Newtek Tricaster Mini: New Video Production Studio in a Box

Monday, October 27th, 2014 by Jeff Gray, KET

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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:

TriCaster-Mini-Workflow

And here are links to Tricaster Mini evaluations and reviews:

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.)

DIY Camera Jib Project 2: Dogs Ever Vigilant

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by Jeff Gray, KET

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Here’s our latest assembly and video test of a camera jib support, based on the online Oliviatech build that’s been enhanced with useful directions, diagrams, and parts lists by The Basic Filmmaker. See also our earlier DIYcamera jib project, a DIY camera slider project, and a simple camera stabilizer project.

This version was pretty easy to put together. School staff should be able to assist students in building it easily and it will help students understand and make lovely crane-type camera moves as seen on tv and in film productions. Be sure to wear protective eyewear when cutting, drilling and filing, and remember: cut aluminum is shaaaarrrrp, as I found out when my pliers slipped and I gouged a finger. Before assembling, file-off any sharp edges of the tubing; the metal is soft and it’s easily done. Also be careful of the tiny metal filings that accumulate around the workspace. Wipe the filings off of the parts before they make it into an eye. This would be a great shop-related project, or a special project for other classes such as, “Explorations in Fabrication of Education-Related Camera Support Equipment”…

Most of the parts were from a local hardware superstore. I followed the Basic Filmmaker’s suggestion and ordered the aluminum tubing online already cut to size. Had to search a bit further for the nylon flange bearings but found them on amazon.com from monsterfastener.com. You may be able to find all of the parts locally at hardware and auto parts stores. Check the helpful directions for parts specifications.

Once the jib was assembled I mounted an inexpensive but solid little quick-release camera plate found on amazon.com (available for around $10.00), and used a Fitsanycase.com iPhone adapter and an iOgrapher.com iPad adapter to shoot test video. Thanks to KET’s J. R. Pemberton, who kindly cut and drilled the aluminum tubing and angle stock, and to Bill Osborne for his helpful assistance. Check out the The Basic Filmmaker for a very thorough project overview and jib project plan, then build one with your students or for yourself and have fun making those special camera shots that add so much to a video production.

Metcalfe County Students Visit KET for iPad Video Workshop,Tour

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by Jeff Gray, KET

DSC_0037aAn eager and lively group of intermediate-to-high school students from Metcalfe County visited KET for a Media Lab workshop in iPads for Video Production and a tour of KET’s multimedia production center. All had participated in a local district video project to feature their schools and were rewarded by a trip to KET in Lexington.

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See the Metcalfe County Schools Community Education web page for a look at the collected student-produced videos from the Metcalfe County Film Festival.

Here are three short videos made by the student group during their 1.5-hour introductory workshop to video production using iPads. The first video is an iMovie “trailer” example. The other two use built-in iMovie themed templates for graphics and music. Metcalfe County’s student and teacher group learned basic iPad video recording and iMovie editing quickly. Everyone had fun and they plan to make more student video projects with their school iPads back home.

The MCS KET Tales
Metcalfe County Schools at KET
Metcalfe County Trip to KET

If you’re within driving distance of Lexington and would like to bring your K-20 students to KET for free tours and workshops in multimedia production, please visit our KET Media Lab page to see what’s available. Then contact Jeff Gray, KET Education Division, at jgray@ket.org; 800-432-0951 ext. 7263; 859-258-7263. You’re welcome to bring lunches and eat at KET if you like. To help pay for bus travel some schools have applied for U.S. Dept. of Education Gear-Up grants. See our school Multimedia Education Resources page for more information and projects.


600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951