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Review: Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher
Posted Jan 5, 2012 Print Version     Page 1of 3 next »

I'm glad I waited before upgrading my SD video switcher to an HD model. Part of what made me wait was that my regular live-switch clients were still webcasting in SD resolutions, but the other part was that none of the other HD video switchers on the market had the mix of features that I required at such an attractive price point. When Blackmagic Design announced its ATEM Production Switcher line at NAB 2011, I knew the timing was right for me to seriously consider moving the last of my SD productions to HD.

It also didn't hurt that some of my clients were starting to ask about HD IMAG (live feed to projectors) and HD webcasting, but what sealed the deal for me was that I was able to sell my gently used Roland LVS-800 SD switcher for $2,000 on eBay and the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher that I had my heart set on was only $2,495. That's not a typo—the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher costs less than many new SD switchers, including the one I was replacing it with.

The ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher is an 8-input HD switcher that has 4 HDMI and 4 HD-SDI inputs. Legacy analog video inputs are also a nice touch, as is the breakout cable for 2-channel XLR inputs and outputs. Program outputs are available in HDMI or HD-SDI and there are two analog outputs-one HD/SD-switchable and the other permanently downconverted to composite SD-and finally a downconverted SDI output. On top of that there are preview outputs, three Auxiliary outputs, a USB 3.0 output, and your choice of HDMI or HD-SDI Multi-View outputs. Having a variety of inputs and outputs is extremely important for event video producers as you never know what will get thrown at you at the last minute and it is nice not to have to carry around an arsenal of converters, just in case.

I'm not going to cover off all of the inputs and outputs on this switcher as there are just too many but I did want to expand on a few of them. The Aux outputs are like having a second, third, and fourth bus. So in addition to the program output, you can output three additional video feeds, which can be assigned, to increase the number of program outputs, or to output one (or up to three) of the inputs. This feature is really useful for live audience filming, IMAG with computer presentations, and webcasting when you require more than just one output.

Blackmagic ATEM
Shawn Lam running switching a live event with the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E

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