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Review: NewTek TriCaster 8000

NewTek's TriCaster 8000 is an extraordinarily capable live production and streaming solution that supports 8 simultaneous feeds and should be sufficient for all but the most complex live events, with a range of intriguing new features including powerful social media capabilities.

The TriCaster 8000 (TC8000) is the ultimate TriCaster with many intriguing new features, most notably social media support, and greatly expanded hardware and software capabilities. At $39,995 (including control surface), it’s a bargain, since duplicating the same functionality with traditional broadcast gear would cost much, much more. For those with lesser budgets, the 8000 (Figure 1, below) is also a harbinger of features to come; hopefully in lower-cost TriCasters, but if not, almost certainly in competitive products.

Figure 1. The TC8000 which includes the control surface, keyboard and mouse (but not the LCD panels).

In this article, I’ll recount my impressions from an extended product demo I received in NewTek’s San Antonio offices in mid-July. But first, for those unfamiliar with the TriCaster, let’s set the stage.

Background

The TriCaster family of products consists of computer-based, live production switchers with an extraordinarily deep feature set, which includes multiple inputs from a range of sources, integrated title creation, digital disk recording and playback capabilities, multiple live virtual sets and multiple outputs, including broadcast and single stream and adaptive streaming feeds. Since its inception, the TriCaster has carved a very large niche for itself at the high end of the event producer market. For an overview of TriCaster functionality, check out Livestream Studio vs. NewTek TriCaster [http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=88300], which incorporates a detailed look at the low end of the TriCaster product line, the TC40, which costs $5,995 without the control surface.

Units are priced according to both input/output capabilities and feature set, and the TC8000 is top of the line in both regards. All units run Windows under the hood, though you can’t access Windows-based functionality from within the TriCaster interface.

Physically, the unit comes as a 4U rack mount, with redundant 550W power supplies. In terms of inputs, the TC8000 can work with 8 simultaneous live video sources, configurable as SDI, analog or, for the first time, input from an external video router, which opens the door for productions with more than eight cameras. You can also input two live sources from a LAN, which can include either the screen from a networked computer or from an Apple device via AirPlay. Typically these inputs are used for PowerPoint or Keynote slides, but can also include audio and full-motion video.

The unit also supports up to five internal video sources, allowing graphics and the ability to play back a disk-based file during the broadcast, which is commonly referred to as digital disk recording (DDR) functionality. New in the TC8000 are eight Mix/Effect (M/E) buses with re-entry, which I’ll discuss in more detail later in the article.

Like all TriCasters, the TC8000 uses the TransWarp engine for transitions and effects, but features more effects channels (45) and more virtual sets (26), which include camera movements like panning, pedestal, and zoom. Also new in the TC8000 are video hotspots and macros, which I’ll also touch on later.

For output, the TC8000 offers 14 different hardware output connectors, can record up to 8 channels with a 200 GB internal hard drive capacity, and output streaming video at resolutions as high as 720p. Like all TriCasters, the TC8000 can be independently driven by the keyboard and mouse and/or the control surface. This means that one producer can mix the live event, while another can be queuing videos in the DDR, creating graphics for titles and other overlays, or sending frame grabs and videos to social media sites, which is probably the highest-profile new feature in the TC8000, and hopefully the one that works its way down to lower-cost TriCasters the soonest.

Related Articles
TriCaster 8000 allows producers to create multi-camera video programs for broadcasting, live streaming, and projection, while simultaneously publishing clips and stills to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr
Three new models—TriCaster 860, TriCaster 460, and TriCaster 410—along with major enhancements to the company's flagship system, TriCaster 8000, will be available September 12, just before IBC 2013
With Rundown Creator's TriCaster integration, title templates, graphics, audio clips, and video clips on your TriCaster all show up automatically in Rundown Creator, and inserting them into your scripts is as simple as selecting the one you'd like in the Script Editor.
NewTek's latest addition to the TriCaster line is a slim form factor, power-packed SDI-only solution.
The ultra-portable TriCaster Mini joins the TriCaster 40 at the sub-$6k end of the TriCaster line, but weighs in 10 lbs. lighter and adds HDMI input ISO-recording, a new compact control surface, an internal monitor, and more.