Connect Spark™ Adds Versatility, Flexibility, Quality to Live Production for JupiterReturn
May 04, 2018 by Frank Wells
Victor Borachuk has stayed at the vanguard of streaming video since its early use. As a result, his company JupiterReturn was one of the first production companies to specialize in streaming and has maintained technological leadership by embracing emerging tech.
While working as the producer for the online and syndicated Tom Green Live show, Borachuk had his first exposure to NewTek gear – initially the VT5 Integrated Production Suite Software package then incorporating the TriCaster® multi-camera production system when the first models were released in 2005. As NewTek has developed advanced versions of TriCaster and efficient IP video distribution with NDI® and NDI HX, JupiterReturn has been quick to use new features and technologies to improve its capabilities. The latest additions to JupiterReturn’s NewTek gear inventory are 10 Connect Spark™ HDMI to Ethernet/WiFi portable network interfaces. Though Connect Spark devices have only been available for less than a year, they have become integral to JupiterReturn’s workflow.
By way of example, Borachuk recalls that, “We just did an event where they wanted to do a basic two-camera production of a speaker, so nothing super-crazy. But they also wanted to transmit this around a campus.”
Regardless of budget, he continues, “People always want it to be good; they don’t want a standard definition look. You could put fiber in, but that’s a lot of work. Instead of doing all that difficult work, 99% of corporate environments have their own network, so the IT person coordinates a VLAN and puts a couple ports on that.”
By way of a Connect Spark interface, each camera out goes straight onto the network, using the NDI protocol. From the network, cameras can be directly monitored or can feed a TriCaster for switching with the resulting program feed returned to the IP network. Via a laptop running the free NewTek Studio Monitor app, individual camera feeds or the program feed can be simply extracted from the network for connection to a display monitor or projector.
“They were excited that it was real-time,” Borachuk shares. “So if someone is talking in another room, you’re not hearing the joke like five seconds after everybody else already clapped and laughed on the other side of the wall or campus. The quality is the same as if you’re watching it on TV. And it’s not something where you have to put physical cables in the way or down the hallway – it’s something where it happens behind the scenes through their existing network.”
Borachuk says that Connect Spark interfaces have enabled flexibility and versatility in a wide range of applications. One such production was for Brazil Game Show in Sao Paolo, where Connect Sparks were used to couple tournament player POV cameras into an IP network where they were available to the TriCaster 860 with Advanced Edition for IMAG use.
A couple of other events popped up around the same time, Borachuk continues. “One of them was a project that we did for a luxury hotel, in Brazil again, on Copacabana Beach. It was one of those things that started out as a single camera show.”
The client wanted to put a camera on a host then live stream the video to kiosks in different airports in the United States. The host would then promote the beauty and available recreation in Brazil, along with the hotel.
JupiterReturn’s Rio de Janeiro branch, JupiterReturn do Brasil, suggested having the hotel IT department put a few ports on a VLAN to accept POV camera inputs via Connect Spark at locations such as the hotel’s pool deck, in its gym overlooking the beach, by its restaurant and at the concierge desk. Instead of a one-camera show from a single location, the feed could be cut live on a TriCaster from multiple available views of the facility and surroundings as the host spoke. The production, Borachuk says, illustrates “an opportunity that didn’t exist in a practical way before, which now does.”
While noting that such a production is possible with other gear, he adds that,
“Until you actually use the TriCaster platform, or the NDI platform, and Connect Spark interfaces, you probably won’t realize how much you can do that you always thought was out of reach.”
A project for the major Brazilian cable network, Globo, involved enhancing presentation oriented entertainment in ten renovated World Cup stadiums, allowing the kind of content common in U.S.A sports venues with big screen IMAG along with “Kiss Cam” type audience views, contests and other activities complimenting the action.
JupiterReturn do Brasil was contacted about integrating the presentation workflow, and in turn recommended Connect Spark interfaces, an NDI network and TriCaster as the control center of the system. Now the stadiums have a consistent workflow at each location. The facilities’ TriCasters share camera feeds from broadcast trucks along with two channels of graphics, two video replay channels from NewTek 3Play instant replay devices, a DJ POV camera, tallies and reserve input capability, all with modest bandwidth requirements via NDI with the latest bandwidth-saving HX technology and the ability to insert camera signals from new positions wirelessly via Connect Spark interfaces.
With Connect Spark offering easy video interface, the TriCaster/NDI/Connect Spark advantage is two-fold, Borachuk explains, first that the combination replaces a host of equipment based on its range of capability, which leads to the second advantage, its flexibility. Through the course of any production, says Borachuk, “there may be something you can do that would really elevate the experience of the story and the message that’s being conveyed, which is only possible if you have the flexibility to adjust and adapt on the fly. That’s why a client would hire you, and hire you again because they know that not only are you capable of doing the job but you have an interest in making whatever their project is the best that it can be.”
JupiterReturn has rapidly come to rely on Connect Spark for simplifying production workflow, reducing wiring and gear overhead, reducing expense, and speeding set-up, all while enhancing the ability to provide an improved experience for their clients’ audiences. Connect Spark, coupled with NDI and software tools, make high-quality, real-time core productions easy, and pair seamlessly with TriCaster where more sophistication is needed. Borachuk concludes, “You have all the resources you need to make something awesome and it’s just up to you to actually do it. That’s invaluable.”