TWiT Cottage Equipment

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Cottage Teardown

The TWiT Brick House Studios Streamomatic took over the live.twit.tv stream from the TWiT Cottage Streamasaurus at 2:41 PM PDT July 24, 2011. The TWiT Cottage studio was decommissioned overnight July 25-26, 2011.

Contents

Studio

Audio

Leo in the TWiT studio with Axia console under his right hand
The Axia console early in the install process

http://wiki.twit.tv/wiki/Main_Page

  • Audio Console (mixer): Telos Axia Element control console and accompanying Powerstation processing unit. This equipment is on loan to Leo from Axia. Cost of the Axia Element console and PowerStation is about $22,000. The backup power supply and extra audio I/O ports add about $6,000. New Telos Xstream and two Omnia audio processors are worth about $13,000. Additional IP-Audio software including drivers, logging, and management software sell for about $3,000. Axia IP-audio consoles typically cost $12,000 up to about $24,000, according to Axia representative Kirk Harnack.
  • Headphones: Sculpted Eers by Sonomax. These are in-ear "canalphones" that use an earpiece custom molded to the individual's ears in a do-it-yourself process. Described in detail, with video of the molding process, during Daily Giz Wiz 1310 (starting at about 0:36:45).
    • Previous: AKG K240 DF (discontinued, but AKG K240 mkII is available)
  • Backup Recorder: Marantz PMD670 Portable Digital Recorder

Video

  • Camera Tripods
  • Analog/Firewire media converter: Canopus ADV. This takes the TriCaster output and encodes it to FireWire DV video; this is sent to the video stream encoders in Streamasaurus (described below)

Computers and monitors

Skypeasaurus monitors and PCs

(from left to right as viewed sitting behind the desk)

  • Skypeasaurus: used for Skype calls beginning 3/7/2009. Four Acer V173b monitors attached to four separate Windows PCs running Synergy KM sharing software. The motherboards (Intel BOXD945GCLF2 945GC ATOM330) on these machines have S-video out built into their onboard video adapters; each goes to a separate video input on the Tricaster. In this way each person's Skype video is a separate video source to the Tricaster, so everything can be switched in one place; this would not be possible with four Skype instances in one machine, even with virtualization. Video output from the Tricaster is then fed back to the Skype callers via Hauppauge Impact VCB PCI cards in each Skypeasaurus machine. More info from Leo's blog (Monitor frame grid was made by Colleen Kelly) The Skypeasaurus will be retired after the new studio opens and will be replaced with a monitor that will handle 4 video calls using a new program
  • PC Desktop: used for Multitrack recording with Adobe Audition. Receives a multitrack signal from Axia mixer via a dedicated Ethernet LAN
  • 24" iMac: used for general browsing
  • 17" Macbook Pro Laptop: general browsing and for showing its screen on air since it's using a composite video output in which the screen does not break up when zooming in and out to show websites or play youtube videos. Now shows the IRC Chat (using Xchat Aqua for Mac)
  • 11" Macbook Air Laptop: the newest addition
  • Two monitors on a common pole mount, suspended above Axia Element audio console:
    • Left (from Leo's POV): Tricaster control panel
    • Right: Axia Element control panel

Not on the desk:

Streamasaurus
  • Streamasauraus: An array of six Mac Minis with a common keyboard and monitor, each used to encode one of the streaming video streams: BitGravity low and high quality, Ustream desktop and iPhone, and Justin.tv. Described in Leo's Blog, 17 August 2009.
  • 2009 Mac Pro: Formerly used for the BitGravity encoding/streaming software, now moved upstairs for a video editing workstation. 2 x 2.66 Ghz Intel Xeon 5500 - 6 GB DDR 3 1066 - 640 GB HD 7200 RPM SATA 2 - GeForce GT120 512 MB Graphics Card. For more information see the Mac Pro Unboxing @ ODTV.me

Internet Connections

*T1: Covad TI 1.5Mbit/s symmetrical connection, currently not being used.

Miscellaneous

  • Lights: China Balls, with Lite Panels (The original lighting frame grid was made by Colleen and perched on the crown molding around the studio. The current 4-post free-standing grid system was installed by Kelly of All In One Truck)
  • Mac Mini: Media Center running an Elgato EyeTV 250 System as a DVR and also used to monitor the live Twit Stream
  • TV: 2 Vizio 32″ TV's used as a preview and live screen. Also a Toshiba 37" TV for displaying IRC Chat
  • Ball: Gopher Sport UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball. Leo sits on this 65-cm blue ball to build core muscles. It also prevents him from slouching, which keeps his voice exciting. Leo occasionally bounces up and down on it. For a short while, Leo tried using a Valeo Ball, but he popped it live on May 19, 2009. Video
  • Clock: SkyScan Atomic Clock Model 88825 Displayed prominently behind Leo, this clock (showing Pacific time in 24 hr. format) is very useful for viewers to verify if they are watching the show live. The temperature displayed is the indoor temperature. Internet propagation delays cause some inaccuracy (usually a few seconds at most) in the displayed time as seen by viewers. Even in studio the clock is not always perfectly accurate, for reasons described in the Wikipedia entry on WWVB-synchronized radio clocks. This specific model is no longer current, but many similar are available from SkyScan, La Crosse Technology, and Oregon Scientific.
    • Update: As of May 25 2011, a very similar clock by La Crosse Technology is available from CyberGuys , item 250-1610 (black bezel) or -1612 (silver bezel). Different bezel but the display is almost identical.
    • Update: As of May 25 2011, the same La Crosse Technology clock is sold by Universal Radio. Again, different bezel than Leo's, but almost-identical display.


  • Phone: Plantronics Calisto Pro The telephone on Leo's desk is a capable of handling both Skype and regular land-line calls. A bluetooth headset is also included.

Video tours and more information

  • On August 9 2009, Ron Schott posted a 360 degree panoramic from Leo's point of view of the studio.
  • Also on August 9, 2009, Leo recorded a 23-minute video tour (50MB+) of the studio. The audio quality is not ideal as room mic was used but Leo does give a full description of equipment on the desk prior to the installation of the Axia digital console. Although the sound equipment is now very different the video "side" is very much the same.
  • On August 18 2009 Leo interviewed Kirk Harnack of Axia Audio, who provided a good description of the new digital audio system's features and advantages; the interview is available here (100 MB download) Kirk also very generously did an informal, impromptu Q&A session (hosted by Colleen) with the #twitlive chat room at the end of the Friday, August 21, work day; it is available here (72 MB download).

Remote Contributors

Remote contributors to TWiT provide audio and sometimes video over the Skype VoIP system. The remote equipment varies from one person to the next but in the beginning of 2009 TWiT started sending more advanced equipment to some regular contributors. Steve Gibson seems to have started this trend by buying a Heil PR-40, boom, shock mount and M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB interface himself. TWiT has since sent a similar setup to Paul Thurrott and Dick DeBartolo. Leo sometimes sends Plantronics 400 DSP Headsets to hosts or guests who otherwise have poor microphones. Other contributors such as Amber MacArthur use sportscaster style headset mics.

Live Remote Events

Additional equipment

Getting it back to the studio

  • LiveU for streaming the "walk and talk" segments back to the cottage.
  • Slingbox for streaming the remote TriCaster mix back to the cottage.
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