How to get the most out of TriCaster Mini

How to get the most out of TriCaster Mini

TriCaster Mini is NewTek’s smallest, most affordable all-in-one live streaming and broadcast solution, which also means it’s incredibly flexible, whatever kind of presentation you’re looking to stream. But you might not have realised just how much you can do with it at once, so here I’ve explained how you can get the most from TriCaster Mini, and some of my top bundle deals too… 

TriCaster Mini in media and entertainment

The term ‘multimedia’ seems quite outdated these days, but TriCaster Mini really is the quintessential tool for recording and delivering all kinds of media. It ticks so many boxes, but I’ve found it’s quite rare that it’s actually used to its full extent and capabilities (namely recording multiple channels, adding effects and delivering content all at the same time). It’s a bit like Photoshop in that sense – an incredibly deep and powerful tool that sometimes just gets used for cropping images or creating simple graphics, rather than the full extent of its functionality.

The five jobs of TriCaster Mini

To see the full extent of TriCaster Mini’s functionality, it’s best to split it into five distinct categories: video capture, streaming, effects, audio mixing and output. Of course, the fact that it packages all these jobs up into an incredibly easy to use and very portable package, which can even be controlled using an iOS app, is just the icing on the cake.

1. Video capture. In its most basic function, TriCaster Mini works as a video capture device, letting you capture up to four streams simultaneously into a choice of codecs/formats. You can also take in content from any computer screen to use, whether that’s a website, a Skype feed, video apps like iMovie and Premiere Pro or presentation apps like PowerPoint and Keynote. You’re even able to take direct streams from Apple AirPlay on any iOS device.

2. Streaming. One of the other main uses of TriCaster Mini is for streaming live events and HD performances to the internet. You can also record the stream at the same time to upload to your website for use as a pre-recorded stream.

3. Effects. TriCaster Mini is also ideal for easily adding effects to your presentation, with hardware chroma and greenscreening built in. The TransWarp effects engine lets you add full colour, animated transitions, and supports their Virtual Set Editor, so you can drop your presenter into a virtual environment.

4. Audio mixing. TriCaster even has an audio mixer, so with the addition of a low cost audio control surface, or even a mixer, you can plug in numerous microphones and mix within the production environment.

5. Output. TriCaster Mini also lets you output in a huge number of different formats, and publish direct to social media. For example, you can stream clips straight to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or over an FTP to help get it to as wide an audience as possible. Alternatively, TriCaster Mini is quite happy driving screens around offices, school sites and live events with content.

x177aak

Example: TriCaster Mini on the red carpet

So how can you use all that functionality at once? One neat example is for live events, and especially something like an awards show. As well as capturing and recording everything coming in from cameras (presentations, speeches, live music performances etc), you can use it to play clips and graphics out at the same time for everyone watching in the audience (showreels, backgrounders and the like).

You essentially have two audiences – those in the room, watching third screen content, and those you’re cutting the show and streaming for. You can record, play content and stream footage, and have a separate programme streamed live to a website at the same time, using social media to drum up interest in your stream.

The great thing is, with multiple video feeds, you don’t miss any gems from around the room while you’re focused in on a closeup (audience reactions, or any little slip-ups or bloopers that add colour to your presentation). You can record three other inputs at the same time, bring the footage in and use it while recording. Just grab the clips, mark in and out points, and immediately upload to social media, while you’re still recording and streaming, adding effects and realtime titling.

Because it’s so portable, you can simply bundle TriCaster Mini up in a flight case, rock up to the event and you’re ready to go.

TriCaster Mini in education

We’ve been mainly talking about using TriCaster Mini in live broadcast and event situations so far, but it’s also a brilliant option for education, with applications across the curriculum. Creative subjects like English, music and drama are obvious candidates (think oral presentations, magazine pieces, plays and sitcoms, and music and dance videos), but it’s also great for science and humanities, helping put students in different global locations, and live events like sports days open evenings, where you can show off to prospective students.

One of the most interesting things I’ve seen schools doing with TriCaster is one of our customers, a mixed faith school. They were using TriCaster Mini to show different places of worship with hi-res photos, and reenacting the prayer routine, without having to bring students to the church or temple.

Your TriCaster Mini options

The most basic NewTek TriCaster Mini (base configuration) retails at Jigsaw24 for just £3995 ex VAT, or you can get the fully-featured version with screen and storage for £5495 ex VAT. However, I’ve also put together some budget bundles below (available while stocks last) that come with a few recommended extras like a switcher control surface and flight case that will really help you get the most out of your TriCaster workflow, and save you a few quid. Or you can go the whole hog and get all of that with added cameras too!

Corporate streaming bundleThis great value entry bundle sees you essentially getting a GoPro Hero 4 camera, Joby GorillaPod tripod and Lastolite chroma kit completely free with your TriCaster Mini. Great for corporate use! – £3995 ex VAT.

x043aal

Fully featured streaming bundleIf you need more professional footage, this bundle comes with the fantastic Sony PXW-X70, rather than a GoPro, as well as the fully-featured TriCaster Mini, Lastolite chroma kit, E-Image EG03A2 tripod and NewTek boosted HDMI cable kit. – £6699 ex VAT.

The ultimate education bundle. Designed specially to give schools or colleges everything they need to start using the TriCaster Mini to its full potential. With the Tricaster Mini you get a Canon Legria Camcorder so you can begin shooting, a Joby GorillaPod tripod and a RØDE microphone to get your audio recording off the ground, as well as a Lastolite pop-up greenscreen and stand to start using the chroma functions. – £6999 ex VAT.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Sony FS5: Smart, cunning and divisive over media…

Sony FS5: Smart, cunning and divisive over media…

I recently got a sneak preview of Sony’s new PXW-FS5. The IBC noise sounded a bit like this was an FS100 replacement (it isn’t). It’s actually much closer to the FS7.

It doesn’t quite have the same 4K clout as the FS7, but it’s got a couple of really smart, discreet upgrades in tech and design, all in a much smaller form factor, allowing shooting from any angle. Sony have produced an amazing small form factor, large sensor 4K camera. Now you’re going to want one of each.

So the sexy specs – 14 stops, QFHD 4K, over-cranking, WiFi/near field communication, choice of two codecs (including XAVC).

blog313

The body

As you can see from the pics, the FS7 closely resembles the FS7. From the tech specs, you can see this thing is half the size. Also, it’s designed to be modular, so you strip it down to just a functioning body (weighing just 830g!) and a lens. What Sony have done with the XLRs on the FS5 is my first favourite ‘smartness’ – they’ve put them in completely different places. One is in the handle where you’d always expect it, the other is in the body. This enables recording XLR audio without anything else attached.

blog319_1

The LCD will rotate into any position on its axis, then there are loads of mounting screws, so it can be mounted in almost any position.

Another smartness – the handgrip. I love the physics-defying design of the rotating arm on the FS7. On the 5, it looks like they’ve taken the handgrip from the 7 and attached it direct – it will rotate 180 degrees and also lock into nine specific places within that arc It’s so good in terms of weight, balance and ergonomics.

The battery

The FS5 ships with a BPU-30 battery, but the camera has a really deep battery-bay –its designed so a BPU-60 will fit flush with the body and a BPU-90 will extrude just a bit. Incidentally a BPU-60 will run it for approx. 4.5 hours, so a great choice on the FS5.

blog316

The best bit

Time for another smartness – and my favourite bit – the ND filter. I kid you not. Firstly, as you can see from my pics, the silver ND dial looks the same, and is in the same position as on the FS7. But it’s brand new technology. It’s not mechanical (or not entirely); it’s digitally controlled. So as you switch the ND filter on, a clear piece of glass is mechanically dropped over the sensor (see pic), but the amount that the glass is tinted (ND-ed) is done digitally. Anywhere from 1/4 ND through to 1/28. To make it simple, that silver dial (which is normally three positions of ND) is still that, but what you want each position to be is set in the Menus – so the silver dial is like three ‘assignable’ buttons for ND.

blog310

blog311

The controversial bit

The next bit you’re either going to love or hate.

For choice of media, Sony have gone for good ol’ non-proprietary SDXC cards. Awesome – you’ll save a fortune on media. And I’m still impressed at the engineering that makes 4K acquisition onto an SDXC card possible. However, there’s a trade-off – bottom line is you can only get 100MB/s as a consistent write speed from most fast SDXC cards, so the FS5 can only shoot UHD 4K up to 100MB/s.

blog307

The footage I saw looked stunning (funny, demo reels always do…), but the trade-off is it can only shoot 4K to SDXC as a Long GOP profile – no Intraframe, which is reserved for the FS7 with its fancy, faster (and much more expensive) XQD cards. If you’re a shooter who moans about the cost of the newer, faster media (whether XQD, C-Fast, AJA PAK…), be careful what you wish for.

Over-cranking

Which brings me onto over-cranking. Yep, the FS5 can shoot up to 240fps at full HD. I know, I know, you’re doing the maths and shouting ‘but that’s impossible if the capture media can only do a reliable 100MB/s!’ Yep. Which is why it can only do it in eight second bursts (like the FS700).

blog321

The FS5 captures it to an internal buffer first, then adds it to media. Another trade-off for cheaper media. Furthermore, there’s no over-cranking at QFHD 4K (unhappy face). However, drop it to 120 fps at 1080, and this buffer becomes a sixteen second burst. And if you’re a real slo-mo freak, it will continue to shoot lower, for every drop in resolution you’re prepared to go –as far as up to 960fps at 260p (260 lines, or ¼ vertical HD resolution), or so I believe.

The boring bit

Resolution – the FS5 will shoot full HD at 4:2:2, 10-bit, at 50p at 50Mb/s or 10-bit 4:2:2 at 25p at 35Mb/s. And if you really want, you can even shoot AVCHD at 24Mb/s and lower. It will even shoot DCI 2K at this 10-bit 4:2:2 profile. Sony’s final trade-off with the SDXC choice – the FS5 will only shoot UHD 4K internally at 8-bit 4:2:0. It will do it in S-Log 2 and 3, but take into account the fact that it’s only 8-bit.

The verdict

A good time to take a good look at yourself and ask – do you prefer affordable media with limitations on shooting, or insanely expensive media (XQD, C-FAST, AJA-PAKs etc) that allows you to do everything? Luckily for Sony, they now have two answers to cover themselves: FS5 or FS7.

Another cunning trick, this surprise announcement really lays down the gauntlet on the (announced a while back) eagerly awaited URSA Mini. Now, wouldn’t it be really cunning if they released a firmware update for RAW…

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Jigsaw24 recommends 4K hand-held cameras for college and university…

Jigsaw24 recommends 4K hand-held cameras for college and university…

Want your students to have the best possible start in their professional life? Help them stay on top of their game and up to speed with industry standard professional equipment like the Sony PXW-X70, JVC GY-LS300 and Panasonic AG-DVX-200 video camcorders. Here’s why we think these three camcorders are a great choice for higher and further education…

If you’re faced with a room full of students all keen to develop a career within a video/journalism/media-based speciality, refreshing your tech can not only provide them with transferable skills that they can use when they enter the world of work, but it can also be a valuable selling point to attract students to your institution. Bearing this in mind, here’s three industry-standard camcorders which we deem to be suitable investments to prepare your students for the world of work.

1. Sony PXW-X70 4K ready camcorder

The Sony PXW-X70 4K ready camcorder is becoming increasingly popular with professionals. It was the first camera on the market to combine the dual benefits of a large sensor with a fixed lens, enabling incredibly shallow depth of field, with a real broadcast-quality workflow. A price tag of around £1500 means this camcorder is a professional and practical choice which isn’t going to break the bank. It’s great for run-and-gun style shooting, with the streaming capabilities needed for electronic news gathering, which makes this a suitable choice for broadcast journalism students. At NAB 2015, Sony announced a firmware update that would enable 4K ultra-HD recording. Read up on the full spec here.

2. JVC GY-LS300 super 35mm 4K camcorder

The JVC GY-LS-300 is fully equipped for any shooting scenario and any lens. There are many large sensor cameras with interchangeable lens systems available, but what’s special about the JVC LS-300 is that regardless of what fitting of lens you attach (EF, E Mount, MFT) the camera settings can be adjusted to alleviate any crop factor. So although its specs reads as Super-35 sensor, with a MFT mount and adaptors you can attach a whole range of glass, without losing any width to your shot. Like most of the JVC range, the JVC 300 also comes with full streaming capabilities. Read up on the full spec here.

3. Panasonic AG-DVX-200

Newly announced at NAB 2015, the Panasonic 4K AG-DVX-200 packs a lot of punch for its £3500 price tag. Like the X70, it’s a large sensor camera, but Panasonic have gone for MFT. Sharing the profile characteristics of the Panasonic ‘VariCam’ brand, expect an impressive colorimetry, and rendering of skin-tones, and V-log curve. With 12 stops of latitude, a five-axis image stabiliser and the ability to shoot to Panasonic’s AVC-Intra codec, you get a lot of camera for your money, which students will love! While the DVX-200 isn’t currently shipping, keep checking back in with us to keep up with its progress!

[UPDATE, 13/10/15 – Turns out, Panasonic defied our predictions from back in April and didn’t go for AVC-Intra after all. However, the camera is now shipping and you can find more accurate details here.]

In action

Take a look at the work we’ve done with Staffordshire University to help them bring industry standard studio equipment to their range of film, video and journalism students. We helped them to upgrade their in-house newsroom to HD, replaced a cumbersome studio back end with NewTek’s TriCaster, and updated their studio cameras to more recent models.

Thinking about updating your tech and looking for some advice? Give our education team a call on 03332 409 306 or email learning@Jigasw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page

Talking Point: Filmic Looks

Talking Point: Filmic Looks

Look like film for the cost of video…

For a long, long time video was considered the poor cousin of film – be it 8mm, 16mm or 35mm, the look of film was achievable only with the real thing.

Luckily for those without real film budgets, technology has advanced sufficiently to enable us to produce truly filmic quality footage for a fraction of the price. A combination of both camera and lens technology as well as plug-in developments has really brought digital video into the cinema with great results.

Cameras are now able to shoot in true variable frame rates – just like a real film camera. This allows for superb ‘cranked’ effects previously only possible with a very expensive film camera or very expensive plug-ins. In fact using variable framerate technology we can decide later on just whether we want to under or over crank a sequence leaving the creative possibilities open to the editor and thus preventing the need for expensive re-shoots.

Progressive recording methods allow digital footage to be recorded in a similar way to that of film cameras and afford real flexibility in editing – frames are complete and individual just like real film so a cut between frames is exactly that.

Lens technology has also advanced and we are now seeing real 35mm film lens adaptor kits becoming available for digital video cameras giving the depth of field and increased detail associated with film.

Purists will say they can tell the difference between real super 16mm film and XDCAM EX but at around a third of the cost and with the added benefits of a non-linear camera and a non-linear workflow is it really an issue that perhaps less than one percent of your target audience may be aware the project was digital in origin?

Certainly your accountant will back you every step of the way…

To find out more, get in touch 03332 400 222 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com.

Take a look at our full broadcast range here.

The difference between cheap and premium cabling

The difference between cheap and premium cabling

It’s useful to use an analogy comparing cable to copper plumbing pipe to answer this one:

If too small a pipe is used for say, central heating, an increase in water pressure results because the water has to flow through a narrower hole. This could cause reliability problems. The smaller bore pipe used can also lead to furring up of the system over a period of time.

With cable, the less metal (usually copper) used means there is more pressure to electrical current flow. This extra pressure is called Resistance. The longer the cable, the more resistance there is. Other factors also come into play that cause degradation of the higher frequency parts of the signal rather than the lower ones. All this means that using cheaper cable over long distances causes a serious deterioration in the quality of the signal, to such an extent that the signal, when it arrives at the receiving end, maybe unusable for the purpose it was intended for.

The use of premium cable (and therefore more copper) reduces this loss of signal quality.

Want to know more? Call 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com.