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Tricaster and its many problems?

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Kevin Cease
Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 17, 2009 at 11:29:53 pm

Hi everyone. I thought I would share what my experiences are right now with tricaster and Adobe CS3, and see if anyone could help or talk about this as there are a number of things i am dealing with:

I am a director and I rented the TC from someone for a 5 day shoot, 10 hr days. I shot on 2 panasonic DVX100B's and one HVX. The tricaster exported a mass amount of mpeg-2 studio profile files for me to work on, and I have the cameras running on DV tape as well.

Problem #1: I use adobe to lay out the MPEG file, and then drop in the "native" DV files (captured in premiere and imported as AVI) but noticed that there was a problem with the mpeg files not being the same speed as the native avi and the wav files taken from all the individual mics in the room. Upon closer inspection, i noticed that when i was looking and listening to the mpeg file, sometimes when the camera cuts to a different one, i heard a jump in the word being spoken in the video. I realized that there is like a missing frame, or small piece of time when each camera cuts! The more i cut, the more off sync the mpeg was with the avi's and wav's. I uploaded a clip of it happening to youtube so you can see it for yourself. Again, this is straight from the tricaster, and has not been messed with:

<a href='//'></a>

I have more prominent clips if you would like to see them, i just accidentally deleted them from the youtube account.
Sometimes though, its not bad or doesn't happen! It's a shame, ive rented this machine twice for a total of 9 days on 2 projects and all the videos do this in different amounts throughout the clips taken. Not sure if i will ever go back to it unless this problem gets solved.

When I play the mpeg file in windows media player or quicktime, it is still there, so this problem has nothing to do with adobe. (imagine editing 5 days worth of material, mixing the mpegs with the avis. I have to add frames to make up for the missing time when the cameras cut)

Problem #2: My computer is mega fast, i am running a intel I7 processor with 12 GB RAM and a 2GB videocard. I have 12TB of free HDD space on my computer. Some of the MPEG files will stream amazingly well in Premiere, however, some of the files will choke up and the video barely moves. The audio plays fine though. This prevents me from being able to edit since i have to constantly wait for the mpeg file to play and when it does, it plays like 1 frame....then 4 seconds go by, then another frame...etc. I can't find any difference in this video file by the TC and the ones that play well.

Problem #3: Some of the mpeg's when played in windows media player play fine, while some don't show any video. again, i can't find any difference in the file types. all were shot in the same amount of time. and some of the files that choke up, are smaller than the ones that don't

I downloaded quicktime's MPEG-2 codec. nothing.

any ideas? anyone experience any of these nightmares?

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Alex Horvath
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 18, 2009 at 12:08:18 pm

Knowing from the old days with my VT4.5 I guess there are problems if you are switching directly on the mainbus with unsychronized sources (Cameras) I´m not shure if Newtek has fixed this with Tricaster, but with unsynced sources you had to put your next Source onto the previewbus and switch via "Take". In this case Mpeg2 wouldn´t the best for aquisition. Maybe you should try DV25.
But best would be to ask at the newtek forum.


multimedia and special events

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Gary Hazen
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 18, 2009 at 12:48:18 pm

"I am a director and I rented the TC from someone for a 5 day shoot..." -KC

"ive rented this machine twice for a total of 9 days on 2 projects and all the videos do this in different amounts throughout the clips taken." -KC

If I'm following this correctly, you've been burned on 2 big projects. I'm curious on why you used the same work flow if it didn't work very well the first time. Mpeg is a poor choice for post production, it's place in the production pipeline is near the end not the beginning. On the next big project you should consider hiring a technical consultant to avoid potential problems in post. I'm not saying you need to hire this person for 5 days. Just bring him in at the beginning for the planning phases. In the end it will save you time, money and spare you from the headaches you're experiencing now.

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Kevin Cease
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 18, 2009 at 7:46:35 pm

Thanks for responding. this company that makes this product claims that the mpeg-2 "studio profile" is a 'High Profile' 4:2:2 MPEG-2 that is far superior in soo many ways. Clearly it's not. I have to convert some of the files to avi before i can really work with them. But the out of synch camera switching is just disgusting.

What would you do in my situation? I am still learning the tech side of all this, and would like to get whatever it is i need to be able to direct a muilticam shoot easily, and would love to be able to output the file as i live edit into a high quality format. Any thoughts? My projects are intended for mass production dvd's and possibly television.

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Gary Hazen
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 18, 2009 at 10:01:26 pm

Regarding recording a switched feed for editing there are a lot of options. The right hardware choice depends on the NLE used for post.

Telestream Episode
-encodes to Avid and FCP native codecs.

- encodes to ProRes (Apples codec for FCP)

Grass Valley T2 DDR
- encodes to the Canopus HQ codec. You would have to do some research on this to see if you could use this codec with Premire CS3. Also, it's relatively new piece of hardware - I don't know if they are out there for rental just yet.

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Alan Lloyd
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 19, 2009 at 2:33:13 am

I have used TriCasters in quite a few different settings, and recorded both to tape and hard drive. When recording to hard drive, do not use MPEG. Use AVI. It just works. MPEG is not meant to be edited, it's a delivery format - and that is the source of much of your difficulty.

Your problems may not disappear but they will be smaller and less frequent. Seriously. The TriCaster is a nice piece of gear, but like anything, it's better at some things than others.

A wrench can be used as a hammer, but not the other way round.

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Paul Lara
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 21, 2009 at 4:40:39 pm

Hi, Kevin.

Paul Lara with NewTek here.
The MPEG-2 Studio profile is an optional recording method, as not all NLE's can correctly play them. The Standard Profile MPEG-2 recording should work fine.

I'm wondering if that might be the difference between these two apparently similar records?

NewTek tech support is open 7 days a week to help you resolve such issues.

Oh, and on the comment above that MPEG-2 is not sufficient for editing, that is true for MPEG-2 files that have a group of pictures between each I-frame.

In the case of both Standard and Studio Profiles on TriCaster, there is an I-frame on *every* frame, to facilitate editing that is no different than avi.

-Paul Lara
NewTek Video Evangelist

I am a complete photo-junkie

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Mike Cohen
Re: Tricaster and its many problems?
on Dec 29, 2009 at 1:59:45 pm

To backup what Paul said - MPEG-2 means many things. Editing m2v files ripped from a DVD, not so good, but workable if necessary - but dropped frames are common. MPEG-2 I frame is supposed to be designed for editing - Panasonic DVCPRO HD on newer cameras offers an I frame codec.

I have only used the Tricaster twice - once as a demo and once in a rented studio. Both times I found it to be clunky and not exactly what was advertised. But this was early in its life - presumably they have improved things.

In my opinion, if you want to do a live switching shoot, rent a switcher and record ISO's to tape or flash media. You could record a switched feed, but then capture all the raw video and edit in the usual fashion. Earlier this year a crew at a convention center did a 3 camera shoot - traditional switcher, no ISO's, the switcher feed
was recorded to AVI on a removable hard drive, with a backup switcher recording to VHS. Yes, VHS. In fact, due to an audio interference problem on the AVI files, the only usable audio was on the VHS tape. And to make matters worse, the last 30 minutes of the event was not recorded at all. I had no hand in this shoot, was only sent the AVI files after the fact to edit.

This proves that the weakest link in any setup negates the benefit of all other high tech gear. In this case, the highest-tech gear was also the weakest link. But the crew members can also be weak links.

Mike Cohen

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