opinions wanted: Blackmagic ATEM 2me switcher console vs TRICASTER 8000
I am looking to purchase a full size switcher 16 or so inputs to upgrade from our tricaster 300 HD . . . im looking at blackmagic 2me console, tricaster 8000, and Ross Granite... I know this covers a large price variation.. price isn't much an issue.. as much as just getting a good versatile product that won't be stupid to work... take animation files, clips, and easy no non sense graphic overlays . . . we already are using the black magic rack monitors.. and love them.. i've never really liked black magic video gear... but I'm opening up to it... I would like some real world folks to give me a good feel for how the black magic functions for you.. what are some good selling points over the others .. ATEM 2me switcher console seems like a good fit.. but, I just have 0 experience with BM switchers.. I hear their routers are glitchy.. - - this comes from a guy who uses Quartz routers every day.. but works on sports trucks that use a lot of black magic gear.. just not switchers.. typical grass valley there.. and we have grass valley karrera in one room.. ross 3 me in another.. tricaster flypak in another.. ( one we wont to replace ) this is a portable setup. and the next one will need to be as well.
Thanks for your help and opinions.
Well, by your specs, the Tricaster 8000 is out. I don't think any of the Tricasters have more than 8 external inputs. All the rest are internal graphics / playback.
The ATEM series are decently solid switchers. They have their 'personality' for sure, like our 1 M/E doesn't like being really warm, but a couple of fans on the heatsink fixes that.
The BMDs don't do video playback. They have two frame buffers that can hold enough of a TGA sequence to use as a transition stinger, and around 30 still overlays, alpha or solid. We have a 1 M/E paired with a CasparCG system for graphics, and an Edius playout computer for video. Eventually we are looking to move to something like a NewTek 3Play for playback.
I can't speak for the Granite (which is a BroadcastPix box, btw), but it seems to be comparable to the Tricaster in terms of functions, and is capable of the inputs you want (Granite+ has 22 SDI inputs), but just realize the difference in price. The ATEM 2M/E with panel runs around $20k. From what I can tell the Tricaster and Granite are quite a bit beyond that, due to their extra features. You'll save money with the ATEM but you need to build the systems around it for anything beyond just switching.
Really comparing apple and oranges. TriCaster also has the two Network inputs, dual DDRs, Live Streaming, 8-channel ISO Recording, Virtual Sets, and more.
Note that while the 8000 has 8 camera inputs, it can be connected to a Black Magic router to make additional sources available, plus Graphics Outfitters makes the "iVGA Connect" device that allows you to add an additional HD-SDI source, brought in over the network input.
Safe Harbor Computers
To really determine if the TC8000 8 inputs is enough, we would need to know what you plan to connect to it. Each Network input can take fill and key, so they are like having 4 additional inputs. The built-in dual DDRs (that also support fill and key), can save you from 4 more inputs that you wouldn't need to connect to a clip server.
To be open, I let you know that I work for NewTek, so I favor the system that I sell. But I've found many times that people ask for more than 8 inputs, but once we figure out everything needs to be used, the 8 inputs on the TC8000 are usually more than enough when used with the other built in features on the TC8000. (I'm not even counting the stuff coming that we showed it at NAB.)
We are a production company that has been doing multi-cam for 27 years and have owned and used Grass Valley, Sony, Panasonic and Blackmagic Atem switchers. We have also been forced to use Tricasters by some of our clients.
Currently, I feel the Blackmagic offers the most power and flexibility especially for the price. It really depends on what features you need beyond cut, dissolve and graphic overlays. The BMD does not currently do virtual sets, but it is planned as a software update via macros. It also, as mentioned by others, doesn't do video playback. Personally, I like to separate this function anyway to a separate operator and leave the TD to cut the show. We use Playback Pro, which is the AV industry (as opposed to OB)standard for playback. Very powerful and flexible interface for creating play lists and correcting color, geometry and audio.
The other high-end option for graphics and playback is ToolsOnAir's Just Play. It does graphics and playback at a level comparable to a 90K Chyron at 1/10th the cost.
The Tricasters offer a lot of functions and features- too many for one operator in my opinion, and no option for network distribution of functionality as you can with the BMD and ToolsOnAir systems. I also prefer dedicated "appliances" for live production switchers rather than systems running on Windows. I have had Tricasters crash on me in the middle of production numerous times. To date, the other systems discussed have been rock solid.
Both BMD and Just Play allow multiple operators to log into the system and simultaneous control various functions. For example, with the BMD, while the TD is cutting the show either on a physical panel, or a laptop with the software interface, another Tech can use an additional laptop to be loading graphics directly from Photoshop into the media pools, setting up keys and stingers, etc.
The Just Play system doesn't have the modification tools for correcting improperly formatted video that Playback Pro has, but that is not usually the same issue in Broadcast that it is in corporate AV with clients handing the TD all sorts of mis-formatted materials at the last minute. However, beyond that, the Just Play system is infinitely more powerful in terms of it's graphics capabilities. It comes with a separate application called Composition Builder, which is a simple GUI (user interface) similar to After Effects- but much easier to use for creating the graphic compositions. More elaborate templates can be created in Quartz Composer (Apple's free graphics composition language) but this requires a specialized skill set. (We offer this service of creating custom templates.) Elaborate sports packages can be created including items like countdown timer clocks, score keepers, animated player exchanges, logos or country flags that
automatically swap out to follow team changes from a database, etc.
As a disclaimer for full disclosure, we are a Blackmagic and ToolsOnAir Reseller. However, as I mentioned, we are also a Production Company that uses all these products in real world broadcast environments.
If you'd like more info, or to see some demos on these products, feel free to contact me.
Atomic Imaging, Inc.
1501 N. Magnolia Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642 USA
While TriCaster does give you a lot of capabilities in one solution, we do not require you to have to it all driven by a single operator, unless you want to. We do support the control surface being used by one operator, while another operator uses the keyboard and mouse to assist. You can also have LiveText, Chryon or a Compix system connected to allow for titles and graphics to be fed into the system from another station controlled by another operator. Our Timewarp control panel would allow you to have a ‘tape-op’ position as well for someone to control both of the DDR play out channels from their own control surface. Finally, audio can be controlled via Avid Artist Mix interface or iPad which would allow your audio operator to control all aspects of the audio mixer in the TriCaster.
While we have built a system that allows a single operate to do amazing things by themselves, we do realize that the more people you have working together, the better the end product can be and TriCaster does allow for this kind of workflow. This is the direction the industry is headed, if you look at what other manufacturers introduced at NAB this year, many of them are following in the same direction we have been moving in for many years now: an all in one production system.
I realize that no amount of saying it’s reliable might change your mind. While I feel that our systems are very reliable, these kind of statements have to be ‘earned’ and not just given. Things found in TriCaster XD systems which have been available for many years now are features like ‘software-failsafe’ in which if a single software module was to crash (for example someone loaded a corrupted video clip) it will not take down the entire system, the module would just restart itself. There is also hardware fail-safe in which in which the last video input is routed to the first output in the case of a major failure. At NAB 2013 we added a new feature to the TriCaster 8000 which is system mirroring: now you can have two systems running in parallel with each other. We added this feature for the users that told us they cannot ‘go down’ for any reason what so ever. This is even better than breaking everything out as separate systems. With other solutions you are breaking out all of the systems to ‘spread the risk’, with TC8000 mirroring, you have a backup of everything.
We are in the same boat. I have a Tricaster 8000 on site to try out but there is a problem from the get go with the monitors (perhaps a compatibility problem linked to Windows 7?). At any rate the supplier is coming to pick it up and will bring a new unit. Of all the responses you got in this thread I really agree with Ari. Having all our eggs in one basket with an all in one set-up makes me very nervous. The problem with the 8000 (which they assure is highly unusual - though I ask why does this always happen to me?!) made me take a harder look at the ATEM 2m/e. I too need a solution that will allow the aid of at least one CG/Video Playout operator.
This post is mostly out of solidariety! I looked at the Broadcast Pix gamma and have doubts about them too.
I heard about CasparCG an open source graphics and video playout software but am not clear in how it works in conjunction with the ATEM.
Can graphics and video be played out from the same computer in a news type webcast?
I'd be interested in hearing about anything else that has made you tip one way or the other.
2x 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 12GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5770, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 Cinema Display, FCP Studio 3 (7.0.3), OS X10.6.5
Our production division has been using TriCasters for years. We have quite a bit of BMD gear also. If you want a seasoned piece of gear with more options to make your productions a level above and shine then go with a TriCaster 425, 855, or 8000. If you just need basic video switching then the BMD might be the ticket. In all our events we have had many more issues with BMD gear than EVER having issues with a TriCaster.
There are many times more to the issues of TriCaster reliability than the box itself. Many times improper operation is a bigger issue than the reliability of the TriCaster. Sorting out a proper and functional workflow with TriCaster is very important. Even then it is still up to the operator to make sure he follows the proven workflow instead of taking shortcuts.
My production dept just returned off a 3 week tour doing Professional Tennis Tournament broadcasts. 3 weeks straight of daily 10-14 hour broadcasts. TriCaster did not fail on us a single time. I can't say the same for some BlackMagicDesign gear. We don't use the BMD switcher except for small IMAG events. The feature set is just not there for our production level.
Actually, with all TriCaster models from the 455 up, both a keyboard/mouse and a control surface are provided, allowing for two operators to split tasks from the git-go. For the entry level TC40 the control surface is an option.
A third operator can be added to the mix for stored graphics and clips via the optional 850 TW which works with the 455 and up. This unit also provides slowmo/instant replay of a dedicated channel.
Another option is CG from another system via network using LiveText 2. There's also iVGA (free) for bringing in graphics from networked systems, including Macs.
The large group of third party developers for TriCaster / 3Play also expand the options. ChyronHego's ChryonIP for TriCaster, for example, can provide producers with up to two HD or SD full-motion channels of Chyron graphics - single-channel standard, second channel optional - that stream directly into the TriCaster over a network connection without tying up any of the video inputs. A lot of developers fit into the picture a lot of different ways, including a variety of control options:
In sum, while TriCaster is designed to allow for a single operator, it is by no means limited to a single operator even in the base configuration of all but the entry-level model.
Chuck Baker -- NewTek, Inc.
Senior Manager of Communications
Well, I have to say many thanks to all the post.. and also apologize for the delay in getting back to you all..
after much debate.. and looming fiscal year end, we opted to go with the " old faithful " ... which is Tricaster. Our current unit has been so reliable!!... pair that with all the people I know that use Black Magic gear who have reliability issues, this made it a no brainer. While it may not be perfect.. we feel it is a good fit.
Granted it is an " all your eggs in one basket " deal... as equally disturbing as that is..it is also equally as much a selling point and a good thing. I will actually be gaining some rack space by installing this unit in place of my old one.. this is going in a portable kit... not a permanent install.. and the ability to take this out and have all that power inside that box will be very much appreciated. I have plans to build on its weakness and make the kit better than ( at least more intuitive and user friendly )the 250k grassvalley kit we installed in our studios. I feel it can be done. I will update once the box gets here in a few weeks and let you know how that all goes.
We are tipping in the same direction as Josh. I have a new 8000 unit that I am trying out and it's looking very good.
Do you or anyone reading have any suggestions for monitors? I too am interested in portability (thus no huge monitors) but am looking for enough quality and resolution to be able to judge camera focus clearly and at the same time work with a decent screen size.
I am thinking too of connecting a monitor either to the SDI or HDMI outputs and routing the program feed to see it at full screen.
Thanks for any advice on monitors (also multiscreen).
2x 2.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 12GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5770, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 Cinema Display, FCP Studio 3 (7.0.3), OS X10.6.5