Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

NAB 2010

This year, I finally got to go to NAB. I’ve wanted to go for probably 15 years now. It was good to–mainly because I spent the day with some good friends–but overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it was because it is so huge and I didn’t really have enough time to see everything, or even go through a hall in an organized manner. Or maybe it was because there wasn’t that much to see that was new and different (except for 3D, which was everywhere, more in a moment). There were a few bright spots, however.

Digico SD8

One of the main reasons I went to NAB was to look at the SD8. We almost couldn’t find one. Thankfully, we tracked one down at the Intel booth (oddly) where I not only got a full tour from one of the top Digico guys in the US, I also met Tony Luna, who has done FOH for, oh, a few shows. As a guy who can mix on anything he wants to, he told me why he likes the SD7 and SD8. It was good to hear from someone who really knows his stuff.

I’ve spent the last few weeks playing with the console software and am pretty much blown away by the power, configurability and ease of use. I wanted to get my hands on the surface and came away as enthusiastic as ever. The SD8 has a ton of power and is amazingly flexible. My current goal is to replace our PM-5D EX at FOH with the SD8. I hope to have a demo in our room in a few weeks; more info to come.

DPA 5100

Another item of note was at the DPA booth. After talking with Bruce Myers about the forthcoming choir and piano mics, he showed up another cool mic; the 5100 5.1 surround sound mic. It’s a lot like the Holophone (for which DPA developed the elements), only better. He showed us some demos and I have to say, it was pretty impressive. The localization was amazing, even with only stereo headphones on. They had a 5.1 speaker system set up with some recorded samples, and I was quite impressed not only with the surround effect, but with the clarity of the system. I’m not sure how much application this mic will have in the church production world, but it’s certainly cool.

Harris Atem

I wrote about the Atem after WFX last fall; since then a few things have changed. First, Echolab will no longer be selling the Atem, sales are moving to Harris. It will still be made by Echolab, so there won’t be any change in quality or feature set (actually, a new software update adds features). Second, there are some new versions. The original Atem is a single ME, 10 in, 8 out chassis. There is now a 18 in, 10 out chassis available, as well as a 2 ME version. The larger chassis will make it a perfect choice for churches who need more than the original 10 inputs. Adding a second ME will make it easier to do advanced mixing on multiple busses.

I’m not sure how many people will actually need the second ME, however as there are some cool new tricks rolled out in a new software update. The big thing is that you can now dissolve (and I think wipe) on an Aux. If that doesn’t immediately excite you, consider this use case. Let’s say you have a building with three screens. And let’s say the center screen is fed by the main ME, and the two side screens are fed from Aux 1 and 2. You could have Aux 1 being fed by source A, Aux 2 being fed by source B. With the new system, you can pre-select source C & D to go to Aux 1 & 2 respectively; hit the take button and both screens dissolve to their new sources–all without using the ME. Combined with the amazingly powerful Super Source feature, the Atem is one super switcher. I hope to install one this summer at Coast once our budget is approved, so you’ll be hearing a lot more about it shortly.

3D

As I said, 3D was everywhere. It was interesting, but really, I just don’t care. To me, it’s a gimmick foisted upon us by the consumer electronics industry to get us to buy new TVs; after we all just shelled out collective billions to buy new HD sets. I don’t see any real application in the live production market, and specifically the church production market. I can’t see us wanting to do 3D IMAG, or even 3D lyrics. Wearing 3D glasses just to look at the IMAG screen doesn’t seem viable. So for me, 3D is a big “meh.”

That’s about it for my NAB wrap up.

10 Comments

  1. nigel@echolab.com

    Mike, I am pleased you like the new features we have added to the Atem production switcher. The Multi-Mix feature you refer to came from listening to our church users and understanding their application. You can in fact mix on multiple Aux outs simultaneously as well as inside the Supresource, it was definately a big hit at the show.

    For us it was a great show, very busy and I did not get the opportunity to see much outside of the Harris booth. Except for the sea of 3D displays that surrounded us – next big thing? I think the jury will be out on that for quite some time, but suffice to say manufacturers are putting a lot of effort into it and several large broadcasters are planning 3D services. 3D IMAG! Wow, what a concept, maybe James Cameron will start directing church services. I guess I’ll polish up the 3D glasses just in case :).

    Nigel Spratling
    President, Echolab.

  2. nigel@echolab.com

    Mike, I am pleased you like the new features we have added to the Atem production switcher. The Multi-Mix feature you refer to came from listening to our church users and understanding their application. You can in fact mix on multiple Aux outs simultaneously as well as inside the Supresource, it was definately a big hit at the show.

    For us it was a great show, very busy and I did not get the opportunity to see much outside of the Harris booth. Except for the sea of 3D displays that surrounded us – next big thing? I think the jury will be out on that for quite some time, but suffice to say manufacturers are putting a lot of effort into it and several large broadcasters are planning 3D services. 3D IMAG! Wow, what a concept, maybe James Cameron will start directing church services. I guess I’ll polish up the 3D glasses just in case :).

    Nigel Spratling
    President, Echolab.

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Nigel,
    Thanks for reminding me about the mixing inside SuperSource. I meant to mention that, but forgot. One more reason why the Atem is a great choice!
    mike

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Nigel,
    Thanks for reminding me about the mixing inside SuperSource. I meant to mention that, but forgot. One more reason why the Atem is a great choice!
    mike

  5. phil@philrowley.net

    The SD8 sure looks like a viable console for churches. I’m sure a big thing for you is “ease of use” at the volunteer level. Just looking at the layout, it already looks easier to navigate than their earlier D-series boards. Its like they took the layout of an M7 and SC48 and combined them.

  6. phil@philrowley.net

    The SD8 sure looks like a viable console for churches. I’m sure a big thing for you is “ease of use” at the volunteer level. Just looking at the layout, it already looks easier to navigate than their earlier D-series boards. Its like they took the layout of an M7 and SC48 and combined them.

  7. danburgoyne@sbcglobal.net

    Hi Mike,

    I am a church plant Pastor who is seeking to reach a media driven culture.

    At present we are preparing to add little brother HD cameras (Panasonic 370’s or JVC 700”s) for a three camera live shoot in the service. I came across your article (very helpful) and have a question about the ATEM switcher you spoke about.

    Without being a 2 me switcher can it take two different feeds and truely switch them with one operator? We are right now running 60 ft of screen with our middle being a 3 projector blended image using pro-presnter and a mac tower. Our outside screens are run on a different feed.

    Is it possible to use this switcher to switch feeds between outside and inside screens putting graphics, lower thirds and video in real time where we want them?

    Thanks for your feedback!! Pastor d

  8. danburgoyne@sbcglobal.net

    Hi Mike,

    I am a church plant Pastor who is seeking to reach a media driven culture.

    At present we are preparing to add little brother HD cameras (Panasonic 370’s or JVC 700”s) for a three camera live shoot in the service. I came across your article (very helpful) and have a question about the ATEM switcher you spoke about.

    Without being a 2 me switcher can it take two different feeds and truely switch them with one operator? We are right now running 60 ft of screen with our middle being a 3 projector blended image using pro-presnter and a mac tower. Our outside screens are run on a different feed.

    Is it possible to use this switcher to switch feeds between outside and inside screens putting graphics, lower thirds and video in real time where we want them?

    Thanks for your feedback!! Pastor d

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Dan,

    The answer to your question is a qualified yes. What you are talking about is having a switcher with multiple input sources (and all switchers do) and multiple output mixes (called Auxes). In the case of the ATEM, it has 8 Auxes, so you have more than enough outputs to handle what you’re talking about.

    In addition, the last version of the software gave the ability to dissolve between sources on an Aux bus instead of simply cutting (which is what most switchers do). The ATEM also has multiple keyers (12 total, 2 downstream, 5 SuperSource and 4 M/E keyers) so you’re set to put lower thirds, bugs, and whatever else you want over any program output.

    However, and here’s the qualifier, Echolab went bust last summer and the ATEM line was picked up by Blackmagic Design. BM makes great products, but I’ve not seen confirmation that they are in fact shipping ATEMs right now, nor is it clear how well they’re going to be able to support them.

    BM does seem committed to growing in the professional/broadcast space, so I’m hopeful, but I haven’t verified it. I hope to talk with them at NAB this spring.

    The ATEM is a great product, especially at the price point. it simply remains to be seen how well it will be delivered and supported.

    mike

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Dan,

    The answer to your question is a qualified yes. What you are talking about is having a switcher with multiple input sources (and all switchers do) and multiple output mixes (called Auxes). In the case of the ATEM, it has 8 Auxes, so you have more than enough outputs to handle what you’re talking about.

    In addition, the last version of the software gave the ability to dissolve between sources on an Aux bus instead of simply cutting (which is what most switchers do). The ATEM also has multiple keyers (12 total, 2 downstream, 5 SuperSource and 4 M/E keyers) so you’re set to put lower thirds, bugs, and whatever else you want over any program output.

    However, and here’s the qualifier, Echolab went bust last summer and the ATEM line was picked up by Blackmagic Design. BM makes great products, but I’ve not seen confirmation that they are in fact shipping ATEMs right now, nor is it clear how well they’re going to be able to support them.

    BM does seem committed to growing in the professional/broadcast space, so I’m hopeful, but I haven’t verified it. I hope to talk with them at NAB this spring.

    The ATEM is a great product, especially at the price point. it simply remains to be seen how well it will be delivered and supported.

    mike

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