Digital Arts Is A NewTek Elite Partner
Serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan
1-800-692-6442


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Streaming Media Readers Choice Awards

The TriCaster has been nominated to the Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards in the Encoding Hardware category.  To vote go to the Readers' Choice Awards page, enter your name and email, and you’ll be taken to the voting page. Voting is open until August 25 and while supporting NewTek you are also entering to win an 8GB iPod Touch! 
Check the TriCaster box under the “Encoding Hardware” category and write in NewTek TriCaster under the “Webcasting Platform” and “IPTV Hardware” categories.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NewTek LiveText Hands On Review


LiveText is NewTek's standalone CG (character generator) with Ethernet connectivity to the TriCasters and VT (TriCaster 2.0 or VT 5.2 required). This lets you off load CG editing to a second computer or laptop so you can either pre-produce your CGs or have a dedicated CG operator during a live switch.

One of the drawbacks to the TriCaster has always been the fact that it was originally envisioned to be run by a single operator. This is great for a simple production but as you add cameras replays and dynamic CG pages the work load can pretty quickly overwhelm one person. NewTek has been addressing this with several of their recent new products like the TimeWarp Instant Replay controller and now LiveText.

Installation of LiveText on my computer (WinXP SP3, 2.66 GHz Core2Duo with two gigabytes RAM and an Invidia GF8400 graphics card) was straight forward and no configuration was necessary. It installs and you are ready to go. On the TriCaster (or VT) you just select the LiveText machine just as if it were running iVGA by picking it, by name, off a pull down list in the 'External' (iVGA) panel. This presumes your network is up and running and the two computers can 'see' each other.

The TriCaster 2.0 software sports an 'Ext' button on the overlay section of the interface that once engaged it feeds the signal from LiveText directly to the overlay. All the TriCaster operator has to do is verify that the CG in the overlay display window is the one he wants and then either 'Fade' or 'Take' to display the CG.

The LiveText operator can create pages on the fly and then assign them to the TriCaster's overlay by simply clicking the red 'Live' button or by double clicking the pages thumbnail. If the overlay is live on the TriCaster the page will be displayed instantly so it's possible to update a page while it is being displayed.


Creating or editing pages is very straight forward using the large page edit window. The interface is almost identical to the Edit Text panel in TriCaster 2.0 and very similar to the CG Designer in VT[5] so current users will have no problem adapting. LiveText uses whatever fonts you have installed in Windows and the font selection list actually displays the fonts so they are easy to choose.

You can interactively resize text, apply face colors or even complex gradients in addition to apply outlines and several different types of shadows. LiveText ships with about fifty predefined gradients and user text styles can be added to style preset lists with a mouse click. Of course you get a full compliment of horizontal and vertical alignment, layer ordering, and grouping controls.


LiveText also includes a selection of basic drawing tools so that you can easily create graphic elements directly in the program. If you need to import more complicated graphics - LiveText supports most common bitmap graphic formats with alpha channels intact. PSD from PhotoShop. Are supported but have their layers flattened on import so be aware.

You can easily create scrolls and crawls with full control over speed and end behavior i.e. Loop, scroll off screen or stop on last frame. It's also possible to lock elements on the page so that they don't move and you can even combine scrolls and crawls (scawls?)on the same page if you care to.

Ninty-nine fully editable templates are included so you don't even have to start from scratch with everything from full screen promos to lower thirds. These serve as both pre-done pages you can and examples of some of the things you can accomplish in LiveText.

The last cool feature is LiveText supports both 4:3 and widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and automatically configures itself to match your TriCaster 's output mode.

The bottom line is anyone doing sports with their TriCaster should consider LiveText a must have. For everyone else, including VT owners, you should give it a closer look because it might really make your life easier. By off loading the whole CG process to a dedicated operator you can reduce the stress of a live production by whole orders of magnitude. You can also free up your TriCaster during pre-production allowing you to build CGs on a separate computer.

Unlike some versions of the VT's CG Designer LiveText seems to be rock solid reliable, the installation was painles. The only thing I'd like to see added is away for the LiveText operator to remotely fade the overlay on the TriCaster up and down and cross fade from one overlay to another. But as it stands this is a great addition for both TriCaster and VT users.

LiveText requires a cpu with SSE2 instruction set (typically a Pentium 4 or better) A DirectX 9 compatible graphics card (AGP or PCI-E recommended) and at least 1 GB RAM (2 or more preferred) and a VT with version 5.2 software (shipping soon) or any TriCaster (Tricaster, TriCaster Pro, TriCaster Studio or TriCaster BroadCast) with 2.0 software.

TriCaster to Stream Criss Angel Imploding


We'll, actually Criss Angel's attempt to escape the SpyGlass Resort in Clearwater Florida before it implodes. The live webcast or A&E's Mindfreak hosted by Tim Vincent will be at both www.aetv.com and www.crissangel.com Wednesday, July 30.

The Local ABC Affiliate:
Large video screens will provide a feed of the TV coverage. Illusionist Criss Angel will attempt to leave the building in time before the strategically placed explosives fire off destroying the building's columns. If all works as planned the building will collapse on to itself. At the same time, Criss Angel will be taken away to safety after he escapes his binds.

Criss Angel does some pretty freaky stuff so I'm sure this will go beyond the escape-from-straight-jacket-and-run-out sort of thing.

And look for my hands on review of NewTek's LiveText tomorrow. I'll try to get that posted early in the day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Visual Effects Emmy Nominations

For the eleventh year in a row all the nominees for the Visual Effects Emmy are Lightwave Users. Proving once again that NewTek owns the TV market.

2008 Emmy-Nominated LightWave 3D Users:

Outstanding Special Visual Effects for A Series:

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles • Pilot • FOX • C2 Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television
James Lima, /Visual Effects Supervisor/
Chris Zapara, /CG Supervisor/
Lane Jolly, /Compositing Supervisor/
Steve Graves, /3D Modeler/Animator/
Rick Schick, /Compositor/
Jeff West, /Compositor/
Bradley Mullennix, /Modeler

Jericho • Patriots And Tyrants • CBS • CBS Paramount Television
Andrew Orloff, /Visual Effects Supervisor/
Blythe Dalton, /Visual Effects Producer/
John Stirber, /Special Effects Supervisor/
Chris Jones, /Compositing Supervisor/
Michael Cliett, /CGI Supervisor/
Lane Jolly, /Lead Visual Effects Compositor/
Johnathan R. Banta, /Lead Matte Artist/
Josh Hooker, /Lead CGI Artist/

Battlestar Galactica • He That Believeth In Me • Sci Fi Channel • Universal Media Studios in association with R & D TV*
Gary Hutzel, /Visual Effects Supervisor/
Michael Gibson, /Visual Effects Producer/
David Takemura, /Visual Effects Coordinator/
Doug Drexler, /CGI Supervisor/
Kyle Toucher, /CG Artist/
Sean Jackson, /CG Artist/
Pierre Drolet, /CG Modeler/
Aurore de Blois, /Senior Compositor/
Derek Ledbetter, /Compositor/

Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or A Special:

Life After People • History Channel • Flight 33 Productions for History Television Network Productions, A&E Television Networks
Matt Drummond, /Visual Effects Supervisor/
Max Ivins, /Visual Effects Supervisor/
Steffen Schlachtenhaufen, /Visual Effects Producer/
Melinka Thompson-Godoy, /Visual Effects Producer/
Andrea D'Amico, /Visual Effects Producer/
Danny Kim, /Matte Painter/Compositor/
Dave Morton, /Lead Visual Effects Artist
Jim May, /Digital Artist
Casey Benn, /Digital Artist/

NewTek expands Tech Support Hours

NewTek Tech support now is open seven days a week, 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dude, the TriCaster is, like, Totally Tubular!



From the press release:

Go211.com, the leading social networking website for action sports enthusiasts, has chosen TriCaster™ portable live production system to produce and web stream Go211 Live, the largest action sports, music and lifestyle festival in North America, which takes place July 24-27 from Huntington Beach, California. Go211 Live features the world's largest professional surfing competition- Honda US Open of Surfing presented by O'Neil- along with BMX, skateboarding, freestyle motocross demos, live music and fashion.



“Go211.com is proud to deliver Go211 Live and the Honda US Open of Surfing presented by O'Neil to world-wide fans,” said Sean Aruda, CEO, Go211.com. “TriCaster portable production system gives us a reliable and affordable way to produce and web stream four full days of activities, in their entirety, to online users.”



“Go211 Live featuring the US Open of Surfing isn’t shot in a controlled studio,” said Philip Nelson, SVP Strategic Development, NewTek. “One of the key benefits of the TriCaster is portability. You can do a live web stream with TriCaster from almost anywhere on the planet: a BMX Track, skateboard park or even the beach. As long as you have power and an internet connection you are ready to stream.”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cage Match - TriCaster vs. Sony Anycast

Update Aug. 2010: At the end check out my newest updates to this article covering HD varient of the AnyCast, the AWS-G500E. More info on the various TriCaster models.


------------------------------
People keep asking so I'll tell you what I think. First let me begin by saying this isn't going to be a fair fight so don't whine when your favorite Japanese company's product comes up bruised and bleeding. :)


OK so the most striking difference between the two is obviously the price. The TriCaster Pro setup is half the price of the Anycast. The Anycast wins on inputs but of course we could always upgrade to a TriCaster Studio and still beat Sony's price by eight grand. The Anycast also wins on convenience as it's an all in one unit whereas the TriCaster has a separate monitor and external controller. Oh, and the Anycast has a VISCA controller. The TriCaster requires a third party add-on for this.







In every other area it's a take down for the TriCaster. My major complaints with the Anycast are: Real Media Streaming! what's up with that? A rubber slider is a poor excuse for a T-bar. All the configuration is done through a menu system with a little scroll wheel so it's not practical to make any changes during a production. You cannot make changes to a CG during a production, all imported graphics must be put on a memory stick and then copied to the internal hard drive before you can use them. And you have to use the stupid menus to move the file. Assigning one of the wipes to the wipe button was is also clunky and again not really practical to do during a production. The monitor may be built in but it's kinda small. Running big, long RGB cables from the presenters laptop all the way to the Anycast is no fun.




On the plus side for the TriCaster Pro: Update CGs on the fly even while one is being displayed. Sophisticated external controller, see my review of the LC-11 here. Simple point and click user interface with a mouse. Complete live virtual set and chroma key system built in. Built in video editor. Windows or Flash streaming. Record the production to the hard drive. iVGA makes it easy to input a presenters screen via a network cable or even via WiFi. Four different models and several different controllers to choose from so you can configure a system to meet both your needs and your budget.

So I don't see many reasons to go with an Anycast over a TriCaster the AnyCast is just too limited. Even if you absolutely need Real Media Streaming I'm pretty sure I can get Real Encoder to run on a TriCaster.


Next Time We'll beat up on a GlobeCaster! It won't be pretty.



Sony Anycast Basic Specs
Video I/O

  • 4 Composite or Y/C video inputs
  • 2 RGB (XGA or SXGA) inputs
  • 1 Composite, 1 Y/C and 1 DVI (RGB) output
Audio I/O

  • 2 XLR and 4 1/4" Phone Jacks for microphone in
  • 1 RCA pair for line level input 
  • Phantom Power 
Streaming

  • Real Media 
Transistions

  • Cross-Dissolve
  • 16 Simple Wipes 
DDR

  • No 
Other features

  • Built in monitor
  • Built In Visca (robotic camera control)
List Price $20,000

TriCaster Pro with LC-11  Basic Specs
Video I/O

  • 3 Composite, Y/C or Component video inputs
  • 1 Composite, 1 Y/C, 1 Component and 1 DVI (RGB) output
  • 3 iVGA inputs (VGA, XGA.SXGA, WXGA via network)
Audio I/O

  • 2 XLR/Phone Jacks for microphone or line inputs
  • 1 RCA pair for line level input  
  • Phantom Power
Streaming

  • Windows Media
  • Flash

Transistions

  • Cross-Dissolve
  • 200+ Wipes, Curls and DVEs
DDR

  • Yes + Still Store 
Other features

  • Virtual Sets
  • Chroma Keyer
  • Animated Overlays
  • Record Entire Production To Hard Drive
  • Video Editor 
 List Price $10,000 ($10,300 if you include a monitor)

Aug 2010 Update:

Sony is now shipping the Anycast AWS-G500E which has interchangable I/O modules. A few other new features include a chromakeyer and a built in CG (still can't make changes on the fly). Almost everything else is the same.

Pricing for the AnyCast:

$13,000 for the base unit with no input cards.
SD SDI I/O (2 inputs) $2,200
HD SDI I/O (2 inputs) $3,200
SD analog I/O (2 inputs) $1600
HD Component Analog  $3,000
RGB I/O $1,700

So a four input HD system will be pushing $19,400 while a SD analog system is over $16,000

The TriCaster TCXD300 three input HD model with LC-11 controller is going to run under $17,000 so for about the same price as an SD Anycast you can get a full HD TriCaster. NewTek also has the TCXD850 with eight inputs if you need even more. Both models of TriCaster TCXD have feature sets that exceed even what the SD TriCasters bring to the table.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LiveControl LC-11 Hands On Review

The new LiveControl LC-11 controller surface for the TriCaster and VT is now shipping and I just spent a couple of hours putting one through it's paces. The LC-11 is a step up from the RS-8/VM controller that's been around for years. The most obvious difference is the eleven inputs rather than the eight of the original.


VT owners might ask why eleven inputs and not twelve? Eleven corresponds to the number of inputs on the TriCaster Studio and Broadcast. All three buses are now accessible from the controller which is an important consideration to those using either LiveSets or a TimeWarp. Below the three rows of inputs you'll find the Auto and Take buttons and to the the right the aluminum and plastic T-bar.

Also in the Transition section in the center we have buttons to choose between a cross-fade or the selected DVE, a knob to adjust the auto transition speed and one to select a DVE from the current bank. This second knob can be pressed to enable the reverse function so that transitions are played backwards so that a fly-in becomes a fly-out.

Next are a Fade to Black button a button labeled Alt that is for "future expansion". And below these are the Fade All and Take All buttons that do both a transition between the main and preview buses while simultaneously fading or taking the overlay. Previously you had to do this with a keyboard command.

On the left we find the overlay section of the controller with it's large Fade Overlay and Take Overlay buttons, buttons for selecting the overlay source and three knobs. Two knobs for controlling DDRs and a third for title templates. These let you scroll through the clips or CGs you have loaded or by pressing the knob in you can preview the clip. Above these are two joy sticks one is, again, for future expansion and the other acts as a shuttle wheel for the selected DDR.

I was never all that enamored of the RS-8/VM because it just seemed to be missing some of the functions I like to use like the Fade All and the ability to easily go between a fade and a DVE. These are now integrated in and it really makes the thing really useful. One thoughtful ergonomic touch is there are actually two USB connections on the box. One on the back and a second one on the bottom to make it easy to inset the unit flush into a desk top. As on the TimeWarp, the edges of the case are a little sharp but NewTek assures me this will be addressed in the next production run.

Cosmetically the unit is an improvement over the RS-8. The face plate is brushed anodized aluminum and the t-bar has been anodized a matte silver color. The whole unit is well built with no cheap plastic bits to break off in the heat of battle. While the buttons are of course plastic they are well made and should hold up to a reasonable amount of punishment.

On a side note NewTek is renaming the VM as the LC-8 to reduce confusion.

LC-11 are available now at www.Digarts.com
Update: Actually placed the pictures . Doh!

Friday, July 11, 2008

TriCaster to Stream Events Surrounding All Star Game

The TriCaster owns the web streaming market! And why does it seem that the radio guys are streaming all these events? I gotta re-think some of my marketing ... hmmm...

From the press release:

Knockout Digital Media has chosen TriCaster™ portable live production system to produce and web stream the ESPN Radio All-Star Game radio shows in New York City to ESPNRadio.com. The July 14 and 15 web streams will give the world’s sports fans live access to Mike & Mike in the Morning from Grand Central Station from 6-10am and to Tirico and Van Pelt from Mickey Mantle’s restaurant from 1-4pm.

“TriCaster is allowing us to give live access to the events surrounding the last All Star Game to ever be played at Yankee Stadium, with a savings in cost, space and time,” said Gil Chavez, President of Knockout Digital Media.“The online presence of this day in baseball brings the ESPN Radio fans another opportunity to be part of the excitement.”


“Space is a premium when you are broadcasting live from venues like Grand Central Station or Mickey Mantle’s restaurant,” said Philip nelson, NewTek SVP of Strategic Development. “The portability of TriCaster is allowing Knockout Digital Media to web stream from both venues without expanding their radio broadcasting footprint.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NewTek TimeWarp Hands-On Review

I just received my new TW-42 TimeWarp unit and It's pretty slick. The TimeWarp in case you don't know is an instant replay controller for the TriCaster (v. 2.0 or higher) or VT (5.2 or higher). As you can see in the picture it contains controls for recording and playing back clips in a TriCaster or VT[5] DDR along with a nice, big jog/shuttle wheel.

You can record from either the main Live bus or from the Effects bus. In the first instance the replay clips would contain the exact contents of your main output including any transitions, overlay graphics live sets etc. If you record from the effects bus you can dedicate a camera shot to the replay.

The basic work flow goes like this:


Click the "Record Live Playback" button on the On-screen UI. This new button appears when it detects the TimeWarp. You just need to do this once at the beginning of your production.


Just before the play starts press "Replay In" this sets an 'in' point.

After the play ends press "Replay Out" this chops the recording, inserts the new clip into the DDR play list and cues it up. While continuing to record.

Use the jog/shuttle to adjust the starting point of the clip if necessary.

Press "alt" + Pause to place the DDR in cue mode.

The technical director can then select the DDR on the preview bus and take the replay at will. Because the DDR is in Cue Mode it will roll automatically.

In a fast paced game like basketball or hockey you can just go along hitting "Replay Out" after any play that might need to be replayed and then use the next and previous clip buttons and jog shuttle to cue the desired clip once it's been decided to use it.

The TimeWarp can also control the playback speed. There are buttons for 25%, 33%, 50%, 75% and 100% speeds. You can preset the speed with these buttons or even change the speed on the fly during playback. You can also use the jog/shuttle wheel while the replay is live to zero in on a particular frame if you wish.

The jog shuttle wheel is nice and smooth with smoothly ramping forward and rewind speeds between what appears to be about five frames a second up to about 5X speed. The concentric jog wheel does ten frames a revolution with gentle detents for each frame.

You can actually control two DDRs if your TriCaster has them (Studio and Broadcast) selecting the active DDR with the "DDR1" and "DDR2" buttons on a VT the TimeWarp will control the first two DDRs you open. On the TriCaster and TriCaster Pro the DDR2 button lets you control playback in the Picture Viewer. Obviously you aren't going to be recording replays in the picture viewer.

The Alt button gives some of the other controls alternate uses. As I noted above Alt + Pause turns on Cue Mode, Alt + Stop disables it. Alt + Fast Forward jumps to five second from the start of the clip and starts playing while Alt + Rewind jumps to five seconds from the end and starts playing. Alt + Next Clip or Alt - Previous clip moves the DDR playhead in one second increments.

The ergonomics are pretty good, I like the button layout. I'd prefer a dedicated cue mode button but it's not a big deal. I also like the clear black on white legends on the buttons; no deciphering grey on black in a dimly lit room. My only real complaint is the edges of the box are very sharp and could of stood some filing before they anodized the face plate.

The TimeWarp works exactly like advertised and if you are trying to do instant replay on the TriCaster it's the best way to pull that off. Even on the VT where you have a couple of software options to do roughly the same thing the external controller aspect makes it a winner.

The entire manual is a available here if you want to browse through it.

UPDATE:The next production run of TimeWarps will, according to my rep at NewTek, have the sharp edges smoothed over.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mostly Complete Copy of Metropolis Found!

One more old movie post.

Big chunks of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, an enduring classic of the silent era and one of my favorite movies have been missing for decades. A complete version of the film has not been seen since the Twentys. A recently a restored version of what was left had been released but was still missing almost 25% of the movie. But now an almost complete print has been discovered in Argentina.

The original version was a commercial dud in Germany and the studio made drastic cuts for the US market and some of the cut scenes have been lost for 80 years. The print found in Argentina is said to be missing only one short scene from Lang's original cut.

Metropolis, released in 1927, is still one of the most expensive films ever made and pioneered many special effects. German film historians are working to restore the new footage and complete the task of recreating the original release. I'll have to buy yet one more copy, I think I'll hold out for HiDef this time.

Some related articles:

It is the cinematic equivalent of finding a new book of the Bible or a new play by Sophocles.
"Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s most famous film, can be seen through new eyes.”

The rhythm of the film has been restored.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Live Control LC-11 Ships

NewTek announced the immediate availability of LiveControl™ LC-11 optional switching surface for TriCaster™ portable live production studio and VT[5]™ Integrated Production Suite. LiveControl lets directors mix live cameras, tape decks, digital disk recorders (DDRs), titles and graphics with digital video effects in real-time. It also provides the advantage of touch control of each TriCaster input for more compelling productions with tighter pacing. Used in tandem with NewTek’s new LiveText™ and TimeWarp™ accessories, LiveControl more efficiently integrates titling, replay and slow motion into TriCaster and VT[5] live productions.

LiveControl is available in two versions: LC-8 with 8 video inputs for TriCaster™ and LC-11™ with 11 video inputs for TriCaster PRO™, TriCaster STUDIO,™ TriCaster BROADCAST™ and VT[5].

“LiveControl allows technical directors to keep their eyes forward and react quickly, which is critical in fast-paced production environments,” said Andrew Cross, NewTek’s Executive VP, Software Engineering. “The simple layout and large back-lit buttons provide the physical touch and feel of control mechanisms already familiar to professional technical directors, so they can operate a TriCaster or VT[5] right out of the box.”

LiveControl benefits include:
•Tactile experience for compelling live productions with more control, improved workflow, tighter pacing and accuracy
•Rotary dials enable users to quickly choose their titles, pictures or transitions
•Large, back lit buttons provide easy transitions from one source to the next without looking down or using the keyboard or mouse
•T-bar provides “hands-on” experience to manually control your transition sources