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The NAB Interviews: Blackmagic Design's Stuart Ashton on the ATEM Production Studio 4k

Shawn Lam discusses the new ATEM Production Studio 4K and 6Gb SDI with Blackmagic Design's Stuart Ashton an NAB 2013.



4k is Here Today

Shawn: That’s one of the things you guys are doing is not just trying to take one piece of the production workflow, but you really have solutions from the camera acquisition right to recording the archive or even the hardware that helps on the streaming side.

Stuart: One of the things I touched on earlier is 4k is here today. People are working in a 4k environment. We do a number of different shows including shows like ISE and Infocomm. And a lot of the events guys, the AV space is already delivering 4k to large screens. The one thing that people have always said to us is what about transmission? How is that going to be delivered to us in our home? Well, YouTube’s doing it. With YouTube 4k, you can and actually deliver and broadcast over the internet 4k already. What we’re trying to do is put together this collaborative workflow of 4k UltraHD products that now give you the ability to capture, switch, record, and play back all those 4k resolutions.

Shawn: With this unit, is the HDMI restricted to 1920x1080 HD, or does it accept any of the 4k HD?

Stuart: It’ll do UltraHD as well.

Shawn: Output-wise, have we got rid of all the analog standard definition inputs on here?

Stuart: As we look at the back of the unit, it’s SDI and HDMI output again. We’re keeping the unit entirely with the digital connections on the back of the unit. What’s also nice about the unit is on the front of it, you’ll see that we’ve now incorporated an LCD screen. You can now see your Aux out or your Program out. What this now gives you the ability to do is it on the bottom with all of these. On the front of the unit with all these buttons, I can now control the Aux output, which means that if I wanted to make an Aux output a Program output, I could actually switch the unit on the actual front of the main plate. We’ve also got media pools in there as well.

Controlling the Unit

Shawn: Similar to the entire ATEM line, you could either use the software control panel or a production switcher via Ethernet or through a network.

Stuart: It’s all about having flexibility. It’s all about ensuring that we have different ways to work with different people. We always envisage that these units need to be small in physical size because then you can build them into OB trucks or into small racks, into flyaway kits. When we talk about the control method, we always thought to ourselves, what if you wanted to try on a laptop or you don’t have the space to use a large panel? But then also there are the guys who want to put it in a gallery. They want to put it on a desk. With this now we’ve now outfitted a third option. We now have the ability to control the Aux output on the front of the unit, which now means that you actually don’t need either of those things. So really it just comes about what fits the purpose, what’s right for each person.

Audio Monitoring

Shawn: This is a one-rack unit. If you look at the front, we’ve got an LCD display. There’s no audio display on there at this point?

Stuart: There isn’t on this product. But what we have announced at the show is a Blackmagic audio monitor. That again is a 6 Gb solution. It’s fully dedicated audio monitoring solution, which was designed with video in mind. That has the VU meters on the front. It has built in speakers. It has the ability to be able to see a visual representation of the audio that’s coming through. It has HDMI on there and SDI on there as well.

Shawn: And it has an analog or a headphone jack, so we can actually hear the audio.

Stuart: It has aviation headphone connection on the front, which means it enables you to actually listen to all that audio coming through. But also it has a knob on the front, which gives you the ability to ride the audio up and down, so you can listen to the volume. You can increase the volume, decrease the volume.

Compared to the ATEM 1 M/E

Shawn: Now if we look at this unit and compare it to the ATEM 1M/E, the 1M/E is a two-rack unit. It has three Aux outputs. This one is a one-rack unit and it’s a single-Aux unit, so that’s one of the big differences. And then the 1M/E has the USB 3.0 output. Does this have anything similar?

Stuart: This doesn’t have 3.0 on the output. This is really meant to sit somewhere between the Television Studio and the 1M/E, but obviously with the increased functionality of 4k, which is massive.

Shawn: Yeah, fantastic. Thank you very much, Stuart. 

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