Review ATEM Mini Extreme Versus the Mini and Mini Pro – Robust but Complex

hey everybody it’s la insideman and we’re taking a look today at the atem mini extreme this is the latest in a now growing line of video production switchers from blackmagic that are incredibly reasonably priced for the functionality that they deliver and this latest one has eight hdmi inputs a whole bunch of video effects and compositing features and a lot of cool stuff that we’re going to take a look at in this review now if you are not familiar with the product line my suggestion would be to check out my reviews first of the atem mini and the atem mini pro because each of these reviews kind of builds on the last one just like these products tend to build on the prior edition and all three of these products the mini the mini pro and the extreme are all still available at different price points and they all sort of work the same and what we’re going to do in this video is cover the things that this product has that the other two versions don’t so you’ll definitely want to check those out just to get a feel for how the core functionality of this works and here we’re going to focus on what’s new and different with this one versus the others in the line and as you can see it is a lot bigger than the prior iterations were now i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that i paid for this with my own funds all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this video switcher is all about now the price point on the atem mini extreme here is 995 dollars this is the most expensive atem mini they make at the moment but it’s also the most feature complete there is one version above this one called the mini extreme iso that costs a little bit more and what that one adds is the ability to record all of its inputs simultaneously in addition to recording its program output if you don’t need to record all of your inputs separately then this extreme the one that i have here is probably the one to go with now i did want to take a minute and kind of go through the three different products so you can get an idea as to what separates them all the original atem mini is in the same form factor as the one i have in my hand right here it allows for four inputs it has some pretty good effects in so far as you can do chroma key which is green screening you can put some titles up on screen really easy to get up and running very portable of course and it was something that i felt was a really good value for its price tag they then came out with the atem mini pro which had everything the original mini had except it added the ability to record video and stream video out to major service providers all within the unit so the original atem mini functions

pretty much the same as the pro except the fact that the pro has the encoder built in to do the streaming and the recording without the need for a computer so theoretically you could get this thing configured go out to your streaming location and do everything without a computer at all which can be very flexible and the original a10 mini would just need a computer to do those things but otherwise there were pretty much the same features and performance out of both the pro and the mini this one also added the ability to get a multi-viewer into the mix so you could see all the different inputs that were going in at the same time the extreme now kind of takes things to the next level because you get four more hdmi inputs and if you look around on the back here you can see that you’ve got one through eight here so you can have eight cameras four cameras and four computers whatever you’ve got that outputs hdmi you can plug into one of these inputs and switch between things they’ve also added some features that you’ll find in their more advanced broadcast hardware including the ability to get four simultaneous green screens configured at once they have a virtual input called super source that allows you to bring in multiple video sources together and mash them up into a single virtual input we’ll demo that in a little bit there’s just more that you can do with this insofar as mixing different video feeds together that are coming into it if you don’t need all that fancy stuff then the mini or the mini pro is going to be fine but this does add significantly more opportunity to make a higher end production but it also as you’ll see in a few minutes adds more complexity to the mix as well now like the other atem mini devices this is a 1080p device only it will accept 720p devices and it does support 60 frames per second and it will do some conversion to get whatever you’re plugging in up to the output format but it will not do 4k but they have addressed a lot of the complaints that people had from the prior versions of the atem mini product line the big one here is that it has two hdmi outputs so what you can do here is have your program go out on hdmi one and then you can get the multi-viewer which shows you everything that’s plugged into the device on a single screen out on hdmi 2.

And as i mentioned the mini pro here added that multi-viewer feature but if you look on the back here it only has a single hdmi output so it could do the program feed or the multi-viewer but not both this one can do both and a few other things too through its hdmi outputs and that makes this perhaps a little bit more flexible for some folks than the prior edition another great feature which is a simple no-brainer kind of feature is that they added a headphone jack so you could monitor the audio through headphones and for whatever reason the mini and the mini pro did not have a headphone output you had to get some kind of hdmi to audio adapter to get all that working so it was nice to see them add the additional headphone port to this one the other thing that they’ve added is a second usb port on the back and one of the strongest features of these atem mini products is that you can plug them into a laptop or a computer with the usb cable and whatever the output of this thing is becomes a webcam on the computer and this is a feature that is on all three of the atem mini products and it’s great because

you don’t need a driver you can plug it right into zoom and you’ve got this device that can process video for you and you could stream the video out with a low powered pc i set one of these things up at a local house of worship and we’ve been using it with zoom and it works great because we have a really low end cheap laptop and the atem mini doing all the video processing and it’s worked out really really well for them now this one as you’ll notice has two usb ports and i found that you could actually plug this into two different computers and have the webcam output work on both at the same time that was pretty neat but in addition to that you can use the webcam output on one usb port and have a hard drive plugged into the other one for recording this one like the a10 mini pro has the encoder built in to do that so be sure to check out our review of the atem mini pro to get an overview as to how that encoder works it works identically here on the extreme one thing they’ve added to the mix on both the pro and the extreme since we shot that mini pro video is that you can hook up a cell phone now to one of the usb ports here and have the device stream through that cell phone via a tethered connection your other option is to plug it into ethernet and broadcast out over the local network there is no wi-fi built in you will notice here that there is a fan output there’s a fan on this one in fact there’s a fan on all of the atem minis but like the other ones you don’t hear it you’ll feel some airflow going through it but i never hear the fan kick on at any volume that would interrupt your production so if this is sitting right next to your talent or you are the talent operating the switcher while you’re doing your thing you should not hear the fan pick up on the mic and i tested it with all ports occupied i had all the digital effects going and it was still pretty quiet it will get a little warm to the touch but no worse for wear there so nice quiet use uh case here for the mini xtreme just like the other ones that we’ve reviewed now one thing you’ll note here is that there’s a lot more buttons on the top of this and what we’ll do is step through what

these buttons do as we get into all of the digital effects that this one adds to the mix so without further ado why don’t we get this thing plugged in and we’ll get some things plugged into it and we’ll see how all of these new features work on the extreme all right so we are all booted up right now and we’ve got six out of the eight inputs occupied just to keep things relatively simple here i have the multi-viewer coming out of this hdmi output here as you can see and then this is the program output which i’ll show you in a minute i do have my computer connected to it for control over usb but you could also just put this on the network with the ethernet jack and control it over the network the choice is yours in addition to control that computer can also grab the output of this as a webcam so you’ve got again some options for how to control and how to make use of the video coming out of it and on the surface here it’s actually pretty easy to navigate so right now just like the other atem minis if i hit three right now that’s going to give me my third camera and you can see it’s doing a nice cross dissolve between all of these different sources and the reason it’s doing that is i have the auto button here enabled if i go to cut it’ll just do a hard cut between these things as i’m switching around but you get the idea as to how that works now if you want more specifics as to how you can use the control surface on the device itself definitely check out the atem mini review the original one that i did we went into depth on that there are some new buttons though added to the mix here so like the other one above each of these input buttons are audio controls and what’s cool about the atems is that you have audio coming in on all of these hdmi ports in addition to the video and on

top of that like the other ones you have two analog inputs too and you can control levels using these up and down arrow keys above each one we covered that prior now this one because it’s got more surface area also has the ability to do camera control but you have to have black magic cameras for that to work but you can do some camera control here on each of these inputs in addition to the audio control that you could do before now to unlock more of the advanced features of this you do need to get their software control installed and operating it runs on the mac or on windows this is it right here and i’m going to pull up the overlay here of the control surface because as i switch cameras on my computer you can see that it updates the control surface here so everything is always in sync as you’re clicking around here as you can see and you also have the ability to control audio levels here too so you can see we’ve got all 10 audio inputs on screen and if i wanted to turn on camera one’s audio i can hit that you just saw that red light there activate and i could easily just turn it off by pushing a button on the control surface we covered this in detail in the original mini review as well but you get a really nice real-time robust audio control board here that you can use to adjust things and on the analog inputs as we talked about in the prior video you also have the ability to set delay because oftentimes digital video coming over hdmi is a little slower than the analog audio coming in so you can actually delay the audio to get things better in sync and that’s supported here but only on the two inputs for the analog audio on the device and then if you’re using the blackmagic cameras you can control all eight of them from the camera tab here and again what’s cool about how you can control the atem is that you could have different

operators on different tabs all communicating with the switcher simultaneously it allows multiple users in to make these adjustments you can have one person on camera you can have another person on audio another one loading up titles here in the media thing and then you can be operating the switcher all really cool stuff now as you saw at the beginning this device has two hdmi outputs and you can configure what those outputs do up here in the output menu so right now my hdmi output one is set to program and output two is set to multi-view but you have the option to output any of these other things instead if you want and then on the device itself just like the mini pro there are buttons here on the right hand side to determine what goes out of that first hdmi input so again it’s on program right now but i can have it output clean feeds of any of the eight cameras a clean program feed the preview or the multi-view and you can set all that just by pushing one of these buttons on the right hand side now in addition to having eight inputs this device can allow you to mix more things together at the same time so before you had only one upstream keyer and one downstream keyer on the a10 mini mini pro this one gives you four upstream keyers and two downstream keyers you also have the ability to do two dve effects on screen at once versus only one before and that i think is the bigger deal because dve allows you to scale and move video around on screen and let me give you a really simple example of that all right so right now i have camera three activated here which is just a shot out my window and like the other atems this has a picture-in-picture effect so i could pull up this window here and move it around no big deal that was something we could do before so check out the video on the original atem mini for more

information about this feature but this one can do two things at once so if i push this little button here it will give me two things right next to each other and one of the nice things about this new device because it has more room on it is that we have buttons to control what’s in these boxes without having to go back to the computer so you can see right now this dve button is red and number five here is red because this is the current active video stream that’s on the right hand box but if i hit 3 here as you can see it switches so you can switch what’s inside the box without switching the background image that might be helpful if you’ve got to change up some things in this 2-up box here and likewise i could push the dv e1 button here and switch that around as well so you have some pretty neat controls here just on the surface and like the mini and the mini pro what’s nice about having the control surface integrated here is that once you get it configured you can deploy it out in the field and train some volunteers to operate it because each button typically just does one thing and once they know what buttons to push it’s pretty easy to have some relatively low skilled video operators conduct a stream for a house of worship for example like we did in the mini pro video you can see how you can start streaming here just by pushing a button to get the stream activated you can also start recording just by pushing the record button there and pretty much everything you need to do for your live event can be done right from the control surface without the computer but when you start getting into some more advanced features like making use of all six of those keyers you’re probably going to want to have the computer ready and it’s going to add some complexity to the mix let’s take a look at chroma key okay so as i mentioned we’ve got four keys here to play with and key one and two right now are mapped for that two up dve effect i showed you earlier so if i

enable these two and put them on air as you can see we get those two boxes up next to each other and i want to leave that in place because my volunteers just want to have a button to push and that is the easiest way to get that 2-up thing going so what we’re going to do is tie the chroma key into key 3 here and then we’re going to do a second chroma key with a different camera on key four and what’s nice about the extreme here is that you can have all these in together as opposed to having to constantly switch them out because remember we’ve got four key positions here versus only one on the other two atem mini models so let’s get the third key set up here for chroma key so let me just pull that up so you can see we’ve got key one through four here i’m going to click on key three and what i’m going to do is just give you my 2-up view here of the multi-viewer and i’m just going to slide this over and i’m going to click on chroma sample here and now i’ve configured the fill source to be camera one okay and now what i’m going to do is just drag this box around and if you look on the preview window which is the big box on the left you can see that little box moving around and what that’s doing is taking a color sample of the green screen behind the bear and i’m just going to drop that there and now that that’s done what i’ll do is click on preview and that’ll give us a sample as to how clean that key looks and it looks pretty good again we’re just doing the basics here i haven’t lit the scene properly or configured anything more granularly in the settings but this will give you an idea as to how it works so let’s get this set up we’ve got my wide angle lens here i want to have the bear show up on the next take so i’m going to enable it down here and then when i take that live you will see the bear now uh in the background there behind me right and then if i switch away from the bear back to the other shot that we had the bear will disappear the problem is is that if i wanted to pull up a different camera shot i gotta make sure i push this and then cut that live so the bear doesn’t keep popping up and if i just leave him on air here he will always stay on air whenever i switch to different things and

that’s where the complexity comes in because if you’ve been using obs or vmix you know that you can set up these virtual inputs and just have all the stuff work together when you switch to that scene in obs or that input in vmix on here this works a lot more like a traditional video switcher does and you have to get everything kind of configured on the preview side before you take it live but one of the things they were able to add to the extreme because it is a larger device are a set of macro buttons here there are six of them and those will line up with the macros that you can configure inside of their software there’s a pull down menu here at the top for macros and then you get this and right now i’ve got this macro called bear mapped to button number one and atem is mapped to button number two here and let me show you what happens when we push those buttons i’m just going to get one set up right now this is the chroma keybear example i used earlier and then if i hit two you can see that it changes the background and the foreground keyed image out automatically so basically what it’s doing here is it’s switching to the background camera and then activating the other key let me pull up the software control panel here so you can get a look at what’s going on when i push the buttons we’ll pull up our atem here we’ll get the macro thing out of the way and then as i’m pushing this button here you can see how it’s switching between those things instantly because we were able to do that through a macro and i have a video detailing how to get all of this programmed in with the macro functionality you have to get it right each time you have to record the sequence of buttons that you want to execute but this seems to be a way that you could get some functionality that you might be used to on obs or vmix working through the hardware and just like everything else we’ve been talking about once you get it

configured in software it’ll be deployable in the hardware and your volunteers can just work between these six buttons here to switch between different things and this might be really useful if you’ve got a four-way virtual set thing set up you can easily switch between those sets with a single button push versus having to push a lot of buttons and cue things up and i found that to be a simpler way to execute things so it was cool to see those macro buttons integrated there but it really shows you that there’s a lot of potential to make this easier and i think one of the things that was interesting about this product was that the packaging is much more retail oriented than some of their other packaging which looks more professional and i’m thinking they might want to try to maybe make a version of their software that behaves more like obs or vmix so this makes sense to people that are coming to this hardware from a software solution because right now i think it’s a little too complex for people who are very happy with obs or vmix as their switching solution but they do have something built in called super source which is kind of like a virtual input and right now i’ve got it set up with a four-way box here let’s zoom out real quick and we’ll take that live so we’ll hit the super source button and as you can see we’ve got four different video boxes up on screen here at the same time along with something running in the background and in addition to that i can enable all of my other keys here and get things layered on top so you can do all four of your upstream keys you can also do the downstream keys that we looked at in the other video on the atem mini for doing bugs in lower thirds and that sort of thing and you can have it all integrated on screen at the same time or you can just leave this thing as is and have it work as its own virtual input and what’s useful about this is i don’t have to configure everything every time i want to take it live i can just switch between cameras here including the super source as its own camera and you do have the ability to move this stuff around and change the size of the boxes so for example here i could maybe move this one up or down or left or right here you have the ability to make some adjustment there you can adjust the size of the box you can make one box bigger than another and then they have some templates here to get you started and of course the background you can have be any input on the device including images that you’ve loaded in or other inputs that you have coming in over the hdmi now as we

talked about in the original atem mini review the memory on these devices is very limited so if you have a video that you want to roll in for something or have running in the background it’s going to have to come in over hdmi from something that can play that video this thing can really only store about 20 still frames in its memory it’s not going to be able to do any kind of fancy video imagery there so just be prepared for that but the good thing is that you’ve got eight inputs here so you should have plenty of extra ports to bring in a few different videos that you want to play from another device so overall i think this is a very value-packed device from blackmagic you would be very hard-pressed to build yourself an eight input 1080p hdmi computer that can do everything this thing can do for the same price or less it’s i think priced correctly the problem though is the complexity when you really start working into some of the more advanced features i think on the four input devices they were a little bit easier to work with this one if you wanted to start replicating the kinds of things you would do in obs or vmix gets incredibly complex especially if you’re used to how some of those software solutions operate and if you’re buying this thinking hey cool i can get a hardware obs that i can take anywhere with me yeah sort of but not quite because you really gotta struggle with the software to get it to work in the same way and i’m thinking here that blackmagic should really look at updating their software and maybe making a version of it specifically for people that have come from the software switching world namely the vmix and obs users because what you do in obs and vmix is very different than how blackmagic switchers operate and in fairness to blackmagic their switchers operate the way professional switchers have worked for the last 30 years or so but i think a lot of folks are learning a whole new paradigm of video production especially live production and this has a big learning curve to really get your arms around all of those features and that’s

something that i know they can fix because we were able to just through a couple of quick macros get this thing working sort of like that and if they were to do that or maybe some enterprising software developer has a crack at it i think this could be a really killer hardware device because it is capable of doing those things it’s just really complicated to get them to work the same way they do in a much easier fashion on software-based solutions and i come back to this box and this is what got me thinking about it was that this box again looks a lot different than what they were putting their products in earlier and i know who they’re targeting and unfortunately if you’re one of the people they’re targeting with this thing you’re going to spend a lot of time getting this thing to work the way your obs does now so just be prepared for that and if you’re watching blackmagic i think you got some opportunities here to make the software a lot more intuitive but that is not a deal breaker here i think once you get the feel for this thing it is great to have this much power packed into a price that this is being sold at and i know a lot of folks in the production world in the live event world are going to get a lot of use and utility out of this and you can get you know four or five of these for what just one of these things would have cost a couple of years back so all in good stuff from blackmagic and some definite room for improvement on the software that’s going to do it for now until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the london tv supporters including gold level supporters chris alegretta tom ulrecht mark bollinger sergio morales mark dell jim calliger and steven suh if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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