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Blackmagic Debuts $599 Streaming-Capable ATEM Mini Pro Live Switcher

Blackmagic's just-announced ATEM Mini Pro switcher builds on the game-changing entry-level ATEM Mini with new live streaming, recording, and multiview capability, at a low $599 price point.

With NAB 2020 no longer scheduled to take place this month, the next few weeks are bound to bring scores of industry announcements and product debuts to the smaller stage of web-based briefings. Time will tell what the groundbreakers and game-changers will be.

Blackmagic Design set the bar high today when founder and CEO Grant Petty took to YouTube Live to make several key announcements, foremost among them the introduction of the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro (Figures 1 and 2, below), a new streaming-capable version of the low-cost (and then some) four-input ATEM Mini released last September. The ATEM Mini Pro adds $300 to the Mini's eye-popping $299 MSRP, but adds compelling new features for streaming, recording, and multiview monitoring.

Figure 1. The new Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro

Figure 2. The ATEM Mini Pro rear view

Live Streaming

A new built-in hardware streaming engine enables live producers to stream to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch, and more. Producers can go live simply by connecting via ethernet to a viable live connection and pressing the On Air button on the top of the unit. In today's briefing, Petty demonstrated how live producers can connect via Ethernet/USB to a laptop running Blackmagic's ATEM Control Panel software to control the switcher, apply streaming settings, and monitor the viability of the stream in progress (Figure 3, below). The number on the lower right of Figure 2 shows the current data rate, and the "OK" indicates that it is sufficient for the video being streamed. 

Figure 3. On air with the ATEM Mini Pro. Click the image to see it at full size.

While the Mini Pro, like the Mini, is designed to make many of the professional switching and mixing features of Blackmagic's higher-end ATEM models available to users newer to live production or to those having comparably modest needs and budgets, it does offer some features that more advanced users will welcome, such as the ability to go beyond the short drop-down list of popular streaming platforms and customize your stream by opening and tweaking an XML file with all of the stream's parameters. "If you're technically minded," Petty said, "you can add a custom streaming service to the XML file that will populate in the menu. You can also take out settings you don't want."

Live Recording

The ATEM Mini Pro also has the ability to record an H.264 program feed to one or more USB drives (Figure 4, below) with the attachment of a single external hard drive, USB hub, or Blackmagic MultiDock. Petty noted that recording to a multi-drive device gives production teams--such as those doing live sports--the added ability to swap output drives on the fly so that portions of a program can be used for editing highlights while recording and streaming continue. Connecting to the computer running the ATEM control software via the ethernet output (via a USB adapter) frees up the USB output for external recording. 

Figure 4. Recording a program feed live to an external USB hard drive

Clicking the REC button (indicated in Figure 4) starts live recording from the Mini Pro unit. Recordings can also be controlled and monitored from within the ATEM Software Control Panel, as shown in Figure 5 (below).

Figure 5. Recording status displayed in the ATEM Software Control Panel 

Working with PCC Cameras in Studio Mode

During the webcast Petty also announced software updates for both the ATEM Mini and the Mini Pro that enables both switchers to interact with cameras in Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera (PCC) line as studio cameras. This means the switchers can talk to the cameras via the same HDMI cable that transmits the video, and (via the software control interface) adjusts a range of settings on the camera, from lens controls to color correction. 

Figure 6 (below) shows live color correction for 4 connected PCC cameras in the ATEM Software Control. Camera operators can also continue to make camera adjustments directly on the camera body while in Studio Mode. Petty noted that the primary color correction controls in the ATEM software are essentially the same as those found in Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve NLE. Red tally lights on the cameras indicate which camera is on aid; orange tally lights indicate that the cameras are recording internally in RAW format while sending an HDMI signal to the switcher. The ATEM Switcher 8.2 and Cameras 6.9 updates are available now from blackmagicdesign.com.

Figure 6. PCC camera color correction in Studio Mode

Multiview Monitoring

Petty also highlighted the ability to use professional multiview output to see all four video sources, plus preview and program on an external monitor (Figure 7, below). Petty noted in his presentation that it's "very common" for ATEM Mini users to be presenters who are running their slide decks and switching their video live (and now they'll be able to add streaming to their job descriptions). Multiview monitoring, he said, is especially valuable for presenters who are wearing all these hats since it makes it easier to see not just which feed is showing but (via the preview window) what's about to go on air, helping to prevent errors.

Figure 7. The ATEM Mini Pro's Multiview monitor. Click the image to see it at full size.

"When you've got streaming and recording and preview as different windows, you've got more information, and much bigger indicators. We think multiview is going to be very useful for more complex work--you've got it all there on one display."

Petty told viewers that "production started today" for the ATEM Mini Pro (MSRP $599) which means the new model is available now, with appropriate caveats applied for the state of shipping under current conditions.

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