Field Report: NewTek TriCaster Studio

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Field Report: NewTek TriCaster Studio

Jul 1, 2010 12:00 AM, By Robert Chickering

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At the risk of dropping an over-used phrase, NewTek TriCaster is truly a plug-and-play device. It allows the non-technical user to begin webcasting with the production effects of ESPN. It's a PC built in a case that includes audio/video I/O on the front and the standard PC connections on the back. Its combination video effects/switcher and powerful PC will stream, play and record video all at the same time.

The unit boots to a standard Windows active desktop with choices to launch TriCaster or configure it. The launch screen includes video preview monitors, a vectorscope, program and preview monitor as well as two video playback decks. There are multiple other tabs for video setup, audio mixing, titles, video input configuration and record/streaming settings.

Simply simple

We have had the unit for more than a year, and I am extremely happy with its reliability and features. It also is very intuitive, and users have the ability to train themselves on its functions.

Performance at a glanceSelf calibrating
Video capture, editing and streaming
Accepts up to six cameras
Balanced mic/line audio I/O
Records 20 hours of MPEG-2 video
Weighs 19lbs

I have a long history of building my own audio/video encoders and finding some sort of video I/O card as well as an external switcher and monitors. TriCaster eliminated all of that into one neatly assembled box. It's also road ready. My favorite use was placing it under an end table in a Naples condo living room for a one-week broadcast there. I have shipped the unit to locations, and with a simple high-speed wired Internet connection I'm on the air. Once on the road I can easily run the radio show as well as the webcam.

The keyboard hot keys allow transitions as well as direct camera or source cuts. I can automate the transitions to play video roll and at the conclusion of a video playlist it will auto transition to the camera setup in the preview window. Each input features video input status closures; we use these at live events to provide a source tally on each live camera.

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Field Report: NewTek TriCaster Studio

Jul 1, 2010 12:00 AM, By Robert Chickering

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Various models of TriCaster are available, and each is scalable depending on the video source requirements, number of inputs and video playback needs. Our unit is the Studio model, which has six video inputs and four audio inputs. 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 if needed. Each video playback deck (DDR) has all the normal playback controls like pause and fast forward. It also allows the user 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 a video production a clean, professional look. Included with our unit was the LiveSet feature that allows users with a green screen to place talent on various news/entertainment sets. We have started to use this feature for our Show Biz top 5 daily video, and the look is much more professional. Our YouTube views have doubled. If you are looking for a way to edit video and capture from a video camera you can place the unit in capture or production mode.

Streaming setup is found on the record/stream page's on-screen interface. There are many Flash encoding presets, and one can easily set up a stream to existing services.

Using TriCaster, we are able to stream the radio show live and provide commercial or entertainment videos during breaks. Frequently we are able to B roll in video while a topic is being covered on the air. For example, we have a weekly feature called Music That Makes You Cooler. We roll videos of the artists while Kidd is playing the audio on the air. The multiple video playback decks make this very easy as we stack content to cover our commercial breaks and come back live to one of our five studio cameras.

The recording capabilities of the unit have streamlined our operation. We record every live segment while they air and save each segment to an external hard drive. This allows us to pull moments from the show and post them for playback on our website, archive interviews and replay the show segments in a loop through the playback stack on the video player (DDR) so viewers can watch the show all day. This has increased our viewer numbers and makes the stream something we can sell to advertisers. We will also rerun segments of the show from weeks past during commercial breaks.


I know it's odd to think that a radio station needs to have a tool like a TV station, but with mobile viewing and listening you can take advantage of the entertaining things going on in the radio station and bring that visual to the listener. We started out with a few hundred watching our live camera feed and now easily have 3,000 to 4,000 viewers. In one year we have had more than 7 million hits to our Ustream page. Much of that is due to using TriCaster and providing a view into the show that is more than a static camera in the corner of the room. Supplementing conversation with B roll or pictures of an event or bit, and during the break providing the full view of what happened, adds up to taking radio to the next level - converting your listeners to viewers.

Chickering is VP operations/engineering, Yea Network, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.

Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of
Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

Contributor Pro-File: Robert Chickering

This month: Robert Chickering; VP Operations/Engineering; Yea Network, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning...

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