Blackmagic Design Debut 4 M/E UHD Switcher to Target Broadcast Production Upgrades

​Blackmagic has debuted its most advanced production switcher, the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, as part of a package of new products targeting budget UHD production upgrades. The new product includes SMPTE based fibre convertors between camera and switcher which have an upgrade path to IP. The camera BMD is launching along with this is the URSA Broadcast, a HD / UHD camera based on the URSA Mini Pro design and full featured enough to cater for studio, OB, ENG and top end work. It costs $3500 which is less than some DSLRs and takes B4 lenses.

The Blackmagic Design ATEM 4 M/E costs less than $6000 and houses twenty 12G SDI inputs capable of 2160p60 with full re-synchronization on each input, an audio mixer, two UHD multiviewers and 16 chroma keys.

In addition, the ATEM 4 M/E features, full 2D DVE, built in SuperSource compositing engines with 4 picture in picture DVEs and two balanced XLR audio inputs and outputs for connecting mixers and other pro audio gear.

If you’ve already got the older ATEM 2 ME then Blackmagic are giving the software upgrade away free “as a thank you to customers who bought the first one and thereby helped us fund the research for this version” said Petty in a presentation, adding “its arguably the biggest upgrade to any product ever – and it’s free.”

The 12G SDI connections on the 4 M/E automatically switch to 6G-SDI, 3G-SDI and HD-SDI so the switcher is compatible with existing HD kit. The ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K can be used to master programs in 2160p60 while simultaneously outputting them in HD with realtime down conversion.

“It’s a future proof switcher that lets broadcasters start building a library of amazing UHD content, even if they need to continue broadcasting 1080HD today,” said BMD CEO Grant Petty in a presentation.

Customers get four new ATEM Advanced Chroma Keyers on each of the four mix effects rows. The new keyers feature adjustable on-screen controls for selecting and sampling a region of color, adjustment controls for foreground, background and edges, and chroma correction tools for spill and flare suppression. That means customers can pull clean keys for professional broadcast quality composites and multi layer effects.

Petty said the unit is designed for sports and live concerts. “When combined with the extra resolution, higher frame rate and bigger color space of UHD, the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K makes the fast paced action and incredible drama of live sports look far better than even the highest end, most expensive regular HD production switchers,” he claimed.

In addition to advanced 12G-SDI technology, the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K features the highest quality professional broadcast connections. Every input has automatic frame re-synchronization so customers can take any source, even if it’s not referenced, and make clean switches. The ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K has both an Ultra HD program output as well as a down converted HD program output, along with 6 auxiliary outputs for sending clean feeds out to giant screens, projectors, recorders or monitors. Dual Ultra HD multi view outputs let customers monitor program, preview and cameras on large screen Ultra HD displays.

The switcher can be controlled using ATEM’s hardware control panels or using the ATEM Software Control on a Mac or Windows computer connected via ethernet, which is included free.

A new ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel costing $2995 is a compact hardware control panel that works with all ATEM switchers, and includes the ability to control up to four M/Es.

“The control panel provides a full visual control panel with parameter palettes for making quick adjustments, loading graphics, mixing audio and more,” say BMD. “Customers can even combine multiple hardware and software control panels on the same show so different people can be working on switching, graphics, audio, camera control and more, all at the same time.”

There are also signs that the company is moving away from SDI and into the IP world. It is bringing out a Camera Fiber Converter and Studio Fiber Converter, enabling customers to send power, talkback, tally, video and audio feeds all down a single piece of SMPTE fiber over distances of 2km. It is built to the conventional SMPTE standard but includes within it the ability to work with IP signals straight out of the back of the camera via a software patch which Blackmagic plan to turn on in time.

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