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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

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