Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

Questions about ATEM Switchers, Camera Converter and everything live!
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Videoguy16x9

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Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostThu May 06, 2021 8:18 pm

Dear Grant (and BlackMagic Design product managers),

Once upon a time, Sony, Panasonic and JVC ruled the broadcast world with very strict tiers of quality and keeping their equipment proprietary and unfriendly to others.

Fast forward a few decades, and Canon caused an uproar by introducing video... on a DSLR. The 5D Mk II changed the industry and for a time, Canon ruled supreme, but then they too became too proprietary and wanted to protect their cinema camera line and they lost ground.

Then a complete upstart in the camera industry launched the first pocket cinema camera and we got a taste of what a company that actually cares about filmmakers and live producers could be like.

Honestly if I had the choice between an Alexa and my BMPCC 4k, I would (and did) choose this amazing camera, especially with the 7.3 Gen 5 color - and I have loved Davinci for color and in recent years editing since I discovered it. I left Adobe and never looked back.

So why isn't BlackMagic the number one camera and live gear manufacturer in the world?

This is why I worry about BlackMagic going down the Canon road and trying too hard to protect your product line.

On the live side, fix this ONE thing and I think you will see even faster product growth and inroads into the traditional Sony and Panasonic and Grass Valley markets - just one thing.

I run a television production group for a university and I have had my own production company for three decades, and the ONE thing that keeps me from committing fully at the university to BlackMagic Design is that the system is closed to color correction of non-BMD cameras on the live mixers and does not have a path for IP sources.

The reality is that people are going to mix camera brands, have legacy brands and cannot afford to dump them in the trash, and frankly, BMD does not make camcorders nor action cameras - and I am not saying you should.

I also get that the color correction on your panels and in your software is done in the camera and in hardware, but...

What would it take for you to offer a "software only" mode on each channel that would allow basic gamma, hue and levels control? I know it would lack features found in the full hardware marriage of BMD cameras and software, but being able to use my legacy Sony and Panasonic camcorders with some color and level matching at the university would mean that I would be going full bore for Constellations, 4k Television studios and ATEM Mini Extremes instead of considering vMIx or other hardware that will allow this.

Either give us a traditional proc amp module for non-BMD cameras, or add a software only switch on each channel so we can mix and match cameras as needed.

Switching brands in a broadcast facility is hugely expensive, even at the very reasonable BMD prices, and you do not necessarily offer everything we need on the camera side (yet). I need PTZ's and I need camcorders. Sure, I would love to go all Ursa and studio and studio micro, but they either lack features (like basic zoom lenses of good operational quality in M43) or get too expensive to throw out all the old gear and start fresh.

I love the ATEM's and Mini ATEM's. And in time, I am likely to start populating more and more BMD cameras (we have four micro studio and a studio 4k right now), but I cannot simply junk my existing nine camcorders the students use for football and live events.

Maybe one day, BMDD will offer a camcorder or configuration "slightly below" full broadcast (like the ATEM mini's) that fills the bill, but even then, we will need a slower path to switch over.

Grant, what you have done with BlackMagic Design is nothing short of miraculous. If I had gone back to myself in the 1980's and told my past self all the best gear for video and television came from Australia, I would have not believed it.

To stay relevant and not lose ground like Nikon and Canon have by being too closed in their systems, or too late to adapt, open your system up. I can take footage from almost any camera into Resolve on my PC, and it has not hurt your market one bit - and BRAW actually persauded me to ditch my Canon cine and my Sony FX7 and stay with the Ursas and BMPCC's. It was because I could bring anything in and could experience how awesome BMD stuff is that I switched. The original pocket cinema camera was great and I loved it, but for serious productions, I often had to go Canon or Sony. The accessibility across platforms made me want to try an Ursa Mini Pro 4.6k - and it took a while, but I have migrated to almost exclusively BlackMagic cameras.

Give us the opportunity to bring BMD live production gear in without sacrficing basic things like color balancing and let us experience why we want to switch, and give us that gentler path to get there.

In a month or two, I am beginning a three year revamp of our entire infrastructure. If BMD products could adjust color, even in a very rudimentary way, on non-BMD cameras and sources, and if you had the ability to take in NDI or SRT sources (a new micro converter perhaps), I would absolutely be ordering Constellations and ATEMS and ATEM Mini's.

With the system being closed to outside sources in critical areas, color and IP sources, I am pressured to move toward vMix and other solutions. Even my supervisor who is pushing me toward software solutions would prefer to give our students a full control panel experience with BMD gear: help us help you Grant.

Open the live systems just enough so we can integrate with what we have now and then remind us of how much we love BlackMagic as we purchase for tomorrow.

I hope to hear from you,

Sincerely,
H. Robert Petersen,

Owner BriteFire Films and Strategic Media Production Coordinator for Minnesota State Mankato University (and absolute fanboy of my BlackMagic gear).
H. Robert Petersen, BriteFire Films - videoguy16x9@gmail.com
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MambaFiber.com

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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostFri May 07, 2021 4:20 am

OR.....you could just buy into hundreds of other products already on the market that already address these issues.

I have Panasonic and Marshall cameras that can be remotely shaded without any assistance from whatever switcher I may choose to plug them into. I use all manner of IP encoders/decoders that offer me RTMP/SRT/NDI access that works with not only my ATEM switchers, but other SDI based products and many IP based systems we use now as well. I can tie all of these items together using a single control system, and as such don't care anymore who makes the gear that does what I need.

Waiting for a vendor to address your needs just isn't the way. I would hate to think of all of the business that would have passed me by while I was waiting for the stars to align...
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostFri May 07, 2021 4:39 am

Greg what you say is very true. I could certainly buy more things, cobble stuff together and go that route - I think one of the things that makes BMD stuff, especially the ATEM Mini's attractive is the simplicity and all-in-one-nature. Working with students, simple and easy are critical elements. For me to go with BMD however, I need a few missing areas added.
H. Robert Petersen, BriteFire Films - videoguy16x9@gmail.com
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Xtreemtec

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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostFri May 07, 2021 9:07 am

Or buy 3rd party solutions to fix your problem.

We manufacture for a few years now a box that does CCU control for other camera brands that connects into the BMD Camera control system. SDI in > Cam control out for Sony, JVC, (and soon Panasonic support )..

But we also have a teranex control coming up. So you could actually control the color, gain, hue, etc of the teranex with the Atem CCU control.. ;)

So plenty of options to choose from.

BTW if you want this to reach mister Petty.. You dont put it into there User forum.. As this Forum is User driven and almost nothing here is passed on into the company.. Unless 50 people report a big issue in current firmware.. Then something happens..
Daniel Wittenaar .:: Xtreemtec Media Productions ::. -= www.xtreemtec.nl =-
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codedeltajames

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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostFri May 07, 2021 12:50 pm

I think Sony and Grass Valley would be very surprised to hear they've lost so much of the broadcast market to BMD.

I think they'd be even more surprised to hear that the one thing stopping BMD from taking over completely was the lack of colour corrector on Atem inputs.

While I agree, a colour corrector would be useful for semi-pro stuff where you've got a ragtag bunch of non-paintable cameras, that is not the case for any professional broadcast. BMD's aim seems to be to make it easy to build a complete system from their gear, using camera sales to drive atem sales and vice-versa - that is a world away from replacing the big names at the top of the chain in the broadcast world - nobody is going to be suggesting using an Atem Constellation and a few Ursa's for the Superbowl or World Cup final because they're just not in the same league as the normal suppliers. So that in mind, how does adding a colour corrector to the Atem gain them more sales of their camera hardware - quite simply, it doesn't. And furthermore, the people who really need to be able to colour match different cameras have a range of hardware to do that available to them.
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Howard Roll

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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostFri May 07, 2021 5:51 pm

Ironically the only time I ever use the corrector in a switcher is when using Blackmagic cameras. Going the other way it's unnecessary because the other vendors have more fully featured color correction.

Blackmagic cameras still don't have a knee or matrix. Would you mind if they fixed this first, then got to your thing?

Good Luck
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostSat May 08, 2021 2:08 pm

Xtreemtec wrote:

We manufacture for a few years now a box that does CCU control for other camera brands that connects into the BMD Camera control system. SDI in > Cam control out for Sony, JVC, (and soon Panasonic support )..


Hi Daniel, does your interface have the ability to control a Sony FX9 from the ATEM CCU or Television Studio 4K and if so, please could you post a link? Louis.
2 x Sony FX9, 4 x Ursa Broadcasts, ATEM CCU, ATEM TV Studio 4K. NewTek Tricaster TC1 and 460. ATEM Mini Pro ISO. BirdDog Quad 4K NDI.
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostSat May 08, 2021 5:03 pm

LouisBacker wrote:
Xtreemtec wrote:

We manufacture for a few years now a box that does CCU control for other camera brands that connects into the BMD Camera control system. SDI in > Cam control out for Sony, JVC, (and soon Panasonic support )..


Hi Daniel, does your interface have the ability to control a Sony FX9 from the ATEM CCU or Television Studio 4K and if so, please could you post a link? Louis.

At this point NO. Because the FS7 & FX9 do NOT have a CCU control port. Sony talks about that later this year the FX9 will get a Firmware update that will allows Sony own 700Ptp protocol to control the camera. But this is an IP protocol that is propartary to Sony and we do not own the License yet for the IP protocol. SO for now the only way to CCU control is the official IP enabled RCP panels.. ( RCP1500 )
ALso you NEED to have the official Vlock unit (XDCA FX9 which cost 3K alone) on the back of the FX9 to get the network port available that you need for that control.

So basically the FX9 is not a good camera to control anyway as it will become very very costly to do.. This is Sony to push people that want large sensor cameras and CCU control to get the F5 & F55 lineup. ;) ;)
Daniel Wittenaar .:: Xtreemtec Media Productions ::. -= www.xtreemtec.nl =-
4K OBV Trailer, ATEM TVS HD, 4M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, Constelation 8K, Hyperdeck Studio 12G, Ursa Broadcast 4K, 4K fiber converters with Sony Control
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Videoguy16x9

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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostSat May 08, 2021 5:35 pm

While I appreciate the ideas for extra outboard gear, I think it defeats the entire purpose, especially for the ATEM Mini series.

They are supposed to be:

1. All-in-one
2. Inexpensive
3. Simple to transport, setup and operate

As soon as I have to buy extra gear, have extra cables, power and connections, additional complexity, the appeal of a small all-in-one switcher quickly erodes.

The fact that it lacks two major areas puts it out of the running for me, and by extension, the rest of the ATEM and Constellation line.

In working with students, I want to train them on a single system, not a complex hodgepodge of different systems.

Scenario one: esports - we want to bring in a remote guest, the Twitch game feed and color match a BMD studio camera to a Sony PXW150. Can't do it without a lot of outboard gear and added (unnecessary) complexity.

Scenario two: Producing a live show with a remote Zoom guest.... again, cannot do it with the ATEM Mini alone.

Granted, there is a ton of hardware and manufacturers with a million ways to get this done, but the appeal of a small portable ATEM Mini Extreme fades rapidly with all the "extras" to do basic modern things.

Given that, a vMix on a portable desktop with 4 or 8 capture card (and a choice of SDI or HDMI) does everything - basic color of any source regardless of brand or origin, the ability to take in remote sources, playback music and video, have motion titles...

The reason this affects the higher BMD platforms like Constellation is that I am not going to try to tech my students multiple systems. What they learn at esports, student government and in the auditorium needs to translate directly to football, basketball, track and graduations. Learning vMix on a single input laptop teaches the basic skills to handle a twelve input vMix system at football or esports.

I would have said this before the pandemic, but doubly now - any system that does not have an easy integrated way to input IP signals will not long succeed in education nor broadcast - the biggest news agencies routinely bring in iPhone guests these days.

And yes, there is a tidal wave of outboard gear to allow camera control, etc., etc. but the added complexity and cost simply does not make sense for smaller and mid-size production groups. By the time you get all that gear integrated, learn how to use and troubleshoot it, and figure out all the additional connections, it is more economical to either stick with the systems you have or look for something that "does it all". So if you are a Sony, Panasonic or Grass Valley facility, you are likely to stick with that because BMD won't integrate directly and a complete changeover is very expensive. For a university like ours, it is tough to justify a $10,000 Constellation and then add a lot of extra cabling, power needs and cost when a single $3000 computer and $5000 worth of software and cards does it all without any extra fuss or expense. Certainly not at the highest or most critical broadcast levels, but certainly good enough for our use.

The idea of this thread was to give a wake up call to BMD - I truly love their products, and if the ATEMS and Constellations could bring in IP sources and do basic color balancing (not even full fancy camera control), I would be dropping $80k over the next few years as we eased into their switchers and cameras. Without those key elements, vMix will be my platform of choice - and once we setup that ecosystem, we will likely stick with it. We only get students for so long and we can only teach so much - with a single staffer (me), the system has to be the same throughout all our installations and facilities. Training on a TriCaster here, a Constellation there and a vMix elsewhere just isn't a good plan and does not set my students up for success.

If the ATEM-Mini Extreme in particular could handle IP sources and do basic color grading, I could work with the rest of the quirks of BlackMagic products. Without those key elements (at least not without a lot of extra outboard gear regardless of provider), BMD is out for me. And with that, we will likely not be looking at BMD cameras, instead we will look for cameras that work best with vMIx, or cameras like the Panasonic 350's that have their own camera control ecosystem. That will also ripple to our choice of cameras for post production work, again, teaching one set of menus and quirks (Panasonic for instance) makes more sense from a teaching point of view then having a completely different set of menus and quirks to remember based on which type of production they are working on.

My humble two cents is simply meant to help BMD. If the ATEM MIni Extremes could take in IP sources and do basic color balancing, I would be ordering a dozen in July along with a pair of Constellations and control panels. Even with out video playback and other advantages of vMix, the simplicity and tactile nature of these devices would make them a great platform.

Thank you all for the many viewpoints and ideas, and I hope BMD becomes more forward thinking on their technology rather than perfecting low cost solutions that would have been game changers a decade ago. IP is here to stay folks, and other systems already offer basic color balancing without a lot of extra money or fuss (vMix, OBS, NewTek, etc.). For me, this is very much like BMD's decision on their pockets not to include a better auto focus and IBIS - I have been filming on 8mm, 16mm, 35mm film and cine cameras for over 30 years. A lot of folks still produce very traditionally at the higher levels and don't need those things - awesome. But the BMPCC's aren't really going after the Alexa and Red market, they are targeted at hobbyists, beginners and mid-level producers, and that competition includes cameras with amazing auto focus and IBIS. A lot of major manufacturers are figuring out that adding the same "computational camera" processing that iPhones and Androids have is going to become important - just ask Sony and Canon where their point and shoot market went, and frankly, having recently tried out both an FX6 and A7S iii, my fondness of BMD and BRAW is wavering. Heck, I needed to match some Fuji X-T3 footage with my BMPCC 4k and Ursa Mini 4.6k recently and demoed Cinematch - these days, almost any camera can match almost any other - sure not the pixel peeping high end or roll off, but good enough that most folks will never notice the difference.

The bottom line is coming down more and more to ergonomics - all the cameras out today can do a really nice job if you know your gear and how to get the best results from it. Frankly, I have no interest in a 12k camera at this point, but anything manufacturers can do to make gear easier to operate and get good results is going to make the biggest market impact. For switchers, that means being able to check a lot of basic boxes, and matching various cameras and taking in IP sources is no longer "high end", it's a basic convenience.
H. Robert Petersen, BriteFire Films - videoguy16x9@gmail.com
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostMon May 10, 2021 9:53 am

Videoguy16x9 wrote:While I appreciate the ideas for extra outboard gear, I think it defeats the entire purpose, especially for the ATEM Mini series.

They are supposed to be:

1. All-in-one
2. Inexpensive
3. Simple to transport, setup and operate


4. Optimized specifically for live streaming.

Check the way they are advertised and it becomes clear that they are designed first and foremost for this one specific market segment. The Mini series is not really meant to replace the other ATEM models for use in other market segments, even though they may have some use cases elsewhere.

While many of the things you listed can in fact be combined with live streaming, not everyone needs them. The "missing" functionality helps to keep the cost down.


Consider also that training your students on one product means they know how to use that one product. Training them on multiple products which are very different from each other would help them to more quickly adapt to whatever they happen to find in the wild... just a thought.
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostMon May 10, 2021 5:22 pm

People somewhat keep forgetting where the Atem Mini line is intended for.... And it bothers me that people start complaining the H.. out of this unit becuase it doesnt fit there needs..

The MAIN focus group for this product was live game streamers.. Having there console connected on port 1 and add 1/2 extra CHEAPO cameras to switch between in game.. Add some overlays by a laptop...

And because they are fixed camera positions the Atem did NOT need a multiviewer.. Because you know the angles you are switching between..

Then from that design BMD upped there game as so much paople were complaining that you cant call it a video switcher without a Multiviewer.. But they forget that it was a very good piece of kit ( Capture card, 4 channel switcher, Pip and overlay unit) for just 299...

Then BMD started to ADD a lot of new functions and started expanding all new features and more inputs..

Anyway yes i dont like it that it's HDMI only.. But there is a reason behind that. HD HDMI is much easier to process then SDI. This is because pin speed on the FPGA's... HD HDMI is a 4 lanes serialized data link ( 3 colors and a timing lane.. ) But the speed on these lanes is much lower then the same HD image on SDI that for HD HDMI is 3Gbit/s That takes a whole different processor to handle.. As the pin speed/ lane speed must be MUCH higher..

Anyway yes i would like a Extreme Plus with 8 SDI inputs and 2 SDI outputs.. But when you think about it.. There are other atems that do this much better..

And it's just wating for the new Atem 1ME or something that has 8 or 10 autoscaling SDI ports with 3 aux ports and a multiviewer..

Every Atem has it's use.. But you just have pick what suits you and adjust your workflow acordingly..
Daniel Wittenaar .:: Xtreemtec Media Productions ::. -= www.xtreemtec.nl =-
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostMon May 10, 2021 7:39 pm

As I understand it, with the Atem Minis and Pocket cameras BMD can't just "open" the current implementation of CCU for other cameras as the color adjustment is performed in the camera, not in the Atem Mini (but controlled by it).
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostTue May 11, 2021 7:48 am

roger.magnusson wrote:As I understand it, with the Atem Minis and Pocket cameras BMD can't just "open" the current implementation of CCU for other cameras as the color adjustment is performed in the camera, not in the Atem Mini (but controlled by it).


The box that Daniel developed does just that, converting the BM SDI protocol into Sony 1500, Pansonic etc., The issue is that ultimately you're limited by the BM software to primary correction. At that point you may as well use a yrb corrector in the switcher. WB alone is not going to be sufficient for matching anything other than same model cams.

Good Luck
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostTue May 11, 2021 12:21 pm

True, But dont forget that in camera color correction will always be better then afterwards in other hardware...

If it outputs garbage.. You can polish all you want but it will still be garbage.. ;)
Daniel Wittenaar .:: Xtreemtec Media Productions ::. -= www.xtreemtec.nl =-
4K OBV Trailer, ATEM TVS HD, 4M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, Constelation 8K, Hyperdeck Studio 12G, Ursa Broadcast 4K, 4K fiber converters with Sony Control
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostTue May 11, 2021 3:41 pm

Yeah garbage in garbage out can't help you there.

If I'm using an LDX86 and I want to switch to BBC04 gamma, activate the knee, white clipping, black stretch, shading, variable matrix, color corrector, skin detail, LED wall correction, or any of the dozens of features that don't exist for BM camera control, then what?

Good Luck
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostWed May 12, 2021 6:20 pm

Howard,
Are you really using an LDX86 with an ATEM Mini? ;)
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Re: Open letter to Grant Petty - Fix this ONE thing

PostWed May 12, 2021 10:02 pm

Not in the least. The point being that the addition of REAL broadcast functionality to the camera side would be far more useful than a color corrector on the input side. A knee isn't asking for much, my Canon XL1 could do that. If you want an input color corrector so that you can try (unsuccessully) to match a bunch of different camcorders so be it but let's not pretend like that's what's holding back the integration of broadcast camera chains.

Good Luck

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