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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.

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