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NAB 2018: Blackmagic Talks ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K

Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam and Blackmagic Design's Dan May discuss Blackmagic new Television Studio Pro 4K switcher at NAB 2018.

Shawn Lam: It's Shawn Lam here, for Streaming Media Producer, at NAB 2018. I'm here with Dan May from Blackmagic Design, and we're here to talk about the Blackmagic Television Studio Pro 4K.

Dan May: It's a big name, but it’s a great product, that we're happy to be showing here at the NAB show. Our ATEM Television Studio HD, a really wildly popular product, was the first ATEM to integrate the panel with the ATEM, all in one unit. Of course, it was HD-only, and it was something that we thought was really affordable and great, for people to get into, having that single unit able to do kind of everything for them. This is kind of the next step in that process for us, with obviously adding the UltraHD capability.

So, right off the bat, for basically $600 more, being able to do 4K, as well as HD. And if it was just that, you'd say, "Well, maybe I'm only doing HD and it's not something I need." But we've done so much more with this unit. Now, obviously, it's UltraHD, so we didn't want to do just do HDMI. It's got eight 12G SDI inputs, as well as eight 12G SDI outputs. Because of course, if I'm going to be feeding a bunch of URSA Broadcast cameras, I want that program out to go back to those cameras, so I can do all that CCU control tally back to the camera. It was important for us to get all those SDI ins and outs on there.

Shawn Lam: 12G SDI, what resolution frame rate does that support?

Dan May: The big thing on there is that allows us to go up to the Ultra HD 60 frames per second. So we want to be able to have the full bandwidth there. And again, if you're only doing HD, that's still fine. You can do that all over the SDI as well, but we want to have the full capabilities for Ultra HD, in there as well. So that was really important to us to get off the ground. But on top of all of that, each one of those inputs has an up/down cross converter on there. And that's something that we've never done in ATEM before.

All of our ATEMs have always had to be set at the same frame rate and resolution, at the same time. If you're going to use an HD 1080i camera, they all have to be HD 1080i sources. If you're going to do a 720p, you have to all be 720p. So this is the first time every one of those has an up/down cross converter. So now we're starting to say, "Look, maybe I am that streamer that has one or two HD cameras, but I want to go buy one of the Blackmagic Ultra HDs, as sources. Maybe I'm using a computer as an output resolution, that isn't your kind of standard video resolution." Now this can go ahead and take all of those imports, just make it work into the project settings you have, and have that go right out of the gate. So that's another huge feature for it.

Shawn Lam: It's also a big pain point from previous switcher models, and a lot of other things out there, right? It's just mixing and matching, is pretty much a requirement nowadays, because of the variety of sources that are coming in.

Dan May: In a perfect world, we'd love everyone to go out and buy eight new Blackmagic cameras, and use all them. But the practicality of it is that you have to go ahead and use the tools that you already have, add other tools in, and use non-video standards, like some PTZ cameras, or laptops, that may output a non-standard video resolution. A really big improvement, or an upgrade to an already existing unit, that was already fantastic.

Shawn Lam: I understand on the audio side, through some acquisitions, and a bit of innovation, and new features, there's some advancements in the audio side. Tell me a bit about that.

Dan May: One of the big things that happened over the last year, was we had made an acquisition to Fairlight. And Fairlight is a really high-end, audio post-production, kind of software/hardware combination. This is a type of tool that you would use to do audio sweetening and composing for films, and all the kind of audio you'd do for television and film. But of course, they have that robust library and capabilities, that was just sitting there waiting for us to use, and other implementations as well. And that was something that we we're able to move from Fairlight into the ATEM software, as well.

So now, being able to have this ATEM software, not only just being able to a couple of sliders and being able to adjust the audio, but being able to do things like take a stereo or single-channel audio and turn it into a stereo audio, have all of the equalizers that were known in Fairlight, and being able to bring those tools directly into ATEM. It's all about giving people more flexibility, and more capability, and being able to do that for, again, a really modest upgrade in the price, to the get of all of those tools in one solution.

Shawn Lam: It's nice if you're able to do on an external solution and patch it in, but getting it all in this one little form factor here, with manual controls, physical buttons you can push, T-Bar slider here. It's just a really neat package.

Dan May: We want to make sure we give everyone the tools they need, even if they don't need it. But there's so many times, where you run, and you say like, "Man, if I could only just delay that one channel of audio a second, or a couple of frames." You know, these are the kind of things that as we've been able to build through the software, and implement new hardware, we're able to kind of tuck these in as we go. So we're really pleased to be showing it, at the show this year, and have a lot of excited customers to be playing with it out on the show floor.

Shawn Lam: Now one of the other features too, that comes over from the Pro HD switcher, is this wheel up here. And what does this guy do?

Dan May: The big thing that we wanted to be able to do was give some more of that actual color shading control capabilities, right. We obviously have another one of our big IP technologies with DaVinci Resolve. Being able to include some of that Resolve color grading, directly into our live production switchers. So not just going out and saying, "Oh, look, I can make an adjustment to a red channel, or a blue channel," but giving people the tactile controls, that they're accustomed to, from an actual color shader.

Which of course, is why we also have our CCP control, we're cross-showing up on the show floor, to have that hardware tactile, which can be added on to any of the ATEMs, as well, to be able to do things like color shading, or URSA cameras. And that's a great capability for people to be able to get in, start learning, that was never available to them in a product at this kind of price point.

Shawn Lam: Thank you very much, Dan. This has been Shawn Lam, at NAB 2018. We're looking at some of the Blackmagic solutions, more solutions that are part of their end-to-end workflows, that you guys are now enabling.

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