Newtek has just announced the TriCaster Mini. It's a self-contained version of their TriCaster Live Production System that has HDMI inputs instead of HDSDI, and which, in one, small, self-contained box (no need for a host computer) has all the software you need to create network-quality TV shows and record or stream them live.
We think this is a very big deal because video communication (ie using video to get your message across) is about to explode. It's by far the most effective way to engage viewers, and with the abundance of ways to distribute video (streaming to phones and tablets, for example) it's never been a better time for a product like this.
The TriCaster Mini is for people who want to add video content and live streaming but who don't produce video for a living and who don't have the "language" of broadcasting.
TriCaster lowers barriers
Newtek's TriCaster has lowered barriers to live (and live-style) TV production since its introduction in 2005. It's probably fair to say that it has revolutionized live TV production and, as it has matured, it has continued to add features that are relevant and necessary to create modern-looking TV programs. Today it's an extremely impressive product, and anyone who hasn't seen it for a while is likely to be blown away by the feature set.
With it you can create live TV shows that look like they've come from a network TV studio, complete with titles, backgrounds, animations, transitions and literally everything else you need to make a convincing-looking TV program.
You still need all the stuff that comes with live TV production, though, including lights and cameras. Scenery is less of an issue because of the "virtual studio" capabilities of the TriCaster, but studio-type TV cameras are still relatively expensive, and knowing how to set up a complete studio is still beyond anyone who, well, doesn't know how to set up a studio.
It's not just this that's getting in the way of making professional video. There is an aura of technical know how, perceived high cost, and perceived complexity that keeps non-video pros from investing in video production in the enterprise world.
Which is a pity, because there's never been a time when professional-looking video presentations have been more in demand. It's widely accepted that video content is an (if not the most) important part of "content marketing"; a new concept in marketing that gives potential customers the sense that they've gained something (knowledge or maybe even just entertainment) from reading or watching something on your website or blog. Make no mistake: content marketing is big. As consumers get tired of "conventional" advertising, content marketing resets the contract between provider and consumer, in a way that is beneficial to all parties.
Beyond marketing, video is proven to be one of the most effective channels for communicating ideas.
The existing broadcasters and production companies have the high end well covered. They have the budgets, the skills, the equipment and the talent. But, unfortunately, that rules out a much larger group of potential videomakers who have the ideas and the motivation, but lack the other elements.
The plain fact is that up to now, it's been too difficult to create television-style programs. For video blogs and short presentations, a simple, single camera approach is fine, but for anything beyond that - for anything that needs to look more professional or more like a network TV show, with all the bells and whistles - then, up to now, you will have needed at least the services of a fully-fledged TriCaster.
And that's fine. That product will continue to flourish, because there's an established market out there. But what about the next level down, where there is neither the professional equipment, nor the know-how to go with it?
The new TriCaster Mini
This is where NewTek has stepped in, today, with their new product, the TriCaster Mini.
Aimed at pretty much anyone that seriously needs to produce television programs, the new all-in-one device retains the smartness and power of the full sized TriCaster (it runs the same "professional" software) but it eases users into the inevitably complex process of TV production by making things easier to set up, and by allowing the use of "non-professional" cameras: specifically those with HDMI outputs. There are two versions: one has more storage and a built in screen.
This is a very big deal, because it lowers the cost of multi-camera production enormously.
In fact, there has never been such a proliferation of low cost cameras that could be used with the new TriCaster. Virtually any video camera or DSLR with an HDMI output will do the job (you will need to make sure that the HDMI output is "clean" - ie that it doesn't have an overlay of viewfinder info in it, but most modern cameras will be suitable.)
You could even use a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. These give a great-looking output for studio use - you just have to make sure that the output is set to "video" as opposed to "film" look.
Pricing (see press release over the page) is set to be affordable to professionals and organisations who want to make video content.
We'll be trying one of these out next week, so watch out for our report. Meanwhile, here's Newtek's press release in full.