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Soccer is big in the Europe. In fact, for many teenagers, it’s pretty much an obsession. The only thing that competes is their use of social media. So when Nike’s #RiskEverything tournament came to London in May, it was a chance to blend many teenagers’ two favorite pastimes into one social phenomenon. But how? XYZ, local event organisers for Nike in London, showed Nike’s campaign managers what NewTek TriCaster and 3Play systems could do with video content on the big screen and on social media - at the same time.

IMG 4477XYZ designed and built ‘Phenomenal House,’ a venue created for the event in the heart of London to highlight Nike soccer gear innovations to fans and players. The enormous space housed a caged 4-a-side soccer pitch, a museum charting Nike’s 40 years of sports innovations, competition spaces to test and promote Nike’s latest soccer boots, a ‘club house’ featuring table foosball, soccer video games on Sony Playstation systems, and a Nike store.

The continuous soccer action focused on a 4-a-side tournament where winners from previous heats played in a knockout competition, with the tournament champions claiming places at a Nike Academy pre-season experience. Outside of the main competition, other teams were able to register via the Nike website for ‘open play’ each day.

Compelling video content and consumer-led social media activity are crucial in connecting Nike with its target market, and the high-octane soccer action provided fantastic source material.

“We faced two challenges: to produce an exciting live and interactive soccer experience for players and spectators at the venue, including instant replays and rich animated graphics on the big screens, and to be able to push that content to social media almost instantaneously,”IMG 4487 says Will Mould, Managing Director, XYZ.

XYZ contracted Chuffed Productions to provide the broadcast production to meet the brief. Two Sony PMW300 camera operators zoomed in on the fancy footwork while five GoPro fixed cameras set up around the pitch captured the action. The live cameras fed a NewTek TriCaster 8000 multi-camera live video production system for vision mixing and network-style output to live screens around the venue, complete with Nike brand graphics. A NewTek 3Play 4800 integrated sports production system provided live replays of goals and hero skills for the big screens and for social media sharing.

“One of the best things about the set-up was the new 3Play 4800 system with its eight camera inputs,” says Ben Baldwin, Director, Chuffed Productions. “The wide choice of shots enabled us to deliver highly professional-looking content – really important at a fast-paced event like this.”

The intuitive interface of the TriCaster and the 3Play let staff work across different systems. “We had professional operators experienced with either the TriCaster or the 3Play, and they found it easy to swap from one to the other”, says Ben. “We also had work experience trainees who picked up both systems very quickly.”

IMG 4211There were 50-60 games each day. Every game was captured on video, broadcast to the big screens and packaged for highlights and replays. It all added up to a huge amount of footage to be managed live.

 “I thought I knew what the capabilities of TriCaster were – that’s why we brought it on board – but what I experienced with TriCaster and 3Play was beyond my wildest expectations,” says Will. “The pace of the replays and the speed at which we were able to get them out to Nike’s target audience was brilliant.”

Historically, selecting the highlights among 50 to 70 short matches per day would have been a time-consuming task in post-production. In contrast, using 3Play, clips were selected and uploaded directly to social media networks including Facebook and Twitter. The clips were also emailed immediately to the players, who then shared these videos with the hashtag #RiskEverything, providing Nike with reach in the most authentic way.   

As Will says, “It was critical to get the highlight clips out straight away, while the content was still relevant. These players spend their lives on social media; they want to share what they’ve done, right away. TriCaster and 3Play enabled us to do that.”2

“When the client first saw the action on the big screens, they were blown away.  And when a player is still on the pitch and can look up and watch a replay of his goal, it makes him feel like a professional soccer player,” says Ben. “I can’t do that without TriCaster and 3Play. NewTek allows me to deliver affordable, professional-looking content to the big screen and social media.”

The event exceeded Nike’s targets for attendance and digital reach, with over 10,000 guests through the doors across the six days, and the shared video connecting with hundreds of thousands more consumers. Will concludes, “Nike were overjoyed with the whole event. The TriCaster set-up played a huge role in allowing us to create an amazing live experience.”


To read more studies on how end users are taking the television industry by storm with NewTek products, check out NewTek Customer Stories.

Basketball Travelers Inc. leverages TriCaster’s live streaming capability and social media support to build interest and audience for the annual basketball tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


paradise-jam-1When the University of Maryland captured the Paradise Jam Championship in November 2013, tournament organizer Basketball Travelers Inc. posted a screen grab on Twitter of the triumphant team with its trophy even before the tournament’s broadcast partner CBS Sports was off the air with its game coverage.

That Twitter post is an example of how Sean Christensen, Basketball Travelers director of media, sees social media evolving into a vehicle that builds fan interest, makes sharing game memories easy and ultimately drives viewers to game coverage.

“Increasingly, people are online while they are watching games on their TVs or streaming over the Internet,” he says. “They probably are sharing their thoughts about the game they are watching with Twitter. If we are posting game highlights an hour and a half after the game, we have missed the window to spread the word as the game is going on.”

Basketball Travelers, a company specializing in organizing tours and tournaments for U.S. college and high school teams in foreign countries, turned to the NewTek TriCaster 8000 production system as the centerpiece of its production setup for Paradise Jam, an eight-team NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament held annually in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Complementing the men’s tournament is a pair of NCAA Division I women’s tournaments the following week, which Basketball Travelers streams online, as well.

paradise-jam-5Brian Ratzliff, executive director, special projects, for Basketball Travelers, says that streaming live game coverage and highlights of the tournament is becoming a “huge component” of the company’s distribution model, simply because younger people want instant access to content on whatever device is at hand. “They are not going to a cable guide to find that. They are going online and finding that via social media. That is what is driving their awareness. So being able to use social media - and working in our case with partner schools that are attending our basketball events, as well as some media outlets that feel pretty good about promoting through social media - we are able to drive an audience into the kind of offerings we have that we are now streaming,” says Ratzliff.

This year’s Paradise Jam was the first time Basketball Travelers deployed TriCaster to do double duty as the platform used for its HD multi-camera, live streaming tournament coverage, and the source of game highlights and other content for new social media distribution. While CBS Sports held the rights to produce and distribute six tournament games for its domestic audience, Basketball Travelers’ TriCaster setup produced the rest of the games and streamed them live. “We put together a six-camera shoot with two up cameras, two down cameras and two GoPro cameras on the backboards,” recalls Christensen. “The ability to put that many HD cameras on with professional graphics and statistics from a folding table in the Virgin Islands. was amazing,” he says.

Social media workflow

paradise-jam-6Christensen and his team had two main tasks to complete during Paradise Jam games: produce live streaming, HD coverage and create and post video clips and screen grabs of tournament highlights to a variety of social media destinations, such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Conscious of production budgets, Christensen found the combination of the TriCaster production solution and 3Play instant replay system not only provided a level of game production on par with what viewers expect to see on TV, but also that is was an efficient way to go about the production. “The combination of TriCaster and 3Play basically saved us having to have another position on the crew,” says Christensen. “Rather than having just one person doing social media, the setup allowed us to reduce the number of people we needed to support our streaming and social media activities.” According to Christensen, the 3Play operator for the tournament not only put together replays and highlight packages for streaming game coverage, but also was responsible for doing screen grabs and clip packages for YouTube that were assembled and posted during dead balls, time outs and other breaks in game action. “The 3Play operator was able to make screen grabs and Tweet out pictures and upload clips to YouTube. Rather than just waiting for play to resume, we were active on our social media networks.”

NewTek’s 3Play, in particular, gave the streaming presentation of the games added sizzle not normally found online, says Christensen. “We are not exactly on the ESPN or CBS end of production, but you normally don’t see a lot of replay on a free stream of a game,” he says. “I got several comments from coaches after the tournament about how easy it was to watch our streaming coverage and how they wished they could get this quality of production online, all of the time.”

Ratzliff, too, received good feedback about the quality of his HD production of the games for a streaming audience. “We had a comment from an NCAA Division I school who watched the streamed games and said that was the best streaming experience they had ever seen online. We were ecstatic with how it looked from a viewer’s eyes, and the schools that were there that had their games streamed reported back to us that their fans were extremely impressed with what they saw,” says Ratzliff. Christensen adds he was pleasantly surprised that the person running 3Play only needed two days to learn the replay system before using it without hesitation for the production on Paradise Jam.

Future jam

paradise-jam-4Last year’s Paradise Jam experience with TriCaster and 3Play simply whetted Christensen’s appetite for finding new ways to enhance Basketball Traveler’s video offerings in the future, and he has already identified one area for improvement, he says. Typically, Basketball Travelers provide the video coordinators of participating universities with DVDs of the games. While using TriCaster at Paradise Jam, Christensen learned it is possible to upload to the Internet on-demand game segments, such as the first half of the game, even while TriCaster is being used to produce live streaming coverage of the game.

“If we can upload as we go, most coaches will be happy to have the opportunity to download those files, so they can review a play at half time. That will definitely be an improvement over DVD distribution,” he says. TriCaster also will enable Basketball Travelers to stream coverage of other collegiate athletic competitions. BTI, another company managed by Basketball Travelers, puts together a variety of events, including the World University Games for Team USA, and a host of other tournaments around the world.  “We want to show these games to the world,” says Christensen. “Having TriCaster means you are going to start seeing a lot more college athletics streamed online by our company.” Ratzliff adds that the impact of TriCaster on sports production extends well beyond Basketball Travelers.

paradise-jam-3
“I think the reach for NewTek is truly worldwide,” says Ratzliff. “One of the biggest obstacles to getting events back from overseas is simply the cost of satellite time. So to be able to deliver a high-quality product that people are able to see on a phone, on a tablet or on a computer is powerful.

“The technology is now getting so good you can deliver via the Internet, and you can conceivably see the day when most sports content you are trying to get back to the United States is going to be delivered through IP packaging like this.”




To read more studies on how end users are taking the television industry by storm with NewTek products, check out NewTek Customer Stories.

Off the wall action


Vans

All the young dudes were out in force one sunny August weekend, when the Vans Downtown Showdown skateboard event rolled into Paris.

With €50,000 prize money at stake for the twelve teams in competition, the event promised to be serious fun. The live streaming specialists, 3XScreen Media, captured it all using NewTek TriCasters, 3Play instant replay and LiveText graphics.

Van’s designs and distributes a wide range of specialist shoes and apparel targeted at the skateboarding community, both skaters and fans. The brand is promoted using a packed calendar of sponsored global events and a constantly updated Web and social media presence. Vans’ brand strap line is “off the wall” and the coverage for the event, just like their in-house VOD channel at www.offthewall.tv, needs to promote the brand as young and exciting, urban and immediate.

“We’ve done BMX and skateboard events for Vans before, but Downtown Showdown is by far the biggest event of any kind for Vans in Europe, and the biggest skateboard event in Europe,” says Scott Robinson, Managing Director, 3XScreen Media, which produced the event with Factory Media.

No-barriers outreach
The Vans marketing team had two objectives: Get customers to Paris and immerse them in the event, and engage with the community digitally in other parts of the world.

Nick Street, Senior Marketing Manager, Vans EMEA, explains: “Only so many people can actually come to the event, so live streaming is a way of making a wider audience part of the experience. VANS consumers engage on multiple social platforms, and they consume media a lot quicker; they want to go and get things instantly, and they want to be part of it. That’s really a great opportunity for us.”

“These events are great for promoting our brand”, Nick continued, “The style of production aligns with our brand values. Skateboarders are a global community that want immediate access to, and involvement with the events.”

VansThe skateboard competition saw twelve teams skating four obstacles, each one representing a Parisian icon; from the Eiffel Tower, to a designer suitcase obstacle representing Parisian chic! The skaters, as well as peripheral art and music events, were filmed and streamed live to screens around the venue, as well as to various Web platforms, and the footage was recorded for later use.

Multi-camera, multi-action
“Vans’ brief was that the production needed to be cost-effective; to be broadcast-quality; and to be innovative,” says Scott. “Those things are really what the NewTek kit brings to our workflow.”

3XScreen Media has been using NewTek TriCasters for three years, producing around 60 productions each year. “TriCaster and 3Play are a fundamental part of our live production workflow,” says Scott. “Without them we couldn’t do the kind of productions our customers expect.”

VansThe workflow for the Downtown Showdown consisted of 12 cameras, all feeding back to an on-site production studio which housed a TriCaster 850 and a TriCaster 855, plus a NewTek 3Play system for instant slo-mo’s, replays and highlights, plus NewTek LiveText for graphics. The 850 was used to feed the local screens, principally the programme output that was also streaming to the Vans website, while the 855 was the principal production machine for both the sport side of the event and the interviews, and reporting during the competition.

The camera set-up included a number of innovations to keep the content fresh and exciting. “We had Go Pro Hero 3 cameras on small travel jibs for capturing the action from above. We can use those with the TriCaster as we can input almost any signal.” says James Peilow, Online Video Producer and Engineer, 3XScreen Media. “We also used the Teradek Bolt wireless system which allowed us to use our overhead camera without cables, and the camera team had some handheld wireless cameras to get around the venue easily without worrying about being tethered or getting in the way of the skaters.”

TV-quality highlights

Instant replay is a huge part of any sporting event, and the slow motion element provided by 3Play instant replay system beautifully highlighted the movement of the skaters. The system also brought other benefits to the production, as Scott explains.

“Being able to link 3Play into our live sports productions like Downtown Showdown, makes a huge difference to the production values of the event. Traditional replay machines are out of our league in terms of hire and operator costs, but 3Play allows us to bring in cost-effective instant replays and highlights packages,” he says. “In addition, using 3Play in conjunction with TriCaster on this event meant that we could take eight cameras into the TriCasters and a further four into the 3Play over the network. On an event like this, camera sources are gold! So being able to bring in network sources is very beneficial, and the two systems work together very well. Our team is also multi-disciplinary, and everyone is familiar with all of the NewTek kit, which means that the same guys who do live switching can also do replay.”
Vans

The slow motion element provided viewers with multiple angles of the same action, and gave the production team some breathing space, since they could create a playlist to play out between events while they were preparing for the next lot of live footage.

Gleaming the production cube
The team also used NewTek LiveText for its dynamic graphics. James recalls, “As we were interviewing people, we were adding in lower thirds on the fly and animating them in and out. There was no pre-rendering, so we could adapt to any changes or create new name straps for surprise guests; Live Text allowed us to be prepared for the unexpected.”

The live stream programme output was sent back, via LiveU to 3XScreen Media’s master control room in London where it was recorded through another TriCaster. Some additional graphics were added and then it was published through Elemental encoders to eight different platforms and around 100 different websites. Various versions of the programme output – dirty, clean, with and without commentary – were also recorded for the later creation of a TV programme. 

Scott credits the NewTek equipment as a major factor in the creation of a high quality yet cost-effective production. “For this kind of production, if we didn’t have TriCasters and 3Play, we’d need an OB truck five times bigger than the one we had, we’d need a huge production crew plus drivers, riggers and the like. Today, thanks to NewTek, we are able to do a 12-camera, broadcast-quality production with 15 people.”


To read more studies on how end users are taking the television industry by storm with NewTek products, check out NewTek Customer Stories.

YouTube tackles sports


#

YouTube Sports sets its sights on live streaming sports, every sort of sport imaginable.

Every minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube; more than one billion unique users visit the website each month; watching 6 billion hours of video. And, if YouTube were a cable TV channel, it could boast that it reaches more 18 to 34 year olds in the United States than any other cable network.

It’s no secret YouTube is transforming how people watch and distribute video. The facts speak for themselves.

What may be a bit more surprising is the growing role YouTube is playing as an online distributor of live sports coverage. It seems every sport imaginable is getting in on the action. Whether it’s a local bowling league, high school football team, collegiate athletics program or even major professional sports leagues and TV sports networks, YouTube is giving sports enterprises a way to reach audiences, extend their brands and drive revenue.

Doing so, however, hasn’t been without its hurdles. Perhaps the most challenging has been making it easy for those with no particular technical training to distribute their sports online. After all, while large TV sports networks are important users of the service, they aren’t representative of the majority of organizations YouTube is working to enlist as providers of live sports content. Who could even approach these TV stalwarts when it comes to video production background and overall technical expertise? “Some folks are just getting started,” says Perry Tobin, Technology Manager for YouTube Sports. “Some know what it takes to produce a live event; some have never done it at all.”

To make things simpler, YouTube has spent the past couple of years putting in place the technology needed to deliver high-quality live sports action, via the Internet. They’ve also developed the cloud-based transcoding software needed to make it simple and fast for users to distribute their live sports content to devices, ranging from desktop and laptop computers, to media tablets and smartphones.

VansTaking the plunge
The origins of YouTube’s accelerated involvement in the delivery of live sports over the Internet, stem from two sporting spectaculars: the 2012 London Olympics and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s historic space leap from a pressurized capsule hoisted 24 miles above the earth’s surface by a helium balloon.

For the Olympics, NBC partnered with YouTube, which provided its Internet video player and live-streaming infrastructure to support worldwide distribution of more than 3,000 hours of live event coverage, interviews, and other exclusives on NBCOlympics.com. Likewise, Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos live supersonic jump into the history books in October 2012, drew intense public interest. And, while the event itself took less than three hours from balloon liftoff, to the safe touchdown of Baumgartner on terra firma, the spectacle garnered more than 8 million YouTube views – a record for the most concurrent live streaming views ever.

“What these two big projects did for YouTube was to help us make the platform very robust,” says Tobin. The events and the public’s reaction to them also brought immediate credibility and visibility to YouTube as a legitimate platform for the delivery of live sporting events.

“Both the NBC Olympics and the Stratos Jump streaming coverage were nominated for outstanding, innovative sports coverage,” says Tobin. “While NBC Olympics did not win that Emmy, the YouTube Stratos Jump did.”

Recognizing this opportunity to tap into a previously underserved vertical market with a proven Internet delivery infrastructure, YouTube assembled a team of people, including Tobin, who were focused on securing partnerships with leagues, teams and universities –basically, any entity that had a sports event people wanted to watch online.

The result has been a steady progression of successes securing partnerships with those wishing to live stream sports, starting with premium partners such as MLB, the NBA-D League, Major League Lacrosse and the National Women’s Soccer League, and progressing to any sports entity with 1,000 YouTube channel subscribers, such as collegiate athletic teams and leagues. And most recently, to any entity with barely more than 100 channel subscribers, such as high school sports and even bowling leagues.

Video production & streaming
With such a diverse base of new sports partners, YouTube understood there exists a wide range of video production experience and goals. “It might be completely sufficient having a single camera on the sidelines for a local soccer league,” explains Tobin. “That league is just trying to address fans and parents who want to watch a game online, and that setup may be a perfectly good production environment for that audience.”

Other sports organizations, however, wish to replicate with their YouTube Sports presence the video production value people are accustomed to seeing on television. For this group of YouTube Sports partners, multi-camera live game coverage with TV-style switcher effects and transitions, graphics, lower-thirds, slow-motion replay and other higher-end production elements is necessary. In some instances, Tobin says, these sports organizations want to step up their production quality to attract viewers. In others, they simply are trying to match the production quality already being achieved by broadcasters producing some of their games for TV.

“The ACC Digital Network, and a lot of our partners who put half of their games on TV and half on YouTube, are good examples of cases where having production value that is equivalent to TV is a must,” explains Tobin.

Another example is Major League Lacrosse. “They have quality standards that they live by,” explains Tobin. “They can’t really reduce the quality just to put it on YouTube. They want their product seen in the best possible light and in the best possible way.”

However, these sorts of TV productions traditionally come with high price tags. It’s not uncommon for a multi-camera TV production truck packed with all of the high-definition technology needed to present top-notch live television sports productions to cost tens of thousands of dollars to rent for a single game.

“In the past, that has been prohibitive,” says Tobin. “Fortunately, products like NewTek TriCaster and 3Play have lowered the barrier of entry into this space. Where you used to have to pull in a satellite truck, now all you need is an Internet drop, a TriCaster and 3Play, and you are good to go to have instant replays, green screens, and all of the things you’ve come to expect with cable TV-produced content.”

TriCaster allows sports entities to enhance the production quality of their shows, whether they are being live streamed or broadcast, without requiring the capital outlay needed to buy traditional video gear, or incurring the operating expense necessary to roll in a TV production truck.

Vans“While YouTube has a policy of remaining ‘platform agnostic, and not recommending technology’ in an effort to ‘play fair,’ says Tobin, “we do acknowledge the platforms that are working well for us,” adding that “we work with companies like NewTek to ensure compatibility with our network.”

Beyond production technology, for YouTube Sports to reach its full potential, there is a need to make the transcoding process required to live stream content to multiple types of platforms “as frictionless and as low-cost as possible,” explains Tobin.

“One of the key features we rolled out this year was the ability to transcode in the cloud. In the past, if folks wanted to get their content online, they would have to create multiple bit rates – perhaps 1080p if they wanted to do something really high quality, but also 360p for mobile,” he says.

To simplify the process, YouTube developed its cloud transcoding in a way that lets users submit one high-resolution stream that is transcoded into all of the other bit rates needed to distribute to the various viewing options consumers use today, and thus guarantee compatibility and reach.

“We realize the YouTube generation wants its content on the closest device at hand. That might be a cell phone; that might be a tablet; that might be a laptop computer,” says Tobin.

Game changer
While sports organizations setting up their own YouTube channels to stream live events benefit from building their brand, extending their reach and better serving the needs of their fans, there’s also a financial component to YouTube Sports that can make the effort a revenue generator that helps to defray production costs or even produce profits.

“It is a revenue-share deal that is supported by ads, and those ads can come from a lot of different places,” explains Tobin. “In general, Google sells ads on YouTube. So any YouTube partner who signs up, Google sells ads on their behalf. There is a revenue split that typically is 55 percent to the partner and 45 percent to YouTube.” There are also provisions for YouTube Sports partners who sell their own commercials, he adds.

Tobin acknowledges the non-financial benefits of partnering with YouTube Sports can be just as important, if not more important, than revenue to a sports organization, depending on its goals. For instance, greater visibility for a collegiate athletic program – particularly at small schools or for sports not typically televised - can pay handsome rewards when it comes to player recruitment. Another benefit, Tobin says, is deepening the bonds sports programs or teams have with their fans by giving those fans a way to watch games not scheduled to air on TV. Streaming also gives fans a way to keep up with the latest team developments during streamed coach interview shows and feature reports.

Connecting on this level, via YouTube Sports, with fans and recruits can be game-changing events for teams and athletic programs looking to achieve a higher level of success. Not only does the YouTube Sports offer these organizations a way to bypass traditional television gatekeepers, but it also gives them an avenue to reach their fans consistently over the long haul.

Fade to black
For Tobin, who has spent most of his career as a software developer and designer, his involvement with YouTube Sports has surprised him by what he describes as “the art form of doing a good broadcast.”

“Whether it’s the announcing, the technical aspects or instant replays – all things that make a production engaging - there is a big difference in the sort of entertainment value that is delivered, if it is done right,” he says.

Granted, YouTube Sports appeals to a broad group of audiences, so it depends on what the expectations are for any given group of viewers. But having access to powerful, yet affordable television production technology, like TriCaster, that is simple to learn and use, means even those involved in live streaming sporting events to YouTube channels with only hundreds of viewers can produce an end product that is engaging and better informs the audience.

“I have learned that a lot of folks think they can become the next broadcaster and bring that level of quality they are used to seeing on television,” says Tobin. With tools like TriCaster, they can satisfy those ambitions.

In Tobin’s view, the availability of powerful production tools like TriCaster and 3Play, that are affordable, could not have come at a better time for YouTube Sports. He says, “I think we have hit that interesting sweet spot in time where bandwidth is coming down in price and becoming more accessible, and the cost of doing a decent production and the skill level needed to do that is also coming down.”

He adds, “I believe sports is the next big, untapped video frontier on the Internet. As we keep pushing down costs and increasing quality, I think we will see more, and more, interesting times.


To read more studies on how end users are taking the television industry by storm with NewTek products, check out NewTek Customer Stories.

Taking a new direction.


IMG 0136-cTheStreet’s new TriCaster control rooms are helping the financial news outlet enhance its brand and work more efficiently.

Traders, investors and just about anyone else who likes their financial news with equal measures of “booyah” and bravado are bound to know Jim Cramer and his popular nightly “Mad Money” show on CNBC.

His legendary rants, frenetic caller lightning rounds, as well as his copious use of props and sound effects, coupled with a quick wit and unique financial insight have made his show popular with a legion of fans.

With an on-air presence like that, Cramer has set the bar pretty high in the minds of viewers who regularly visit TheStreet, a popular financial Web destination he co-founded with Martin Peretz in 1996. While satisfying those expectations isn’t particularly easy, doing so is essential.

For Elisabeth DeMarse, who took over as president, chairman and CEO of TheStreet in March 2012, delivering engaging and informative financial news that’s fresh and on-target is imperative. DeMarse likens people seeking financial news to sports fans who are passionate about their favorite sport. They want to be up to date on the latest developments, and they don’t have much interest in anything less.

TheStreet, however, wasn’t set up to produce timely video reports when DeMarse arrived. Things had to change. That’s why she contacted former colleague, Brooke McDonald from her days at Bloomberg, who now runs Houpla, Inc., a Baltimore-based media consulting and content creation company.

McDonald and her partner at Houpla, Michael Brassert, knew when taking on the assignment that the goal of transforming TheStreet’s video operations was to put in place a modern HD television infrastructure focused on producing timely, high-quality financial video news reports that leveraged technology to make the production workflow highly efficient.

TriCaster 8000 group“We had to find a way to upgrade the video product in TheStreet’s business in a manner that increased brand awareness, upgraded the brand image and also drove business,” says Brassert.

“In the case of TheStreet, the video products they had were being plagued by lack of vision, lack of branding and lack of a goal to move forward with a video product that was integrated as a viable part of their operation to drive business.”

While McDonald, who has a long list of journalism credits, including positions with CNN, Bloomberg, Reuters and Maryland Public Television, worked with TheStreet’s journalists to replace their print-like workflow with something more akin to a TV newsroom workflow, Brassert focused on video production workflow.

“The first thing I noticed was the workflow was hindering the video product,” says Brassert. “They were in a traditional post-production workflow. They were trying to do multi-camera work. This is a news organization mind you.”

Out with the old

TheStreet was using a three-camera setup for interviews. Video was recorded to removable memory cards, ingested into a nonlinear editing station and cut together along with graphics and titles. “Because of this workflow, they weren’t getting their videos out for sometimes days or even weeks,” he says.

“The solution was to put in place a live, switched video production workflow,” says Brassert. “This would allow TheStreet to post reports to their websites within minutes, not days or weeks.”

Brassert began looking for technology that would allow TheStreet to produce video in a way that would remove the post-production element. “By doing that, it forced journalists when preparing their stories to have all of the information they needed. They weren’t going to be fixing it in post,” he says.

At the center of this new live production workflow is a pair of NewTek TriCaster 8000 broadcast-integrated production platforms, used for 1080i HD production of all video shows produced for distribution on TheStreet’s websites, and via partners like Roku. One is used in TheStreet’s main control room; the other serves the dual roles of switching shows produced in a secondary control room and being a backup.

Brassert chose TriCaster 8000 for TheStreet because it allows the company to compete at the same level, in terms of video and production quality, as bigger media companies with deeper pockets.

TriCaster 8000 is a video content publishing hub with eight simultaneous live HD and/or SD video inputs; five integrated digital media players, including two digital disk recorders; eight fully configurable M/E channels with re-entry, real-time motion tracking and effects support; four downstream keyer channels, and four additional key layers per M/E bus; plus 3-D and TransWarp effects support.

Additionally, it provides access to control of up to eight live, pan-tilt-zoom cameras; offers more than 30 live, HD virtual studios; supports direct content upload to YouTube and other social media sites; streams live, HD video content, and comes with an integrated multi-channel audio mixer.

“With TriCaster, we have taken TheStreet to the level you would find in many network news control rooms and studios,” says Brassert. Using TriCaster, a single operator can output broadcast-quality video over fiber to other news organizations, record it for possible post production if needed, stream shows live via the Internet, and create video-on-demand clips that can be posted online in a really short amount of time,” he says.

Brassert selected TriCaster 8000 after investigating other traditional video production switchers and digital disk recorders. “We found that putting all of those components together would have been one way to go, but it would be much more expensive than using the TriCaster,” he says.

DeMarse, too, welcomes the benefit of powerful production capabilities at an affordable price. “Over the past 10 years, the cost of production technology has diminished, while the quality has improved immeasurably,” she says.

“Nowadays, viewers expect the same quality on their smartphone or tablet that they would get on their television, and with technology like Tricaster 8000, we can produce HD quality video at a fraction of what it would’ve cost a decade ago.”

Taking it to TheStreet

story-image-2TriCaster offers TheStreet another important benefit. With its location in the heart of the financial district of New York City, space is at a premium. There was only 600 square feet available for the new control rooms and studios.

Without space to build multiple sets, Brassert relied on TriCaster’s virtual sets and green-screen functionality to give the appearance of more spacious studios overlooking Wall Street. Many of these sets include virtual windows into which TriCaster keys shots of the skyline of the financial district, further reinforcing the fact that TheStreet is located on Wall Street.

For the past seven months, Ruben Ramirez, head of video for TheStreet, has been responsible for implementing the new production workflow envisioned by Brassert. Initially, productions were done with one technical director who operated TriCaster and an outboard audio mixer. However, as the sophistication of the productions has increased, says Ramirez, two people run most shows. One is assigned to TriCaster and the other runs the Chyron IP character generator, adds other graphics, and rides audio.

All of TheStreet productions done since Ramirez’ arrival have prepared the production staff for its next challenge: live production. “We are launching nine live shows a day—each between five and 10 minutes in length—starting at 7 a.m. and going through 5 p.m.,” says Ramirez. “TriCaster is definitely giving us the opportunity to do live programming, and it is also giving us the chance to interact with our viewers in real time.”

“A big part of what TheStreet is doing is social media-related, and TriCaster is providing the backbone to a system developed at TheStreet to integrate Tweets into the shows,” says Ramirez. “One example is integrating Tweets from thought leaders into a show focused on commodities.”

“The anchor of that show can have a list up of those thought leaders on an iPad,” explains Ramirez. “We pump that output into one of the plasmas in the studio. That gets routed into the TriCaster as an input and then we can put it anywhere we want. Another example is a show Jim Cramer does every Monday morning that takes Tweets from viewers asking questions about the economy,” he adds.

The closing bell

While TriCaster 8000 provides all of the production capability TheStreet needs to compete with other financial media, perhaps its biggest contribution to the company’s success is helping TheStreet build its brand and promote its subscription products.

“This was all designed to improve the business of TheStreet,” explains Brassert. “The video content is basically financial news, and is a free service provided to the public. The whole video element of TheStreet is a bit of a marketing tool to drive its subscription business and to help visitors make informed financial decisions. So the quality of that product is really core to the success of all of TheStreet’s businesses.”

With a production platform as powerful as TriCaster, TheStreet can be confident it is well equipped to compete and continue building a top-notch brand that is widely recognized and respected. And that’s enough to make anyone exclaim: “Booyah!”


To read more studies on how end users are taking the television industry by storm with NewTek products, check out NewTek Customer Stories.