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Streaming Video and Audio, Part 2

Mar 25, 2010 4:18 PM, By Bennett Liles

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NewTek TriCaster

Yamaha found success using the NewTek TriCaster for its live streaming components of the its website, the Hub, including training.

We’ve all seen streaming video on the receiving end, but on this edition of the Corporate AV podcast, Yamaha’s Jeff Hawley and Philip Nelson from NewTek are here to tell us about how the TriCaster makes things easy for Yamaha to get live streaming online at the production end.

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Streaming Video and Audio, Part 1
What used to take a remote truck, a production crew, and a satellite van can now be done with a couple of people, a few pieces of hardware, and the NewTek TriCaster....

SVC: Jeff and Philip, thanks for being with me again for part two of the Corporate AV podcast. Jeff, we were talking before about this live webcast that Yamaha did. I guess this was sort of the test flight of the program at the Pasadena Jazz Institute. Now, when you set that thing up, you were mixing live music. Did you have to use any kind of external compression on that audio before feeding it into the TriCaster inputs?
Hawley: Well, that particular event was not our normal setup. Again, we didn’t have a lot of time just to work on that in advance. It was a little bit of a 11th hour decision—“Hey, let’s go ahead and give this a shot and see what can do with a live broadcast.” And again, not being that familiar with the TriCaster at that point, we opted to really play it safe. So we had the audio feeds coming off the stage. We basically split that out to the normal live console where the house engineer was just doing the mix as he normally would. We ran a split off of that into an O2R96 and then down to a stereo pair that went into the TriCaster. Out of the O2R96, we also ran another split that was going directly out to a Steinberg MR816 audio interface into a Mac Pro, and they were running Cubase 4. The Steinberg team that has been a part of Yamaha, actually, was there to help us. So in that case—again, just playing it safe—we had the TriCaster getting a dedicated audio mix.

Nic Chaffee, who is a great audio engineer that works with me here at Yamaha, was manning that station and really worrying only about broadcast audio. So as I was switching the show, I was just looking at a stereo pair—making sure we weren’t peaking. That’s what went out to the audience live. We also had the Steinberg rig that was capturing to tape for postproduction editing and mixing and things for the on-demand version. Again, just not knowing really what was going to happen, but it ended up that the two were pretty darn close.

The live mix was terrific. We were able, obviously, to do a little more tweaking in the postproduction stuff out of Cubase and get a little bit fancier with it. We also took the broadcast video mix. The other thing that maybe I hadn’t mentioned or maybe you didn’t know is that the neat thing about the TriCaster is not only can you do the live feed directly to the Web, but you can capture to the hard drive on the device. It captures all the transitions. It captures the audio—basically whatever the viewers are seeing live is captured to the device. So we have that immediately available after the show, chop that into a couple of pieces, and use that as a preview snip bit on the Hub on-demand.

The event happened on Sunday, and I think on Monday we put that little snippet of the show up and said, “Tune back in in a couple of days. We’ll have an HD version.” So we did all the audio mixing in Cubase, synced that back up with HDT from the cameras, did our normal turn around in [Apple] Final Cut, synced everything back up, and basically, on the Hub, if you check it out now from that event, we have what we call HD. Technically, it’s the Apple TV format. But if you download that, you’re listening, in that case, [to] the Cubase mix that we did for the show and that’s from Sony HD cams. We edited in Final Cut, but the neat part is, immediately the day of the show, a couple of minutes after the show, we would have been able to take that off and have the actual live switching and live audio available basically instantly. …Basically that bought us some time. We could get something right up on the on-demand site and say, “Give us a day or two to do all this editing”, and that’s what we ended up doing.

Philip, do you need an external mixer and audio processing on the input signal?
Nelson: The TriCaster has a built-in audio mixer that gives you basic audio editing or audio control. You have your faders, you have your balance, you have your simple EQ, but most clients that use TriCaster—especially for high-end audio environments—they use an outboard audio mixer to feed a master audio feed into the TriCaster. So the audio inputs in the TriCaster are simply setting your levels, and the TriCaster and your audio mixing is normally done on outboard gear so that they could add in compression effects and have the dedicated audio engineer running the audio of the show.

And Jeff, from a strictly hardware stand point, what sort of audio levels and audio formats can you feed into that?
Hawley: Maybe Philip could speak a little more to the specifics on it. I know that it does accept a line or mic levels, basically combo XLR connectors, so XLR or balance ¼ inch. In the soft ware side, you do have adjustable gain; you can select line or mic. Generally we do have a pad in front of it—some sort of a mixer. Again, maybe Philip knows that exact off of the top of his head. I think, if I remember correctly, I think it wants to see -10dB. So if you’re sending it +4, you will need to pad that or, again, have a mixer in line.

And there is also an RC line input. Every once in a while I will just plug in just a simple CD player or something if we need background music—something in a broadcast break. And as far as the audio formats on the device, if I didn’t want to bring along a CD player to run into that line input, there is also essentially, like in previous live broadcasts, toaster sort of units. They were called VCRs. On the TriCaster, it’s a DDR, but you have two DDR channels and you can playback MP3 for sure. I know WAVs support it. I would go out on a limb and say that basically any standard audio should work for you.

And Philip, you’ve got some choices on those streaming audio formats, right?
Nelson: The TriCaster allows you to stream both Windows Media 11 and Flash and VC1 as a format. And you can select what ben rate and what frame rate and even what resolution you stream at. So it really allows you to pick the amount of bandwidth that your current venue will allow you so you can pick the highest quality that is available at your current venue.

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