All-in-one video production “appliances” that include multiple camera video and audio switching, titling, special effects, and more for live and recorded production projects have been in use for some years in Kentucky schools like Bath County High, and Eastside Technical School, Lexington. Schools who can afford Newtek Tricasters, which start around $5,000, or similar switching gear like the Roland line of a/v mixers, enjoy making live video production projects with crews of students who excitedly play-out the roles of professional video production staff. Together, they plan, write, and produce video news and special events programming that requires teamwork and a lot of group and individual skill building that culminates in shared products that prepare students for real-world jobs, and the use of multimedia in further studies.
Roland offers the VR50-HD ($7,495) and some less expensive items like the VR-3EX ($2,195) and the V4-EX ($1,995). Check the technical specifications for comparison of models and features among the manufacturers’ units.
For schools, a big thing that’s been missing from the Tricaster line has been HDMI inputs for commonly-used cameras and other devices. With the arrival of the Tricaster Mini, schools now have more options to consider because the new Tricaster Mini has HDMI inputs, a PC input, analog audio inputs, a DDR for video segment and graphics playback, program video recording, program streaming out, and much more, including the virtual set feature with advanced chromakeying for greenscreen effects. It’s features and specifications are encouraging.
There are two Tricaster Mini models: the base HD-4 model Tricaster Mini, at $5,995, records 15 hours of 1080p video to an internal 750GB hard drive. Their more expensive HD-4i model sells for $7,995. It includes a monitor and records 45 hours of video to an internal 1.5TB hard drive and includes a side-mounted video monitor. They’re not cheap, but their many features do the work that would normally require several individual component pieces of equipment which could cost much more if purchased separately.
One caveat of all-in-one studio production devices that scares some is that if a unit goes down it may have to be shipped back to Newtek for repair, halting production until the unit is returned. Tricasters we’ve seen in Kentucky schools seem to have been in service for a while and we’ve not heard any warnings if that helps. An alternative is to use an a/v switcher such as the ATEM TV-Studio by Black Magic Design ($995.00), along with other component equipment for equivalent video production. That way might let you carry on in case of individual component failure, depending on what breaks and when.
Here’s an equipment connection diagram from the Newtek site:
And here are links to Tricaster Mini evaluations and reviews:
- Videomaker’s First Impressions of the Tricaster Mini
- Pro Video Coalition’s In-depth Tricaster Mini Review
- Streaming Media’s Look at the Newtek Tricaster Mini
We’re looking forward to seeing what schools do with this new video production tool. As a one-box video production studio, it could make beginning a school video production a lot easier, and its advanced features could expand existing programs.
(Note: This new product overview is offered as an information service only and does not constitute an endorsement by KET.)