In celebration of the release of the first fully comprehensive 3rd party hardware control interface for the ATEM switchers I have interviewed the creator of the hardware Kasper Skårhøj.
First a sneeky peek at the hardware which i feel is the most exciting release since the Blackmagic versions of the ATEM were announced..
(picture courtesy of Skaarhoj)
As you can see this is a compact control panel styled like a traditional broadcast switcher. What you cannot see from the photo is that this product is 100% opensource, meaning your free to make your own controller based on the design. If you prefer you can commission Kasper to make one for you, at a very affordable price point. BEST OF ALL THERE IS CURRENTLY A 30% DISCOUNT OFFER ON THE PRICE SO GET YOUR ORDER IN NOW TO GET A FANTASTIC CONTROLLER AT THE BEST PRICE.
I have put in an order for one of these for myself and will be writing up a full review as soon as I've had a chance to fully test it. Until then I offer the following interview with Kasper where he explains some of the principles behind his approach with opensource equipment.
Who is SKAARHOJ?
I've added a WYSIWYG editor to the site to make it easier to format your posts.
You should now find it possible to easily add bold text, italics or even to embed videos into your posts. Hopefully this will make the site simpler to use and more fun.
The Hyperdecks are Digital Disk Recorders (DDRs) available in two flavours. The HyperDeck Shuttle is a compact recorder with an internal battery. Its small enough to fit in a pocket or can be mounted on-camera with the optional cheese plate kit, the shuttle records onto a single 2.5inch format SSD. The HyperDeck Studio is the big brother which is a 1u rackmount format device, it has 2 slots for SSD drives allowing never ending recording by swapping out the non active drive when full.
The Hyperdeck Studio has always looked like a great option for both recording and playback of video content with the ATEM. There has been (until now) one major drawback in that the Hyperdeck used uncompressed video making SSD storage very expensive when viewed $ per second. However today they have announced that they will be supporting Avid DNXHD codec which really extends record times and makes the entire system much more affordable.
The BMD press release follows...
Blackmagic Design adds Avid DNxHD Recording and Playback to HyperDeck Studio
InterBEE 2011, Tokyo, Japan - November 16, 2011 - Blackmagic Design today announced HyperDeck Software Update 2.0, a new software update for it’s popular HyperDeck Studio that adds broadcast quality compressed 10 bit recording and playback to the Avid® DNxHD® format.
DNxHD is a broadcast industry standard for media files and adding native support for this compressed video format into HyperDeck Studio will allow dramatically longer recording times, lower media storage costs, and full file format compatibility with Avid Media Composer® systems. All media is recorded in MXF format, so it’s immediately available in Media Composer without any time consuming file copying or import processing.
HyperDeck Software Update 2.0 will be available at the end of November 2011 free of charge for all HyperDeck Studio customers.
I've been lucky enough to get my hands on the first ATEM Television Studio switcher to make it to the UK. This post is just a collection of thoughts based on a half day of testing.
Opening the box the first thing that strikes you is how small the unit is - 1u rack format is small for a switcher, but it is the depth that is unbelievable - the whole unit including heatsink is less than 50mm deep! This ultra short depth allows you to mount the unit the 'wrong way' round on the back rackstrip of a standard flightcase allowing room for other equipment to mount in front of the switcher.
The front of the unit is very plain with just the Blackmagic logo and ATEM Television Studio text printed on the smart grey colour box. There is nothing else, not even an LED to show the power status so it is safe to assume that Blackmagic intend for this to be mounted backwards on the rear rack strip of your flightcase.
From left to right the rear panel has the following connections, 4x HDMI inputs, 4x HDSDI inputs, 1x Ref input, then the big central heatsink followed by the outputs, 1x USB output, 2x Program HDSDI, 1x Multiviewer HDSDI, 1x Multiviewer HDMI, 1x Program HDMI. Then we have the RJ45 network port for control followed by the power input on a standard DC jack and finally we get a single AES/EBU audio input.
Generally the connections feel sturdy enough, the presence of mounting screws by each HDMI socket is reassuring as these kind of domestic connectors are often somewhat flimsy, but here on the ATEM they seem to be high quality and well secured to the metal rack casing. The BNC connections are maybe not quite as high quality, they have no locking nut on the rear of the connector, but they do appear to be tightly clamped in position by the casing so I hope they will stand up the rigours of a PPU with constant repatching. The power connector is the biggest issue with the physical ergonomics of the switcher, it is a standard DC Jack connector which lacks any facility to secure the power cable, this is a really poor bit of design, I hope that future units may be improved with either a locking sleeve for the DJ jack or an industry standard XLR4 for 12v power.