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Live Streaming Video Production Web Video Technology

Ustream.tv Announces Global Production Services

Last week Ustream.tv announced that they are adding Global Production Services (GPS for short) to their growing list of offering. This is another tool in Ustream’s arsenal that is make Ustream the live stream provider the choice of more and more producers. They are offering three different packages to meet the different needs of many of the Ustream producers. The packages list base prices that don’t include travel or other costs that are based on the location.

The Ustream backpack has gained a lot of attention while Leo Laporte was using it to live stream his coverage from this year’s SXSW. They are offering two different options with the mobile LiveU rig. There is the $3,000 a day rate that includes camera and technical staff and there is a month to month or yearly rental option to just rent the backpack equipment and includes 40 hours of streaming a month. Twit.tv and Pixel Corps have rented the Ustream Mobile Livepack and swear by it’s quality.

Conference streaming has blow up in the past year or so, and it used to be really expensive and you had to deal with some hairy technical goo with distributing the video. That has changed with the growth of services like Ustream and Justin.tv that make the distribution easy. The conference level package includes 2 cameras, Tricaster Studio and all the staff you need to make sure the video go off without a hitch. With the conference and concert packages you have to provide a beefy enough Internet connection to stream the video to Ustream.

The concert package is pretty close to the conference package, but adds a third camera and operator and a director to help give the production a coherent overall look. To note with both the conference and concert packages you’ll still need audio people and they will have to provide a audio feed to the Ustream production staff, which shouldn’t be any problem if you have competent audio people you’re working with.

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Live Streaming NAB 2010 Video Production

NAB 2010: NewTek Unveils New Tricaster TCXD850

Photo: Collen Kelly (TWiT’s Vice President of Engineering)
Last night at their dealer meeting and officially today, NewTek unveiled their newest addition to the Tricaster line, the TCXD850. The TCXD850 addresses some of the main complaints of users when they debuted the TCXD300 back in December. The TCXD850 sports 8 HD-SDI inputs where the TCXD300 only 3. Eight HD camera inputs should be more than enough inputs for most producers, especially anybody who is considering the Tricaster.

Photo: Collen Kelly (TWiT’s Vice President of Engineering)

The new Tricaster also adds more pro level features like redundant power supplies that make the Tricaster more attractive to broadcast engineers that have to keep their equipment up and running. I have never heard of power supply failures being a problem with Tricasters, but since there is a windows PC at the heart of the Tricaster, it’s one of the more likely parts to fail, and I’ve had more than my fair share of power supplies die. The new Tricaster also adds a boat load of more audio inputs over the two balanced inputs the TCXD300 has.

The TCXD850 will be available on July 15th and will sell in a NTSC only version for $24,995 and an international version for $27,995.

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gear Live Streaming SXSW Video Production Web Video Technology

How a Toaster is Changing Online Video

Since I was a kid, I can remember flipping through the pages of video production magazines like Videography and drooling over all the new cameras and gear that I wished I had.  One ad that would always stop me in my tracks was the ads for something called a video toaster. At first glance, it brought thoughts of the flying toaster screen-saver that was so very much the thing to have on your computer at work, but the Video Toaster was something far more cooler and powerful. The Video Toaster ran on the Amiga computer and consisted of a fairly cheap hardware and software combination to bring a powerful live switching / linear editing solution that was affordable. Later generations of the video toaster added more and more features and has become the Newtek Tricaster that we know today.

1994 Promo Video for the Video Toaster 4000

Live streaming video has come along way from the postage stamp sized video of NASA TV that I remember watching using real player on my 56K modem more than ten years ago. Watching high quality video is common place now and made possible by the increase in the availability in broadband and fast, cheap, computers. Streaming services like, Ustream, Justin.tv and Bit Gravity have made getting your video content out even easier. I remember days spent trying to get several servers to work together to feed a rtsp stream to a couple of computers across a LAN, and now anyone with a webcam can be easily streaming to an audience of thousands without the hassle of working out the back-end technnology.

The Tricaster isn’t a brand new product, but has seen huge growth in sales with the rise of people creating live video content for the web. The Tricaster has a lot of bang for the buck, replacing hugely expensive satellite trucks with a small box that can be easily shipped and it price ranges from just under $5,000 for the basic tricaster to $15,000 for the new drool worthy HD Tricaster TCXD300. The new HD Tricaster is an extremely attractive alternative to other HD switchers in the market that generally start in the $100,000 range and the Tricaster has more features. The Tricaster has made online TV networks possible and affordable like TWIT.tv and ThisWeekIn.com.  When a normal TV studio would normally need a crew of a dozen or more, the TWIT live stream is controlled solely by Leo Laporte that switches cameras while hosting and all of the rest of the duties of head TWIT all while on air.

Photo: © Newtek Inc.

Newtek had a big presence this year at SXSW with the Tricaster equipped Mini Cooper showing up all across Austin as Newtek made it possible for companies such as SiliconAngle.com, TWIT.tv, and This Week in Startups, and Revision 3 to bring the SXSW experience into people’s homes.

And its not just online video producers that are increasing using the Tricaster, more and more “old media” producers are integrating Tricaster into their productions for web content or video played in sports venues. I think this trend will only continue to increase as more people start creating live web video and old media looks for more ways to reduce costs and attract a larger audience.