Display the timer as video-overlay

The main job of CueTimer is to display a timer for a speaker or performer. But you don’t need to dedicate a large monitor for this purpose alone.

By displaying the countdown as video-overlay on top of other video-content, you can save space, equipment and focus the message where it needs to be. 

Video overlay vs fullscreen timer

When a presenter is on the stage or in the studio, they need a countdown-timer to stay on time. If this is all they need, it makes sense to  ust have a confidence-monitor with a timer on the stage, like this: 

But quite often the presenter needs also needs more than that: When displaying a powerpoint-presentation, it’s useful to see the presenter-view with the notes, current and next slide. And if the presenter is on camera, they might need a camera-feed to position themselves. When displaying different content, you have two options:: 
1. Have two or more monitors on the stage, each with different content.

2. Place the timer as picture-in-picture or lower third on top of the other video-sources 

The picture shows the countdown as Picture-in-Picture (PIP) on top of Powerpoint Presenter view:

The advantage of the PIP-solution is that you only need one confidence-monitor on the stage. That saves precious space, and you need less cabling. Thus, rigging and logistics becomes easier. And, when done right, it’s convenient for the presenter to have all the information they need on one screen. 

There are, however, a couple of challenges to keep in mind when going for video overlay:

1. You combine two video-sources that you send to one output. To do this you need a video-switcher like the Blackmagic ATEM. 

2. The perfect placement of the countdown inside the confidence-monitor depends on what other video-content is shown. For example, if you switch between powerpoint-presentations and a camera-feed, you may want to change the position of the video-overlay as the day progresses

3. You need a relatively large monitor to display all the content that you want. 

So to use PIP for the countdown, you need the right equipment, and pay attention to how the countdown looks together with the other video-content. If you dont have this, it’s better to use a dedicated countdown-monitor. But for larger events with a well-equipped AV-department, having the countdown as a video overlay is often the preferred option.

Picture-in-picture (PIP) and lower third are two common types of video overlay used in video production. Video overlay is a technique used to display additional content on top of the primary video source, such as text, graphics, or other video footage.

PIP is a technique where a smaller video window is inserted within the larger video frame. This allows you to display two or more video sources simultaneously. PIP is often used in live events, news broadcasts, and sports events, where it can help highlight specific moments or provide additional information to the viewer.

Lower third is a graphic overlay that appears in the lower third of the video frame. It is commonly used in TV news broadcasts and documentaries to display the name and title of the person being interviewed, as well as other relevant information such as the location or date. Lower third can also be used to display captions, logos, or other important information that needs to be visible without obstructing the primary video content.

Both PIP and lower third are effective ways to add visual interest and provide additional information to your videos. By using PIP, you can display multiple video sources at the same time, while with lower third, you can display important information without obstructing the primary video content.

In this article, we show examples of both PIP and lower third: When we the countdown is a fullscreen output that is just made smaller, we can call it PIP. When we also remove the background-colour and only show the countdown in the left or right corner of the screen, we can call that lower third. 

A confidence monitor is a display screen that is typically used in live events or video productions to provide visual feedback to performers or presenters. The purpose of the confidence monitor is to allow the performer or presenter to see themselves on camera and monitor the content being displayed to the audience.

The confidence monitor is usually placed in front of or beside the performer or presenter, and displays the same video feed that is being shown to the audience. This allows the performer to see how they appear on camera, adjust their performance or presentation accordingly, and stay aware of any changes that are happening on screen.

In addition to showing the live video feed, the confidence monitor may also display other information that is relevant to the performer or presenter, such as notes or prompts that help them stay on track during their performance.

Confidence monitors are especially important in live events, such as concerts, where performers need to see themselves on stage to ensure they are in the right position and performing at the appropriate time. They are also commonly used in TV studios, where presenters and guests need to see themselves on camera to deliver their lines with confidence and make adjustments as necessary.

How to configure CueTimer to send a countdown as a video overlay

So we want to have a countdown-timer on top of the other video-content, and combine the sources through a video-switcher or software.
We then need to move the timer-window where we want it, and remove unwanted elements from the window. Normally, you only want the countdown to be shown from CueTimer, with or without the background colour and border. 

To move and scale the window, and remove colors, we use keying-effects in the video-switcher. In general, there are two types of keying-effects for this purpose:

1. DVE-effects where you place the content using the video-switcher. , 

We send the fullscreen countdown-timer from CueTimer

In the receiving application, we crop, scale and position the countdown where we want. This example is from Qlab. (Qlab is used as a video-switcher)

2. Chroma, luma or alpha keying effects where you place the content with CueTimer.

We can also use CueTimer to place and scale the countdown-window where we want. Then, what is left outside the window is the key-area that will be made transparent by the receiving application.
In this example, we will choose green as the key-colour, to be used for chroma-keying, or green-screen. Later we will remove all that is green. 
If you make this key-colour black, you can use luma-keying to filter it out. 
With NDI you can use alpha-keying. Then you can make the key-colour transparent in CueTimer to remove the background. 

This is how the actual video sent from CueTimer can look like when made for chroma-keying.

In the receiving application (Qlab), we apply the keying effect to remove the the key colour.

Display only the countdown

When you have a large monitor that only displays the stage-timer, you have space for things like progress bar, date and logo. But when the countdown only occupies a small part of the screen, you probably want to remove all except the countdown. 
In CueTimer this is easy to do. From the menu you can unselect all the elements you dont need to display

Make the background completely transparent​

The last step can be to make the background completely transparent, and add little drop-shadow to make the countdown stand out from the background video-content. 

You can also use the colors to attract attention when the time is running out, by making the background red. Or you can add a blinking border around the window. With CueTimer you have a lot of options for how you can display the countdown

Case study: Send the countdown as NDI from CueTimer to Qlab

This video will take you through how to display a countdown from CueTimer in the Mac-software Qlab.

The latest version of Qlab accepts NDI video, which makes it very easy to integrate it with CueTimer. Then we can also use alpha-keying, which is the easiest and most reliable way of removing the background-colors. 

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