The first units won’t ship until July, but NewTek stirred up some excitement at the NAB Show in Las Vegas with demos of its new TriCaster TCXD850, that takes a 22-channel HD switcher into the field in a small unit. The name TriCaster may seem outdated, since the new switcher will handle eight live HD cameras, rather than the three of its predecessor.
NewTek Sr. VP Philip Nelson told us there have always been three requirements for the TriCaster line: It has to be affordable; easy to use; and produce high-quality television.
The price tag of $24,995 on even the latest model TCXD850 means that TV production is affordable for many new applications. In fact, the NewTek folks told us that one of their biggest growth areas is radio shows who want to stream live on the Internet with much better quality than a simple webcam. You have to buy some cameras, of course, and a PC to run it all, but those things are also relatively cheap these days.
One sports league bought several of the TriCasters, not to reduce costs, but rather to allow them to stream more games live from more locations. NewTek’s Jarrod Davis, a Content Development Supervisor, told us he went to one game with a new TriCaster, took an intern who had been passing out t-shirts and gave her a quick lesson in TV switching. She watched him switch the first quarter and then handled the rest of the basketball game herself.
Also available are new HD virtual sets. We watched as a NewTek staffer sitting in front of a screen was placed behind the desk of an elaborate set. So, an anchor or commentator can be traveling anywhere for the production, but still appear to be in a studio setting. It is the brave new world of HD TV production.