Chance of Getting ISO Recording Capabilities for ATEM Television & Production Studio product lines?

With the recent announcement of the ATEM Mini Extreme & Extreme ISO (as well as the ATEM Mini Pro ISO a few months ago), I was wondering if anyone here thinks Blackmagic could/might/will bring some version of the ISO recording features to their mid-tier & higher-end ATEM switchers?

I know that higher end production facilities have the budgets to buy a bunch of HyperDecks to record each individual camera input, but as a mid-size church, buying 8 or 9 HyperDecks just isn’t in our current budget. Plus, as far as I know, we still wouldn’t get the DaVinci Resolve project file with that setup that you do get with the ATEM Mini Pro ISO and Extreme ISO, to be able to more easily edit the live-switched production after the fact, so we would have to totally re-build the timeline from scratch.

I also know we could theoretically buy an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO, along with a bunch of SDI-to-HDMI converters, and start using the ATEM Mini Extreme ISO as our primary switcher, and thus get the ability to record clean feeds of all 8 inputs, plus the program feed, and get a DaVinci Resolve project file with all the transitions and stuff. However, there are still some features that our TV Studio Pro 4K switcher has that the ATEM Mini Extreme ISO does not have (capable of a 4K workflow and a much better physical control panel, just as a couple of examples).

So, here is my idea/suggestion, and I’m just wondering if anyone else here could use something like this, or if you think something like this is even feasible:

I know it’s not possible to do any native recording on any of the ATEM Television Studio switchers, as they don’t have any H.264 hardware encoders inside. So, would it be possible/feasible to create an ISO recording “companion” device for the TV/Production Studio switchers with:

  • 8 (or more) 12G-SDI inputs & loop outs for each input on the TV/Prod Studio switcher (connect cameras and other inputs first to this companion device, and then connect the loop outs from this companion device to switcher)

  • (optional) 4 HDMI inputs & loop outs for the 4 HDMI inputs on the lower-end TV Studio switchers

  • one 12G-SDI input & loop out for the program feed from the switcher

  • Ethernet and/or USB port (data connection to switcher, to receive info for creating the DaVinci Resolve Project file)

  • USB port for connection of a USB drive, and/or an SD card slot(s) or SATA SSD disc slot(s) - for storing the ISO recordings

  • SDI and/or HDMI monitor out (with a monitoring UI similar to the new Web Presenter HD, except with details about ISO recording status)

  • Capable of recording clean feeds of all inputs, program feed, and DaVinci Resolve project file data from ATEM switcher in H.264 (or even H.265), preferably at resolutions up to 2160p60.

  • (optional) It would be even better if this device could also include the functionality of the Web Presenter HD, and be able to livestream the program feed via Ethernet/RTMP and/or USB webcam out as well. (RTMP livestream and USB webcam feed can still be maxed out at 1080p60, if necessary, like they currently are on both the Web Presenter HD and on the ATEM Mini Pro/Extreme.)

This device wouldn’t need any of the switcher capabilities that the ATEM Mini Pro/Extreme ISO products have, so it could have a simplified front panel, similar to a HyperDeck Studio Mini or the new Web Presenter HD. And that would hopefully mean that it also wouldn’t need as many or as complex internal components as those other devices, so I would hope that this device could possibly be priced somewhere in the sub-$1000 range.

(Note: I would envision that this device would be primarily made compatible with (and marketed towards the owners of) the mid-tier ATEM Television Studio lineup, since I would imagine that most people/organizations who can afford the higher-end ATEM Production Studio switchers can also probably afford a rack full of HyperDecks for their ISO recordings instead. But I certainly wouldn’t be against the idea of making this hypothetical device compatible with the entire ATEM TV & Production switcher lineup.)

Anyone else have any thoughts/suggestions/improvements on this idea? (And/or does anyone see any flaws or problems with this idea/concept?)

Thanks so much for your consideration and feedback! :slight_smile:

Philip

Considering Extreme has 8 inputs now, I’m not sure where the mid tier is going, 12-16 inputs I hope, (and I’d love to see it in a rackmount unit).

As for the companion device, the “easy” (also large, loud, power hungry, not cheap but cheaper than a bunch of Hyperdecks) way is build a pc with decklink cards and script a bunch of ffmpegs to do what you need (recording, streaming, and even Resolve support thanks to @john 's work)

Thanks for your response, @gimzo.

I am also very interested to see where Blackmagic is going to take the next version of that mid-tier (and might consider upgrading to a newer model, depending on the feature set and price point), but I’m also hoping that Blackmagic will provide some sort of firmware upgrade and/or an add-on hardware device like I mentioned above that would hopefully bring at least some of those features to those existing TV & Production Studio switchers, for those of us who might not have the money in our budgets to fully upgrade to a whole new switcher right away.

And I appreciate your idea/suggestion of building a PC with DeckLink cards for our ISO recording purposes, but I’d like to avoid that option, if possible, due to all the reasons you listed. Plus, I almost always prefer to use a dedicated hardware device specifically designed for a particular purpose rather than using a software/PC solution, due to the (generally speaking) much better reliability you get from a hardware solution versus a PC.

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I like the idea! It’s frankly amazing that they add only $300 to the cost for the ISO models, since you won’t find a dedicated multi-channel recorder for anything near that cost. I’m wondering how much this device you described might cost, it certainly doesn’t seem cheap! Kind of sounds like the AJA recorders which do basically what you describe, although I think their top model has only 4 channel recording, and it’s $4000: Ki Pro Ultra 12G: 12G-SDI 4K/UltraHD/HD Recorder and Player Multi-Channel HD Recorder It does seem like there might be room in the market for Blackmagic to make something to compete with this!

Thanks, @aaronpk. Glad you like the idea! :slight_smile:

And yes, I also find it amazing that Blackmagic is able to add the ISO recording feature to both the ATEM Mini Pro and Extreme models for only an additional $300 - not to mention the fact that BMD was able to build an 8-input switcher with multiple upstream keys, multiple DVEs, and SuperSource for under $1,000!!

And that is precisely why I’m hoping Blackmagic could make something like this and be able to sell it at a reasonable price. (Because those AJA recorders are indeed very expensive. If I had $4,000 to spend, I’d indeed be able to buy a rack full of HyperDecks, or even upgrade to a whole new ATEM TV or Production Studio switcher with those ATEM Mini Pro/Extreme features built in, if/when BMD releases those.)

So, I don’t know if Blackmagic would ever make a device like this, and if they did, I don’t know what it would actually cost them to manufacture it, but based on their pricing structure for their current product lineup, I’m hoping that they could sell a device like this for less than $1,000 - even better if they could get it somewhere in the $500-$700 range. I totally understand if they can’t go quite that low, but after seeing what they were able to do with the Extreme and Extreme ISO, I’m dreaming big (for a small price tag). :rofl:

With that said, does anyone on this forum have an “in” with Grant Petty or with anyone else on Blackmagic Design’s leadership team or in their product development department, so that we can plant that seed with them, in hopes that they can build something like this for us? :wink:

Just as a quick follow-up on the question about how much something like this might cost: I have no idea if my next statement/question is accurate or not, so if someone with more knowledge and expertise in this area wants to correct me, please go right ahead and do so, but would I be correct in guessing that one of the reasons BMD is able to give us ISO recording on the Minis for only an extra $300 is because they only record in H.264 (rather than being able to record in ProRes and DNxHD like HyperDecks and the AJA recorders are able to)?

If so, that’s one of the ways I am hoping Blackmagic would be able to keep the cost low on this proposed device. I don’t know how others feel about that, but I’m certainly fine with limiting this device to H.264 and/or H.265 recording capabilities.

I’m sure there are more professional photographers and videographers out there who would scoff at the idea of being limited to H.264 or H.265, but for those people who want/need those higher-quality ProRes, DNxHD, or even RAW recording capabilities, they can still use HyperDecks or one of those AJA recorders or something along those lines. (And/or, for those people with Blackmagic cameras, they can use the ATEM feature of triggering ISO recording in each of their cameras and then being able to import those camera recordings into the DaVinci Resolve project and having those higher-quality recordings automatically sync to and replace the H.264 files.)

Anyway, like I said, I have no idea if codec support makes a big difference in the price point, but if it does, that’s one of the features I’d be willing to sacrifice, in order to make this particular device more affordable (while keeping HyperDecks and other such devices available for those people who want/need those higher quality options).

I mean last time I made a video with a list of product specs they came out with something that addressed a lot of my points! What actually happened was they asked for feedback, and I wrote up a giant PDF with my wish list and justifications, sent that to them, then thought hey that’d make a great video and filmed that video. I could maybe do that again for this idea :slight_smile:

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I don’t know anything about Prores, DNxHD and H264/H265 licensing (except that none of them are free), but processing requirements are lower for ProRes and DNxHD (bandwidth requirements are higher)

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Yes, @aaronpk , I remember your “Perfect ATEM Mini” birthday wish video, and I’m glad that Blackmagic granted your birthday wish with the ATEM Mini Extreme & Extreme ISO (albeit a couple months late). :slight_smile:

It would be a huge honor if you decide that you want to do something like that again for this idea! :grin:

Absolutely no pressure, though, and no hard feelings if you decide not to pursue the idea any further or make a video about it.

(Also, not that you really need my permission to share something that I’ve posted in a public form, but in case you want my permission, I hereby give you, @aaronpk , permission to share this idea and/or make a YouTube video about it, if you so choose.)

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I’ve often wondered about this too. SDI, more outputs, XLR (sigh) are all clear differentiators, but the pros pose of buying 8 hyper decks…well that’s a bit much!

I could see them going with some hybrid approach that limits the top streams recorded on the units with more inputs. Even with h.264 you’re pushing up the limits of many USB drives.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they were to release a “multi hyperdeck” that can record a few streams in one box as an addition, making the current hyperdeck more about playback. The Web Presenter HD suggests they’ll use the companion boxes as a strategy — though it by no means rules out built in integrations.

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I’m hoping for a record in a firmware upgrade to the Web Presenter HD

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Yes, @gimzo , I’m also hoping that Blackmagic will add a record via USB function to the Web Presenter HD via a firmware upgrade, so that it can have that same functionality as the ATEM Mini Pro & Extreme. I think that would be especially great, since the Web Presenter HD also has 2 USB outputs, so you could hopefully use one to record and the other one as either a phone tether for streaming over cellular data or use that second one as a webcam input into a computer. It would be awesome to have that dual USB functionality without having to purchase an ATEM Mini Extreme.

Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised either if Blackmagic released a HyperDeck that could record multiple streams in one box. However, with the HyperDeck’s higher-end recording capabilities (recording in ProRes, etc.), I wonder what the limitations would be on how many streams a device like that could record at once, and I’m also not sure what the price point would be for such a device, since even the cheapest HyperDeck in their current lineup, the HyperDeck Studio Mini, already costs $700.

And yes, I am also hopeful that the Web Presenter HD is a sign that BMD is embracing this companion box strategy, and that we will thus see some sort of ISO recording companion box for the higher-end ATEMs at some point in the not-too-distant future. But I also agree that building companion devices like this doesn’t at all rule out the possibility of Blackmagic adding these features as built-in integrations in future hardware updates to the mid-tier and higher-end ATEM TV & Production Studio lineup.

However, I’m hoping that they indeed release these sorts of companion boxes first, for those of us who currently already have those mid-tier to higher-end ATEM switchers, rather than skipping that step and only releasing updated ATEM switchers, in which case we would then have to purchase a whole new switcher in order to get that added functionality.

The Zynq UltraScale+ EV FPGA Blackmagic Design use in their Mini ISO series includes a dedicated hardware encoder that is capable of encoding a single h.264 stream at 2160p60, four streams at 1080p60 and up to 32 streams at 480p30. The encoding of the program out might be handled by an IP core in the FPGA’s logic blocks.
I haven’t seen a teardown of the Extreme ISO yet but considering the (nearly) doubled power consumption I suppose they just use two of the very FPGA they use on the Pro ISO. To encode 8 4k UHD streams in parallel with the same technique, you’d have to use 8 of those FPGAs which would be totally uneconomical. That’s the reason why I don’t think there will be an affordable multitrack 4k recorder anytime soon.
On the other hand … it’s still Blackmagic Design.

Pricing seems exceptionally hard to guess, and I imagine get right (from the BMD side, too).

I honestly wonder now about how much the economics of switchers have changed in the past 12 months. $300 to $1K was a good differentiation when the original Mini came out. If BMD can profit off a $1300 ATEM Mini Extreme ISO, well that’s just not something any of us really excepted, I think.

The Hyperdeck Mini is now 4 years old, and while I love mine – it definitely didn’t feel quite $700 worth of value. But a lot of that value is also in tools like key/fill support – something I haven’t (yet!) had a chance to use. (I do use Key/Fill coming from a DeckLink Card.)

So part of me hopes the the economies of scale will be on our side! But for those of us who want SDI, we are going to have a harder time seeing those benefits compared to the dominance of an HDMI world.

And also, while I fully expect ATEM Mini models to last for years, they haven’t yet seen the longevity testing the bigger ATEMs have. So, I do wonder if there’s any difference in component (internal) quality or reliability. Though, this is more of a curiosity. I fully trust the Mini line for my uses…well when my Extreme ISO arrives tomorrow! :smiley: