NewTek has just launched the new TriCaster TC1. For those unfamiliar, TriCaster is a “studio in a box” device, which combines an audio/video mixer (aka “switcher”), character generator, video players and recorder, and live streaming capabilities. Earlier this week, I attended a telephone briefing with several NewTek personnel, including the director of products and marketing executives. I heard the TriCaster TC1 presentation, and then I got to ask questions about details not mentioned therein. The TC1 innovates hardware while retaining the familiar user interface. Ahead are the details, including flexible connectivity for hardware-based redundant RAID DAS, worldcam friendliness even in the US, and an international solar keyboard for your TriCaster.
In this article
- How many inputs, and what types?
- The TriCaster TC1 integrates with NewTek’s TalkShow
- The TriCaster TC1 is worldcam friendly, even in the US
- My current favorite keyboard to use in an international studio with a TriCaster
- Flexible connectivity for hardware-based redundant RAID DAS
- Non-integer framerate expression is still undefined for the TriCaster TC1
- Pricing and availability
How many inputs, and what types?
The TriCaster TC1 breaks prior TriCaster barriers, since no TriCaster in the past has ever supported 4K UHD or even 3G-SDI for higher framerate progressive 1080p like 1080/50p and 1080/59.94p. (Even though the two mentioned formats are not part of current over-the-air broadcast standards, some sports producers that broadcast 720p over-the-air want to be able to shoot at these higher framerate 1080p formats for later downscale to 720/50p or 720/59.94p, since they can blow up without loss during an instant replay.) Now, the new TriCaster can handle up to 16 4K UHD sources at up to 59.94p, while the top of the line IP Series from NewTek (announced last year) can now support up to a palindromic number of 44 4K UHD sources at the same maximum framerate. But what type of sources does the TC1 accept?
In the title of this article, I mentioned that the TC1 is IP-centric. The TC1 comes —as standard— with 4 SDI inputs. In addition, TC1 can work with NDI compliant IP sources will work directly, and for others, you’ll need to purchase an NDI-compliant interface. (If you are unfamiliar with that acronym, see my 2016 article NewTek’s NDI is now the lingua franca amongst broadcast brands.) Since NewTek created the NDI protocol a year ago, there are already hundreds of third-party manufacturers whose devices are NDI compliant. If you want to use a legacy source with the TriCaster TC1 (beyond the 4 included SDI inputs) that is not NDI compliant, you’ll need an interface like one from NewTek’s modular Connect line, or one from a third party.
The TriCaster TC1 integrates with NewTek’s TalkShow
For those unfamiliar, TalkShow (shown above, covered in part three of my article How to do your audio setup for a live TV studio) is a device which allows connecting a live remote audio/video guests from anywhere with an Internet connection via Skype.
A new feature with TriCaster TC1 and IP Series is integrated multi-channel Skype TX integration. NewTek says that it’s the only company to offer this functionality in a live production system in the world. Any one of the TriCaster TC1’s 16 external inputs can be designated for live Skype audio/video calling. With studio-ready call control from an external laptop or workstation running the Skype TX controller application, calls can be configured and monitored without impacting the TriCaster TC1 operator’s workflow.
The TC1 is worldcam friendly, even in the US
Unlike most TriCaster’s delivered in the United States, the TC1 is worldcam friendly. Up until now, most TriCaster models delivered to end-users in the United States (without applying for a special waiver) have been segregated models, meaning that they were prevented from using PAL-derived framerates and field rates like 25p, 50p and 50i. With the TriCaster TC1, studios in the US who produce for foreign regions that require these 25/50 Hz-derived rates (i.e. Argentina, Australia/Oceania, Europe, Middle East, Paraguay, Russia, Uruguay) will no longer have to apply for a special waiver from NewTek to be able to purchase a special international version of the TriCaster, since the core TriCaster TC1 is the same model worldwide, with the possible exception of the bundled AC mains cable, manual language and keyboard layout. So US-based international studios who purchase worldcam cameras will be covered when they need to use 25/50 Hz-derived rates like 25 and 50, as well as NTSC-derived ones like 29.97 and 59.94, since the TriCaster TC1 covers all of them, even in the US, without any special waiver.
If you are unfamiliar with the term worldcam, see my 2015 article Why we should only use worldcams (illustrated above).
My current favorite keyboard to use in an international studio with a TriCaster
Above you will see my current favorite keyboard to use in an international studio with a TriCaster, or even just to write books, articles, letters and email messages. It is the Spanish version of Logitech’s K760 solar wireless Bluetooth keyboard, and it’s currently available in the US from Amazon for under US$20. Solar means that it never requires changing or charging batteries manually. I have been using mine for nearly a year, and it has worked flawlessly. It continually charges from both natural and artificial light. Even though it is marketed for Mac and iOS, it works with other platforms too.
With the Spanish ISO layout, all of the letters are in the exact same position as on the US keyboard, so touch typists in the US have nothing to fear. However, the Spanish ISO keyboard layout has everything that’s missing from the US keyboard that we need for international use: direct access to accent and diacritical marks for Castilian, Catalán, Euskara (Basque), French, German, Galician, Italian and Portuguese (at least), as well as direct access to at least three international currencies: $ (for multiple types of dollars and pesos) and € (for the euro, used throughout Europe). We gain much and lose nothing with this keyboard layout, and you may certainly leave your user interface in English when setting your operating system for this keyboard layout. The language user interface and keyboard layouts are fortunately independent settings in Chromebook, macOS and Windows. No other keyboard layout is more universal or more powerful than the Spanish ISO layout. (I am not referring to the inferior Latin American keyboard layout, with its four irrefutable deficiencies.)
Although the TriCaster TC1 doesn’t come with inboard Bluetooth the way the TriCaster Mini does, just plug one of these inexpensive tiny transceivers into one of the TC1’s USB ports to add the capability.
Flexible connectivity for hardware-based redundant RAID DAS
The TriCaster TC1 offers a total of 6 usable USB ports: 4 USB-C and 2 USB 2.0. In addition to the mentioned USB ports, the TriCaster TC1 also has an eSATA port. With either those two connectivity options for DAS (Direct Attached Storage), you can record your irreplaceable show on an external hardware-based RAID with built-in redundancy. Having both USB 3.0 and eSATA connections on the TriCaster TC1 offers you a huge variety of available hardware-based RAID systems with autonomous internal redundancy, either the ones on the market or the ones you may already own.
Non-integer framerate expression is still undefined for the TriCaster TC1
As I indicated in Why I pardon rounding of shutter speeds in camera menus, but not framerates! (illustrated above) and several other articles, long term readers, NewTek staff and the engineering teams at camera manufacturers are all quite aware of my cause for proper identification of non-integer framerates still used in the United States and other derived-NTSC regions in the world. Although rounded numbers themselves, these are best presented as 59.94, 29.97 and 23.976, (although this last one is often further abbreviated as 23.98 for space reasons). For many years, several manufacturers have been rounding these numbers to the closest integer, which has caused havoc in the industry, and confused many innocent operators to set an editing project to exact 60 or exact 30, even though they have not been standard framerates since before 1953, when the United States forced color on the existing monochrome television system, and changed from 30 frames per second (60 fields per second) to approximately 29.97 frames per second or 59.94 fields per second. When that happens, those innocent users not only create non-standard video, they also force their editing program to re-time the video, which puts and anchor on processing.
Fortunately, many of the newest cameras already display these rates to at least two decimals in their latest cameras. This includes both consumer and broadcast models from Blackmagic (all), Canon EOS 80 and Panasonic/Lumix GH4 and GH5. Although all TriCaster models to date have dangerously rounded these non-integer rates to the closest integer in the user interface (while handling the actual signals properly), the NewTek TalkShow (covered earlier in this article) and the top of the line NewTek IP Series have done it properly and fortunately display non-integer framerates to at least two decimals.
During the telephone briefing, I asked how this would be handled with the TriCaster TC1 and with upcoming software updates for existing TriCaster models. The response sounded like this hasn’t been completely defined yet, so I made it clear how important this is, and I am doing it again in this article too: Please NewTek, display non-integer framerates to at least two decimal points, or even better to three in the case of 23.976. If you really don’t have space to display 23.976, then 23.98 is okay.
Although exact 30 and exact 60 haven’t been standard television rates since before 1953, exact 24 is still a standard (mainly for film out and DCI, Digital Cinema Initiatives), yet quite different from the 23.976 frames per second supported in NewTek products and generally used with on-air broadcast, although often with a 2:3 (aka “3:2”) pulldown over 59.94i.
Pricing and availability
The TriCaster TC1 in a 2RU chassis is priced at US$14,995. The TriCaster TC1R rack version provides optional redundant power in a 3RU chassis and is priced at US$19,995. The optional TC1LP and TC1SP control panels are priced at US$11,995 and US$6,995 respectively. The NewTek Connect NC1 IN and NC1 I/O modules are priced at US$$5,995 and US$9,995 respectively.
Pricing may vary outside of the United States. Product bundles are also available. Contact your NewTek representative for details.
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