Field Report: NewTek TriCaster
Dec 1, 2012 7:00 AM, By Robert Chickering
At the nationally syndicated Kidd Kraddick in the Morning radio program, we have found live and on demand video to be a game changing addition to our traditional broadcast. Via our website and Ustream channel, we get to show the action in studio with Kidd and program regulars Kellie Raspberry, JC, Big Al Mack and Jenna Owens in engaging and interactive ways, as well as present many creative segments and bits that are only possible via video. Three years into our video initiative, we have reaped the benefits of a stronger connection with our audience and the creation of new revenue streams.
To bolster our live and archive video production for the program, we chose a multi-camera production system called TriCaster from NewTek. TriCaster is a plug-and-play device that enables even non-technical users to stream, play and record video all at the same time. We remain impressed with its reliability and features that have helped us take our radio program into the video realm.
Better radio through streaming
The concept of adding live and archived video into our business model seemed like a good idea from the outset, but quickly got better and more exciting once we started. Without much of a publicity push, our first streams got hundreds of viewers. This quickly turned into thousands. Now our video offerings regularly exceed 7 million viewers per year.
TriCaster has streamlined our operation, allowing us to record every live segment as they air, and save each to an external hard drive. The show is now replayed all day on our Web site and Ustream channel so fans who may have missed it, or were unable to watch during their drive to work, can see it at any time. We also rerun segments of the show from weeks past during commercial breaks.
To increase interaction and build community with our audience, we integrate a message board where viewers can chat with us, and with each other as they watch the program throughout the day.
TriCaster makes it easy for us to B roll in video pertaining to topics being discussed, as well as funny bits from television or the latest funny Web or music videos. We have a weekly feature called Music That Makes You Cooler, during which we will drop in music videos of artists being played on the air. TriCaster's multiple video playback decks make it easy to alternate between content stacked for these types of segments and any of our live in studio cameras.
Another key attribute of TriCaster is that it is road-ready. With its compact size, we have been able to place it just about anywhere to create remote video studios on the fly. I have shipped the unit to various locations, and with a simple high-speed wired Internet connection, we're on the air.
Examples of popular video projects we have produced outside of the studio include our annual "Dysfunctional Family Vacation," which follows our whole crew for a weeklong trip each summer (most recently to London during the Olympics). We broadcast and stream our show daily from these remote locations as well as features on their off-air adventures in that locality. During the holidays, we select a local family in need for our "Breaking and Entering" series and provide them with a Christmas makeover, including a decorated tree and presents for everyone. This is set up when the selected family is out of their house, and the footage of their surprise when they return home is always compelling, fun and heart-warming.
Performance at a glance � Television-style virtual sets, moving backgrounds, effects and graphics
� Portable device for the field
� Works with multiple camera shoots
� Provides broadcast and streaming output video
� Includes graphics and production switcher
For remote broadcasts and special events that we are unable to cover with our video crew, we integrate Skype with our TriCaster. Recently, Kidd dropped in on our affiliate station in Houston and we were able to share video of his appearance with our national audience via live stream and video on demand.
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Field Report: NewTek TriCaster
Dec 1, 2012 7:00 AM, By Robert Chickering
TriCaster has also begun to give us a broadcast television sensibility, particularly with its LiveSet effects, for our daily "Show Biz Top 5" videos and other segments, we place talent before a simple green screen, but it appears as if they are in a high gloss studio set. This virtual studio is made possible through NewTek's sophisticated computer graphic wizardry and our audience is none the wiser.
Our powerful TriCaster-based video workstation allows us to do these features, as well as countless spontaneous bits, as we think of them. We have become very attuned to weighing the visual aspect and possibilities of anything we do - which adds an element of excitement for our audience and us.
In addition to the success of our Web site and Ustream channel, the viewership of our YouTube videos has doubled since we have made video a priority. We have also been able to parlay our video content into significant revenue streams from advertising and sponsorships.
Behind the scenes
TriCaster requires only a minimal learning curve to produce broadcast quality video. Once set up, it boots to a standard Windows active desktop with choices to launch or configure the system. The launch screen includes video preview monitors, a vectorscope, program and preview monitors, as well as two video playback decks. There are multiple tabs for video setup, audio mixing, titles, video input configuration and record/streaming settings. The record/stream page's on-screen interface offers many Flash encoding presets and a quick means to conduct a stream through existing services.
The TriCaster's keyboard hot keys allow transitions as well as direct camera or source cuts. Transitions can be automated to play video and then return to the camera setup in the preview window. We use each input's status closures to provide a source tally on each live camera at events.
Our TriCaster has six video inputs and four audio inputs - other models from the company have more or less of each. The audio sources can be linked in stereo or run mono and configured for mic or line level through the user interface page. The software mixer has pan and EQ on each channel as well as variable level control. Each video playback deck (DDR) has all the normal playback controls and allows users to vari-speed play and scroll search to a desired point in a video. The system comes with a complete array of titles and dissolve effects, which gives each video production a clean professional look.
We are extremely happy with what live and on demand video has done for Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. Most importantly, it has enhanced our connection with our incredible audience and very satisfied sponsors. We are also big believers in TriCaster, the video solution we found to make it all possible.
Chickering is VP operations/engineering, Yea Networks, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.
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