Tell me why to choose ATEM 1ME over Sony MCS8M

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Tell me why to choose ATEM 1ME over Sony MCS8M

Hello
Sorry to provocated somebody but I'm need to know what the ATEM-users point-of-view is in this mater.
The background: I'm building a web/TV-studio with 2 studio floors
The productionsignal should be in 90% of the cases 1080i50, in the rest 576i50.
The input signals from floor 1 is
5 cameras (2pcs AG101 & 3pcs HE120)
from outside the floor there will be a need for running videoclips (either SDI with CasparCG or HDMI with Sceenmonkey) and Skype over HDMI.
You can find more details in my original post
http://atemuser.com/forums/general-video/camera-systems/building-webstudio

heres the link to Sonys page
http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-MCS8M/

First I was all in for BMD but since I'm been using Sony Anycast for a long time without any problem I really need to know if ATEN is the right solution. It's in this case not a matter of economics but a question of sencibility. 

I would anyway get a BMD micro videohub so the inputchannels aint the big issue. even if it takes some SDI-HDMI-miniconverters.

Please let me know your experiences
Markus Nygård
technical producer
Yle
markus.nygard@yle.fi

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Don't - there is no good reason!

What a lovely little mixer that Sony is. Many thanks for pointing it out to me, my experience of Sony mixers is only of the very large and expensive, I hadn't come across this unit before. Do you know when they launched this?

The fact that Sony have this link on their "Resources Page" is a huge advantage over any BMD product.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/assetDownloadController/MCS-8M%20Protocol%20Manual%20E.pdf?path=Asset%20Hierarchy$Professional$SEL-yf-generic-153708$SEL-yf-generic-153753SEL-asset-297879.pdf&id=StepID$SEL-asset-297879$original&dimension=original

The difference in price will be be more than taken taken care of by the customer support you will get from Sony.

To try to be fair to BMD, the DVE on the ATEM range is excellent, and you might miss it, as it looks like the Sony is slightly more limited in this area, but I could easily be wrong about that.

Until BMD starting acting seriously regarding the ATEM range, unless you are forced into it by employers or clients, there are much better options available, and you've found one already! 

At the moment BMD appears, in my opinion, to be considering the ATEM a pro-sumer toy, or a home-theatre driver, rather than "a tool" for use in LiveTV or broadcast critical tasks. That is a great shame, as the underlying hardware is excellent.

To try to be a bit more positive: My anecdotal evidence / experience(and that of my customers), is that VideoHubs are excellent, and thankfully you won't require much support from BMD (and that is good coz you won't get any), so would fully endorse your Videohub selection, but you have already answered your own question about the mixer.

Best Wishes

John

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To counter John's assessment

To counter John's assessment of the ATEM line being more of a toy... there are many of us successfully using our ATEM's in professional environments.   I won't negate Johns experience - he has some very valid concerns - but that should not entirely rule out the many great points in favor for the ATEM line.  

The Sony unit does look very useful and priced well.. and I don't think you could go very wrong with either setup.   The ATEM line allows for mutliple control surfaces per mixer - I'm not sure the Sony allows for this flexibility.  That's definitely been very useful for my events as we'll have different roles handled by different staff (in my case using the software control).

Good luck with whatever solution you go for.

John... when the ATEM line is just a toy in your eyes - what does that say for the life of your JustMacros software?  Your comments have me honestly concerned.   I hope it all works out though... as that development is such a great tool.

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Liam, Great to see you back

Liam,

Great to see you back over here posting again!!!!!

Sorry for the confusion: But I did not say I thought the ATEM was a toy. I say it's great hardware, but that's not enough for me to in good conscience not warn potential users away.

I said I thought, "BMD considered it a toy", I am fully aware that professionals in any area of business, can take equipment, and bypass it failings, and make good use of it. There are hundreds of them here on this forum doing exactly that.

My reasoning behind saying BMD treat it like a toy is very simple. Broadcasters in my experience require 3 things above all else:

1. Stability - Products that don't change dramatically or constantly....
2. Reliability - Suppliers who test their equipment well before releasing it to users.
3. Interoperability - The ability to insert new equipment into existing workflows without major changes, and with the minimum of staff re-training required. 

Does BMD meet any of these requirements? Not by my reckoning.

But more than anything else, If BMD considered it a tool for professionals, why add an audio mixer when so many other things were left undone. I'm no audio expert, but many who are, have told me you can not mix properly the way BMD have it set up. I know Tom, and Jeff have both explained in great detail why Pro Audio should me mixed externally. If BMD wanted to make the ATEM appeal, why not listen to those who know what they are talking about? The reason is they are only interested in making new sales. The built in Audio mixer is great for marketing.

As for multiple control interfaces on the Sony, it has a remote control port, you attach JustMacros to the remote, and have as many HTML5 iPad touch clients or XKeys workstations as you like. Lua supports RS232/422 ports, although I fully intend to make it much easy for anyone with a Sony or GV (project going very well) to integrate to VideoHubs, CasparCG, ATEMs, etc...

I think it's pretty obvious that I will try to help support anyone who has ended up working with BMD kit, especially if like me, they have ended up there, through not fault of their own, a "brothers in arms" type situation..... If you get stuck with BMD as a supplier, I am here to help, might not be much, but it's what I can offer....

However the best way I can help BMD users, until BMD sort their act out, is to encourage people not to become BMD customers in the first place, and hence avoid the countless problems they are letting themselves in for.

Just Macros is now on a 5 year plan, with a planned key 3 year milestone. We are not yet in year 2. No need to be worried my friend, I can't get away from BMD, even if I wanted to.

Cheers

John

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Thanks for the clarification.

Thanks for the clarification.  

Again... with respect to your views and experience... I'm not going to begin debating the fine points of the audio mixing etc.  That battle has already received enough discussion.  It's here now.  Interestingly the Sony box referenced above has in-built audio mixing.   The newest firmware (with all its faults) has support for external audio mixing control as well.  And of course I'm someone who also mostly uses completely external audio mixing anyway.   

It seems a little disingenuous to be on the ATEMUsers.com site with a publicly stated aim of discouraging further customers from the product line.  I would go as far to say that is something that rather harms the community.   I know you don't see it that way... and you say you are doing this to guide BMD in doing things you think they should.  But I guess I don't get it how that will work in reality.

Sure - these products are not perfect - there are things that don't quite work as advertised - and the firmware upgrade process has historically broken some functionality.  So there is definitely room for a great deal of improvement.  Will there be a point when BMD has provided the functionality in the ATEM line that will be a match for your standards?  If so... what will that say about your approach (now) to proactively steer customers away from the line?   I for one am all for supporting BMD... and that means being vocal on the issues that need to be addressed.  I have done that for the functional points that were important to me so far.   I'll continue to do that going forward when necessary.

I believe there are sufficient methods for the user community to voice their concerns and to get those concerns addressed.  We obviously don't have a magic path through to BMD to control precisely what they see as priorities to get implemented (or fixed)... but that is in the nature of how any business works.

I'm looking forward to great new developments in 2013 from BMD that fills the gaps and will hopefully restore your faith in the valuable product line for professional use.   We'll see I guess.

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I guess Sony knows nothing about this market place either

I do have to smile when  you look at this mixer from sony and clear as can be is the featured built in audio mixer. But then what does Sony know about the video mixer market.

SHARYN

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Liam,"Will there be a point

Liam,

"Will there be a point when BMD has provided the functionality in the ATEM line that will be a match for your standards?"

As I tell people all the time, it is impossible to predict the future, only gamble on it. I'm gambling that the time will come, but I'm guessing / estimating / betting, based on how long I've been waiting for Decklink to meet specification, that it won't be during 2013.....

"If so... what will that say about your approach (now) to proactively steer customers away from the line?"

I will look back on my approach, as being "honest and helpful" whilst BMD were acting as an unreliable supplier, if your "prediction" of great things in 2013 comes true, my advise will change. That will be the only way I can continue to be honest and helpful.

Surely it would be more disingenuous to recommend a product with a faulty down-convertor to someone with a stated objective of doing both HD and SD productions. 

SharynF,

The irony of me making the point about BMD wasting time on audio, whilst the Sony mixer also includes an Audio mixer, and their sales literature prominently makes the point it can add Audio Delay to any input, is not lost on me.

However Sony offering full Remote control published protocol specs, whilst BMD obfuscate and spend time trying to hide their version of the thing Sony Publish, means I'm going to excuse myself and defend my original statement.

There still hasn't been anyone post a reason to choose the ATEM over the Sony unit, I hope someone here will come onto the thread to defend BMD and the ATEM, and shout about all the reasons why the ATEM is better.

Cheers

John

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I simple reason: If you need

I simple reason:
If you need more than 4 SDI inputs, you can't buy most of the cheap mixers (usually with 4 inputs). If you need more than 8, it's nearly impossible to find one, except the 2ME.
A very simple 4 camera production with one channel CG (fill+key), and one channel playout needs 7 SDI inputs.

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Hi, Price is a really good

Hi,

Price is a really good reason to put up with BMD!

Maybe the only reason . . .

Hey Liam, i'll bet if you needed the down converter to work as bad as you needed 60hz, you would be bitching too - just saying. You were all over both forums about that problem!

Rave on John, I'm with you!! 

If BMD advertises a product to be 'professional', then they should be held to that standard.

tony

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Yep - you are spot on there.
tmarone wrote:

Hey Liam, i'll bet if you needed the down converter to work as bad as you needed 60hz, you would be bitching too - just saying. You were all over both forums about that problem!

You are no doubt spot on there.   I don't have a particular use for the SD out right now... and I have a work-around with my current gear (SDI to Analog converter).    I can appreciate the upset this broken feature has caused anyone who needs the SD out.  I hope it will be fixed soon.

And... there is a difference to being persistent and vocal - and being damaging to the existing user community (sorry John... just saying it how I see it).

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Tony, So So true!!!! But it

Tony,

So So true!!!! But it really hurts that it is so.

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/atem/

"The world's most advanced broadcast grade live production switcher" is the tag line, and it could be so true. But in my opinion, that is just a false statement right now.

I accept denes44 point absolutely. Problem is; the question was why "ATEM 1ME over Sony?" 

And when you add the $5K panel to the £2.5K mixer, because the Sony has both vision and audio surfaces built in, the price difference becomes more difficult to justify.

Without the problems with the company that build the product, the argument turns to be about Pros and Cons of multiple DSKs, USKs, more AUX outputs, amazing good DVE for the price, Stingers, Media Store. The list goes on and on.

I'd prefer to be spending my time providing free marketing for BMD, as like Liam implies; "the more ATEM customers exist, the more JustMacros users there might be", but whilst they effectively ignore their own customers, it would be "wrong", perhaps even unethical, for me to promote ATEM just to promote J.M.

It can't just be me that feels like this, as I want to buy a BMCC to check it out, but am waiting for stock to actually be available (learnt from previous experience of BMD not to pre-order), but it means I'm keeping an eye on the Cinema camera forum, and I think there are a fair number of people there, who basically agree that the level of customer service and interaction is not really acceptable for a company supplying to a industry that is so technical and has so many niche requirements.

I don't think the down-convertor bug has dropped off page 1, since 3.4 was released, they have just about acknowledged it, but barely, and no indication of when it might get fixed. How can companies be expected to plan, when they don't know what is going on with their suppliers and equipment?

Sorry, I'll try to stop ranting and raving now, and I won't come back against anyone who wants to list in detail the large number of features of the ATEM that beat the Sony, and promote BMD, I just can't bring myself to do it. (but if you have a pop at me, I'm going to come back)

Cheers

John

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OK there are a few reasons

OK there are a few reasons that the BMD design is better than this sony. 

1 Ergonomics - the sony switcher is a one box thing, the inputs are on the control panel which makes it much harder to integrate into a studio.  The BMD panel buttons are better than this Sony. 

2. Price

3. err struggling now.. 

SHARYN - Just because Sony produce an audiovisual mixer doesn't mean it is a good idea, nor that the audio mixer included is suitable for any serious productions needs. I have used many AV mixers, I've owned a few of them too. Not a single one of them has had the needed facilities for proper audio mixing. Not this Sony, not the Anycast, nor the MX70, nor the GV Indigo have proper audio mixing facilities with the controls needed for mixing a bands sound, or ensuring a microphone mix is balanced correctly with a good gain structure.  I have worked on literally hundreds of events where this kind of AV mixer has been used, and not a single one of them has ever used the audio mixing part of the vision mixer. The only events I have seen people use a single AV mixer on have suffered from poor sound (often extremely poor, eg in the case of tricaster shows).
Anyway.. BMD have given you the audio mixer you dreamed of, so why your still going on about it is beyond me.

Markus - This Sony is basically an Anycast without the inbuilt recording / streaming. If you like the Anycast then you'll probably like this one too, personally I hate the Anycast, it's really horrible to cut on when compaired to a more broadcasty mixer such as the ATEM or GV Indigo. 

Re the whole BMD updates thing, if i were sending my money today I would not buy an ATEM. For the level of switcher I need I would be looking at a 2ME with 1ME panel. For the cost of this combo there are better options available from companies which are less chaotic in their release schedule. The issue here is not the on paper spec, nor the actual day to day usability. It is the update schedule which is the issue, updates are supplied without a changelog, updates are not announced via email to existing users, updates sometimes (everytime for the last 4 or so versions) remove or break functionality which had previously worked, and when this happens there are delays of months / years to get back functions from old versions.   Given the option of buying a switcher from a company which behaves like this, and some very established companies which do not then it is a no-brianer. 

I'd love to be promoting the ATEM as the leading switcher on the market in terms of both features and price, but sadly the features simply are not there (even compared to my Echloab ATEM). All the big players now offer switcher which are feature rich compared to ATEM and not much more money. BMD have really dropped the ball on this line, they simply do not have the resources to produce their current range of products. I would honestly not be surprised if they drop the whole ATEM line to concentrate on the BMDCC. After all BMD is "designed to fail"!

Liam the only thing I feel is damaging the ATEM community is BMDs lack of interest in the product line. I've watched them take a brilliant product (Echolab ATEM) and turn it into a messy shambles. I really wish i could be more positive about them but based on their track record so far then it is very hard to be.  The really sad thing is that it would be very little effort for them to fix the issues with their company. Simply providing a changelog and using the Beta testing group to review firmwares before they are rolled out the public would be enough for them to regain my support.  Until that point is it honestly possible to recommend anyone buys into the ATEM line?  

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An interesting conversation, for sure!

I appreciate the viewpoints of the disgruntled among us, particularly those who have invested much of their time and expertise on these and Black Magic's own forums in an effort to help pick up the slack.

My personal take is that BMD's staff has been overwhelmed by problems getting their much more important (to them) cinema camera ready for full blown production.  The problems with that particular product are well documented elsewhere, so I won't belabor the point.  Suffice it to say, I think those issues not only caught them by surprise, but the amount of manpower required forced them to sacrifice in other areas.  Of course, the most likely candidates for such a sacrifice are going to be their slowest selling lines of product, and business being what it is, the ATEM line was probably one of the first areas where they decided to scale back.

Supposedly, the kinks are getting worked out on their critical cinema camera production process, and they are quickly ramping things up.  I hope that's the case (for those with cameras on back order, as well as for all of us needing some more attention).

I'm hopeful that they take notice of the damage done to their most evangelistic customers during the past several months, and that they are able to return their focus on the development of the ATEM firmware and software.  I'm holding out hope that we haven't seen the best of their work yet.

-- Eric Darling www.ethreemedia.com

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Why Audio on lower end mixers

Well if you talk with Sony you might be surprised to find out that they see a different use for the audio function. It is NOT like BMD or Sony are promoting this as your ONLY audio mixer, but rather as the master control point line level mixer, where the A/D levels have already been set upstream, and audio input from playback devices, or audio mixer output are being combined and relative levels are being determined in order to put together the final audio/video feed/program output.  So the "you cannot possible get the levels right because you are after the A/D conversion is a non issue".

They claim that it was a major feature requested, and that that is why they highlight it in first place on their description.  In the lower end of the market reducing personnel requirements is important, and having the ability to have a single point of final control.

But then again,  what do they  know about this market place and customers :-)

Sharyn

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Sony Switcher looks nice but

Sony Switcher looks nice but the lack of keyers and limited key type support would make it a no-go for me.  Using Photoshop to push a key to the ATEM with alpha channel support is such a strong feature.

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Audio - again zzz
SharynF wrote:

Well if you talk with Sony you might be surprised to find out that they see a different use for the audio function. It is NOT like BMD or Sony are promoting this as your ONLY audio mixer, but rather as the master control point line level mixer, where the A/D levels have already been set upstream, and audio input from playback devices, or audio mixer output are being combined and relative levels are being determined in order to put together the final audio/video feed/program output.  So the "you cannot possible get the levels right because you are after the A/D conversion is a non issue".

They claim that it was a major feature requested, and that that is why they highlight it in first place on their description.  In the lower end of the market reducing personnel requirements is important, and having the ability to have a single point of final control.

But then again,  what do they  know about this market place and customers :-)

Sharyn

Who at Sony did you speak to who mentioned MCR? Did you actually speak to anyone at all, or are you just doing a mashup of the press releases of BMD? Where does who claim it was a major requested feature (your talking about BMD here again are you?) I do not see the audio mixer specifically highlighted in any of the Sony publicity?

Have you ever been in a broadcast MCR? Do you know what the point of one is? A switcher where the main frame and the control panel are in a single box is completely unsuitable for an MCR where it is normal for the racks to be in a different pysical position to the control systems.
 If sony were aiming this at broadcast MCR needs then they would probably mention it in the promo video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ92UmoXQKk

What's that? they never talk about MCR uses? Weird?? They say this a low end events and worship / schools product? hmmm..

Looking into the audio side a little more the Sony has done it much better than any of the other AV mixers i've seen. The analogue inputs do have some (course) adjustments for the gain / pad pre digitize. This is good enough to allow the mixer to work for small events where a live mic needs to be combined with some VT audio for a basic presentation type show. This is why they have integrated audio, and unlike BMD Sony have actually provided the correct facilities to make this a useful addition to the switcher for their intended market of lowend events and worship users. 

Anyway it's pointless keeping banging on about this, I simply do not care if you think that audio visual mixers are the best way of working Sharyn, an entire world of experienced broadcast and event engineers disagrees with you, for very good reasons which have been explained to you countless times. If you still want to believe that video mixers need audio mixers built into them then that is your prerogative, but please stop trolling on this topic.

----------------
Interesting name the Sony guys have picked for this one...
ATEM 8M ATEM 8M ATEM 8M.

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If you knew Sony like I know Sony...
SharynF wrote:

Well if you talk with Sony...

I rather strongly suspect that you haven't.  On the other hand, I've spent weeks at their San Jose facility and interact with their engineers periodically.

Quote:

...the master control point line level mixer, where the A/D levels have already been set upstream, and audio input from playback devices, or audio mixer output are being combined and relative levels are being determined in order to put together the final audio/video feed/program output.

This is an unfortunate choice of words on your part, since this product is emphatically not a master control switcher.  Take a look at products like the Ross MC1 or the Utah Scientific MC-2020:  those are master control switchers.

The Sony product is merely a digital version of the sort of all-in-one industrial switchers that have been made by Panasonic and Sony for a number of years.  They are not aimed at the professional or broadcast market, but at churches and businesses that have relatively low performance requirements.  Nothing wrong with that, it's just a different market.  One effect of accepting and generating digital video is that unlike previous analog devices in this genre, the newer switcher's signal can actually achieve professional specifications... so small industrial users can at least produce better quality content, within the workflow limitations of the equipment.  A television station might conceivably find a product like this useful for a small edit suite, or possibly a flyaway case to switch a small remote... but not as a master control switcher.

Quote:

So the "you cannot possible get the levels right because you are after the A/D conversion is a non issue".

I think perhaps you don't understand the argument that is being made, and the importance of proper gain structure in a system.

Quote:

They claim that it was a major feature requested, and that that is why they highlight it in first place on their description.  In the lower end of the market reducing personnel requirements is important, and having the ability to have a single point of final control.

I fail to see this claim in any of their material, and it would be nonsensical in any case, since there is nothing novel about this product within their existing product line.

Quote:

But then again,  what do they  know about this market place and customers :-)

Evidently more than you, since they have been selling equipment for the industrial video market since at least the 1970s when I started working with it.  :-)

-- Jeff

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YOU GUYS ARE SO broadcast orientated

You guys are so  broadcast orientated that you convert everything to that terminology I never said MCR. I was using the terminology in the sense of a unit being used in the production where one person sitting at one device had access to the final audio inputs.   MCS is what SONY. decided to name it MCS8M nothing about MCR

As Jeff said, these products are NOT focusing on your market

"The Sony product is merely a digital version of the sort of all-in-one industrial switchers that have been made by Panasonic and Sony for a number of years.  They are not aimed at the professional or broadcast market, but at churches and businesses that have relatively low performance requirements.  Nothing wrong with that, it's just a different market."

In the US market if you look at what the vendors are calling it: Compact Audio Video Mixing Switcher.

what is novel about this product in that it is a HD audio video mixer

The point I have been making is that despite you saying  it is stupid to include this feature, Both BMD and Sony have spent the time and resources to include this feature.  Perhaps some of your frustration with BMD is that your market is not where they are focusing, again borrowing from Jeff's comment.

Sharyn

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Actually I work mainly at

Actually I work mainly at live events, music, corporate and arts based shows, with video sent mainly to in house screens but sometimes streamed. 

That's what is frustrating about talking to you about this, I have worked on hundreds of events where this type of mixer is the standard choice. There is literally nothing innovative about combining a crap audio mixer with an adequate vision mixer and selling it to the events market. As you seem to be unaware of these products you might like to google the following. 

Panasonic MX50 (the classic old school event mixer)
Panasonic MX70 (digital version of the MX50)
Panasonic HMX100 (hd version)
Grass Valley Indigo 
Sony Anycast (more like a tricaster, but still popular on events)

These switchers have been the heart of many shows i've done, so i'm 100% sure of my opinion about the facilities you need to do decent quality audio production and how all these mixers fail to provide them.  

The audio mixer in this Sony is just about adequate for the very smallest of shows. The ATEM audio mixer is not. This opinion of mine is based on years of experience in the exact market these products are aimed at, combined with a technical understanding of the correct way to mix and record sound. 

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Maybe it's best to not borrow...
SharynF wrote:

Perhaps some of your frustration with BMD is that your market is not where they are focusing, again borrowing from Jeff's comment.

Well, that rather twists what I wrote.

My frustration with BMD, in a nutshell, is this:

1)  They design equipment that claims to meet specific professional specificiations when it in fact does not.

2)  They aggressively market to the professional user, but do not seem to understand or listen to the needs of that market.

3)  They habitually release equipment that does not actually perform the functions they claim, or that does not perform the functions properly or reliably.

4)  They fail to document their products at a level that most other manufacturers would consider minimal for even a sales brochure, let alone an owner's manual.

5)  They generally do not support the product in a timely or responsive way.  Users with immediate problems tend to get only very general promises for future updates, which is no help when you are in the midst of getting something recorded or on the air now.

If a company is going to represent their products as professional grade gear, they need to deliver on that, or else identify it as industrial or hobby grade.

-- Jeff

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Yup!
Tom Bassford wrote:

The audio mixer in this Sony is just about adequate for the very smallest of shows. The ATEM audio mixer is not. This opinion of mine is based on years of experience in the exact market these products are aimed at, combined with a technical understanding of the correct way to mix and record sound.

Agreed.  And one of the big differences is that on the Sony the operator can easily and simultaneously operate different controls in real time;  not so easy on a computer GUI.

And for the record, my background isn't solely broadcast either... it includes broadcast facilities, commercial production houses, business / industrial video facilities, and churches.

-- Jeff

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So this discussion begs the question

So if as you say
Panasonic MX50 (the classic old school event mixer)
Panasonic MX70 (digital version of the MX50)
Panasonic HMX100 (hd version)
Grass Valley Indigo 
Sony Anycast (more like a tricaster, but still popular on events)]
  all  have a built in audio mixer function, but if as you claim no competent user would ever us it, and some of these companies are now in third generation of these products, are you really saying that Sony Panasonic Grass Valley BMD NewTek are incompetent and totally read the market, and their customers incorrectly???

Is it possible like the transition from Mainframe markets to PC markets, that you simply expect a level of support from a low end product to be at the same level as a high end product and will always be frustrated because the economics simply are not there?

Do  you not find it strange that the people who don't agree with you are treated as if they were idiots, yet as you say Sony Panasonic BMD Grass  Valley and NewTek all offer this functionality  on their lower end product line!!

RA Myers

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Ramyers,I think what Tom,

Ramyers,

I think what Tom, Jeff and I are all saying is that all these products are professional products, used by professional people around the world. There is nothing bad or inherently wrong with low cost productions, they are by the nature of all things, the vast majority of all productions.

It's the pro-sumer market that got BMD where they are today, as many many small businesses and independent production entities all use Apple Final Cut or Adobe Premier, and get into the SDI world through Decklink and Intensity cards. It is confirmation basis to believe BMD are as big as they are, because they have innovated or push boundaries in any way, it's simply because they developed the most cost effective way to get SDI video onto a PCI(e) bus.

The problem is BMD are now trying to diversify out of the Decklink / Intensity market into the "Broadcast Market", and if you label something as "Broadcast Grade", that demands a much higher standard than the "professional grade" that more cost effective production, that is going to be streamed online or distributed internally within an organization, requires and demands.

Thus you have two groups of people, people who are looking to increase the quality of their low cost productions, and people who are looking to reduce the cost of "Broadcast Grade" productions. For the first group BMD and ATEM are a great solution, however, the 2nd group are likely to find themselves frustrated by BMD.

No body here is trying to offend anyone, although I believe the word "professional" does banded around too much (including by me), it covers too wide a range of uses. BMD state the ATEM is a "Broadcast Grade" device, I think it;s up to readers to make their own minds on what they should buy, and what workflows to adopt  based on the points made by everyone here, and each readers individual requirements. 

Best Wishes

John

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Audio should never be a

Audio should never be a primary feature of any video switcher (as no technical director should be saddled with another person's job duties), and as such, is relegated to an add-on feature, weighing in on most models by most companies as little more than an afterthought.  That certainly goes for both of the switchers that started this thread.

Can you use the mixer functions of such products?  Knock yourself out, if it's your responsibility, and you're fully aware of the ramifications of not having an actual sound mixer handling the task.  Certainly the ATEM series of switchers does cross a few fuzzy boundaries of different types of users out there.  I think there's room for all of us.  And, I am careful to never criticize the use of such a product by an enterprising person or organization going it alone just because they don't have a budget to support a full technical crew.  But that still doesn't change what is the ideal, proven way to do things.

Still, Blackmagic Design has to answer for promised features that don't work correctly (or once worked and no longer do).

There are elements of the ATEMs that concern me and keep me at least somewhat hesitant of relying on the device to do the job I need it to flawlessly perform every time.  The sketchy behavior of certain functions like flickering HDMI outputs, and sometimes heavy static on unused inputs don't exactly inspire confidence.  And, I had to return my first ATEM 1 M/E due to constant overheating, which is another well documented issue on many of BMD's products.

-- Eric Darling www.ethreemedia.com

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Is this realistic

I think the pro's are kidding themselves, this is like the old DV vs Beta SP, the quality was close but the camera functionality and control systems are not there, Like canon XL1 or VX1000 vs BVP 90 BVV5. These are low end systems. BBC bought and used a ton of vx1000 but it was for a new low end video journalist function not to replace their existing sp rigs. There were similar discussions and arguments re all the auto functions etc No one in there right mind would use .....
When you take the ASP down Dramatically, something has to go  and service and support and all the expensive services.

So when you attack the people who don't agree with you, you might think twice and recognize that they probably  are the true target market for the vendors.  

RA Myers
 

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Ramyers, You are of course

Ramyers,

You are of course correct, unfortunately what has gone in in this case, in additional to "Service, Support and all the expensive services", is any resemblance of "supplier competence".

As Jeff says, BMD don't appear to implement standards they claim to follow. Although I can only speak to computer software issues, they are so far from following standard practice and basic good programming techniques, I've seen better work from  students after only a few weeks in commercial environments. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I will need see evidence to counter my claim, rather than simple assertions. I've posted this morning the explicit detail of how they don't follow Interface ID guidelines / rules(!!!!) in their SDKs.

Everyone is, of course, entitled to an opinion, but peer review is entitled to rip those opinions apart, if a person chooses to share those opinions in public, and if others don't agree. If an opinion is unsupported by evidence, or evidence is unreliable, it should be expected to be contested.

It is not "disrespectful" or "rude" or "an attack" to aggressively disagree on a public forum. In fact, for me, it's half of what makes these forums interesting. 

If people want to support BMD, why not post the reasons the ATEM 1ME is better than the M8 alternative, as the original poster requested? 

Best Wishes

John

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there is a big difference

To be clear, in my mind, there is a big difference between attacking a user based on a different way of using the  kit or whether a feature is useful or not, vs a vendor for a feature not working.  It gets back to the whole premise of if you are not happy with the product, buy something else, It is clear that from recent EBAY listings some users are selling the ATEMs so there certainly are people moving to something else

RA.

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Ramyers, I agree

Ramyers,

I agree intentionally causing someone offense is a little out of order, but I just re-read the entire thread, and I don't think anything is particular personal or abusive.

I personally, think SharynF is more than capable of defending their own position and fighting their own battles, and big respect for doing so (from me). I detected a slight element of glee of pointing out Sony had a audio mixer, and why not????

Although Tom says he doesn't like a troll, I think deep down he loves a good argument too. And Tom and Jeff very coherently put their points. Readers get the benefits of both view-points, and everyone wins.

I hope you are reading too much into a passionate debate, about a product everyone here wants to do well. We just all want it to be better in different ways.

I respect anyone who wants to find new and innovate ways of doing things, and in my opinion, these arguments / debates help.

Cheers, 

John

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RA Myers,  Firstly nobody has

RA Myers, 

Firstly nobody has been attacked in this thread, Sharyn posted his message to deliberately provoke us, it was him trying to say "i was right and you were wrong, look the mighty Sony have put a audio mixer into a vision mixer too", and (he thought) whilst we would criticize BMD for a poorly thought out implementation of an audio mixer we would not dare to say the same about Sony.

To believe I would simply roll over and say "oh yeah sorry you were right and audio mixer must be a good idea if all the major manufacturers have a switcher with one in" is to completely misunderstand my objections to the ATEM audio mixer. It also makes the rather amusing assumption that I have not experience of trying to use audio mixers or combined AV mixers. (Back in the 90s when i was working with Coldcut we worked rather hard on the problems of combined AV mixing for single operator use, this included hardware modifications to Panasonic vision mixers to provide external crossfader control from a DJ mixer, we would of been overjoyed if the audio mixer in the MX50 had been good enough to make this unnecessary but sadly it was way too basic in terms of features to be usable).

I understand why the manufacturers put an audio mixer into their vision mixers. Superficially this is a very attractive thing to do, and inexperienced users would see a combined AV mixer as offering a real advantage over a video only mixer.  The switchers with this kind of approach are all designed for and marketed to the entry level professional user as well as schools colleges and houses of worship. 

The unifying attributes these markets have is the combination of low skill level combined with a small budget (which is in the hands of nontechnical people). For such a market the audiovisual mixer makes sense, even at the cost of features, usability and signal quality. Sony Panasonic et al are not stupid, they want a product that they can sell to these users as an all in one solution. For many users the Sony / Panasonic solutions will be adequate, they are far from ideal, but if the MX70 is the only vision mixer and audio mixer you have you can still produce some kind of a show.

So these products make sense to the manufacturers and to the accountants. Find any competent technician who has experience of these switchers and ask them what they think about the audio functions and they will likely not be so impressed. Few of these mixers ever have anything plugged into the audio part because you can spend $40 on a Behringer audio mixer and it will not only have the functions you actually
need to mix audio, it will also sound better then running the audio through the vision mixer! 

Thus far I have not even touched on my objections to the ATEM audio mixer. TBH i'm not going to go over them again as you can search the site for the old threads where this was first discussed. The basic point though is that without having control of the signal level pre-digitize it is impossible to maintain correct gain structure (this is a fact not an opinion). The functions that the ATEM audio mixer has do not come anywhere close to allowing its use as a single AV mixer to be used by 1 operator. It is a gimmick which is badly thought out, the ATEM audio mixer is nowhere near as useful as the one built into the Sony 8M. (The 8M itself has a mixer which is barely adequate for the very smallest of shows)

Now the crux of the matter with the ATEM mixer, they added it to the switchers before they had made all of the published video functionality work properly. Thus we have even more delays getting the basic functions which people made purchase decisions based on. 

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Well you do keep saying how crazy it is to put an audio mixer

I think Sharynf's comment was totally justified, if I look back over all the audio threads, firstly yOSU said   how it would make no sense for BMD to add an audio function, and then they  announced it, then you said it would never get delivered, and  they did, and then someone asked for a comparison with the sony and the BMD and here Sony had included an audio mixer.  So I would say a bit of  "I told you so was in order". I really do think that  you are going to continue to be disappointed with these products, just as the experienced Betacam SP people were with DV camcoroders.  Despite what you desire, and even BMD may  say, these products are not likely to fully satisfy the professional for a long time.  There is always a feature/function/cost tradeoff, and I think the pro is going to be disappointed for quite a while The volume market is at the low end, where these price points are very attractive, and I would guess market research for product management has identified an audio function as important.  As I said just as the VX1000 was a revolutionary product, it found a new Niche and  never satisfied the Betacam SP  pro.

RA

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You've misread or

You've misread or misunderstood the previous debate. 

Your comparison with DVCam is also wide of the mark. As is the way that you characterize my opinion.  I'm not some super high end user looking down my nose at young upstarts with cheap kit. I'm really grateful that BMD price so aggressively, the products offer some excellent value and allow people working at the lower end (myself included) to have access to image quality that we could until recently only dream of.  I have a vast amount of experience working on low budget productions and truly welcome any tools which make things simpler, cheaper and easier.   

If the ATEM audio mixer was a useful addition to the switcher that would be really useful for significant numbers of users then I would have little problem with it (It should not of been developed BEFORE the basic advertised video functionality was complete). However I have considerable experience of AV mixers and the audio mixer part is always inadequate for the majority of users. In the ATEMs case it is worse than average because it is unable to have any control over the audio level at the correct point in the signal path. 

There is also the marketing issue. When BMD press releases contain complete misinformation such as the following it taints the whole product line. 

Once SDI and HDMI cameras are connected to the switcher for vision mixing there are no other connections to make as the audio mixer uses the embedded audio in the video signal. This not only saves customers money, but is also much less complex than having to route through an external unit. Already incredibly compact, both ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher and ATEM Television Studio are now perfect for use on location in fly away kits or in small spaces with broadcast trucks as you don’t have to find room for bulky audio mixing desks.

This is obviously wrong, it's either written by someone with no understanding of live production, or someone who has no regard for the truth when trying to market their solution to non-technical users.  It makes the assumption that on-camera mics will be used (something i've never seen done in a live production), and gives the impression that the ATEM audio mixer is a "perfect" replacement for a standard audio desk, whilst failing to mention the lack of basic functions such as EQ and PFL.

I will give out a prize if anyone can draw me a diagram of how I would setup the ATEM audio mixer, for a 2 camera shoot of a 3 person round table discussion, with each person having a lapel mic. 
(ie a very standard low-end studio situation) 

Oh to win the prize you have to make it simpler and cheaper than using a small behringer analog desk! 

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an alternative

Some people might be thinking of using one of these on each camera

http://www.evsonline.com/beachtek-dxa-fx-audio-adapter-for-the-sony-hdr-...

with the person running the camera on a tripod adjusting the levels and monitoring so that the gain structure is correct but there is only the need to send the sdi or hdmi feeds with audio and video.  and the person at the tvs for instance would just use the built in mixer to control the relative levels of the 4 channels and the program  out  This setup would allow for 4 channels of audio and to video

Not saying I would do it this way, but if the audio were just being recorded on the camcorder this might be an option
it is not necessarilly the cost of the mixer but the cost of the labor to have camera operators, an audio person and a video person and run the dual cabling  and then the A/D conveter to get it into the TVS.

RA

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I was reading this debate

I was reading this debate again and its very nice to see what all the opinions are.  
I fully agree with Jeff his list with frustrations (reply #20). Combine that with John’s quote about two type of groups and my view about the ATEM is almost complete.

JohnBengston wrote:

,

Thus you have two groups of people, people who are looking to increase the quality of their low cost productions, and people who are looking to reduce the cost of "Broadcast Grade" productions. For the first group BMD and ATEM are a great solution, however, the 2nd group are likely to find themselves frustrated by BMD.

The ATEM was and is presented by BMD as a broadcast quality (and ready) product. My first ATEM suffered as well with HDMI heating trouble and my second seems to be ok.  Read this forum and tell me what the confidence level has become?  The way of acting and playing around with firmware toys worries me a lot. The most scary part is that even companies that hire our setup start asking questions about reliability. …
My opinion is that  for all of us as paying customers, in a large video world, the image of the ATEM needs to improve. Whether you do small and/or big events, everybody must have confidence in the equipment unless you use this for your home cinema set and you can say sorry to your family.  Whenever you are dealing with an ATEM you are the one that is dealing with video, right? So good luck explaining your customers you’re your devise now and then gives blackouts but please do pay me my for an HD video event.

Pro-sumers, hobby, church or broadcast, for the type of devices we are dealing with, they must do what has been specified, reliable and on the long term!
Back to this threat it is as well because of my earlier arguments that I fully support the arguments given by people like Jeff , John and Tom. Many thanks for being here and sharing thoughts.
About audio. I bought a video switcher so audio I don’t care (even being an audio technician for 10 years as well) I asked at that moment for video. If whatever video-switcher got  audio (added) on it, fine, good luck, it is their design and thank you very much for the possibility. But don’t tell me that the video in the video switcher that I bought will possibly/likely/probably work better/again in the next firmware update.

People like Jeff, Tom and John are trying to help us all. So Sharyn/RM, no offense to you but please see that in any event big or small, broadcast or not, anyone over here at least must be able to fully rely on their buddy ATEM.

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What we have here is a failure to communicate...
RAMYERS wrote:

So if as you say
Panasonic MX50 (the classic old school event mixer)
Panasonic MX70 (digital version of the MX50)
Panasonic HMX100 (hd version)
Grass Valley Indigo 
Sony Anycast (more like a tricaster, but still popular on events)]
  all  have a built in audio mixer function, but if as you claim no competent user would ever us it, and some of these companies are now in third generation of these products, are you really saying that Sony Panasonic Grass Valley BMD NewTek are incompetent and totally read the market, and their customers incorrectly???

Is it possible like the transition from Mainframe markets to PC markets, that you simply expect a level of support from a low end product to be at the same level as a high end product and will always be frustrated because the economics simply are not there?

Do  you not find it strange that the people who don't agree with you are treated as if they were idiots, yet as you say Sony Panasonic BMD Grass  Valley and NewTek all offer this functionality  on their lower end product line!!

RA Myers

Oh, my goodness, that's rather out of proportion.  I sense that you might be misunderstanding the ongoing references to the different types of equipment markets, and taking the terms to be divisive or pejorative.  So first it's probably a good time to stop and identify these different market groups and how they have been historically defined by manufacturers that actually market to each group, like Sony and Panasonic.  This is nothing new:  these distinctions go back to the 1960s, if not earlier.

1)  PROFESSIONAL:  These are broadcasters and content producers like networks, production houses, remote trucks, and the like.  Historically, the "professional" market is distinguished by the need for equipment to be absolutely reliable, and to meet stringent technical standards (among other things, to satisfy the legal criteria that the FCC set).

2)  INDUSTRIAL:  These are businesses and organizations that use video for internal purposes (training, for instance) but who do not need to adhere to the specific technical standards required for broadcast.  In most instances, low cost is more important than outright performance.

3)  CONSUMER:  This category is fairly evident.  The emphasis is on high functionality at low price, with the minimum concern for achieving technical standards.  Simplicity is generally an emphasis in this market, especially in the documentation.

It should be obvious that these terms, then, don't refer to the user, but to the equipment itself.  Inferring that industrial equipment is only used or marketed by the unprofessional or incompetent is clearly wrong and was never anybody's intent.  So let's get over that, and set aside the rhetoric.

The list of switchers you present are clearly within the industrial grouping.  Nothing wrong with that, and they are useful tools within their limitations.  We tried using several  units in that class for our news edit bays many years ago, and found that they degraded the video to the point where it no longer met FCC requirements.  On the other hand, a number of churches and schools use the same gear and their needs are fully satisfied.

With the more recent advent of digital video, it has become possible for relatively inexpensive equipment to achieve a very high degree of subjective picture quality previously possible only with professional grade gear.  And a handful of manufacturers like Blackmagic have sprung up to make equipment that offers remarkable functionality at incredibly low cost.

The crux of the issue is this: Blackmagic equipment, by and large, does not completely conform to the technical standards that would place it in the "professional" category.  For example, much of it does not support metadata like closed captioning (which is legally essential for broadcast) or time code.  Many of their devices lack the robustness or predictability that is needed in a broadcast environment:  for instance, the Mini Converters and OpenGear converters cannot retain settings that were established in software, after they are powered down.  Blackmagic gear often fails to meet even its own published specifications until a number of revisions months after the product release, and product documentation is sparse or worse (the Up/Down/Cross Converter still does not appear in any manuals more than a year after it was released).

So to identify Blackmagic's equipment with a particular market category, it is clearly industrial, not professional.  Nothing wrong with this, and it's a very realistic and accurate assessment.  The problem is, Blackmagic tries to market their gear as professional grade -- and therein starts the trouble.  Many, many people in the broadcast and production segment have gotten badly burned by purchasing supposedly professional equipment that turns out not to meet professional standards, and you are seeing the pushback.  If Blackmagic would make up their mind and either step up their game so that their products do adhere to relevant professional technical standards and provide commensurate support, or come clean and make it apparent that they are making high-end industrial grade systems, most of this fuss would simply disappear.

Then maybe people would look at a matter like audio mixing in a video switcher and see it as a functional and not an emotional issue, and would calmly agree that 'professional' (e.g., broadcast or production house) production switchers do not generally support audio, while 'industrial' switchers very often do.  There are very good reasons for each, and they are defined by the needs of the different market segments.  Producing a contemporary newscast, for instance, requires more hands and more attention than a single person can summon; on the other hand, one person can easily combine switching three cameras for a streaming feed of a church service with mixing couple of mic feeds, so long as the equipment is compact and has a good user interface.

The type of switcher you use isn't making a personal statement about you.  It's about (or should be about) the nature of the job to be done.

So... let's set the invective aside, okay?

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So this raises an interesting point . . .

Knowing where the ATEM switchers came from, I wonder if the EchoLab ATEMs would be considered industrial. Did they not meet full broadcast specs? Tom?

The original procuct manager for the ATEM line was Ankit Patel. He came to BMD with the switcher from the failed EchoLab. I know he had very high hopes . . .

Does BlackMagic take a good thing and f**k it up by redesigning it, or was the switcher not that hot anyway?

If BMD thought enough of it to buy it and hire the old product manager, what the hell happened?

Would love to hear thoughts on this.

Tony

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I'm baffled to why some don't consider BMD professional?

I have 30+ years in the industry as a TD, Producer/Director working in every capacity from Networks on down.  I've found Blackmagic products to be nothing but professional.  I've never had one crash.  They perform flawlessly.  And as a bonus they have a low price point.  
Could someone please explain how these products can't be considered professional?

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Echolab...

Several of our stations had analog EchoLab production switchers, which were certainly capable of meeting all relevant specs for broadcast equipment.  Within the category of 'professional' switchers of that generation, the upper end would probably be represented by Grass Valley and Ampex;  the lower end (mainly a function of size and cost) would be Ross and EchoLab.

The technology behind switching analog video was fairly mature to the point where contemporary ICs made it reasonably easy for anyone to build a respectable switcher;  but the shift toward HD-SDI has taken the industry back into the early part of the curve.  Getting the raw processing power to handle digital video has become less of an issue, but now the designer is faced with how to handle metadata within digital video that did not exist with analog:  embedded audio, time code, captioning, ratings data, encoded triggers for graphics, etcetera.  One thing that seems to set companies apart is how well they handle the entire package, not just the most visible parts.

In the case of Blackmagic, it's probably fair to say that their focus is mostly on the immediate and visible aspects.  This can be fine for an industrial product, but is problematic if your needs are more rigorous.

-- Jeff

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Professional versus industrial
John Mortensen wrote:

I have 30+ years in the industry as a TD, Producer/Director working in every capacity from Networks on down.  I've found Blackmagic products to be nothing but professional.  I've never had one crash.  They perform flawlessly.  And as a bonus they have a low price point.  
Could someone please explain how these products can't be considered professional?

Failure to pass metadata that should be a basic part of the video -- especially captioning -- comes immediately to mind.

Failure to meet their own published specs and claimed features -- for instance, not supporting SD formats for months -- is another example.

The well known and endemic bugs that cripple their products -- the downconverter problems with the ATEMs come to mind -- are a third example.

Blackmagic stuff is really good industrial grade gear, but since much of it won't support legally required elements of broadcast video, I can't include it in the same class of professional equipment with stuff like Ross, Cobalt, Grass Valley, Harris, Evertz, and the like.

-- Jeff

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Echolab

The Echolab switcher is professional grade. Echolab alongside Ross were the 2 cheaper "professional" brands. 

Ankit did indeed work at BMD for about a year before he left to go to Nvidia.  He managed to get them to keep the physical side of the control panel pretty much the same, but the actual switchers are almost 100% new BMD designs based around their one size fits all FPGA design. 

This seems to be the main issue with BMD - I have no idea how many FPGA programmers work for blackmagic, but I would be more than happy to invite them all round for dinner at the same time as I'm sure there are not that many of them! 

When something bad happens (like they completely mess up the cinema camera production) they seem to throw ALL the company resources into fixing that thing, other products get sidelined and nobody is told what is going on. So we have to wait over a year for the Hyperdeck Pro, if indeed it is ever going to launch. ATEM bug fixes take months and years to be rolled out. Emails are not answered and customers start to look elsewhere for the products. 

I'm pretty sure that everyone who actually needed a Hyperdeck Pro has canceled their order and brought a (significantly more expensive) AJA Ki Pro.  

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Perhaps this is relevant::

Perhaps this is relevant:: I've had to redact the author, and some other names, but I think the key details are still visible, and if BMD think I am misrepresenting their position, they are welcome to contradict me by posting themselves, better information, and I think we all know how likely that is.

From January last Year, Grant was directly managing the ATEM line, according to the email I received and shown below.

Email about who is running ATEM Project

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Also maybe I should have

Also maybe I should have said, I waited the day or two, and then 346 more and counting!!!!!

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Things can change...
Tom Bassford wrote:

The Echolab switcher is professional grade. Echolab alongside Ross were the 2 cheaper "professional" brands.

This is also a potent demonstration of how companies can change.  Most of the switchers I have installed and maintained over the years were Grass Valley -- 1600s, 1680s, 110s, 300s, 250s.  Grass was the gold standard for production switchers because they were cutting edge, and they were extremely well built.  Over time as the company went through a number of corporate acquisitions, the build quality gradually diminished.  Buttons that were mil-spec on a 1600 became a cheap foreign knockoff on the 300.  Even so, the 300 was a fine switcher:  we retired Syracuse's three years ago after 21 years of continuous service.  Thankfully, everything that failed over the years was something I could either find parts for, or design an equivalent replacement to fix.  I say 'thankfully', because Grass stopped supporting the 300 only a couple of years after we bought it.

Ross, on the other hand, has grown from their low-end beginnings and has become an outstanding if under-appreciated company.  We have an ancient RVS-210 switcher in one of our satellite trucks, and one day it developed an odd quirk.  I called them, and within two minutes was speaking with the very man who designed the switcher -- and had the problem figured out immediately.

When we replaced that Grass 300, guess what went in its place?  Yup, a Ross Vision Octane.  With Ross xPression character generators to replace our Chyron gear.  And several months ago we replaced all of the switching gear in our regional operations center with ten Ross MC1 master control systems.  Simply put, they have worked their way to the top by building quality equipment and by providing fast and responsive support.

I still hold out hope for Blackmagic:  even if they focus on the industrial market segment, they could be a dominating powerhouse if only they would make sure that when their stuff ships, it actually does what it is supposed to do... and when customers call with problems, they would solve them promptly and effectively.

-- Jeff

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Is that their business model

Is that their business model though? BMDs background is entirely selling products to a new / emerging market. The Decklink might as well of been called "My First SDI Device" - huge numbers were sold to people who put them in a MacPro running FCP. They might of used the cards sometime when then needed to capture an analog source or output their master to digibeta, but for most of the time they sit in the machine doing nothing. Why did people choose the decklink over an Kona or whatever? Very simply because the decklink was the cheapest widely available card with an SDI connector. 

In the heyday of FCP editing in london, I equipped a mac with a decklink and hired in a digibeta deck for less than someone (big soho facilities house) had quoted to do 2 tape transfers! 

It concerns me that the live market might be suffering the same - "get a BMD device to try" factor - if they keep the prices low enough and present a sueprfically "professional" image then lots of people will buy the products as their entry point into live production. There are probably more people starting to live broadcast at the moment than at any other period of time, so it seems possible that BMD could float along  for quite sometime on first time purchase without needing any customers to be really happy in the long run.  I'm sure Grant would disagree with this, but from past conversations with him it seems there is a bit of a gap between how he thinks BMD is perceived and how (some) people here seem to feel about the company.

The support has always been an issue with BMD. I do not think they have seriously considered the level of support people like Ross offer. (I've never owned any Ross kit as they are pretty unknown in the UK, however I have had great phone support from Snell and Wilcox, on products which were out of manufacture for 10+ years, they still did their best to help and came across as the kind of company who takes support extremely seriously)

The trouble with the BMD approach is that they redesign all their acquisitions around the same core processing technology - this allows them to cut prices to the bear minimum as many of their products are basically the same hardware running slightly different software on the FPGA.

But it means that each product has the same bottle neck - FPGA programming is very hard, and it seems they do not have enough good quality FPGA programmers on their team.  Clearly they need to employ some more people and separate out the product lines into distinct programing teams so that problems with one product do not hit their other lines as much as they do currently.

 

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My Italian Opinion

Hi to everyone and sorry for my poor english...
my opinion is that BMD is growing and has some youth problems... but they're very aggressive, expecially in prices, and this is good.. if you want to enter in the world of video production... Sure they're not Grass Valley or Snell or Sony or any other high quality and well known brand in the world of video production or, better, in the world of broadcast production but they can be a good starting altrnative. I've sen the same debate many many years ago with an audio company called Behringer (never heard?) I've bought my first compressor at an affordable price and a reasonable quality... It wasn't a Focurside but I had not to produce Madonna... it worked for many years with no problem and it's still working....
I believe that if BMD solves some engineering and customer support problems they can become a reference company (don't forget that they've bought DaVinci and Tranex)
To return to the main question ATEM 1ME vs SONY MCS8M I spent lot of time thinking to all possible advantages of every switcher and I concluded that they're both interesting depending on what you have to produce.
ATEM is more like a traditional video switcher oriented to video signal and tipical television use: there are enought AUX, the clean feed output and the traditional use of Key and DSK. It's cheaper and can be used with a remote panel, a PC, a Mac or probably an iPAD.
SONY is very good for small single operator production in the market of conferences and videostreaming (the dissolve on aux is very interesting for driving external projector, you can plug PC or mac without resolution problems, you can phisically control the audio inputs adding also some effect to prevent overload and saturation, alternative audio outputs are usable to drive some loudspeaker, all is integrated and you can transport it in a small case) I had the occasion to see SONY in action; the quality is good in HD but it is unusable in SD monitoring (but also FOR-A HVS300 suffered the same problems).
and so..... It's very hard to decide.. expecially if you have a small budget..

Ciao
nondei

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Business models might be different regionally.
Tom Bassford wrote:

Is that their business model though? BMDs background is entirely selling products to a new / emerging market.

Perhaps that's how it looks in England;  here in the United States, I see Blackmagic with enormous displays at the NAB shows and regional Society of Broadcast Engineers conventions;  they advertise heavily in broadcast engineering trade publications.  They make much of interconnecting with professional broadcast equipment using professional formats -- for instance, the Hyperdeck Studio is an HD-SDI recorder that uses the Sony RS422 control protocol, with the advertised objective of replacing professional VTRs -- so it's pretty evident that they're trying to position themselves here in the professional market.

I think you're exactly right about their lack of depth in engineering and design stunting their growth, and it's a shame.  They come up with great ideas faster than they can execute them.

-- Jeff

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The comparison with Behinger

The comparison with Behinger is interesting, and a little worrying.  The Behringer brand has a very poor reputation in proaudio circles, to the point where it is not uncommon to see "absolutely no behringer gear" written on bands tech riders. 

This stems from a time when they had many issues with quality control, and produced poor quality units which often broke down. The problems have largely been fixed now, but their reputation has not. 

I really hope that BMD don't suffer the same fate.

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Ah, Behringer...
Tom Bassford wrote:

...This stems from a time when they had many issues with quality control, and produced poor quality units which often broke down. The problems have largely been fixed now, but their reputation has not.

There was also the reputation, whether deserved or not, for patent infringement and intellectual property theft. 

At least nothing like that is attached to Blackmagic.

-- Jeff

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Yet Behringer? Music Group is successful

You might find it strange but Behringer/Music Group is massively successful, they have been buying up companies at a rapid clip.  So from a business standpoint, like it or not their business model works.
Sharyn 

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Sharyn - it depends on how

Sharyn - it depends on how you define success doesn't it? 

I guess you don't know many sound engineers? If you did then you might be a bit slower to describe Behringer as massively successful. They have aggressively taken over companies such as Midas and in the process brought out new products which have many issues, features which don't work until some future firmware update, buggy software which crashes during shows, QA concerns about the gear leaving the factory. 

These problems are well known and widespread, I know of 2 local companies who were going to buy new digital desks last year, both of them were planning on buying a Midas, and neither of them did because of the Behringer takeover and subsequent problems. 

Sure Behringer will remain "successful" (ie their shareholders will be making money). They do not need the professional high end market to do this. They make the vast majority of their profits from their low cost, high volume products such as basic analog mixing desks and cheap outboard gear. Owning a brand such as Midas allows Behringer to sell more low cost units to bedroom studio owners who now proudly claim to own a compressor made in the same place as a £100,000 Midas desk. Low cost, low prestige brands can benefit greatly by taking over high end companies. Some of the good reputation of the high end brand will rub off and influence lowend purchasers to go with the cheap brand who they might previously of been shying away from. 

If you were outfitting a home studio, or say a live sound setup in your local church then you might well choose Behringer products to keep the cost low and the functionality relatively high. If you were to be outfitting a professional recording studio, or a touring rig for a top 40 act then you would be trying to avoid any Behringer gear. 

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You miss the point

I never said the products were massively successful, just that the company was. I think you continue to miss the point. Companies that make the best products don't always make the most money, and the financial markets really only care about the bottom line, and so to a lot of executives.  It could be looked at as a sad statement of   how the techincal community is going, but today unfortunately it is less about technology, and  great service and support and more about mass production, low cost and high profits. Just look at Microsoft.

Sharyn

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So the ends justify the means, do they?
SharynF wrote:

I never said the products were massively successful, just that the company was. I think you continue to miss the point. Companies that make the best products don't always make the most money, and the financial markets really only care about the bottom line, and so to a lot of executives.  It could be looked at as a sad statement of   how the techincal community is going, but today unfortunately it is less about technology, and  great service and support and more about mass production, low cost and high profits. Just look at Microsoft.

Sharyn

By that reasoning, we should look at Bernie Madoff and Enron as great corporate success stories.  They had phenomenal bottom lines, too... until the reality of their methods caught up with them.

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SharynF, Sorry but you are

SharynF,

Sorry but you are comparing Behringer to Microsoft now? Really.....

Isn't that a bit like a well known BMD cinematographer comparing BMD to Apple?

I think a little perspective has been lost in both case, these comparisons are not possible, and comparing companies of a few hundred people to those of hundreds of thousands make no more sense on ATEM 1ME vs Sony MCS8M thread, than it did when BMD was compared to Apple to help explain BMDs secrecy and user interaction policies.

Behringer "appear" to part of a company called "Music Group IP Ltd", the key part of that is the Ltd, which means they are not a publicly traded company. Hence we know precisely ZERO, about how big and how successful they are. BMD are the same, they are private companies, they publish the minimum amount of information regarding their balance sheets.

Microsoft and Apple are two of the biggest and most important technology companies in the world. 

This thread has become surreal.

Cheers

John

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The only point which matters

The only point which matters is will the live production market put up with how BMD currently operates? 

To answer this we should not look to companies which make music equipment, computers or portable music players. We should instead look at the market for live production. 

Until recently live production was either TV broadcast or live event IMAG screens. These days it has expanded significantly to include lots of new webstreaming outfits.  However all these users have one shared attribute, they are in the very great majority of cases working for someone else, providing a live production facility for a client to enable them to stream some form of live event into the world. 

So pretty much all of the ATEM users need their tools to be totally reliable as they make their income from providing reliable live streams. If a switcher goes down mid show then all hell will break lose and whoever supplied the switcher will not be getting paid, and will likely lose any future work with that client. 

This is very different from the music market of Behringer, who sell mainly to home studios and small bands. If a Behringer device breaks then you have to stop todays recording session and come back when you have sourced a replacement, or at the worst a few hundred people in a nightclub suffer a disappointing night as one of the bands sets is cut short. Most Behringer users can deal with a little unreliability in exchange for bottom dollar prices.

The ATEM market really needs reliability, if BMD is not seen as reliable then people will go elsewhere to get their switchers. This is the concern here, that without reliable products and proper support the live production community will shy away from ATEM. It doesn't matter how great the features are, or even if ATEM is a couple of grand cheaper than other systems, if the support and reliability are not there then people will not buy. 

The worse case scenario is that ATEM gets a bad reputation, is shunned by the professional market and then removed from the BMD product line leaving all of us high and dry. I really hope that doesn't happen for all our sakes. 

t

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Everyone is entitled to their own take on the situation

My comments re BMD Behringer and Microsoft had nothing to do with the size of the company but rather the approach to technology and product release and support.

When people refer to like Microsoft as a model, they usually are referring to the  approach where they release a partially completed product, and then keep offering fixes and upgrades. In addition especially in the early  days Microsoft drove prices down with the offerings they made to large customers.  In addition Microsoft tended to buy in technology (DOS for instance) and then "make it their own".  Api's that Microsoft used were not always the ones they released, and many times  releasing API's was after a lot of kicking and  screaming.   Behringer is doing a similar thing, low cost, keep adding features and updates but after initially trying to get a market share, and buying in technology.   So  the view on only looking at the size and number of employees was not the point.

BMD if you look at the forums seems to have a small amount of infant mortality, but the question of reliability typically has not been a major topic.  Not delivering features promised, making changes that cause problems is another issue, but usually these are factors that the person using the ATEM at a gig would know before going in, so unless people are simply not posting  equipment failures they are experiencing in the field, it could be argued that there is more of a feature issue than inherent reliability.

So  it could be argued that BMD is doing a Microsoft/Behringer, where they introduce an incomplete product at a very aggressive price point, and work from the bottom of the market up and keep upgrading and enhancing. This of course is totally different from the companies that develop in house, work to have the product near perfection, and then offer an excellent product but at a premium price.  I would guess that Behringer will put a lot more dollars to the bottom line with the Behringer digital mixer than they will from Midas sales.     

Sharyn
 

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SharynF,There is no posted

SharynF,

There is no posted evidence or links / references to backup any of the assertions you make about Microsoft. They go completely against my 20 years industry experience, where I started on AS400s / Mainframes, and have professionally developed solutions on every version of Windows, most Apples OSs and many flavors of Unix.

Microsoft SDKs are some of the most detailed and well documented of any manufacturer of software or hardware.

Here is the link to MSDN homepage, can you point to some functions of the computer or operating system, that was advertised as working and functional by Microsoft, that is not covered here.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/

Are you an MSDN subscriber or Microsoft solutions partner? Have you ever asked them to help you solve a problem?

In my experience, they are more than happy to help, will send example code to you, normally within 24-48 hours (sometimes they can get stuck on a real problem, but will always get back to you eventually. Even if it is just to say, "sorry, that is a bug; here is how you work around it", but for me, that is still being a helpful supplier. 

There are a lot of urban myths about Microsoft and hidden / obfuscated SDKs. Much of this turns out to be complete non-sense, and when investigated is easily found to be so. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft having some private DLLs for their own use. Same with BMD, they can have their own private libraries of functions, and they'll see no argument from me. 

As for updates, when you have a billion users, on hundreds of thousands of hardware variations, on multiple versions of software, and are still supporting versions from nearly 2 decades ago. Oh, and you are maintaining backwards compatibility, you are likely to need to patch a few bugs from time to time, and also find ways to improve your products through updates.

Whilst I totally recognize your right to hold and voice your opinions, I hope you'll accept some of what I am saying, "because they are dealing with entirely different markets, scale of product complexity, and very different levels of staff; the two companies will have entirely differently processes and working practices, and thus you can not compare some similarity in the way you personally perceive some behavior, and draw any meaningful conclusions.

What BMD have done, is actively remove functionality from customers AFTER those customers purchased their product. This is unethical in my opinion, and this makes them an "unreliable supplier". They have broken working functionality, e.g. current down-convertor issue, and this makes them an "unreliable supplier". Their website states things like "SuperSource compositions can also be quickly saved and recalled in an instant!". This is a misleading statement to anyone with experience of "professional grade" vision mixers. The fact they are happy to mislead customers about the functionality available on their products, makes them an "unreliable supplier". 

REF: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/atem/software

I said in reply #1, the kit itself is fantastic; If the problems with the company could be sorted out, I'd be recommending the kit to everyone.

Cheers

John

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off topic?

How mircosoft / apple behave is not really relevant.

How BMD behave is very relevant and important. 

It really disappoints me that they continue to lie about their products capability, the sales pitch is clearly written based on a proposed functionality spec (some of it seems to be copy and pasted from echolab documents!). When they advertise certain functions you can expect people to make purchase decisions based on the advertised functionality. Too often it seems that they have exaggerated functions capabilities, if not just plain lied about them!

EG (from http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/atem/workflow)
---------
Built in Multi View
Save thousands of dollars on costly camera monitoring with ATEM's built in multi view. Multi view allows 10 channels of video to be displayed on a single SDI or HDMI television or monitor. Views are fully routable, so you can select any external video source or any internal video source such as media players, color generators, auxiliary outputs, clean feeds and more! You can change the multi view layout, as well as customize the labels and set safe area markers on the preview display. Multi view includes tally, so on-air sources have red borders and preview sources have green borders. No other switcher is more portable than ATEM because you only need the ATEM chassis, laptop and a single television for a complete multi-camera production environment!
---------
So as we all know this isn't quite correct. Firstly this feature is only present on the 1ME and 2ME not the TVS. Secondly the multiview has 8 routable windows and 2 fixed windows (so it isn't "fully routable"), whilst you can select from a few different preset layouts you cannot customize all the labels nor adjust the safe area overlay. 

This is just one example from literally hundreds on the BMD website. If these were isolated mistakes then it would be easy enough to put them down to enthusiastic sales people failing to grasp some of the technical issues. However it is hard to be this generous when almost every page has such "errors" on. 

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comparison

Hi,

While I agree with John that the support and (intended behaviour) documentation of Microsoft is good, I do see a parallel with BMD here. Both have gotten a large customer base because the products were accessible. BMD because of price, Microsoft because they were easily copyable. I believe that microsoft's success is greatly thanks to users copying all kinds of microsoft software to their home PC. Users got used to it and then companies after a while just had to have that popular software that everyone knew how to work with. Now, that will not happen to BMD, as they set no standard. But even broadcasters are changing the market by using BMD products where they can. Our national broadcaster Dutchview in the Netherlands is using BMD products to make cheap SDI monitors: they stick an SDI to HDMI converter to an affordable HDMI monitor and - voila - SDI monitor. If it falls on the floor they only loose 200 euros instead of 2000.
It demonstrates how these products are regarded by broadcasters: they work very well and reliably, but only where you have verified they will. That's also how I'm using them. They will not become a broadcaster's standard brand like GVG in this way. For that, all advertised features simply always have to be there and work. But they will have many happy users. Some of those originally attracted by audio features that only have value in a limited number of situations. Maybe I will use that feature one day too.

Joris

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Good observation.
joris wrote:

...Our national broadcaster Dutchview in the Netherlands is using BMD products to make cheap SDI monitors: they stick an SDI to HDMI converter to an affordable HDMI monitor and - voila - SDI monitor. If it falls on the floor they only loose 200 euros instead of 2000.
It demonstrates how these products are regarded by broadcasters: they work very well and reliably, but only where you have verified they will.

Exactly right.  There really are two parts to it:  first, as you observe, we have to verify that the device really does what BMD claims.  Second, we tend to use BMD for applications where technical non-compliance doesn't matter -- driving a monitor is a perfect example.

The thing about companies like Grass Valley, Sony, Panasonic, Ampex, RCA, Ross, and so forth is that except for cases in which they are inventing new technology and therefore create new standards, they strictly adhere to technical standards set by organizations like SMPTE.  This makes it possible for a facility to incorporate many different types of equipment that will work properly together... not like the early days of videotape in which a tape recorded on an RCA TRT-1 probably wouldn't play on an Ampex VR-1000, even though both were nominally the same format.  Companies that claim their "cutting edge" products meet industry standards when they really don't, take us back fifty years culturally.

-- Jeff

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I m/e vs mcs8m
Tom Bassford wrote:

This is obviously wrong, it's either written by someone with no understanding of live production, or someone who has no regard for the truth when trying to market their solution to non-technical users.  It makes the assumption that on-camera mics will be used (something i've never seen done in a live production), and gives the impression that the ATEM audio mixer is a "perfect" replacement for a standard audio desk, whilst failing to mention the lack of basic functions such as EQ and PFL.

Not exactly true...you could plug a good quality mic in one of your camera and run the audio signal in your sdi cable. 
We've done this many times...for ambiant sound only though.

Anyways, Really good debate on this thread. So good that I was about to pull the trigger on a BMD system (today!) and I think I will go with my first thought...the Sony mcs-8m. The reason I was leaning to the Atem was the low price. Although I was all over forums and came across a lot of issues the Atem had (has, and maybe will), I just didn't want to acknowledge it because the price were fairly low and I kept telling myself that I was making a good deal.
But guess what? I want a physical switcher, and a physical audio mixer. I worked quite often with a Tricaster and hated changing audio settings with the mouse. And let's face it, a computer will not be as reliable as a switcher such as the mcs8...proven technology!

Also, regarding the integrated audio mixer in the sony switcher...for me it's just perfect. I don't need more. 
I always work with a company/guy that does all the audio. I need audio only if the client needs a a/v recording of the show/conference or to stream live.

So finally, is the Atem 1 m/e really cheaper than a M8 (with physical buttons and faders)? 2500$ for the 1 m/e + 1100$ for a compatible audio Mixer like the Mackie "something" Pro + 4700$ for the Atem panel. A total of 8300$. Almost 3000$ more than the Sony. And I won't be worried that my switcher could stop working just before going live...or worst, in the middle of a show.

my 2 cents

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Ambient sound with a cam mic

Ambient sound with a cam mic ? Well, that will mean you can very clearly hear it when the camera rotates to another direction. That's the worst way to record ambient sound possible. For ambient sound, place 2 mics very close together with a 90 degree angle between them and pan one fully left and one fully right.

There is one situation you may want to use a camera microphone, that is when a camera is following someone and you have no sound man there (because you don't want that). You may see that at sports events when they follow the athlete after they did their thing. The victory yells of the athlete are caught with an on cam mic.

I think the Sony is a good choice. If someone else is supplying microphone audio to you that internal mixer is enough. For microphones you need more control, but a good external mixer is only around 200 euro.

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Doug did not say that he was

Doug did not say that he was using an on-camera mic, he said that he would plug a microphone in the camera. There is a difference there, joris.
On-camera mikes are useful when you are following a person for their reactions, but an easy way to get ambient sound (ie. crowd response) would be to plug the microphones that are set up where you want them, to the camera with a standard XLR-cable. Audio is then transmitted over the SDI-cable, and all movement noises from the camera that you are talking about won't be a problem.

However, there will obviously be the problem of mixing sound on a computer with a mice vs. a proper soundboard, which would then need an SDI de-embedder. Personally, I would prefer to do the whole thing with dedicated cables for microphones, though.
On-topic, the Sony seems like a good choice for your needs. And that's really what it's all about, right? Finding the best choice for your needs and budget.

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Thanks Araho!Usually the mic

Thanks Araho!
Usually the mic would have been 15-20 feet from the camera but 150 feet from the switcher. So that way only one long cable was needed and one 25 foot xlr.

by the way, I just ordered a Sony MCS-8M a few minutes ago. Can't wait!
I wanted a Atem switcher so bad (because of the price) but just don't think that the system is reliable enough...too bad.

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Doug, I think you may have

Doug,

I think you may have missed some of the nuance of the arguments made above. The ATEMs are not particularly unreliable pieces of hardware. Sure, they don't get come to the 1% expected failure rate for Computer components that is "the generally the accepted norm", but for a piece of specialist hardware, they work very well, and can operate 24/7 with the correct fail safes in place (which you always need anyway).

I hope I wasn't, and I don't think that anyone was really suggesting that the ATEMs are fundamentally unreliable. It's more the manufacturer not the kit.

However that is not to say you haven't made an excellent choice with the SOny. Some of the things BMD do, and some of the policies adopted make choosing them for broadcast critical operations very difficult.

In particular I have a customer who has complained about pictures losing horizontal sync (around 25%) of the left side of the picture appears on the right, very weird, I have seen this myself on our 2ME mixer, and I see on the official BMD forum many other users experiencing this problem. It must have been around for over 9 months, and BMD has said nothing about it, and what can I tell my customer? "sorry mate, you're basically f**ked, and need to spend another $1000 on a Videohub, so that you can quickly route away and back again to trigger an input relock". The fact, that is exactly what I did this week is a little insane to me.

People have long complained about a lack of necessary time-code tools available, given the labeled physical connections are there, how much trouble would it be to embed some ancillary data, and help those customers out?

There are features in the GUI app marked for VDCP and Camera Control, and have been there since day one, there is an RS422 port on the unit, all these things do nothing. Again really how much effort does it take to add some RS422 protocols?

Instead of doing thing to help out people who are invested, and fix their problems, they design totally new products like the 4K ATEM, and try to get customers to buy more unfinished products.

However to paint some more grey in there too. I also think the ATEMs are astonishingly good value for money, and that BMD may be able to revolutionize live production if they get their act together.

You don't get the Key and DVE possibilities you get with the ATEM using the Sony, you are far more limited, and the Super-Source on the 2ME is worth the money alone without anything else it does.

You can factor in the keyboards (mixing surfaces), but there a much better options available, at significantly lower costs, regarding user control, and you don't need to use a mouse. The BMD surfaces are beautiful bits of kit, but inappropriately priced for TVS and 1ME users, and the 2ME panel is very underpowered for the price point.

It's a massively difficult decision to go with BMD, but having done it, you don't regret it (as such), but you will end up wishing for better customer service.

I hope you'll stay in touch with this forum, and thread, and feedback information on the Sony once you have lived with it for a while. 

Best Wishes

John

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Thanks for the reply John.

Thanks for the reply John. Something that I just don't understand, why does BMD sells product that are not ''finished''. They sell you a piece of equipment with some ports not working...man, for me it's just not a serious company. Good product for the price, but not good enough for me. And yes, I will give you some feedback of my new switcher. 

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Yeah.....
Doug_EX wrote:

Something that I just don't understand, why does BMD sells product that are not ''finished''. They sell you a piece of equipment with some ports not working...man,  

You are not alone in that train of thought. not by a long way.

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Just to let you guys know

Just to let you guys know that I have worked with my Sony MCS-8m quite a bit. It's a wonderful machine. Couldn't be happier!

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Noob reply

A year later and I am still reading this thread

I'm sure there are a few other who, like me are forced into this by volunteer work (mine at church)

I really want to thank you guys because I am recommending an atem 1 me 4k for a small church with no "church" reason to fork out thousand and thousand and thousands for a one day a week 100 church membership. With your "evaluation" of ATEM I at least have an appreciation for what is going on here. Blackmagic appears to be at the "bottom" end of all this with a product that can work if one is careful and understands what is going on (also need to be a bit of a tech nerd). Would be nice to have a 20,000.00 budget, but we like probably thousands of others have budget restraints. It's easy to find lots of people who can do something with a 1000 dollar Television Studio. IF they have enough skill to get around Blackmagic nonsense support, it really shows that they are doing tons with no investment. That seems to be the key. I really hope Blackmagic get this figured out because we know that there is a huge market for something like this. 

Blackmagic, get a reliable product out to the public, so what if it has limitations, just make it work and it will sell

It is nice to see sdi camerias coming down in price. That make all this a bit more justifiable. 

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Maybe I can pile in on this

Maybe I can pile in on this as well.

I've had initial frustration with BM ATEM TVS from the first use of the Keyer. I know the work-around is to do JustMacros to switch cameras but it just leaves a lot to be desired for novices using the system. I'm leaning towards selling it and reinvesting in either the 1 M/E or another mixer all together.

I guess this question goes out to anyone for an inexpensive switcher for art events that use chromakeying with a  3 SDI camera setup. Flexibility is great, but it should be able to be used by someone who can switch with very little training (Cuts, Fades, etc...) once setup.

The Sony MCS8M looks perfect for what we need, just ever so slightly out of the price-range I'd want to spend which takes me into BM territory.

I've used a full 2 M/E SD Echolab, Panasonic AV-HS450N, and Ross Carbonite through a local cable access station and found them to all be perfect for what we do, all be-it too expensive for our limited budget.

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Great pointers here though.

Great pointers here though. But I still choose handy cameras. I prefer using mirrorless or action camera for my outdoor shooting. And some new release produces 4k images.

Steve's HD Camera