NewTek Connect Spark™: Adding Video Inputs to Your Production System
March 19, 2018 by Rex Olson and Chuck Baker
NewTek Connect Spark™ makes video sources available to your production systems without taking up a physical input. Instead, Connect Spark converts signals from an SDI or HDMI camera to NDI®, a bi-directional IP technology that transports audio, video, metadata and communications over a standard gigabit Ethernet network. The NDI stream will be automatically sensed and available to any NDI-aware device on the same network.
TriCaster® Mini with Advanced Edition, used in the video, makes an important point about the Spark and NDI: they turn a 4-input system into an 8-input system, because it can switch among 4 HDMI (or SDI, on the HD4-sdi model) inputs plus 4 NDI inputs. NDI has allowed the portable live production system to double its switching and mixing capability, with the same hardware.
Other NewTek production systems also allow for some number of NDI inputs to be available in addition to the physical inputs present on the system. The base model TriCaster TC1, for example, offers 4 3G-SDI inputs, but can switch up to 16 sources at a time, meaning a user could have 4 traditionally attached cameras and 12 NDI inputs coming in over the network. Optional NC1 Studio input and I/O modules can allow for more physical inputs if needed, but Connect Spark can put as many cameras or other sources as you need on the network and available to any current TriCaster model, NewTek IP Series, and 3Play® 3P1.
The physical and logistical task of adding an input to a production gets easier with NewTek Connect Spark, and the cost is often reduced. In sports production for example, adding a new camera at a new location in the stands in a venue would normally require running video, audio, and possibly power cabling to the new location. Repositioning even slightly means moving around at least part if not the full length of those cable. With Connect Spark, as long as you have power and access to Wi-Fi, you can put a camera there. If you have network ports available, that’s gravy; and if you choose to run a network line to the area, that’s easier still and less expensive than traditional video and audio cabling.
Mobile cameras are also made easier by Connect Spark. You can use either a 12v/1a battery with a compatible power cable or a D-Tap cable to the camera or camera battery to power Connect Spark, and mount it either to the camera or to the operator. With wireless Internet access, you have an untethered mobile camera. This is pretty easy to put together for yourself, but there are also commercial packs available for either option, the Sparkmount bundles from Mobile Studios.
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