New Blackmagic Design ATEM Production Switchers


If you’re in the field of video broadcasting but are using equipment that’s a bit long in the tooth, or if you’re thinking of getting into the field, now’s a good time to invest in some new equipment. Leading-edge equipment will help give you professional results in less time, thus leading to higher profitability.

Blackmagic Design’s ATEM Production Switchers feature an advanced SDI-based design combined with HDMI ports for connecting consumer-grade cameras. You can get started with a moderate investment because the switchers come with a software-based control panel for Mac and Windows that you can use from a laptop computer. When you need a complete solution you can add an ATEM Broadcast Panel to your setup, which puts premium-quality switches, faders and joysticks right at your fingertips.

The ATEM gear maintains 10-bit video quality throughout the entire signal path, and all traditional cut, mix and wipe transitions, along with ATEM transitions including dip, DVE, graphic wipe and stinger, are instantly available on the control panel. You can also load clips into two built-in media players to create custom animated transitions, or use the built-in DVE to add 3D borders, light sources and drop shadows. A Preview Transition button lets you see how transitions look before being put on air. A Photoshop plug-in lets you download graphics and titles from Photoshop directly into the ATEM media pool.

Additional cost-saving technology comes in the form of built in, multi-view monitoring, which allows all feeds to be viewed on a single SDI or HDMI monitor. This not only eliminates the need to invest in multiple monitors, but also the need to lug them all around. A USB 3.0 output for Windows systems lets you capture a 10-bit master directly to your computer. Let’s take a closer look at some of this new gear.

Ideal for mixing the feeds of a live performance, the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Production Switcher is an affordable 1RU switcher that lets you mix up to six signals simultaneously from multiple HD-SDI and HDMI camcorders while applying frame sync to each source, thereby eliminating the need for expensive gen-locked cameras. The bundled ATEM Control Panel software lets you add logos and keys, and you can chroma-key a performer against a graphical background in real time, using a green screen. You can even encode the production to H.264 in real time, having a compressed HD file ready for upload to the Web the minute the performance is over.

Need to mix more signals? The Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher is a 2RU switcher with four 10-bit HD/SD-SDI inputs, four HDMI inputs and one analog video input. It can handle eight inputs simultaneously, each with a frame synchronizer, and it has seven keyers. The ATEM 1 M/E comes with the ATEM Control Panel software, but it’s also compatible with the ATEM 1 M/E and 2 M/E Broadcast Panels. Regardless of whether you use the control panel software and a laptop or one of the ATEM Broadcast Panels, you're still working with a 10-bit signal path throughout.

If you need still more inputs you’ll want to look at the Blackmagic Design ATEM 2 M/E Production Switcher, a 3RU 16-source switcher that accepts twelve 10-bit HD/SD-SDI inputs, four HDMI inputs and one analog video input. It can handle up to 16 inputs simultaneously, each with a frame synchronizer, and it has 13 keyers. Like the other switchers, this one comes with a software control panel but is also compatible with the ATEM 1 M/E and 2 M/E Broadcast Panels.

If you prefer to work with real buttons and knobs instead of a software interface, you’ll want to consider the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel. It provides full control of the ATEM switchers, allowing you to switch cameras and apply transitions, keyers and fader. It connects to the switcher using an Ethernet cable, and includes a loop-through connection for more than one panel or computer.

If you need a more advanced control panel, the Blackmagic Design ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Panel is the ticket. The 37-inch wide panel gives you plenty of working space. It connects to a switcher via an Ethernet cable, and a loop-through connection lets you attach another panel or computer. The panel features tri-color LED crosspoint buttons, consisting of 20 direct crosspoints and 40 shifted crosspoints, along with high-contrast RGB bitmap crosspoint labels, LCD bitmap buttons for menu control, an on-air indicator and a transition preview with transition rate display.

If you want greater flexibility in your shooting options, consider the Blackmagic Design ATEM Camera Converter. The device allows you to extend SDI and HDMI cameras to distances up to 28 miles over a fiber-optic link. All you have to do is connect a camera to the device’s SDI/HDMI inputs and the device then converts the video signals to optical signals. The converter can be powered by any 12-volt power source, such as that of a vehicle, while an internal battery allows it to be used where no power source is available. An integrated belt clip allows free mobility, but the converter can also be mounted on a tripod. Housed in an aircraft-grade aluminum enclosure, the camera converter can take a licking and keep on ticking. A Talkback function allows the switcher operator to coordinate with the camera operator via PC headsets or iPhone-compatible headphones.