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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Photoshop Part 6

This is the sixth in a series of tutorials on Photoshop by Guru Dan Peters. Since the TriCasters don't ship with a paint application many users are using Photoshop to build graphics for use in CG designer or directly in the DDR so Dan the creator of  a series of video tutorials called Master The Basics Of Adobe Photoshop in under 2 Hours is here to help us out.

 "Learning Photoshop - The Toolbox"

Learning to use Photoshop does not have to be difficult. In fact, the more you learn about Photoshop and the wide range of applications available the more excited you will be able the possibilities for creating professional quality images and graphics for web sites, marketing materials and more.

The Photoshop toolbox is where it all happens. Almost every single thing you do in Photoshop will involve using tools from the toolbox.

Learning to use the Photoshop toolbox will require a good Photoshop tutorial but the following should give you an idea of the functions available.

The following are a list of the tools included in the Photoshop toolbox and their applications. This is not a comprehensive list but includes the most commonly used tools.

Marquee tool

This tool is part of the selection tool and allows the user to selections.

Move tool

The move tool is used to move layers and selected objects within the canvas.

Brush tool

The brush tool paints brush strokes.

History brush

You will want to learn to use the history brush tool as it can take you back to the original state of the selection. You have a lot off fun with this tool. Once you learn to use it properly you will be amazed by the professional photo effects you can produce.

Eraser tool

This tool erases solid colored areas.

Dodge tool

This tool lightens areas of your picture selectively.

Burn tool

This took make areas on your image darker. Burning and dodging are techniques that were original practiced by photographers in traditional darkrooms for the purpose of lightening or darkening images.

Type tool

The type tool is used to put text on your image.

Type Mask tool

The type mask tool is a tool located on the toolbar that allows you to create a selection in the form of text or type.

The real benefit of Photoshop over some of the lesser photo editing software applications is the toolbox. Many of the cheaper photo editing programs do not provide such a wide selection of tools allowing the user to have total control over the creative process.

Photoshop puts total control over your final image in your hands. That is why so many professions use Photoshop.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Troubleshooting an SX-8 or SX-84

I typed up this as an email to a customer the other day and I thought I'd share an expanded version with everyone 'cause it might come in handy as it's sometimes difficult to track down exactly where the problem is if your VT breakout box (either an SX-8 or SX-84) isn't working. So here are the steps to take to narrow which part is the culprit. Occasionally we will see software problems masquerading as hardware issues so keep this in mind.


No Video In or No Video Out

  1. If one works but not the other try swapping the Video In and Video Out cables with each other and see if the problem moves with the cable.
  2. If this makes no difference Shutdown and disconnect the SX-8(4) and hook up breakout cables. 15 pin connector at one end, five BNCs at the other, two of these should have come with your VT. The grey connector is composite video. If you get video in and/or out with these your SX-8(4) is bad.
No audio but video works - VT Classic Card (shipped with VT[3] and earlier)

Double check that you have the 1/8" plugs going to the correct jacks 80% of the time this is the problem.

Plug directly into the 1/8" jacks on the VT card. Hint:The output will drive walkman style headphones but not loudly. If the jacks work your VT card is OK.

Swap out audio cable. Easy to say but it's a custom 15 pin to dual 1/8" stereo deal but 19% of the time it is the problem.

Otherwise it's a bad SX-8

No Audio but the video works - VT Pro Card (shipped with VT[4] and later)
  1. Problems with just the rear channels are probably the internal ribbon cable
  2. Swap audio cable between the computer and the SX-84. You can borrow one of the SX-84's video cable for testing purposes. If this gets the audio working you have a bad cable
  3. Plug into the 1/8" jacks on the VT card itself. The Front channels are on the same backplate with the Video In and Out. If this works your SX-84 is bad.
  4. If the front channel 1/8" jacks are dead so is your VT card.

No Video In and Out of the SX-8(4)
  1. Make sure the internal power cable is attached to the VT card. This is what powers the SX-8(4) and if it's not connected it won't work.
  2. Make sure the Control cable is correctly attached at both ends and tightened down.
  3. Restart the computer after checking the first two items.
  4. From the main VT menu open the Virtual Breakout Box module. It will inform you if the BOB isn't recognized.
  5. If the BOB is recognized proceed to Troubleshooting Video I/O
  6. Swap out the Control Cable (you can use the Video In or Video Out cable to test). Reboot and try again.
  7. If BOB is still not recognized it could be the internal control ribbon cable, but you probably don't have a spare so skip to Troubleshooting the Daughter card.
Troubleshooting Video I/O
  1. Double Check that the Video In and Video Out cables are connected properly and tightened down. Note that the connectors are out of order on the SX-8(4).
  2. Shut down the computer, Disconnect the SX-8(4) and connect a breakout cable to the Video In connector.
  3. Connect a known good video source to the breakout cable. The Grey is composite in.
  4. Restart the machine and the VT.
  5. Select Composite in on the switcher you should get video.
  6. If not you probably have a bad VT card. But it could be a mangled software install.
  7. If you do get video your VT card is good. Try reconnecting the SX-8(4) but try a different 15 pin cable on the Video In (temporarily use the Video Out cable it's wired the same).
  8. If it's not the VT card or Video In cable you have a bad SX-8(4)
Troubleshooting the Daughter card
  1. Exit the VT software
  2. On the Windows Start Menu select 'Run a Program'
  3. In the panel that comes up type CMD and press Enter
  4. This will open a command window. At the prompt type: newtekrtme and press enter.
  5. If you get a message that says "... Server Daemon already running..." run newtekrtme a second time
  6. Now you will get a long list of gibberish. Scroll back and look for a line that says either "Analog Daughter on..." or "Analog Daughter not found" (these messages may vary slightly depending on the version of your software and rev of your hardware).
  7. Analog Daughter not found means your daughtercard is bad (presuming the internal power cable is connected and good).
  8. If the Daughter card is found but the SX-8(4) still isn't working you have a bad SX-8(4) (presuming the internal ribbon cable is good)
If you follow these steps before you call you can reduce the amount of time you will spend on the phone with NewTek tech support in the event of a failure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Content Delivery Network for Streaming

SimpleCDN is worth taking a look at for your streaming server needs. They charge 8.9 cents a GigaByte which is a great deal. There is a one time setup fee of $75 but it comes with tech support. The best part is they know about TriCasters and how to deal with them.

I haven't actually used there service at this point but if you have any live streaming in your future you should take a look at SimpleCDN they probably can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Photoshop Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of tutorials on Photoshop by Guru Dan Peters. Since the TriCasters don't ship with a paint application many users are using Photoshop to build graphics for use in CG designer or directly in the DDR so Dan the creator of  a series of video tutorials called Master The Basics Of Adobe Photoshop in under 2 Hours is here to help us out. Todays hints are especially handy for cutting out elements to re-use on a CG page.

 "Precise Photo Editing is Made Easy with Photoshop’s Grow Tool"

If you have been learning to do digital photo editing in Photoshop and have been going crazy trying to do precise object selection the following information is going to be music to your ears.

Just about everything you do in Photoshop seems to involve selecting objects or people for purposes such as copying, color correction, special effects, and more.

Have you ever wanted to cut an irregular shaped object out of the photo for use with another background?

It can be difficult if not darned near impossible to perfectly select the object using your mouse and the selection tool.

Let me introduce you to the “grow” tool. The grow tool give you the ability to easily select an object with a photograph with almost perfection.

What used to be an enormous source of frustration is now a breeze. In fact, the “grow” tool makes what was previously often considered impossible possible.

Here is how the grow tool works. Let’s say you have an irregularly shaped object that you need to select for the purpose of extracting it from the original image for use in digital photo collage.

Without the grow tool you would have to increase the size of the image and slow move your curser around the object until you had selected the entire object and even then your selection would probably be off quite a bit.

Another option might be to use he magic wand tool but the grow tool works wonderfully for this purpose.

When you select an area within an object the grow tool makes the selection grow or expand to the areas adjacent that are similar in color.

Using the grow tool you don’t need to worry about selecting your object perfectly to the edge. Just select the best you can and let the grow tool expand your selection to the edge of the object.

Friday, October 10, 2008

VT[5].2b Released

Mainly a fix for RS-8 users. Available from register.newtek.com

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NewTek Releases DataLink

Today NewTek announced the release of DataLink™, a TriCaster™ and VT[5]™ plug-in that links data from external feeds, files or databases to display real-time, rapidly-changing information, such as statistics, scores, times and other dynamic information.

"NewTek engineers understand the pressures involved with producing and switching a fast-paced event," said Dr. Andrew Cross, executive vice president of engineering. NewTek Inc.  "By automatically providing accurate real-time information, DataLink reduces stress and enables producers to focus on other key aspects of the event."

DataLink provides dedicated support for several different brands of existing systems, including Daktronics®, IDS™, OES™ and White Way™, and is compatible with any application that supports connection strings, including database servers. (For a complete listing of compatible applications, see www.connectionstrings.com).


I'll have a detailed review once I figure out a good way to borrow a scoreboard!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tis the Season - Propaganda

So your assignment tonight is to read this: Recognizing Propaganda Techniques and Errors of Faulty Logic
and then put your new knowledge to use finding all examples of these techniques during tonight's Presidential Debates.

Discuss in Comments if you like.

PhotoShop Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of tutorials on Photoshop by Guru Dan Peters. Since the TriCasters don't ship with a paint application many users are using Photoshop to build graphics for use in CG designer or directly in the DDR so Dan the creator of  a series of video tutorials called Master The Basics Of Adobe Photoshop in under 2 Hours is here to help us out.

 "Layers - The Backbone of Photoshop"

Adobe Photoshop is not cheap. There are certainly more affordable photo editing software applications available on the Internet but there are reasons why Photoshop is so popular among professional web designers, photographers, and graphic design specialists.

The ability of Photoshop to allow you to work in layers makes otherwise complex designs easy.

If you are learning how to use Photoshop to do your graphic designs than make sure you pay special attention to the section on how to use layers.

To illustrate how layers work imagine you have a piece of paper. This piece of paper is your background. You could leave the background white or paint it any color you wish. Now, let’s assume you want to add a photograph of a sunset.

Your photograph of the sunset is on a transparent paper and you lay it over the top of your background. The sunset image is on your first layer. Now, let’s assume you want to add some text.

Your text is on another sheet of transparent paper and you lay it over the top. This is your second layer. You can add as many layers as you wish. You can also change the order of the layers.

For example, if you decide you want the text layer to be behind the sunset layer you can move the layers easily with a few clicks of the mouse.

This is essentially the same way you create graphics and complex images in Photoshop.

The beauty of layers is that if you decide for instance that you don’t want a sunset and you would rather have an image of a beach you can simply delete the sunset layer and add an a new layer for the beach image without disturbing the background or the text layer.

Working in Photoshop with layers allows you to experiment without fear of damaging your original image. Layers also allow the user to make changes without disrupting other elements of the image.

Friday, October 3, 2008

VT[5] Website Update

All new look for the NewTek VT[5] website. Take a look

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VT[5.2] Update Day 1

OK, the long awaited 5.2 update has been out for about 24 hours now and here's the latest status:

Some users are reporting difficulties installing the patch. It seems under certain circumstances some DLLs are "in use" and can't be overwritten. This can be worked around by killing the winrtme process in the task manager before installing.

On some systems after the upgrade the RS-8 stops working. At least in some cases you can uninstall a human interface controller in the device manager then re-plug in the RS-8 and plug and play will properly install the driver.

Also be aware that the patch nukes the VT[5] folder so any customizations or presets will be deleted.

Other than these two minor install issues no show stopper bugs have appeared as VT[5.2] was pretty thoroughly beta tested. But as always if you are in the middle of or about to start some critical project I'd hold off on installing the update for a few days to let the early adopters and NewTek work out any problems.

VT[5.2] Is Shipping!

VT 5.2 is shipping. You can download it from http://register.newtek.com
It's 469 MB so don't even think about it unless you have a fast connection.

Live Production Enhancements

  • Title Templates – added support for DataLink™
  • CG Designer™
    • performance and reliability enhancements
      • New ToasterScript commands:
      • ExportSelectedPageToTemplate()
      • ExportProjectToTemplate()
      • ExportSelectedPageToTemplateFile()
      • ExportSelectedPageToLiveSet()
      • ExportProjectToLiveSet()
      • ExportSelectedPageToLiveSetFile()
  • DDR
    • enhanced file readers, including Apple® QuickTime™ 7 support
    • Scrubbing performance significantly improved
  • VGA - Support for remote application sources such as LiveText™
  • Capture - record I-frame MPEG-2 clips, with optional separate MP3 audio.
  • Streaming - Video for Windows driver improvements
  • Control Surfaces – Added support for TimeWarp™ and LiveControl™ LC-11
  • LiveSet Update™ The collection of LiveSet™ virtual sets that is included with VT™ has been updated. This update features four new LiveSets entitled MiddayReport™, WorldUpdate™, NewsLine™ and SkyBox™. The new LiveSets will replace NewsNight™ and MorningShow™. Three of the new LiveSets (MiddayReport™, WorldUpdate™, NewsLine™) also include Double Box effects to complement the new set design.
Post Production Additions
  • SpeedEDIT™ CG Post™ – performance and reliability enhancements
  • SpeedEDIT VT - improvements in the file readers, including Apple(R) QuickTime™ 7 support, capture driver improvements, TriCaster™ 2.0 project support and MPEG-I frame video files
Miscellaneous
  • VT Driver - improvements for greater reliability while reducing system resources
  • Improvements - various bug fixes affecting live production, post production and control
I'll be posting a review in a few days

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SpeedEDIT Keybord Commands

NewTek has posted a nice PDF file that you can print out that has all of the keyboard commands in SpeedEDIT on a single page. Download it here.