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Tutorial: How to Produce Broadcast-Quality Events with the NewTek TriCaster 40, Part 1

In two tutorials Jan Ozer will show you how to create broadcast-quality live productions with the NewTek TriCaster TC40. In this first installment, you'll learn how to select and configure the inputs. In the second, you'll learn how to mix and stream the show itself.


In two tutorials I’m going to show you how to create broadcast-quality live production with the NewTek TriCaster TC40. In this first installment, I’ll show you how to select and configure the inputs. In the second, you’ll learn how to mix and stream the show itself.

During these tutorials I’ll explore only a fraction of the TC40’s overall functionality, but I’m sure you’ll be convinced that if you’ve got a live production planned, the TC40 should be on your shortlist of live video switchers.

The definition of broadcast quality is admittedly pretty vague. In the example I’ll use in this tutorial I’m producing a webinar that will include full-screen video, picture-in-picture video, PowerPoint slides from a separate computer, full screen and lower-third graphics, disk-based videos, pre- and post-show advertising and credits, transitions for all elements and, of course, audio.

Navigating the TC40 Interface

Let’s start with a quick tour of the relevant portions of the TriCaster 40 (TC40) interface (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. The TC40 interface, showing all the components of the webinar we’re producing: full-screen video, PiP, PowerPoint slides, full-screen graphics and lower thirds, disk-based videos, bumpers and credits, transitions, and audio.

The TC40 has 14 switchable input channels, all reflected in the program and preview buttons shown in Figure 2 (below).

Figure 2. The TC40’s 14 switchable input channels represented by program and preview buttons in the UI.

There are four video inputs (represented by the first 4 buttons on the left in Figure 2). I’ll use two: one cropped to 4:3 for the picture-in-picture and the other at native 16:9 for the full-screen view (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. The 16:9 full-screen input (left) and the cropped PiP input (right) in the TC40 Monitors panel.

Fifth and sixth from the left in the buttons panels (Figure 2) are two network inputs that can accept audio and video from any Mac or Windows computer on the same network as the TC40 or from any Apple device via AirPlay. Just to the right of the network inputs (shown in Figure 2) is a digital disk recorder (DDR) that I’ll use for opening and closing credits and to play a short tutorial video. Immediately to the right of the DDR are two graphics inputs, which I’m using for my full-screen and lower-third titles.

The TC40 also supports four virtual inputs that let you combine content from different sources (last 4 buttons on the right). More on this in a moment.

Note that I’ve customized some of the names of these three rows (Figure 2). For example, the first two video inputs would be 1 and 2, but I’ve changed that to Full and Crop by right-clicking the button and entering the new name (Figure 4, below). The first network input would be Net1, but I changed that to PPT for PowerPoint. Similarly, the first virtual input would be V1, but I’ve changed that to PiP. All this makes it simpler to choose the right button during the live event.

Figure 4. Renaming the buttons to make it easier to choose the right one when switching live.

All of the external and graphics inputs have their own preview windows, which are up at the top of the interface, above the Program and Preview rows of buttons. On the right, the Program Monitor shows the input currently playing, while the preview window shows the input cued to appear when triggered via the Transition bar (T-bar) with the equivalent keystroke or command on the control surface (Figure 5, below).

Figure 5. Preview windows, Program Monitor, and T-bar in mid-transition.

Though I’ll cover this in more detail on the next tutorial, to take any input live, just click the input in the Program row. To cue input that’s being previewed, just click the Take or Auto button (shown just to the right of the T-bar, in Figure 5, although they may be hard to see), or drag the T-bar.

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