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Tutorial: Using SuperSource on the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Extreme

Blackmagic Design calls its PxP feature SuperSource and it used to only be available on their highest-end switchers, the ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, and ATEM Constellation 8K. While much of the workflow is the same as we will discuss here, in this tutorial, we will be discussing SuperSource on the newest and more budget friendly ATEM Mini Extreme and ATEM Mini Extreme ISO video switchers.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to composite a multi layer video program output with multiple video sources side-by-side, using the SuperSource on the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme.

It used to be that hardware video switchers were great for when you needed to cut or fade between multiple video sources and everything in and out of the workflow was the same full screen resolution. Going beyond a single layer was doable via the up- and down-stream keyer(s), to add graphics and backgrounds, but most video switchers struggled when the technical director wanted to display two live video images at the same time side by side. 

The best that most hardware video switchers could do was a picture-in-picture (PiP) display where a scaled thumbnail sized inset video signal was displayed over a second full screen background video layer.  This was sometimes tolerated for displaying video of a presenter over a PowerPoint slide, computer demonstration, or gaming footage, but was limiting in the sense that the PiP preset was a fixed look and could not be customized. 

The two biggest issues a PiP preset presents are:

  1. The background layer is partially covered by the inset foreground layer and without proper preplanning of the background layer, the foreground might cover something important.
  2. The foreground layer(s) location(s), size(s), and shape(s) could not be adjusted.

Because of these PiP limitations, software video switching solutions are great for when you want to simultaneously display (or composite) multiple video sources, along with graphics, in a single program output. Instead of displaying a picture within the frame of another picture, you could now display a picture by another picture.  Each video input could independently be scaled, cropped, and positioned next to additional video inputs, over top of a background layer, and with additional graphics layers on top. Picture by Picture (PxP) is a way more advanced and professional way to display multiple video sources at the same time.

Blackmagic Design calls their PxP feature SuperSource and it used to only be available on their highest-end switchers, the ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K ($3,995), ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K ($5,995), and ATEM Constellation 8K ($9,995).  While much of the workflow is the same as we will discuss here, in this tutorial, we will be discussing SuperSource on the newest and more budget friendly ATEM Mini Extreme ($995) and ATEM Mini Extreme ISO ($1,295) video switchers.

SuperSource in multiview

The first step in creating a SuperSource picture by picture image on the ATEM Mini Extreme is to connect multiple video cameras to the video switcher.  ATEM Minis all have HDMI inputs so if you are coming from an HD-SDI video source, you can use a Blackmagic Design Micro Converter SDI to HDMI or the Micro Converter BiDirectional SDI/HDMI.  The 3G or 12G models will both work but keep in mind the maximum resolution and frame rate of the ATEM Mini line is 1920x1080 60P, which matches the 3G HD-SDI standard.

As the ATEM Minis have internal standards converters, you don’t have to worry so much about matching the frame rate and resolution of your sources to the video standard you select on the ATEM Mini to be your output, but I still feel it is best practice to avoid using converters if you can set your video source(s) both for the reduced latency and for the overall consistent look.

In this tutorial I connected 4 video cameras to the ATEM as you can see in the fully customizable muti view display.  Camera 1 is a behind the scenes shot of three Canon CR-N500 PTZ cameras.  Cameras 2-4 are from the three Canon N500s and are close-ups of an individual lens or camera. 

In the multi view I assigned one of boxes to display the SuperSource, which is also in the program window.  You will notice that there are red boxes around Cameras 1-4.  A red box indicates that a video input is live and with this SuperSource look that utilizes all four camera inputs, each of the four video camera inputs and the SuperSource input have a red box around it to indicate they are on-air.  If the source video cameras were compatible Blackmagic Design video cameras, the red on-air tally light would also be sent to the camera operator.

Setting-up the SuperSource in the ATEM Software Control panel is very easy.  There are 4 preset layouts that you can start with that have 2, 3, or 4 boxes.  These presets can be customized further or you can also start from scratch in creating your look by enabling one of the 4 boxes in the Box Control menu.

Once you have selected which box to control, you can assign and input and adjust the position and size.  In the Crop menu you can adjust how much of each input to display.  This is especially useful when you want to create a simple picture by picture look of a presenter on video next to a PowerPoint slide.  Displaying the video and slide 50/50 side by side will result in only 50% of the total vertical space of program output being used.  If you crop the sides of the video you can easily scale the video and slides to 60% and display the video next to slides in a 40/60 split.

This layout shows a cropped video source (camera 1) next to two full screen video sources (camera 2 and camera 3). 

SuperSource with cropped video source (camera 1) next to two full-screen video sources (cameras 2 and 3)

The Art Tab in the SuperSource menu is where you set your background image. The Fill Source can be set to one of the eight video inputs or two media players, and it can fill the foreground (that you would key) or background.  In my sample, I dropped a gradient blue-to-pink abstract background in the media player.

Once you have set-up your SuperSource look, it acts like any other video input that you can cut to or transition to.  On the ATEM Software Control Panel, you can assign the SuperSource to the preview or program.  The button is noted as SSRC and a green light indicates it is active as the preview and a red light, the program.

You can assign SuperSource to a button on the ATEM Software Control Panel. In this case, SuperSource is indicated by the red light.

On the ATEM Mini Extreme there is also a dedicated S/SRC button and depending on how you have the switcher set-up, depressing the S/SRC button will either send this to the preview or program.

Power users may also want to extend the SuperSource capabilities further and work with the ATEM Macros to record and recall multiple different SuperSource combinations on their own or in conjunction with a programmable controller, like the Elgato Stream Deck.

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