Ross, Grass Valley, or Blackmagic Video Switchers?
I'm the tech manager in a minor league sports arena, and we've been using a BroadcastPix Granite 2000 video switcher for about 2.5 years now. It's a Windows 32-bit based switcher, so it is only capable of 4GBs of RAM. We run switcher software, titling software, and score bug software all on the same machine. Over the last season, we had 8 software based crashes over the course of 50-60 events. Which is absolutely unacceptable. I've reached out to BroadcastPix about the issue, and their only support option is updating the system. Which we do all the time. Still crashes. It's a hardware limitation issue.
With that being said, we are looking to jump ship to a hardware-based switcher, split up our resources, and get out of the world of software crashes. I've had talks with Ross and Grass Valley about their current Carbonite Black and Karrera V-Series respectively. However, that Blackmagic Atem 2M/E switcher seems to be very appealing, and at a shockingly low cost. It is a fraction of the cost of these other switchers, with pretty similar basic functionality (obviously you're getting more features with the Ross & GV).
Has anyone used any of these switchers before? Any reason not to go with one or the other?
We have 8 camera inputs, 2 replay channel inputs, 2 graphics inputs, 1 stills inputs, 3 stationary camera inputs, 1 animation channel, for a total of 18 inputs on our BPix right now. I have an idea to repurpose the BPix as a graphics player, and just have direct outputs of our graphics channels and score bug into whatever switcher we decide on buying. That way we aren't pushing the system as hard as we are now, and if it crashes, all we are losing is our graphics player/score bug, not the entire show.
We need two different formats of outputs, 1080i 59.94 (for our Daktronics boards), and 720p 59.94 (for our in-house Comcast feed & streams). The secondary output needs to be able to apply a key layer to it, as that is how we run our score bug currently. Other aux sends don't really matter as much, as we have a pretty robust video matrix already in place. We don't need a lot of DSKs, but more than two would be nice (especially if our score bug is already taking up one of those). BM Atem 2m/e only has 2 DSKs.
ANYWAYS-- Sorry if this post wasn't very focused. Does anyone have any experience with these switchers and their capabilities? Are there any huge downsides to the Blackmagic Atem 2m/e? Can you load multiple stingers into the BM Atem? Are the keys on the panel both the same for M/E 1 and M/E 2, or are they independent (does each M/E have it's own 2 keys? Or are they the same keys in each M/E?)
Ross and Grass Valley make nice products. Where I work, we've had a Sell Kahuna for ten years. It's only failed and kept a show from air once. They also have a lower-cost line called Kula. https://s-a-m.com/products/1-2-mes-kula/c-24/p-234
One thing to consider is, will you want a support contract? Or, with the money saved, you just buy two of the BMDs?
The BlackMagic line of switchers are from the former Echolab. I don't know any users personally, but I do know of a TV station group that uses BlackMagic routers in their facilities. They seem happy.
Thanks for your response!
I'll take a peek into Snell's products. Good to hear that you've had success with them.
With the money saved, I'd like to invest in a new wireless camera system, as ours is on it's last leg... If we can save $20,000+ from going Blackmagic over Ross or GV, that's huge and opens the door to that possibility.
The only thing I'm worried about is reliability. I've read some stuff online where the ethernet on the panel stops connecting to the switcher, the switcher completely dies, etc. I believe this was with their older models that only had heat sinks, and no fans. Correct me if I'm wrong, I believe the new 2M/E 4K Broadcast Atem's have fans.
I went to a Blackmagic showcase a week or so ago and I asked them about reliability. And they said just keep it cold. Which won't be a problem, we make our production office an ice box during a show.