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Friday, May 23, 2014

TriCaster 410 Hands ON

A previous post pointed out the main differences between the new TC410 and the TC460 but let's take a more in depth look at the entry level 'Pro' TriCaster. A new update was released today which adds a few new features including ISOCorder.


The 410 is a four input 15 channel switcher with two DSKs. Video I/O is via SDI only there are no analog inputs. It will work with standard def cameras as long as they have SDI. The TC410 has two independent SDI outputs and an HDMI output.

Audio input is via one pair of balanced XLR mic/line inputs, one pair balanced 1/4" phone inputs and of course embedded audio on the four SDI inputs. Audio is output via 1 pair balanced XLRs and a pair of balanced 1/4" jacks for the aux plus a standard 1/4" headphone jack. Audio is also embedded in the SDI outputs.

The back panel also contains the outputs for the user interface (DVI) and multiview (HDMI) along with four USB ports, Ethernet, eSATA and OS/2 ports. The 15 pin tally port common to all Pro TriCasters is also found here.

The TriCaster 410 shares the user interface most of the features of the other more expensive Pro TriCasters including the new gen LiveSets and the new M/E configuration that replaced the Virtual Inputs. The M/Es allow you to output an M/E directly to the Aux output so you can actually perform two independent switches simultaneously. Record a full production while feeding fully produced (transitions, overlays and special effects) content to a large screen display etc.

In contrast to the TriCaster 40 you also get 15 still buffers, two DDRs for video playback the full macro and snapshot system.

The TriCaster 410 In Action

OK so how does it all work? Pretty well I'd say. If you currently are a TriCaster user the first thing you notice is everything looks different and the workflow is new. This takes a little getting used to but once you do you'll never want to go back.

The most striking difference is that the Virtual Input tabs are gone and replaced with a new M/E section above the main switcher controls. This section of the UI can be hidden if you aren't using it to help de-clutter the screen.
The M/E can work in two modes. The mix mode acts just like another video  switcher with two sources and a T-bar along with a keyer. This whole mix can be output via the aux out or even recorded to the hard drive. The Effects mode let's you set up green screen overlays, picture in picture effects and LiveSet effects. Another cool feature is that you can assign a M/E preview to one of the thumbnail preview slots in the upper left of the UI. This let's you actually see the talent in the virtual set on the preview.

The M/Es also have presets so you can expand the functionality by instantly switching from one configuration to another. In fact almost everything in the interface has user definable presets so you can manage even the most complicated show.

The main switcher and the two DSKs function pretty much like they always have with the exception that the utility/FX row has been consigned to the dustbin of history. That functionality is now all contained in the M/E.

Full Complement of Media Players

The lower part of the UI contains the displays of the various media players. The TC410 has two DDRs, two graphics players and a sound player. There is also a tab with the 15 still buffers. For those of you not familiar with the TriCaster the DDRs are simply modules that can play video clips or lists of clips. These come into the switcher on the inputs labeled DDR1 and DDR2 and can be set to play automatically when the source is selected on the program bus or an active (visible) M/E. The graphics and sound players work in a similar fashion.

Still Buffers

The still buffers are an expanded version of the buffers on the 455/855 machines. You assign a particular image to a buffer and then you can use that as a source in a DSK without using one of the graphics players. In fact buffer 1 can be used as a source directly in the main switcher and/or in an M/E. The buffer image files can actually be updated over a network connection while they're live for instant updates.

Social Media

The current Big Idea in broadcasting is the "Second Screen". The concept is to have content related to your production updated in real time on the web as it happens. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and other sites can be used to provide interactions with your viewers and for promotional  efforts. Now with the TC410 and the other Pro TriCasters you can instantly initiate uploads of  video clips and still images to the various social media sites or your own FTP site. So you can, for example,  load a clip into a DDR, trim it using the tools in the DDR and with one click upload it directly to Youtube.

Complexity Reduction

The new TriCaster does so many things that it's pretty easy for the operator to get overwhelmed. Running two independent switcher, uploading to Facebook, managing a bunch of overlays and all the other functions that need to be done might be too much for the non-Super TDs out there so NewTek has taken steps to help us out.

Multiple operators can be involved. The TD (Technical Director) can be running the switch(es) using the CS controller while CG (character generation) is handled by an operator on a networked PC running LiveText (available separately). The social media end can then be done using the mouse and keyboard on the TriCaster. But dividing up the major jobs still may not be enough so the TC410 has a pretty extensive macro capability built in.

Macros are simply a sequence of actions that can be executed with a button push. Any series of switcher actions could be recorded as a macro and then assigned to any button on the CS controller or computer keyboard and then executed whenever the TD needs. An macro editor is also included to you can clean up, modify or even create from scratch any macro. You can also create 'snapshots' of the switcher at any time so a setup can be easily recalled.

This is an extremely powerful feature that can be combined with new MIDI support to use any number of external controllers like the Novation Launchpad to fire macros.launchpad-ableton-main-image.png
Macros can also be assigned to 'Hot Spots' on screen so that on-air talent can actually trigger macros just by touching a spot in the air. This was a feature originally seen on the TriCaster 8000. So now the TD doesn't have the excuse of only having two hands!

Audio

The TC410 has two mic/line XLRs and two 1/4" audio inputs. The mixer panel has channels for the inputs switchable between those analog connectors or embedded SDI audio. It also has controls for the media players and network inputs. You also get sliders for the main output, streaming output, recording level and the aux output. And all these ins and outs have multi-band EQ and compressors/limiters.


So where exactly does the TC410 fit into NewTek's product line?

Compared to the TC40 you gain:
  • SDI inputs (but no analog) - Use pro cameras.
  • IsoCorder - Record four streams of video. New Feature!
  • 4 balanced audio mic/line audio inputs vs 1 unbalanced stereo and one mic input
  • 2 pair balanced audio outs vs. 1 unbalanced
  • Flexible and route-able M/Es vs VIs - Do a second switch to a second output and more.
  • Macros/Snapshots - One button simplicity.
  • Hotspots - Let the talent trigger macros.
  • MIDI - Trigger macros from 3rd party controllers.
  • Routable Audio - Makes it easier to do quad, SAP or a mix-minus.
  • Adjustable audio delay - Compensate for upstream and downstream equipment latency.
  • Multi-band EQ and Audio Compressors
  • 2nd DDR - Manage your B-roll and commercials.
  • Rugged Rackmount Chassis - Stands up to the rigors of the road.
  • Bigger/Better Controller - Controls for almost every feature of the TriCaster.
  • Social Media Support - Professional quality second screen content.
  • Improved UI/Workflow - Get a handle on even the most complicated production
  • Integrated PTZ Camera Control - Use the joystick on the CS to control your cameras.
  • Improved Network Video Support - Use webcams as an input and send mpeg2 streams to other TriCasters and third party apps.

You lose these features from the TC460:
  • Analog Video I/O - In addition to SDI video inputs and outputs the 460 has component, composite and S-Video ports.
  • Removable Storage - The 460 has a removable drive bay which makes it easy to swap dives.
  • Audio inputs - The 410 has two stereo audio inputs while the 460 has four.
  • Genlock Input - The 410 lacks a genlock input. Most users won't care too much about this.
  • Anim Buffers - Both machines have still buffers (the 460 has 10 while the 410 has 15) but the 460 also has five animation buffers so you can play looping animations without using a DDR.
The Bottom Line:
All in all if you don't need analog video inputs you should take a close look at the 410. If your budget can support the 460 it is a more flexible machine and is worth the difference in price.

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