head swirls with the business opportunities for the TriCaster owner. Just think any live event of any kind could be streamed. It should be easy to sell because it's so cutting edge, so high tech so [insert buzzword here]. The event organizer can use the fact that the event will be streamed live as a publicity hook. A concert in the park -yawn. A concert in the park STREAMED TO A WORLDWIDE AUDIENCE is a global event worthy of newspaper articles and TV interviews.

Soon everything will be streamed but for now it's special. You want to get in now and establish yourself as the guy to go to for streaming, 'cause if you don't someone else will.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NewTek Rendition for Photoshop

I'm not a Photoshop user so I can't really speak with any authority but Rendition looks like it's pretty cool if you are. With Rendition you can do photo realistic renders of 3D objects directly in the Photoshop interface. It's based on the Lightwave3D renderer as you might expect. Over at John Nack's blog at Adobe he talks a little about it.

NewTek's page on Rendition

Saturday, May 17, 2008

NewTek Codecs

NewTek has three* proprietary codecs that are included in their various products.

The oldest is the RTV format this is an uncompressed 4:2:2 format that doesn't include audio. They can be identified by the .RTV extension. File size is large at about 1160MB (1.16GB) per minute of video and have a data rate of about 25 megabytes per second. 720X486 and 720x480 are supported for NTSC as well as 720x576 for PAL. Optionally the file can contain an alpha channel. Audio is stored in a separate standard .WAV file. RTV files are supported By Frame Factory, VTNT, VideoToaster 2, VT[3], VT[4] and VT[5], SpeedEDIT, Aura and Lightwave. TriCasters can play but not record RTVs.

VT[4] introduced the NT25 codec. This is an AVI format, compressed about 5:1 with a data rate of about 5 MB/S and a file size of about 200 MB per minute. This is about the same size and data rate of the various DV codecs the difference is NT25 is 4:2:2 so it looks better and keys a lot better than DV.
Alpha channel is not supported. Several different sizes are supported the NTSC default is 720x486.

Uncompressed audio is interleaved and can be 16 bit linear or floating point at various sample rates up to 96kHz and mono, stereo or four channel. NT25 is included with VT[4], VT[5], SpeedEDIT and Tricaster but can be installed on any** PC with WinXP or Vista and since it's a standard AVI will work with most Windows software. Sony Vegas is a notable exception.

The latest and greatest codec from NewTek is SpeedHQ which was introduced with SpeedEDIT. This again is a compressed 4:2:2 format with a more efficient algorithm than NT25. SpeedHQ also supports alpha. The big innovation is support for any resolution up to 2048 x 2048 and frame rates to 60i making it good for HD and beyond. At SD resolutions file size and data rates are similar to NT25. The audio is again up to four channel floating point at 96kHz. SpeedEDIT, VT[5] and some TriCasters include SpeedHQ and it can be installed on any** PC running WinXP or Vista.

RTV is not a stand-alone codec so support for it has to be built into a program. The only third party products that supported it are Mirage (a descendant of Aura) and the old SpeedRazor Editor that NewTek bundled with VTNT and VideoToaster 2. NT25 and SpeedHQ can be installed on PCs but there is no Mac version at this time.

Update: The initial release of TriCaster 2.0 records an all 'I' frame variable bit rate, MPEG2 file with embedded layer 3 audio. The first TC 2.0 patch (August 21, 2008) has a slightly modified version that uses layer 2 audio which should be more broadly compatible with various editors.


There, now you know!

*This doesn't include FlyerClip (.FLY) from the Amiga VideoToaster Flyer though it is supported by Aura.
** A cpu with SSE2 is required

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lightwave 9 Demo Version

Call us at 1-800-692-6442 for Digital Arts' Too Low To Publish Price on Lightwave

Lightwave 9 Trial Press Release

Download The Trial

"The software is fully functional with no restrictions or watermarks for a full 30-day period and has 24 hours of video training on many topics to enable quick use of LightWave's powerful tools. In addition, the complete manuals in PDF format are available for download, allowing users to reference tools and features. 130 MB of royalty-free content is also provided, which can continue to be loaded and studied even after the 30-day trial period is over."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New TriCasters Ship

Press Release

NewTek's doing pretty good at hitting their Ship Dates:

TriCaster Broadcast May 1 On Time
Updated TriCaster Studio May 8 Four days Late
Updated TriCaster Pro May 15 Two Days Early
Updated TriCaster 100 May 22 Nine Days Early
TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade May 29

I'd've bet against this happening. I may have to retire the "NewTek Time" jokes. Go NewTek Go!

Another Streaming User of TriCaster

LagTV Network

If XBox gaming is your thing this looks like the place.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Video Production Curriculum

As I posted before I've started a forum to discuss an open sources style Video Production Curriculum. A big part of Digital Art's business is high schools and there are very few resources for high school teachers out there for production courses. I'm not in a position to conjure a curriculum up from scratch but if I can get everyone who is teaching video production to contribute just a little we can put something together that many will find useful.

So please pop over to http://curriculum.digarts.com and jump in. It's hard to get a new forum up and running so sign up for an account and help me out.

A Bunch of TriCaster Reviews

Here are a bunch of TriCaster reviews I've collected. After reading through all of them what strikes me is the way NewTek has addressed issues that the various reviewers brought up. From removing the vestigial windows audio connectors on the front of the original TriCaster to additional features in successive models and the upcoming TriCaster 2.0 upgrade.

StreamingMedia
In the grand scheme of things, I really have nothing but good things to say about the TriCaster. It’s a neat little box with a ton of functionality. The price is staggering, given that the only box that comes close, the Anycaster from Sony, is priced at $20K. If you’re looking for a compact system to produce live broadcasts, you should definitely consider the TriCaster.
ExtremeTech
We'd like to see an unbundled version that provides the software and the video-processing board—with external output connectors—so we could build our own TriCaster.
Maybe someone should tell them about the VT!

Digital Content Producer
When NewTek introduced one of the first digital video devices way back in the late 1980s, it started on the road to creating a cost-effective solution that would include the three most important aspects of professional video and television production. With the TriCaster, NewTek has reached that destination. Having been around the DV block, I'm not easily impressed. But I was blown away by what TriCaster brings to the video creation table. If you had to price it out, it costs maybe a quarter of what it would cost to purchase each piece of production equipment separately.
EventDV
NewTek's TriCaster Pro builds on the solid base of the initial TriCaster but adds features that make it worthy of use in a professional environment. The $6,995 price point positions the product in the very low-end price range of professional equipment, but the features-like those of its Toaster ancestor-rival mid-range professional products. Thus, the TriCaster Pro helps re-establish NewTek as a company whose innovations will once again push the boundaries of what a new generation of event videographers will be able to provide for their customers.
Anthony Coppedge
NewTek has created what may very well be the ultimate solution for churches needing a lot of power with a little price tag. At a suggested retail price of $4,995 the TriCaster suddenly opens the door of video production to the majority of churches.
Videography
It should take you just seconds to learn the switcher software--you won't have to read the thin manual, which is a real plus--and you'll be able to deliver great looking switching between live shots without needing external genlock, black burst or a sync pulse. You can change the parameters of your cameras to suit your situation easily.
VideoMaker
The TriCaster STUDIO is truly an amazing production tool. Beyond having features no other turnkey system can match, it also appears built to take the rigors of the road. All front panel connections feel solid and the two metal handles on the front also protect the protruding BNC connectors from a careless whack or bump.
StudioDaily
...there is a lot to like in the TriCaster STUDIO. Capabilities like this would have cost over a million dollars 10 years ago, and some, like virtual sets and live Internet streaming, barely existed at all. If you are willing to take the time to learn the ins and outs, there is enormous power and potential in the TriCaster STUDIO.
DigitalMedia.net
At $9,995 (USD), the TriCaster STUDIO is quite affordable for those who would regularly spend upwards of $500,000 outfitting a studio and truck, if not $1 million. I'd recommend getting two or three for multiple projects and broadcasts; for the little guy, like a production company or wedding/event videographer, one STUDIO will help speed up your output, along with the potential for new revenue streams.
I alway recommend buying several TriCasters - take two there small!
EventDV
In the grand scheme of things, I really have nothing but good things to say about the TriCaster. It's a neat little box with a ton of functionality. The price is staggering, given that the only box that comes close, the Anycaster from Sony, is priced at $20K. If you're looking for a compact system to produce live broadcasts, you should definitely consider the TriCaster.
ChurchProduction
TriCaster Pro is a great live production switcher that has been recognized as such by the industry. It is an easy to use device, ideal for the church, and very affordable (list price of $6,995), considering all of its professional features.
PlanetDV Education
NewTek earned an Emmy in 1993 for its Amiga-based Video Toaster. Like the Video Toaster, TriCaster uses readily available computer technology to drastically lower the cost of video production. That opens new creative possibilities for many more organizations than before. The TriCaster is powerful, inexpensive and easy to use...
DigitalMedia.net
he worst thing about doing a multi-camera live switched remote program is the enormous amount of gear that you have to take along. TriCaster, the latest technology tool from NewTek, takes all the gear and squeezes it into a little tiny box. Capture, edit, and broadcast live, TriCaster promises to fulfill the needs of a live truck.

Friday, May 9, 2008

TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade FAQ

TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade FAQ as promised

Highlights:

* Flash Streaming and archiving (except for TriCaster)
* Windows Media Push streaming in TriCaster
* LiveSet live virtual sets added to TriCaster PRO
* MPEG-2 recording of live productions
* Full-featured Character Generator to easily create custom Title Templates
* LiveText compatible for external title operation
* LiveControl LC-11 compatibility for TriCaster STUDIO & BROADCAST
* TimeWarp compatibility for a dedicated replay operator
* DataLink compatibility for real-time title updates
* Live support for 16:9 and 4:3 video
* TriCaster interface supports wide-screen LCD panels, and more

Current TV

This is a review I previously published on a different blog but it's no longer available so I'm re-publishing it here:

I'm sitting here with a political conundrum, I was browsing through the channel listing on my Dish Network PVR and ran across a new channel called Current TV. Turns out this is the TV project that Al Gore announced a while back. The channel is cool, really cool, but I have a problem endorsing anything that Al Gore is involved in but I'm going to make an exception for Current TV.

Current's programming is all user created, now when I hear that phrase I think ugly YouTube videos but that's not the case here. Current users vote on the content that makes it on-air which seems to keep the poorly produced stuff away. The basic unit of programming is a “Pod”, short (one to ten minute) documentary videos interspersed with user created commercials, short news pieces, music reviews and other stuff.

Current even pays for the content they use, Pods start at $500 while commercials pay $1000 or even more if the advertiser chooses to reuse the ad elsewhere. Recent commercial assignments included Toyota Camry, Mountain Dew and Pop Secret.

I found the programming to be compelling and well produced, graphically current is tastefully modern looking and the 'shaky camera MTV look' appears to be thankfully passe. The web site is pretty and easy to navigate and contains all the info you need to produce your own pods, including various release forms you'll need in order to get things on air. Current enforces the legalities involved in broadcasting vigorously including model releases and clearing music and other copyrighted material. They have partnered with Several companies to provide pre-cleared music clips for producers to use so all is not lost for those not of the composing bent.

The forums on the web site are a place where producers can discuss various aspects of production, meet up with potential collaborators and critique each other's work. The discussions are wide ranging, serious but friendly and newbies look to be treated with respect.

I'm pretty jazzed about Current TV this is a great outlet for the short subject producer where they can get their work seen and maybe even pick up a little cash. You should check it out, Current is available on major cable systems (Comcast channel 107), (AT&T U-verse channel 189) and both Direct TV (Channel 366) and Dish Network (Channel 196). And much of the content is available online if you can't get it otherwise.

Current TV

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ship Dates

Subject to change!

TriCaster Broadcast May 1
Updated TriCaster Studio May 8
Updated TriCaster Pro May 15
Updated TriCaster 100 May 22
TriCaster 2.0 Upgrade May 29