NewTek Goes Full 4K with the IP-Based TriCaster TC1 Live Production System
The TC1 supports acquisition resolutions up to 4Kp60 and can stream directly to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Microsoft Azure, Periscope, Twitch, and other streaming sites
Today the NewTek team revealed a two rack-unit (2RU), the TC1 (Figure 1, below), that resets the TriCaster line with four physical HD-SDI 3G inputs that support acquisition resolutions up to 4Kp60.
Figure 1. The TriCaster TC1. Click the image to see it at full size.
Will Waters, NewTek’s Director of Product Marketing, joined NewTek CTO and President Andrew Cross to discuss the industry workflows that the TC1 helps enable. “People are no longer just producing a show to go to one place,” said Cross. “For producers to be able to produce content that goes to many platforms is critical.”
Streaming is a critical component of the new TC1. The company notes that users can “stream directly to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Microsoft Azure, Periscope, Twitch, and other streaming sites.”
In addition, for content that’s recorded on the TC1, the unit allows producers to “deliver video clips directly to social media sites right from the TriCaster TC1 interface… One of our goals with the TC1 is to produce content that can go to multiple platforms simultaneously,” said Cross.
“As we create new products, we absolutely need to embrace tried-and-true production techniques,” Cross added, acknowledging that five decades of workflow techniques can’t just be jettisoned because of the advent of IP. Cross noted that the new tools are designed to work for producers, rather than requiring producers to learn a new workflow.
That said, Cross also noted that the company’s TalkShow technology, based around Skype for Business and Skype TX, makes it easier to bring on-air talent from multiple locations that traditionally may have been hard to reach.
The company’s press release notes that “any one of the TriCaster TC1’s 16 external inputs can be designated for live, broadcast-quality Skype video calling, giving producers the capability to reach any one of the 300 million monthly active users of Skype and deliver a pristine HD video call with balanced audio.”
To accomplish this requires a call-control feature that runs on an “external laptop or workstation running the Skype TX controller application” to configure and monitor calls externally to the traditional TriCaster workflow.
“Without impacting the TriCaster TC1 operator’s workflow, other active call channels from NewTek TalkShow systems can be managed from the controller for additional call capacity and streamlined management,” the press release states.
In terms of physical interface, the new TC1 offers four 3G HD-SDI BNC connectors, offering support for full HD (1080p) and 4K.
“We’ve increased the input counts and gone full 4K,” said Cross, adding that NewTek “did not want to go to full 4K until we could go to p60” which allows 60 frames per second (FPS) needed for fast-action content such as sports.
The company’s press release is a bit confusing, as it calls the unit a 16-input TriCaster, and noting that the “TC1 supports 16 external inputs of up to 4K UHD 60p resolution without sacrificing functionality.” Yet the physical backplane (Figure 2, below) clearly shows only four HD-SDI inputs.
Figure 2. The TC1 backplane. Click the image to see it at full size.
So if only four are 4K-enabled, where are the other 12 inputs? They’re virtual inputs, connected across the dual Gigabit ethernet ports. In NewTek terminology, external inputs aren’t actually external to the TC1—unless IP-based inputs count as external inputs, since they connect to remote cameras—since the TC1 makes extensive use of the NewTek NDI transport technology.
On the upside, though, NDI is an interface the TC1 can use to connect to cell phones, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) production cameras, and even IP-based surveillance or security cameras.
“When we launched NDI two years ago, it was clear that the future was going to be IP based,” said Cross.
“Cameras are becoming more and more affordable,” said Cross, adding that cell phones make the number of cameras much more prevalent.
“We’ve spent a lot of time make it more easy to access all these cameras,” said Cross.
The 2RU version is priced at $14,995 USD, although the company provides a bulkier 3RU unit with redundant power supplied for an additional $5,000. It’s unclear if the additional $5,000 bump offers anything more than power redundancy.
In addition, since the TC1 is a new line of TriCaster products, the company is offering two different control panels—the TC1LP at $11,995 and the TC1SP Control Panel are priced at $6,995—to accomplish a variety of different tactile workflow shortcuts.