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Multicam Sports Webcasting With NDI and the TriCaster TC1

Here's a look at how 4K-Over-NDI support, hardware-based instant replay, and Skype TX integration can benefit sports broadcasters.

We really love our sports, don’t we? We can’t get enough of them. We associate the seasons with the games we attend. We have game-day food that we always eat when watching at home. If we can’t watch, we’re sure to keep checking the live scores on our phones.

Some of us prefer the experience of a live game. I clearly remember attending Atlanta Braves games at Fulton County Stadium and later Turner Field with my parents back in the ’90s when the “dream team” was in the playoffs every season. As we’d enter the breezeway to get to the seats, the quiet roar of the fans would slowly grow, and the otherworldly bright lights would make the players’ white uniforms stand out against the fresh-cut, verdant field. The smells and the sounds made for a memorable experience that is unrivaled.

But for many, watching at home is the only way to go for enjoying sports. Surround sound systems, HD or 4K broadcasts, and being closer than otherwise possible to the action make the parking hassle, expensive food, and tiny, uncomfortable stadium seats easy to resist. Now we can watch hockey and golf and know exactly where the pucks and dimpled balls are at all times. It’s simply much cheaper to enjoy sports from the living room rather than the stadium, and the viewing quality is better and improving constantly.

The NewTek TriCaster has been a favorite option for live sports production for years, and at the 2017 NAB show in Las Vegas, NewTek introduced the TriCaster TC1 (Figure 1, below). The TC1 offers 4K 60P (SMPTE 2036 UHDTV1) recording and broadcasting. At a starting price of $15,000, it’s one of the most affordable professional UHD broadcasting solutions on the market. With 16 SDI inputs, it’s sure to handle any multicam production you can throw at it. But the TC1’s camera tricks don’t stop there. It also supports NewTek’s own Network Device Interface (NDI) technology, which allows a litany of devices to connect to the TC1 over IP. Combining NDI cameras with SDI sources can give you more angles than you can shake a hockey stick at.

Figure 1. The NewTek TriCaster TC1. Click the image to see it at full size.

Instant Replay

Those familiar with TriCaster systems have likely heard of NewTek’s 3Play instant replay hardware (Figure 2, below). Since instant replay is practically expected in any sports production today, the TC1 delivers with a built-in instant replay system. The 60-frame recording provides silky smooth replays that can be scrubbed at multiple speeds from a DDR. The differentiation between the built-in replay of the TC1 and the dedicated replay system of 3Play primarily lies in versatility.

Figure 2. Instant replay with the TC1 and NewTek’s 3Play. Click the image to see it at full size.

NewTek’s Chris Burgos explained the TC1 replay system this way: “The replay functions of the TC1 allow for a user to cut simple replay clips in production. Once the replay feature is enabled and the DDR of choice is selected, the user can click the channel of record they want to replay and it will create a growing file in the DDR. This file can be transitioned to, and it will play out a clip of a preset length and then transition back to gameplay. Because the file is growing, the user can change its in point and out point to adjust for a better fitting replay, and the DDR file can be previewed before rolling live. The angle can be selected (as long as the camera was coming directly to the TC1), and the replay trigger takes you a number of seconds back in time. This workflow is simple and designed for teams without the resources for full replay capabilities.”

Sounds great for high school sports or smaller colleges and universities with limited budgets and staff, right? Here’s what springing for the dedicated 3Play nets you, according to Burgos: “3Play is a full-scale replay solution that allows for users to quickly cut multi-angle replays, play back highlight reels, enable slow motion and reverse functions, all from a single unit. 3Play allows for operators to adhere to broadcast styles of workflow and playout and even has a dedicated control surface to help for its specific purpose.”

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The NewTek TriCaster TC1 has sports written all over it, featuring 4K, 60p, and built-in instant replay, all designed to give producers the latest and greatest live production tech in a compact package.