Better Streaming Sessions With ATEM Mini Switchers

May 18, 2021

Learn how to add serious production value to live-streamed color sessions with Blackmagic ATEM Mini switchers.


Streaming Sessions For Color Reviews

With the onset of the global pandemic – more and more colorists started coming up with ways to live stream a session to a client. This lets you and the client still collaborate in real-time, but keeps everyone safe working remotely. I think we’ve all seen how incredibly useful these sessions can be, and it’s obvious that they will continue to be part of our professional lives moving forward.

It isn’t all wonderful though – for a lot of colorists and their clients, running a live-streamed session can be awkward. Fumbling around with menus in Zoom or on other streaming software, switching between webcams and capture devices, and managing audio and microphones can make for some challenging communication.

Adding Some Production Value

What if instead of a simple Zoom meeting – your live sessions could feel more like a produced, professional broadcast?

This kind of added professionalism can really go a long way towards putting a client’s mind at ease and letting them focus on what is really important – nailing their creative vision with you.

Using a switcher can add a lot of value to your live sessions

ATEM To The Rescue

Blackmagic has a fantastic solution in their ATEM Mini line of switchers.

These little powerhouses are inexpensive, feature-packed, and present themselves to your computer just like any standard USB webcam. Adding one to your suite can really help you manage live-streamed sessions in real-time. In fact – every model of the ATEM line has been recently reduced in price by $100.

The ATEM Minis are small but powerful HDMI switchers that present as a webcam over USB. Image courtesy Blackmagic Design.

The ATEM Mini line includes 5 models. They all have similar switching capabilities but differ in a few key areas:

  • The entry-level ATEM Mini is $295. It includes live switching, keying, DVE/Picture in picture, and can output as a USB webcam or HDMI
  • The ATEM Mini Pro is $495. It adds built-in live streaming to IP-based services, and an optional multi-view output to preview all your sources in real-time. Pro models can also record directly to a USB SSD.
  • The ATEM Mini Extreme is $995 and adds 4 more HDMI inputs, and additional DVE channels, and HDMI outputs.
  • ISO models of the ATEM Mini Pro and Extreme allow for the recording of isolated feeds of all sources to a USB-C SSD for later editing, and are $795 and $1,295 respectively.

In my opinion – the Mini Pro is the best balance of price and performance. I love the multi-view feature, but don’t really need some of the additional inputs or capability of the Extreme. I also think the built-in network streaming is a good way to future proof.

One thing to be aware of – using the ATEM Mini won’t solve all your live stream problems. While you avoid some issues by using a color-managed HDMI output from your DeckLink – you will still be at the mercy of whatever display your client is watching on.

It’s All About The Software

The front panel controls on the ATEM allow for basic switching and control – but under the hood, they have a lot more functionality! The free ATEM Software Control application unlocks so much more – including still stores, advanced picture-in-picture controls, keying, and macros.

ATEM Software Control allows for full broadcast switcher functionality

This Insight will be the first in a series on using switchers for live streaming color sessions. If you’ve never worked in live TV or used a switcher before – it will be a great introduction to all the fundamental concepts. I’ll walk you through:

  • The ATEM product line
  • What additional components you will need to get started
  • Switcher fundamentals – program/preview bus and transitions
  • Setting up downstream keys and picture in picture effects
  • Audio mixing and sweetening

As always leave me any comments or questions below!




Homepage Forums Better Streaming Sessions With ATEM Mini Switchers

  • Mel M

    This is fantastic! I had no idea those little ATEMs could be so useful for session streaming in the ways you demonstrated. Being able to switch between your talkback camera, GUI and Video playback is such a no brainer, I can’t believe I never even considered that before!

    I guess the elephant in the room, though, is if it’s even appropriate to be using Zoom for remote color review? I see this as a great offline editorial solution, but the quality of Zoom is so abysmal that I couldn’t imagine anyone trusting it for color review.

    Also, does running everything through the ATEM before sending the feed downstream to Zoom (or another encoding system like a Mac mini running Streambox Encoder) incur an additional level of latency that gets compounded with the inherent latency of the streaming service you’re using?

  • R Neil Haugen

    Great vid, Joey. Been working with my Mini Pro for some months. On a PC here, and struggled to get both my mic and the sound from PrPro or whatever app I’m working in ‘out’ … but watching through here, finally figured out what I need to do so that OBS ‘sees’ my screen audio and my mic audio both run through screen-duplicating the app to the A-MP monitor. Looking forward to the next installment!

  • Marc Wielage

    Terrific idea — I can see this idea being useful for lots of different situations. I had considered this a year or so ago when the little “toy” ATEM switchers first came out, but I’m glad that Joey actually tried it out and figured out that it actually can work.

  • Carey Dissmore

    Hey Joey, I’m a little late to the party on this insight, but great job. I’ve been doing remote sessions since about December of last year using a couple of cameras and multiple NDI’s into a vMix machine that I drove with Stream Deck macros. A couple of months ago I added the ATEM mini Pro as a flexible and affordable capture source for more cams but still using vMix for GUI and graphics. Still dialing in the share of duties but pretty much desiring to keep vMix in the chain for the added capabilities. One thing I’ve found useful is to use a headset mic (Countryman style) for talking to my clients and an IFB single ear to hear them talking back to me while still running my studio monitors in the suite for myself. Because the headset mic is close, I can gate it so it only cuts in while I’m speaking, as long as the studio monitors aren’t too loud to trip it. But yes, this overall concept is a great way to fly and clients have liked it.

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