Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

Questions about ATEM Switchers, Camera Converter and everything live!
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daledennis1

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Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostWed Aug 07, 2019 11:27 pm

Hello, all. Just joined the forum, so I will be interested to see how many struggles we have in common!
I work with a community access station that owns an ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher. At present, when we need graphics, we create them in software and import them into the media manager...but I am wondering about Character Generators, and what forum members have experience with in the way of CGs, particularly for live production.
I have looked online in a couple of places, and most of what I see is quite expensive (especially for a community station), but there were a couple of units that seemed to hold out some promise.
So, does anyone here have any experience with the Data Video TC-100 or TC-200 Character Generators? The TC-200 has the better features (and is a bit more expensive); it has SDI in and out, and features separate Key and Fill outputs--and therein lies the problem.
We use cameras with SDI outputs, which give us better flexibility than using HDMI. Since the ATEM switcher has four SDI inputs and four HDMI inputs, two SDI inputs would have to be tied up with CG outputs to use those on an upstream keyer. Of course, downstream can be used...but that has its own set of issues.
The TC-100 has HDMI inputs and outputs. The outputs are not identified as Key and Fill, so my suspicion is that they are redundant DSK outputs.
Does anyone have any experience with either or both of these CGs? I would appreciate any thoughts and feedback you could give.
Thanks.
Dale Dennis
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Zach Schuster

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostThu Aug 08, 2019 6:12 pm

SuiteCG is geared specifically toward sports productions, so if you're looking in that direction, I'd encourage you to check it out. We just added a tutorial video on how to set up an HDMI luma key on the DSK or an upstream chroma key. https://suitecg.com/integration-with-hardware-switchers/

With the free Newtek Connect program, and ZEN NDI RTx, you can easily get key and fill from a Decklink DUO 2 card. We don't have a tutorial video for that, yet.

You cannot create your own projects in it at this time, but the pre-built graphics look good and are highly configurable.
Zach Schuster
SuiteCG- An All-in-One Graphics System for Live Sports
www.suitecg.com
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daledennis1

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostFri Aug 09, 2019 4:21 am

Okay, I looked at the Suite CG. And I have to say, I would not want it even if sports were our main thing. The software is licensed only for specific durations, and only a series of months at that. No option for a purchase of anything but a temporary license. Not my opinion of a business model I want to participate in...but I also realize that's the way the industry is going overall. It's just not for me, thank you anyway.
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Kevin Copeland

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostSat Aug 10, 2019 1:36 am

We use PowerPoint on Windows with the SimpleSupers app. It uses 2 additional display outputs for key and fill. You can use hdmi but we convert to sdi and use the DSK in our ATEM 1 M/E. We get great animated lower thirds and it’s easy to change on the fly and very inexpensive. You can try before you buy and get free templates. Love it.


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Zach Schuster

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostSat Aug 10, 2019 2:56 am

Fair enough. I understand it's not for everyone. Suffice it to say that many people enjoy the professional look and not paying a huge price upfront. It gives them flexibility to move to another program if something better comes along, and keeps me accountable to to keeping them happy. And if they are in sudden need of a second license for a one time gig, it's an easy way to expand. I get that it's not for everyone though. I hope you find a good solution. I know it's difficult to find good solutions on a community access station budget, I worked with one when I was in college and then ran a small university channel myself for 8 years. Cheers!
Zach Schuster
SuiteCG- An All-in-One Graphics System for Live Sports
www.suitecg.com
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daledennis1

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostSat Aug 10, 2019 5:57 am

Hi, Kevin,
Thanks for the info about SimpleSupers...I have looked at their website. It does seem a bit cumbersome. Is this program designed to interface or handshake directly with PowerPoint only? Is there something unique to PowerPoint that makes it work with this software, while no other graphics software would? Do you know if it would work with a third party PowerPoint knock-off, like LibreOffice Impress?
I suspect if we are using a tower that HDMI ports can be added via an expansion slot, but is there a way to use this with a laptop, for greater portability?
Thanks!
Dale
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frlawton

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostMon Aug 12, 2019 9:44 am

I've only had experience with the Datavideo CG-500 software. It's like using After Effects before it had any 3D capability and also wasn't the most stable as I recall, but I think that was also down to the system it was running on. That was paired with a Decklink 4K Extreme (complete overkill). I wouldn't call it fantastic value for money, but it's easy enough to get your head around and it's a one-time cost.

If you're willing to get a PC with a Decklink in it then CasparCG has been working well for us. The learning curve is steep, however, but the small community is quite good at helping you out. It also has the great bonus of being free as it's open source.

I share your sympathies about SuiteCG, it's a good looking package with a decent feature set but if you're working on slim margins then it's hard to justify the cost of another subscription.
Francis Lawton : Group Visual LTD. : www.groupvisual.co.uk
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Kevin Copeland

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostMon Aug 12, 2019 9:43 pm

Dale, this plug-in only works with PowerPoint. It generates an alpha channel of the PowerPoint slide so you can use it with key and fill in your switcher. PowerPoint is not designed to be a Character Generator for video production, so this inexpensive work-a-round has been great for us.

I use it with my ASUS laptop which has 2 external display outputs. So my laptop screen is my main screen, HDMI display out 2 is my PowerPoint slide in 'show mode', and Mini Display out 3 is the PowerPoint slide Alpha in 'show mode'.

This is easy to use and hasn't been cumbersome for us, especially since we didn't have to pay thousands to get it up and running.
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David Baxter

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostMon Aug 12, 2019 11:12 pm

I'd recommend considering an UltraStudio HD Mini, as it provides full key/fill output from a much larger variety of applications. Just throw a couple of SDI to HDMI Micro Converters in line to avoid tying up your SDI inputs. All-in that should be under $600, as long as you've got a Thunderbolt 3 compatible computer.

This combo works great for me when I'm running shows on our smaller ATEM TV Studio HD, which is also 4 SDI / 4 HDMI.

With that hardware, you can use most any software that supports Decklink cards for output. That includes many of the products discussed in this thread. I'd also suggest looking into the following:
  • Holographics (aka Hologfx.io) — has a free version if your needs are basic — (key/fill output via OBS)
  • Singular.live (also output via OBS)
  • OBS by itself also has some basic text/graphics options you could try
  • ProPresenter (the alpha module isn't cheap, but it's quite flexible)
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Jschroeder

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostThu Aug 22, 2019 11:29 am

I've used vMix for doing some titling and graphics as it can do 2 lots of key and fill with decklink cards as well as a couple more outputs of straight fill and can auto update from databases, google docs, excel.
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Joseph Villegas

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostThu Aug 22, 2019 12:17 pm

Mac + decklink duo 2 + Mimolive
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Andy Williams

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostFri Aug 23, 2019 1:14 am

Check out ProPresenter, we use it with great sucess. It’s a good bit of horsepower for the money.

https://renewedvision.com/propresenter/
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Thomas Seewald

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Re: Character Generators for ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher

PostFri Aug 23, 2019 1:05 pm

As Francis wrote. Give CasparCG a try. It works on small Laptops up to big Desktop or Servers. The ability for key and fill depends on the used video card. The software ist for free and is develloped by swedish televison (SVT) for its own needs. 2016 a part of the graphics at European Song Contest were made with CasparCG. So it is a real professional solution.

But. It it is no „klick and go“ solution. For creating the templates, you need HTML5 or Adobe Flash knowledge (and software). You can‘t really design a template during a show on the fly, but recall templates with dynamic content works like a charm.

When you have some people, who can write programs, you are able to control Caspar with your own GUI, eg. reading Names from EXCEL files for Lower Thirds or special clients for supporting special sports....

I like CasparCG, but you need some time for learning.
thos-berlin - Thomas S e e w a l d

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