Blackmagic Design's ATEM Switcher for US Presidential Debate

On September 22, Matchpoint Studios successfully LiveStreamed 10 hours of live programming via the website to over 2,500 viewers. P5 Live! represented the biggest continuous live web broadcast of a Florida convention in history. The Straw Poll occurred as part of a three-day national Presidency 5 (P5) event, sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida. Featuring more than 2,000 Republican delegates, the Straw Poll has historically served a significant role in predicting the eventual Republican nominee for the US Presidency.

Matchpoint went with Blackmagic Design’s ATEM 1 M/E Switcher for the high-profile project, basing their decision on the ease of use and high-end production quality it offered.

JP Manterola, Director of Matchpoint Studios, was attracted to the ATEM Switcher’s powerful broadcast level features, and surprised by its compact design and affordable price. In more than 15 years’ experience in production, he had never come across a product that came close to offering the ATEM 1 M/E Switcher’s capabilities at such a competitive price point, and he was eager to put it to work on the P5 project.

Maxx Digital’s Chief Video Engineer, Bob Zelin, secured a beta unit for his client at Matchpoint, and rigorously tested the switcher to make sure they were properly prepared for the debate. The installation of ATEM’s Software Control Panel took approximately ten seconds, and ran on a MacBook Pro, affording them maximum customization and portability.

For P5, Manterola and his 30+ member crew used the ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher with eight HD (1080i) cameras on a television set they built themselves to air delegate and VIP Q&A sessions along with coverage of the event. They loved having eight discreet inputs—one analog component HD or HDMI, three HDMI, and four HD-SDI—and with Blackmagic Design’s HD-SDI to HDMI converters, made use of every single one. An additional perk was never having to worry about genlock, because all inputs to the switcher had frame synchronizers and locked up instantly.

For the main event, the ATEM Switcher was used to LiveStream the 10-hour production, locally and worldwide, via the Internet. ATEM’s built in MultiViewer let Manterola view all camera sources and programming on a single monitor. The display could be reconfigured to his liking, and he was able to quickly name all crosspoints, making it easy to show which camera was looking at what.

Matchpoint Studios has been impressed with the small size yet huge capabilities of the ATEM 1 M/E Switcher, and Zelin praised its simple and compact design, calling it "friendly, portable, and really easy to use.”

Manterola continued, "The switcher performed flawlessly, and is a remarkable tool that offers everyone a chance to play at the major league level regardless of budget.” Having the ATEM Switcher on board for the P5 project saved Matchpoint thousands of dollars, as there had never before been anything like it to produce a quality, HD, live transmission. “The live web broadcast was a total success, and we concluded the transmission with a total of 2.23 million “brand impressions” and 26,308 unique P5 Live! viewers. We also interviewed more than 81 people from local elected officials, to Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and 5 Presidential candidates,” said Manterola.

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