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First Look: Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio 4K8

Dropping by the Blackmagic Design booth at NAB 2023, Shawn Lam of Streaming Media and SLV Live caught up with Bob Caniglia, Blackmagic's Director of Sales Operations, North America, to talk about the dynamic lineup of ATEM Television Studio switchers, highlighting, of course, the newest model that debuted at this year's show, the 4K8.

Dropping by the Blackmagic Design booth at NAB 2023, Shawn Lam of Streaming Media and SLV Live caught up with Bob Caniglia, Blackmagic's Director of Sales Operations, North America, to talk about the dynamic lineup of ATEM Television Studio switchers, highlighting, of course, the newest model that debuted at this year's show, the 4K8.

"The ATEM Television Studio family was sort of reborn with the HD8, an eight-input, HD model, and the HD8 ISO model. With the ISO, you can actually do ISO recording, including program and DaVinci Resolve project," Caniglia says. "Now we have the new 4K8. It'll record the program inside if you add the storage, but you get eight inputs and 10 AUX outputs, so it gives you a little more flexibility to run it through for ISO recording on the Hyperdeck."

"Excellent," Lam replies. "Let's have a look."

ATEM Microphone Converter

"One of the new things that we added is the ATEM Microphone Converter," explains Caniglia. "This allows you to bring microphones in through MADI, into the ATEMs. You can get four microphones into the system via the MADI input. You can also add consecutive ones because there's MADI in and out, and you could link them together and bring in multiples. The MADI input allows us to bring in MADI sources from, say, a large mixing console that could have 32 inputs. So it's a way to bring in one signal connector, 32 more channels into the ATEM. So it could either be pre-mixed that you want to bring in, or the individual channels. By using the ATEM Microphone Converter, we're able to bring in extra microphones independent of the other inputs as a MADI source, and then in the software or on the control panel, you're able to then work with those individual microphones and add in more sources than you would traditionally have with just the inputs themselves when you get it to the TV Studio."

8 Inputs, 10 AUX Outputs, and 4K ISO Recording

Turning his attention to the new 4K8 switcher, Caniglia says, "What we have here is the 4K model. It has eight inputs and it has 10 AUX outputs, so you're able to use those 10 AUX outputs to go to ISO recording. You can record internally with the program. You can get the program recording internally with the optional storage. Also, we've added all kinds of new audio graphical representation so that you're actually able to do a lot of the EQ'ing and things right here on the display. One of the things I really like," he continues, "is if you have macros, there's a macro button and it brings up all the macros right here. So you can fire off macros during recording. On the 4K model, we added the internal recording. Now on the HD8, you get program recording. On the HD8 ISO, you get the ISO recording, DaVinci Resolve project, and the program recording.

"On the 4K8, you get the 4K recording internally with the storage internally. That's a big help."

Built-in Streaming

Caniglia then elaborates further on the streaming capabilities of the new 4K8 switcher.

"Streaming is built into the USB-C or the Ethernet. You can actually tether a cell phone to the switchers to provide the internet access and then stream out of the switchers without having to use a hard line. If you want, you can use it as backup, so it prioritizes the Ethernet source you're using. It can also work as your webcam interface. And I do that all day long," he adds with a laugh.

4K8 GUI Panels

Showing off the 4K8's updated GUI, Caniglia says, "What I like to show everybody is that in the 8, in the audio menus, this graphical interface is really great. You can select which one you're gonna work on, and it brings up the menus for those. We've got EQ, we've got a compressive limiter, we have gate, you can pan, and then we also have camera control also for the input," he explains.

Leveraging the studio capabilities of the 4K8 when used in conjunction with Blackmagic cameras, he continues, "You can select a camera and you have the camera shading capabilities for the Blackmagic cameras. If you have macros, you can, you can bring up the macros on this bus. It's got the standard T-bar for transitions and things like that, all the standard things that you would expect from a switcher, but it's all in a compact design. We got four upstream keys down, four upstream keys for chroma key, lumens keys, new advanced keyers. We can record over here, we can stream, and then we have the two downstream keys as well.

Software Controls, MultiView, and SuperSource

"The whole idea" of the 4K8's extensive panel of buttons and feature-rich GUI, Caniglia explains, "is that it's a self-contained unit, so all of the I/O is in the mainframe itself, in the switcher. It's all built in, but additionally I can control it with software as well. Actually, I could switch the whole show from here, or I can load graphics into the media player or clips for the transitions. I've got camera control. Depending on the cameras, I can zoom and focus if they have the correct lenses and what-not, and do all the camera shading in the software or on the hard panel. And it's nice to have that flexibility," he continues, "because sometimes in a more complex live event, you want someone else dealing with maybe audio or camera or both, so that the TD can just switch the cameras."

One key feature of the 4K8 is its multiview output, Caniglia says. "It's configurable so that you can put up 16 boxes or one large one and a bunch of small ones. So it's very interactive and you can adjust that in software. On the 4K model, we added the joystick. You can manipulate the DVEs and things like that. This has Super Source,. So you have four boxes on SuperSource, and then you have another DVE. So you've got four upstream keyers, two downstream keyers, and it's really a great compact model that you can bring it on the road and you plug everything in and you're good to go. It's got the multiview output and as I said, 10 AUX outputs, 8 inputs--all for $4,595."

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