Kane Peterson, NewTek Workflow Engineer
Many video producers want to ensure that the content they create is safely backed up at a minimum on two systems. You can address this by using TriCaster’s IP workflow feature, “Network Output,” which sends the output of the TriCaster over the network as MPEG-2 video. A networked computer can record this output in its RAW MPEG-2 compression format or if the computer is powerful enough, you can encode it into another format in real time. This provides essentially an additional ISOrecording channel available from your TriCaster, safely backed up on another computer, and in any format you prefer.
Network Output is also handy to separate the streaming function away from TriCaster to dedicate its full resources to live production tasks. By providing a dedicated system for transcoding and streaming, stream reliability can be more secure, especially if you use redundant computers to receive the TriCaster Network Output. This setup still includes the backup function as described in the first use case. This way the entire production workflow gains better resources throughout, and with it a measure of increased reliability at each stage, and finally the safeguarding of content with redundant copies.
Here’s what you’ll need to set up the workflow to record TriCaster Network Output:
- TriCaster 410, 460, 860, 8000, or Mini. Only these models have the Network Output option.
- Another computer that will be the target for recording. If you want to perform real-time encoding into another format, you will want this ‘remote’ system to have a powerful CPU.
- VLC Media Player, software that can record, transcode and stream video. Download from this link.http://www.videolan.org/
- Gigabit network between the systems being used.
Download VLC and install it on the remote system. Default settings will be fine for installation.
Set the TriCaster configuration:
- Open up the session you are going to use.
- Mouse over the Program output monitor and a gear icon will appear in the bottom right corner.
- Click on the gear and the Output Configuration window will appear (see screenshot below).
- Click ‘Network’ in the checkbox to enable.
- You can also choose what output channel is sent to the Network output, it can be set to follow outputs 1 or 2, or it can be any source channel.
Also make note of the URL displayed next the network output, you will need to enter this information later.
Setup VLC on the remote computer:
Now that TriCaster is sending a network output, we need to tell VLC what we want it to do with this data. Let’s start by just viewing the network feed in VLC.
On the remote computer, open VLC. The screenshots shown below are from a Windows system, but you should find the same options on an OSX or Linux system.
From the ‘Media’ menu, select ‘Open Network Stream…’
In the window that opens, enter the network URL, type in the URL from your TriCaster system exactly as it was shown. If you are running VLC on a Macintosh or Linux system, you will probably need to use the IP address of the TriCaster in place of the computer name. For example, if the TriCaster IP address is 192.168.1.12, then type in ‘http://192.168.1.12:49480/tcxd.mpg’. Once the URL is entered, press the Play button.
After a moment you will see video playing in the Window. It is normal for this video to be a few seconds behind the TriCaster.
Set up to Record the TriCaster output:
Let’s take the next step and record what is coming from the TriCaster. To do this, select the ‘Streaming’ option from the ‘Media’ menu.
An Open Media window will appear, at the top are tabs, choose the tab called ‘Network’.
You will find a location to enter a network URL, type in the URL from your TriCaster system exactly as it was shown. Click on the ‘Stream’ button.
The window will open to the Stream Output settings; press the Next button on the first screen.
Now you have two choices for what you can do next. You can either record the raw TriCaster network output as a native MPEG-2 format or encode the network output into another format that VLC is capable of creating.
The RAW record will create a MPEG-2 Program Stream file. A RAW record will not add any additional compression to the file and computer performance will not matter when it comes to recording this file. It takes the network output data coming from the TriCaster and saves it into a file.
If you want to create files in formats other than MPEG-2, then encoding will make VLC compress the data into another format. Your remote computer needs to be fast enough to perform this processing in real-time. Be sure you perform testing to ensure your remote system is fast enough. Your test should entail recording a few minutes of video and then looking at the recorded file to make sure that it isn’t dropping frames.
To record the RAW file, make sure the ‘Activate Transcoding’ checkbox is disabled. Enable the checkbox called ‘Display locally’ and then press the ‘Add’ button next to the dropdown labeled ‘File’.
A tab will appear labeled File, enter the location and name you want to record the file at. Once you are ready, press the ‘Stream’ button and it will start recording.
If you want to encode into another format, make sure the ‘Activate Transcoding’ checkbox is enabled. Then select one from the Profile list or click on the buttons to edit or create a new profile if you have specific settings. Let’s create a new profile so you can see all of the options in creating a profile. To create a new profile, click on the Create profile button.
In the window that opens, first choose a format that you want to save your file in, this can be chosen under the ‘Encapsulation’ tab. Select the format you want to create.
Now click on the Video codec tab and enable the checkbox labeled video. Choose the compression codec you want to store in your file. VLC will show all codecs that is supports, even if the container file doesn’t allow that codec, keep that in mind when choosing a codec.
Under the codec selection will be additional settings; the bitrate will be how much data is used when encoding the file. If you leave the frame rate at zero, it will match the frame rate of the source. There are settings at the bottom for the frame size you want to encode into, you do not need to enter all of the information, entering one value and leaving the others blank will make VLC calculate the other values to match the source aspect ratio.
Similar settings can be found on the Audio codec tab as well, click the checkbox enable Audio and select the correct codec and settings. All audio codecs are available in the list, even if they do not apply to the format you are trying to record to.
Here is a list of some
valid combinations for common codecs and file types.
At the top of the window, enter a name for your new profile and then click on the Save button. It will be added to the list of profiles in VLC.
Select the profile you created from the list. Then press the ‘Add’ button found next to the ‘File’ dropdown list. Enter a location and name for your file and press the ‘Stream’ button when you are ready.
Once you click on Stream, it will open the network stream from the TriCaster and create the file in the options you have chosen above. It does take a few seconds before recording starts, so make sure you give adequate time.
Some encoding formats will not display motion video while it is recording. In these cases, if you want verification that recording is occurring, you can go to the Tools menu and select ‘Media Information.’ Go to the Statistics tab in this window and the number next to ‘Media data size’ will keep counting up as the file is being recorded.
When you are finished with the recording, press the Stop button and close VLC Player. The file will be available for use once VLC Player has been closed.
If your file is dropping frames then try other options for encoding, the amount of CPU power needed for the different codecs varies. What will have the greatest effect on the amount of CPU power a particular codec needs will be the resolution that you are trying to encode at. Turning off the ‘Display the Output’ option can give you a bit more performance as well. If your system isn’t fast enough to perform real-time encoding, then you will have to record the RAW output and convert the file after recording has completed.
The Network Output can only be read by one application at a time. If you are using the Network Output for other uses, for example, cascading video from one TriCaster to another, then you will not be able to use it with VLC at the same time.
In the above tutorial you used the VLC streaming functions to record a file to the server hard drive, but it is equally easy to change the settings to stream the file out, either directly to the internet or to a streaming service such as Ustream or others, and from there to the world. In addition, there are other dedicated transcoding and streaming applications available in the marketplace, to meet any special needs you may have in your production and distribution workflow.