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Frederic Segard
09-13-2005, 09:33 PM
Hi there, new to the VT world (actually, I know nothing practical about it).

I am the technical director for a new regional television station, and need to make certain decisions about many things. That's not to say everything... 8~ Anyway, we need to live switch with 6 cameras (up to 8 at the most) for events that we cover. From the marketing hype, third party reviews, and forum discussions, the VT may just be what the doctor ordered.

However, once the show is recorded on the DDR, it needs to be edited. Be it on the same computer or a dedicated NLE system. I am familiar with the capabilities of Final Cut Pro 5, and Avid Xpress Pro (with Mojo). However, I have no clue as to how VT4 compares to those two in the editing arena. The two primary areas of importance to our production environment is realtime and multicam capabilities... did I mention realtime??? Our editors are really tired of rendering, and as we all know, time is money!

So my question is fairly simple. How does VT fair compared to Avid Xpress Pro (with Mojo) and Final Cut Pro 5? Is it as complete and robust? Are the realtime capabilities of the VT way ahead of the pack, of just marginaly so? Anybody have any experiences with all or any of these products?

Thanks,

Fred

John Perkins
09-14-2005, 07:37 AM
If realtime is the primary concern, VT is the way to go. It is IMHO the fastest workflow period. The editor was really designed well.

Everything you can do is realtime. Given a decently powerful system you can stack up many layers of video tracks and effects without rendering at all. 4+ layers with effects and color correction, etc. is not at all uncommon.

When it does actually have enough layers that it needs to render, it does so in the background while you continue to edit.

Now, it is a totally different workflow than Avid and FCP. You have to be willing to allow yourself to pick up the workflow. The Avid/FCP workflow is IMHO, very strict, based on a linear workflow and meant more for editors who are reading from a cut sheet than editors who are also making the decisions.

VT4 is a very non-linear editor. For example, the Avid style 3 point editing is highly over rated. We aren't on tape anymore, so why not just put the darn clip where you want it and be done?

It has a few warts here and there (like any software) but for day to day editing, VT4.5 is an amazing, stable system.

We have an Avid Express Pro Studio in the same room with our VT4 and what does everyone use given the choice? Yep, VT4.

Jim_C
09-14-2005, 08:24 AM
There is no built in multi camera edit package in VT. You can fake it, but it is kind of clunky.

There is however an awesome third party MCE app made by Bob Tasa for the VT.You can check it out at www.toastergarage.com . Veryu affordable and very powerful.

IMO, build a modern powerful system with a fast SCSI raid array and VT is the fastest 'real time' NLE out there. Unlike many other competitors that twist the word with astericks and but if's, when Newtek says 'real time', it really does mean it. (Again all according to your system tho)

Just a side note. The VT can only record one feed at a time. You wont be able to record all 6 cams on one system.

If you have a dealer near by, stop in for a demo. Thats proof in the puddin.

Paul Lara
09-14-2005, 10:01 AM
The two primary areas of importance to our production environment is realtime and multicam capabilities... did I mention realtime??? Our editors are really tired of rendering, and as we all know, time is money!


Instead of taking my word for it...here is a comment from someone intimately familiar with several systems:

ďIf I didnít have a VT 3 (upgrading to VT 4.5 as I type), this project would have been a real pain. Avid Media Composers donít handle oversized still and I used hundreds in this video. My friends on Final Cut Pro complain about the rendering for audio, etc. I have a Final Cut Pro system in the other room, but I only use it for Itunes. Iím really happy with the VT and canít wait to see where itís going next. Iím in the process of relaunching Sharpcut Productions to handle low budget, high quality 35mm commercials and music videos, and my 2 VTs will be a big part of this.Ē
-Gary Robinson
Sharpcut Productions

:cool:

tfrank
09-14-2005, 10:37 AM
Fred,
I work at a small market TV station. We have been using a Toaster in Production for 3 years now. Because of it's price/performance, we will hopefully be placing an order for an additional Toaster for commercial/promotion production and order for up to 4 Toasters for news editing next week during a visit from our owners. All Toasters will be networked together. We've sat through several Avid sales presentations...including one for their new "competively priced" systems for smaller operations...but the fact is, the Toaster human interface, speed, and price makes for an almost unbeatable combination. Plus for the difference in price between the two manufacturers...it appears that for the money budgeted we might be able to buy a couple of new cameras with support gear too! I have users that are familiar with Avid platform, other than missing their Mac computers...they all like the Toaster. Long term costs are important too. Avid wants to charge around $6,000. per year per box for support. Using just my fingers and toes, that adds up to a bunch of money that is subtracted directly from the bottom line. Please take a close look at a Toaster solution, and please talk about your needs with a qualified Toaster dealer. I think that you might be pleasantly surprised!

vanderwielen
09-14-2005, 04:43 PM
We have 2 toasters and are generally happy with them, but there's more to television than laying out your production on an NLE. Infact, anytime you have to lay down a 'live to tape' production on an NLE, you'll lose time and money. share more of you thoughts about how you intend to playout your 24/7 content? Sure, we use NLEs for commericals, leadins and such, but we don't bother with any NLE 95% of the time for aired content. My suggestion for a 24/7 TV station is to use the toaster as a live switch, off line NLE and CG, but playout your content on an MPEG2 server and ingest your live content to MPEG2-on-the-fly via the toaster. We own 2 TV stations.

Frederic Segard
09-14-2005, 09:00 PM
Thank you all. This is encouraging! Iím meeting the VT rep tomorrow for a demo. Hopefully, I will be pleased with what I see. (I have a good feeling :thumbsup:)

Itís very interesting to see that Avid and FCP, for all their hype, whiz and bang, gets pushed aside so easily by the VT by so many. Iíve always heard the name Video Toaster floating around, ever since itís apparition on the Amiga. But never seriously considered it, until now.

I do have one strange question to ask. This may sound weird, but I need to know (as unbiased as possible) what the shortcomings of the VT are? It's like when you're shopping for insurance; it's what's not covered that you should take note of, more then what is. :deal: So for me, it's as important to find out what the flip side of the coin is. After all, no product is perfect, all have their quirks; and if a large percentage of the shortcomings of the VT are irrelevant to our workflow (or can easily be circumvented), then thatís a definite plus. Better to find out now then later.

How many of you have a ďmobileĒ VT unit? Iím curious as to how you have configured your setup. What sort of setup and gear do you have: rack mount chassis, travel case, OB van, etcÖ Any hiccups when moving the unit around from place to place? For mobile use, I seriously need to know something about storage. In the system recommendations page, they suggest 3x 15K RPM or 4x 10K RPM SCSI drives in software RAID 0. But since mobile units are prone to vibration and shock, the chance to lose a drive quadruples. My intent is to push the system to 8x 15K RPM disks in hardware RAID 5 (or 3) configuration (no need for hotspare). Iíd hate to spend all this money on a killer system, and see a whole project go down the drain because of a disk failure.

Thanks a million,

Fred

robewil
09-14-2005, 10:22 PM
The most notable shortcoming of VT is no HD support at this time.

John Perkins
09-14-2005, 10:38 PM
I'm a HUGE fan of the system, but check my other posts and you'll see I don't mind pointing out flaws. I think NewTek has a Like/Hate relationship with me. :I_Love_Ne

The audio is weak. For basic stuff it's fine, but plugins aren't available. Also, when you add a filter it effects all tracks above (it works top down) Same with the few video filters, all tracks above.

Almost all filters are available within the clip control panel and are keyframable so it negates most of this.

You will probably want an audio app to normalize (please add this NT) and do noise reduction, etc. Since audio is kept separate from the uncompressed video files this isn't so bad.

It defaults to floating point audio. Argg, I hate this one, but you can set it to capture and render normal wav files. It is a high-end thing that (IMHO) shouldn't be the default, so just remember to pay attention to your settings.

Some people have DV audio drift. I don't personally see this one on our systems so I suspect is has to do with how the computer is set up.

The CG has been very buggy over the years. VT4.5 fixed this, but I still have that worry in the back of my mind. So far, it's great though. I personally turned in bug reports for weeks before 4.5 and they fixed every single one I turned in.

Angle a PIP and it gets a little jagged. There are settings that can help, but it could be a lot better. It isn't a show-stopper, but hey, you asked.

It needs a burly system to work at it's best, most stable abilities. No sales bull, it really does want 2GB of memory and all the CPU and drive speed it can get. Skimp on the computer and you won't like it.

It doesn't support non-drop frame timecode. Very few people need it, but if you need to output NDF, it won't.

That is about all I can nit-pick on. Everything else it does, it does better than anything on the market IMHO.

It looks like a lot, but for a brutally honest list, that's **** good.


I can't really see a difference between the 15k and 10k drives other than the huge price jump. Get a good set of 10K drives, and the price will justify it. Why spin it 50% faster than needed if you are worried about durability?

As long as the computer is off vibration doesn't seem to hurt them. The heads of the drives are parked, just like they were when shipped from the factory. They are designed to be very safe when the power is off so I wouldn't worry so much about that. By the time you get the drives new, they have traveled thousands of miles and probably been drop kicked by UPS.

The redundant controllers are crap. They get terrible speeds, only a couple of layers of video at best. If you need to be redundant, get an external unit that connects through SCSI. We sell Roarke units and have had great luck with them the past few years. Roarke has both SATA and SCSI models of any size and use real Seagate drives. They rack mount into a flight case if needed too. I can't brag enough about these things.

We are testing Huge arrays right now, but so far I'm not too happy with them. They are smaller, cheaper and quieter than Roarke's, but my first unit lost a drive on day one...a Hitachi Deathstar. :thumbsdow

If those arrays are out of your price range, as many of the 146GB 10K drives as you can afford/mount internally and back-up often. I wish internal RAID5 or 3 was fast enough, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to work well. The 146's keep the number of drives down to a minimum to help reduce failure rates. Get 4+ no matter what, 4 is the sweet spot.

Knowing how to lay out a mobile system is a big deal too. I trained one school on a system they bought elsewhere and I swear, they must have NEVER sat in front of it. The monitors couldn't even be seen from the keyboard and RS-8!

I ended up training them using a cardboard box to hold an old keyboard and mouse from an e-machines system they had laying around.

Make sure that whereever you get the system, they are close enough to you and know the VT well enough to be helpful. Especially with a mobile system.

Good luck, I think you'll love it.

vanderwielen
09-15-2005, 07:07 AM
http://www.htv19.com/trailer.html

Mobile VT. We've had no vibration issues whatsoever.

Jim_C
09-15-2005, 07:40 AM
To build a complete and very portable VT workstation with scsi raid I used a shock mount 30 space rack. Sits on any table top.

The VT system is housed in a mid-atx case that sits sideways at the bottom of the case.Gives about 1/2" on both sides. Perfect for a little more padding.

There is a shelf that sits about 1/8th inch above the VT unit that a 17"LCD monitor fits on.

The 4 scsi drives are housed in a 4bay external case that fits on the shelf behind the LCD.

The mouse and keyboard tuck in next to the external case when transporting. Everything is powered by a rack mount ups system that is mounted above the LCD.

All in the box is always plugged in, ready to go just by plugging in the ups power.

This gives us a full dual xeon/scsi VT system in a box that two guys can manage. One if he is a brute. It can be set up and running in literally one minute + boot up time.

No problems with vibrations yet. Everything is very protected and extra shock mounted. It has bounced around the country in the back of a semi for a couple years now.

We also have 2 VT's mounted in a 23' production trailer. No problems with them either.

As for VT weaknesses... check out the feature request section.
http://vbulletin.newtek.com/forumdisplay.php?f=40
Might give yopu a broad range of wish lists.



Jim

billmi
09-15-2005, 08:25 AM
Anyway, we need to live switch with 6 cameras (up to 8 at the most) for events that we cover.....

However, once the show is recorded on the DDR, it needs to be edited. Be it on the same computer or a dedicated NLE system. I am familiar with the capabilities of Final Cut Pro 5, and Avid Xpress Pro (with Mojo). However, I have no clue as to how VT4 compares to those two in the editing arena. The two primary areas of importance to our production environment is realtime and multicam capabilities... did I mention realtime??? Our editors are really tired of rendering, and as we all know, time is money!


It sounds to me like you are describing two very different production styles.

Live to tape style - Switch live, and record live to your DDR in the VT. Then you will go back and use that recording as the source content to edit your show (trimming show length, cutting bloopers, etc.)

If you need a cover shot to fix a switching mistake though, you will have needed to record the outputs from your cameras on separate decks, and then capture the cover shot you need, and insert edit it in.

This would be a piece of cake for the VT. It would not possible with, FCPro, and Avid Express. This is because the VT is both a switcher and an NLE editor (and more.)

Post produced style - Record from each camera, and then edit in an NLE with multicam capabilities.

To do this with the VT (or other NLEs for that matter) you'd need to record the output of each camera at once (the VT won't record multiple camera outputs simultaneously) and then capture or transfer the video into the VT, and then edit.

You can multicamera edit with VT edit since it has unlimited layering, but it doesn't have a multicamera editor built in, so it's not as easy as using a package with an MCE feature. Bob Tasa makes a pluggin to add multicamera functionality to the VT, and it's well reviewed and not all that pricey.

Those two methods are different, but basically you need to chose - when do you want to do your switching - when the show is being shot, or afterward?

What it sounds like you want to do from your description, is have a video device that records all the cameras simultaneously, and rather than actually switching live, builds an EDL for a multicamera editor, which can later be used to edit the show in realtime. I don't know of any solutions for that, VT won't and neither will FCP or Avid Express.

MediaSig
09-15-2005, 06:16 PM
What it sounds like you want to do from your description, is have a video device that records all the cameras simultaneously, and rather than actually switching live, builds an EDL for a multicamera editor, which can later be used to edit the show in realtime. I don't know of any solutions for that, VT won't and neither will FCP or Avid Express.


I think AVID Adrenalin will do this. I know older AVID systems have been able to do this for a while. AS for Avid Express Pro? I'm thinking probably not.


Greg

videoguy
09-15-2005, 06:21 PM
actually you can record two video sources at once , one on program out and one on preview,

John Perkins
09-16-2005, 06:39 AM
I have one client that records Main, Preview and Program so that they can fix some switching mistakes in post.

They are still on still on VT3 even.

Frederic Segard
09-16-2005, 08:06 AM
So, you can record up to 3 streams?

What's the difference between Program and Main?

I've looked at the Sony Anycast station, and you can set it to record on various Firewire drives all the incoming streams. Interresting option, but only in DV. However, what discouraged me from it is the fact that the individual camera preview windows were no more the 1.5", runing at 10 to 15fps. Try to follow a hockey puck with that!

videoguy
09-16-2005, 08:11 AM
Main dosent have the DSK with it.

billmi
09-16-2005, 08:12 AM
I think AVID Adrenalin will do this. I know older AVID systems have been able to do this for a while.


I'd be surprised if it could. At least according to the specs on AVID's site, it only has one analog video in, so recording 8 streams simultanouesly would be tough, unless the software lets you use a stack of Adrenalins at the same time.

Granted it's been years since I've sat down in front of an Avid, so they may well have a solution like this on their higher end systems.

John Perkins
09-16-2005, 08:13 AM
Program will be the mixture of Main, Preview and DSK (if they are in use).

So in effect, you get whatever is comming into the system on Main and Preview plus the combination that would go out to tape.

Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing at all. I'd still keep tapes in all the cameras.

billmi
09-16-2005, 08:20 AM
The August issue of Video Systems had a review of the Anycast Station in which the reviewer said that "Sony needs to include some sort of nonlinear editing application..." That would mean it's only a switcher not a hybrid switcher/NLE. According to the review the recent 1.1 software update added DDR functionality to the switcher, and if two additional hard drives were attached to the Anycast Station it should then be able to record up to 4 streams of video as AVI files.

billmi
09-16-2005, 08:22 AM
Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing at all. I'd still keep tapes in all the cameras.

A sound idea though. Chances are good that you'll have a shot on preview to use as a cover that would be very quickly accessible, if you need it, and if you don't have a working shot there you'd still be covered to go back and capture something off of one of the tapes.

MediaSig
09-16-2005, 09:18 AM
I'd be surprised if it could. At least according to the specs on AVID's site, it only has one analog video in, so recording 8 streams simultanouesly would be tough, unless the software lets you use a stack of Adrenalins at the same time.

Granted it's been years since I've sat down in front of an Avid, so they may well have a solution like this on their higher end systems.


Ahh....I think I mis-read your post. Yeah...AVID can't record 8 stream simultanously - I was talking just being able to cut the program in their multi-cam utility, "live" in post from the multi-cam source footage.

:D

Greg

Jim_C
09-16-2005, 09:30 AM
So, you can record up to 3 streams?
What's the difference between Program and Main?



Yea, sorry I originally mislead you with the wrong info.
Using this 'hack of sorts' will let you record 3 streams, but as John said in another thread, you better have a beefy system to do it. A REAL beefy one.
And fast video drives.

Main in is the feed before it enters any of the VTs processing, in essence straight from the source.
Program out is after it has passed thru the VT and its switcher, so any color correction, proc amp, switched feed will show on the program out.

Sorry about the mislead.

Jim

Paul Lara
09-16-2005, 09:46 AM
The August issue of Video Systems had a review of the Anycast Station in which the reviewer said that "Sony needs to include some sort of nonlinear editing application..."

He he.
Yeah, that reviewer had just finished writing his TriCaster review for Video Systems.
Coincidence?

mikkowilson
09-16-2005, 01:54 PM
I'll point out the biggest shortcoming (that really, not a problem, esp for the price, but you shoudl know..)

The VT only actually ever inputs 2 signals at a time - the breakout box is basically a router.
So you can as mentioned only ever record 2 streams. BUT you can also only monitor 2 inputs (plus the internal in the DSK for example) and any transition is limited to 2 sources at a time (so a cut from a regular camera to a camera with chroma key won't work because the croma key alone uses both sources.)
DSK is internal sources only.
Again, not really major problems, but just something to be aware of when designing yrou live productions.

- Mikko

JReble
09-16-2005, 02:06 PM
True, but that was traditional hardware switching boards had that same effective limitation until you got into the quad effects bank systems over $150,000. For the rest of us in that era, the solution was an external chroma keyer module. Either way, you were talking decent bucks.

Still, it would be great if Newtek integrated some kind of macro commands so one could pull up switcher saved states including keyer settings. Then one could cut between switcher setups that each had a different camera in program keyed over a particular DDR background.

mikkowilson
09-16-2005, 02:12 PM
It still wouldnt' work, beacuse the VT's framesync only has 2 inputs... ..but if there was a way to tell the VT that it was in a synced system.. and that it would always go on the sync from the Genlock, not by it's own framesyncs.
Again, still nothing i'd complain about on a $10k system. But I like to mention it so people know.

- Mikko

ScorpioProd
09-16-2005, 04:22 PM
But doesn't the TriCaster support THREE simultaneous analog inputs?

Ironic if the flagship VT can't... Or can it? ;)

ScorpioProd
09-16-2005, 04:25 PM
Program will be the mixture of Main, Preview and DSK (if they are in use).

So in effect, you get whatever is comming into the system on Main and Preview plus the combination that would go out to tape.

Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing at all. I'd still keep tapes in all the cameras.

OH, that's what you meant... In the other thread I thought you were implying THREE DIFFERENT inputs being recorded at once.

There is a more fundamental problem with even recording TWO inputs at once, IF you are doing ANY switching... EVERY time you switch you'll be SWAPPING what's on the buses... Not really an ISO at all.

Tape is the way to go for ISO stuff.

John Perkins
09-16-2005, 04:44 PM
You are right, it definately isn't the best way to go.

The clips end up with cuts in them from one camera to the next. They trim them out and it works for what they do.

More often than not, the switch was correct to begin with. Only a few times they need to go back and correct things or hold longer or shorter on a camera.