Anyone who knows about NewTek, has fond (and often frustrating) memories of three things. The first is the Video Toaster, which kept the Commodore Amiga computer alive for it’s last few years. Then came LightWave 3D, and then the popular TriCaster Pro. All of these have been a boon to indie content creators and syndicated tv series’ looking to make their budgets on the cheap. But now, NewTek is about to enter a new phase, with its purchase by Norwegian broadcaster VizRT. And its aim is to change the direction of video over IP.
“NewTek has been friends with Vz for years. It’s complementary. Both are software companies, working with IT infrastructures. It makes incredible sense.The combined company represents one of the most disruptive changes for the video industry in decades. However, the goal remains the same – to build a new world of IT-based video technology to grow the reach and impact for anyone with a story to share”. – Dr Andrew Cross, now President of Research and Development for NewTek/VizRT
Unlike hardware centric solutions like Blackmagic, VizRT/Newtek will seek to dominate broadcast switching from a software centric interface. I don’t know much about VizRT, except that they have a great pit stop for drinks as you wander the showroom floor at NAB.
NewTek, on the other hand, has had an influence in my everyday working life since the days of the Commodore Amiga. Even two of my favorite SciFi TV shows, Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5, were made possible by the fast turnaround and affordable workflows provided by NewTek’s LightWave 3D.
“Taking advantage of computational, software, and network technology to make video more accessible, and fun to create has always been NewTek’s mission. These changes have revolutionized the way stories are told worldwide, allowing anyone to create and share a show.”
From my research for this article, I have learned that VizRT, however, is a Norwegian super broadcaster focused on providing real time graphics and assets for live broadcasts and sporting events, and in doing so, have made video over IP with the SMPTE 2110 standard a thing. Essentially lossless, SMPTE 2110 is able to transmit uncompressed video over IP and do it without a lot of hardware to support switching. Now it can all be done virtually within a computer.
“Combining our organizations allow us to pursue our joint vision of software-based video production, leveraging the power and flexibility of computing and IT-based systems.” said Michael Hallén, Vizrt CEO. “The combined business will be very well positioned to deliver turnkey systems that give creative power to any organization that has ambitions of producing content for any output platform.”
So it makes sense that VizRT would want to harness the power of NewTek’s TriCaster line, to take it into directions it needs to go, but has been unable to. It also means, according to NewTek’s Andrew Ross, that IP is likely the last standard that video will ever need. “The universal standard for IP video is IP itself,” Ross says, “and it is the last standard that will ever exist.”
Both companies share very similar features:
- Complementary software-based technology that creates an end-to-end workflow for the growing content creation market.
- A dedication to growing the adoption, strength, and accessibility of IP technology for all markets.
- A valuable channel network in place, that will benefit from taking a wider portfolio of products to customers.
Clearly, when it comes to video over IP, VizRT doesn’t mean to ride the wave, so much as lead it, and with both their software centric interface, and NewTek’s Tricaster Pro hardware, we’ll likely see a convergence that will have a major disruptive influence on where this standard goes next. As more content moves into the Cloud through streaming, that’s going to be exciting to watch.