TriCaster and the mystery codecs

How did we produce 41 videos in three days at Interop in Las Vegas? NewTek's TriCaster Studio played a huge role. Our video guy (Skip Bensley of Brilliant Video Productions) rented one for the shoot and learned the interface in about three days. Personally, I didn't run the unit so I can't comment on how well it works versus other systems. But, Studio Monthly did the job for me, covering all the technical aspects of the Tricaster in a review published in this month's print edition. However, I do have one nitpick to point out that the Studio review didn't cover: The output formats supported by TriCaster are a bit flaky. While AVI is a supported option, we learned after much hair-pulling that you need to download a special codec patch from NewTek to use the files on other PCs. Our process was to record the video to TriCaster's disk, then "export" to AVI on a portable USB hard drive, sneakernet the files to a laptop and encode to Flash from there for upload to Brightcove. Without the patch, the encode process on the second laptop (mine) was a no go. With the patch, everything worked pretty well. Unfortunately, the manual that came with Tricaster didn't mention this. We found out through a combination of Google searches and a call to tech support. Fortuntely, the tech support guy e-mailed us a link to the patch right away, so we were able to keep up with our schedule grueling schedule. I would have used the TriCaster to export directly to Flash, but there was no obvious ways to set the necessary streaming attributes, plus exporting to anything but AVI was interminably slow. So we went the AVI route and encoded in batches using Sorenson Squeeze 5.0. If we do a similar setup again at a future event(and I hope we do), we'll have to experiment with going live via the TriCaster, then you can see all the outtakes as I flub up my intros.

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