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NAB 2017: Blackmagic Unveils First Switcher-Panel Combo With ATEM Television Studio Pro HD

Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Blackmagic Design President Dan May discuss the Streaming Media Best of NAB award-winning ATEM Television Studio Pro HD at NAB 2017
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In this interview from the show floor at NAB 2017, Blackmagic Design President Dan May gives Streaming Media Producer a first look at the Streaming Media Best of NAB Award-winning ATEM Television Studio Pro HD, and discusses how it expands on the capabilities of previous ATEM models, how it integrates with Blackmagic's Studio camera line, and how it works with other camera workflows.

Shawn Lam: It's Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2017. We're here at the Blackmagic booth, I'm here with Dan May the president of Blackmagic Design, and we're going to be talking about the Television Studio Pro HD, which is a new product here at NAB 2017. You previously announced the Television Studio HD, which was a 2/3 wide rackmount version. But now the form factor is different, so tell us about this one.

Dan May: From a historical point of view, we've long launched these switchers that, you buy the switcher, and then if you want to you can use it over a network where you're using a software control, or you go out and buy a broadcast panel. And the great part about this network control is the ability to have multiple users working across multiple different laptops, or hardware interfaces.

When we launched the ATEM Television Studio, we wanted to have that great small form factor, because we've been very successful out there with houses of worship, and educational facilities. But of course the big booming market right now is things like, "I want to do Facebook Live, I want to do YouTube Live," and it's that webcasting that we're really seeing grow so much, where people are trying to do more, they're trying to step up from software-based switchers, and they want to have a hardware switcher and the ability to have this kind of professional production that they're not accustomed to in free software.

What we have now with the ATEM Television Studio Pro HD is our first switcher-panel combination. The ability to be able to say I'm hooked to the network, I want to control that switcher via physical, tactile buttons, I want to have my faders, I want to have my transitions, but also to have all of my camera control, because of course all of these Blackmagic Studio cameras, and Micro Studio Cameras have talkback, have tally, have these really truly professional tools that have never really been available at these price points. So being able to turn around something that has the full switcher built-in, having that control panel, having all of that CCU control, and of course putting that at that $2,295 price point, it really empowers a whole new level of customers that have never really had access to these kind of hardware products.

Shawn Lam: That's a huge development because traditionally to buy that hardware control panel, it cost more than the switcher itself, and so this is an all-in-one at $2,295.

Dan May: It's one of those things where we want to give people options often. We want to say, "Look, do you want to use software, do you want to use hardware, do you want to have someone using software to be able to do their Photoshop plugins, do you want have someone that's just cutting between cameras on a hardware panel?" We want to be able to provide a product that's going to give the most available out there.

We want to say, "Look, how do you make the best $1,000 switcher?" You know how much can we put in there, and for this it became a matter of, if I want that physical control capability, right now you have to go buy that switcher, you have to go buy that panel. But then we thought, "What if we put those together, in this form factor? How much could we give them?" I mean we'd have loved to have gotten this product in that sub-$2,000 price, because it comes with a sweet spot, but at $2,295 to be able to have CCU control built right into it, you know this is something that people probably don't even--at that level--know what they can do with these cameras and with the switchers.

But getting that talkback, getting that tally, getting the ability to have all of that color-shading directly from this panel to those cameras is tremendously powerful. And of course it's something that they've never been able to experience with just a software switch solution, so it's great that that market is blossoming, that people are going out there, they want to do this web-streaming, they want to be professional content creators. Here are tools that empower them to take this to a much higher level.

Things that are going to be new for us is, we've never had: in those other panels, what we see is we see the ability to drill down. So there's going to be limited buttons and then you go through your menu and say "Okay I want to DVE,” and you drill down to that. "Okay I want to do a, a picture in picture," and you drill down to that menu set, and what we've done here is we've created a lot more on the actual board itself so that you actually have the ability to say, “I want to do that wipe, oh I want to do this picture in picture,” because we don't want people that are sitting down to use these things for the first time feeling like, if they don't see it, they don't know it's there.

So we wanted to make sure that the controls that we had available to them were basically at their fingertips. When we first made those first panels, we didn't have cameras that had all that camera control. So this is the first time that we've been able to go in and say I want to select a certain camera, I want to select a primary color grade I can go ahead and use, these great DaVinci color grading capabilities that we have, and are being able to build into our other products.

Shawn Lam: Well and this is keeping in tradition with a lot of the ATEM products you already have, where the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. And you've got controllers in there that can do so much with all of your cameras, and the whole workflow is integrated. So it's a great accomplishment there.

Dan May: We don't have to be every solution, right, you can use other cameras, you can use other switchers. Blackmagic's done a really good job of saying "Look we understand that you're vested in various bits of hardware, but of course we also want to be able to say, ‘we can provide all of these solutions to you, you can use our micro-cameras, you can use an URSA Mini, you can use our switchers, and there's obviously going to be benefits, because of what they can do, and how they can work together,’ and of course we'd like to think that we're providing that value proposition to the table.

We understand if someone says, "Look, we've spent money on these cameras. No problem, but these are the switchers we want you to be looking at. We're really tied into this other switcher. No problem, here are other cameras or converters or web presenters that we can use to be able to help empower people, because we feel that that's the best way for us to get a customer involved with Blackmagic is a customer that we want to be keeping for the next 10-20 years. So, the ability to go out and say "Look, we realized you're looking at a thousand dollar switcher and wondering, 'Can this do everything I want it to do?'"

We want to make it that price and empower those people because we want them to come back and say "That worked so great! How do I now get get their cameras, how do I look at their converters, how do I look at their streaming boxes?"

Shawn Lam: These are eight-input HD, 1080, 60p.

Dan May: So it's-it's basically eight SDI inputs and four HDMI inputs and you can kind of choose those last four, what you want them to be.

Shawn Lam: A lot of flexibility.

Dan May: We want to have that flexibility cause people want to pull from a laptop, people want to pull from a consumer-level camera. Like all of our ATEMs, the big trick is we want to make sure they're all the same frame rate and resolution. So one of the ways we keep cost down here is we don't put up and down converters on every input. Obviously, we have Teranex boxes and other solutions that can do that for you. So ideally you want to say, "Look, I'm using a 1920x1080 camera, I'm setting my desktop resolution to 1920x1080, and I'm working in a 1920x1080 project.” And that's how we've been able to kind of save some more costs by not just including extra features that 90% of the people aren't going to need.

Shawn Lam: Excellent. Thank you very much, Dan!

Dan May: You’re very welcome!

Shawn Lam: This has been Shawn Lam for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2017.

Shawn Lam:        It's Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2017. We're here at the Blackmagic booth, I'm here with Dan May the president of Blackmagic Design, and we're going to be talking about the Television Studio Pro HD, which is a new product here at NAB 2017. You previously announced the Television Studio HD, which was a 2/3 wide rackmount version. But now the form factor is different, so tell us about this one.

 

Dan May:             From a historical point of view, we've long launched these switchers that, you buy the switcher, and then if you want to you can use it over a network where you're using a software control, or you go out and buy a broadcast panel. And the great part about this network control is the ability to have multiple users working across multiple different laptops, or hardware interfaces.

 

                                When we launched the ATEM Television Studio, we wanted to have that great small form factor, because we've been very successful out there with houses of worship, and educational facilities. But of course the big booming market right now is things like, "I want to do Facebook Live, I want to do YouTube Live," and it's that webcasting that we're really seeing grow so much, where people are trying to do more, they're trying to step up from software-based switchers, and they want to have a hardware switcher and the ability to have this kind of professional production that they're not accustomed to in free software.

 

                                What we have now with the ATEM Television Studio Pro HD is our first switcher-panel combination. The ability to be able to say I'm hooked to the network, I want to control that switcher via physical, tactile buttons, I want to have my faders, I want to have my transitions, but also to have all of my camera control, because of course all of these Blackmagic Studio cameras, and Micro Studio Cameras have talkback, have tally, have these really truly professional tools that have never really been available at these price points. So being able to turn around something that has the full switcher built-in, having that control panel, having all of that CCU control, and of course putting that at that $2,295 price point, it really empowers a whole new level of customers that have never really had access to these kind of hardware products.

 

Shawn Lam:        That's a huge development because traditionally to buy that hardware control panel, it cost more than the switcher itself, and so this is an all-in-one at $2,295.

 

Dan May:             It's one of those things where we want to give people options often. We want to say, "Look, do you want to use software, do you want to use hardware, do you want to have someone using software to be able to do their Photoshop plugins, do you want have someone that's just cutting between cameras on a hardware panel?" We want to be able to provide a product that's going to give the most available out there.

 

                                We want to say, "Look, how do you make the best $1,000 switcher?" You know how much can we put in there, and for this it became a matter of, if I want that physical control capability, right now you have to go buy that switcher, you have to go buy that panel. But then we thought, "What if we put those together, in this form factor? How much could we give them?" I mean we'd have loved to have gotten this product in that sub-$2,000 price, because it comes with a sweet spot, but at $2,295 to be able to have CCU control built right into it, you know this is something that people probably don't even--at that level--know what they can do with these cameras and with the switchers.

 

                                But getting that talkback, getting that tally, getting the ability to have all of that color-shading directly from this panel to those cameras is tremendously powerful. And of course it's something that they've never been able to experience with just a software switch solution, so it's great that that market is blossoming, that people are going out there, they want to do this web-streaming, they want to be professional content creators. Here are tools that empower them to take this to a much higher level.

 

                                Things that are going to be new for us is, we've never had: in those other panels, what we see is we see the ability to drill down. So there's going to be limited buttons and then you go through your menu and say "Okay I want to DVE,” and you drill down to that. "Okay I want to do a, a picture in picture," and you drill down to that menu set, and what we've done here is we've created a lot more on the actual board itself so that you actually have the ability to say, “I want to do that wipe, oh I want to do this picture in picture,” because we don't want people that are sitting down to use these things for the first time feeling like, if they don't see it, they don't know it's there.

 

                                So we wanted to make sure that the controls that we had available to them were basically at their fingertips. When we first made those first panels, we didn't have cameras that had all that camera control. So this is the first time that we've been able to go in and say I want to select a certain camera, I want to select a primary color grade I can go ahead and use, these great DaVinci color grading capabilities that we have, and are being able to build into our other products.

 

Shawn Lam:        Well and this is keeping in tradition with a lot of the ATEM products you already have, where the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. And you've got controllers in there that can do so much with all of your cameras, and the whole workflow is integrated. So it's a great accomplishment there.

 

Dan May:             We don't have to be every solution, right, you can use other cameras, you can use other switchers. Blackmagic's done a really good job of saying "Look we understand that you're vested in various bits of hardware, but of course we also want to be able to say, ‘we can provide all of these solutions to you, you can use our micro-cameras, you can use an URSA Mini, you can use our switchers, and there's obviously going to be benefits, because of what they can do, and how they can work together,’ and of course we'd like to think that we're providing that value proposition to the table.

 

                                We understand if someone says, "Look, we've spent money on these cameras. No problem, but these are the switchers we want you to be looking at. We're really tied into this other switcher. No problem, here are other cameras or converters or web presenters that we can use to be able to help empower people, because we feel that that's the best way for us to get a customer involved with Blackmagic is a customer that we want to be keeping for the next 10-20 years. So, the ability to go out and say "Look, we realized you're looking at a thousand dollar switcher and wondering, 'Can this do everything I want it to do?'"

 

                                We want to make it that price and empower those people because we want them to come back and say "That worked so great! How do I now get get their cameras, how do I look at their converters, how do I look at their streaming boxes?"

 

Shawn Lam:        These are eight-input HD, 1080, 60p.

 

Dan May:             So it's-it's basically eight SDI inputs and four HDMI inputs and you can kind of choose those last four, what you want them to be.

 

Shawn Lam:        A lot of flexibility.

 

Dan May:             We want to have that flexibility cause people want to pull from a laptop, people want to pull from a consumer-level camera. Like all of our ATEMs, the big trick is we want to make sure they're all the same frame rate and resolution. So one of the ways we keep cost down here is we don't put up and down converters on every input. Obviously, we have Teranex boxes and other solutions that can do that for you. So ideally you want to say, "Look, I'm using a 1920x1080 camera, I'm setting my desktop resolution to 1920x1080, and I'm working in a 1920x1080 project.” And that's how we've been able to kind of save some more costs by not just including extra features that 90% of the people aren't going to need.

 

Shawn Lam:        Excellent. Thank you very much, Dan!

 

Dan May:             You’re very welcome!

 

Shawn Lam:        This has been Shawn Lam for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2017.

 

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