Finalist 2021

Blackmagic ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel

Blackmagic Design

The ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel is a massive live video production control surface for stadium-scale live broadcasts.

The ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel is a massive live video production control surface designed to enhance the production of stadium-scale live sporting events, concerts and TV broadcasts.

Offering unparalleled direct physical control it costs $23,850, a third of similar systems, democratizing large-scale, broadcast quality switching technology for independent producers.

Design Brief

The prohibitive cost of most large-scale switcher control systems precludes all but the most well-resourced studios and networks from producing truly professional large-scale live broadcasts.

The alternative is to use inexpensive switching software, but with concerts and sporting events often requiring 30-40 cameras and other video inputs, it would be virtually impossible to switch fast enough using this method.

Complex and slow to navigate, software is designed to cope with smaller productions, not with fast-paced, highly unpredictable live situations in which such inefficiency could be the difference between a compelling major broadcast and a failure.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Driven by real-world insight into live broadcast workflows the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel distils control of 40 video inputs into a clear physical control layout, placing every feature directly at the user’s fingertips.

It eliminates time-consuming navigation of complex GUIs for reliable, real-time control over transitions and digital video effects. Bespoke switcher buttons, with smooth scalloped caps reduce distracting reflections, offering positive tactile engagement for error-free blind operation.

Paired with an ATEM Switcher it is a versatile solution for complex, high-pressure productions demanding long hours of concentration and an ability to react instinctively to unexpected events and changing conditions.

Durable Precision
CNC machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel’s control surface facilitates exceptional structural integrity and highly accurate datum for consistent positioning of control elements. This simultaneously enhances usability and perceived quality, while providing the tactile durability professional broadcasters demand.

Considered Touch Points
Bespoke T-bar fader and 3-axis joystick have a refined anodised finished with soft-touch grips to enhance perceived quality and provide precise, responsive control over effects and motion graphics.

Peerless fit and finish
LCD button labels and fader scale sit perfectly flush with top surface, minimising distracting shadows and highlights while removing uncomfortable edges.

The affordable purchase price, approachable interface and responsive performance of the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel personifies Blackmagic Design’s ambition to empower creative people with accessible, professional video technology.

The opportunities inherent in this powerful but compact design resonate with independent broadcasters striving for innovative, professional outcomes without excessive investment in needlessly expensive equipment. Significant demand from such users has already driven sales in over 80 countries worldwide in excess of predicted forecasts.

Design Excellence

The ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel possesses a professional aesthetic that elicits a sense of disciplined efficiency and trust. Placed in a dark studio or outside broadcast van common to large-scale live productions however, and it becomes evident that it is the design’s ability to recede from view when required that makes it truly remarkable.

With nothing but the essential backlit control elements remaining, operators can focus solely on their craft rather than their equipment, free to respond instinctively to rapid instructions from demanding directors.

During intense live broadcasts operators must remain focused on multiple feeds simultaneously, continually responding to instructions from demanding producers. Every element of the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel has been carefully evaluated, optimised and meticulously arranged to create a logical hierarchy that supports efficient, best-practise switching workflows.

Pared back to its essential elements, the control surface is deliberately minimal: a rational, distraction-free workspace organised into logical work zones reflecting each aspect of the process. Dynamic, customisable switcher button displays integrate seamlessly, changing colour to indicate status. Four 5” system control LCDs in the floating rear console offer deeper functionality.

The ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel is an empathetic response to live scenarios demanding long hours of concentration.

The low-glare powdercoated control surface eliminates reflections while providing tactile contrast to controls. Angled at 5°, it offers natural ergonomics and on-going comfort.

Smooth, scalloped switcher buttons, backlit for dark environments, minimise the distracting reflections common to traditional buttons, offering positive engagement for error-free operation.

The inset base allows secure, completely flat in-desk installation in studios and outside broadcast vehicles.

Exported to 87 countries, it complies with all relevant safety standards and regulations, including AS/NZS 60950, FCC, CE, RCM, WEE & ROHS.

Design Innovation

The rational design of the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel is unlike any other switcher control panel. Its clean, logical control layout distils complex live broadcasting procedures into a familiar, highly efficient workflow for experienced operators, and presents novice users with a non-threatening, approachable interface that invites discovery and learning.

This is supported by automated software routines that respond intuitively to user actions. As functions are activated physically on the panel, the relevant parameters are automatically displayed on one of four integrated 5” LCD system control monitors allowing instant adjustments without time-consuming GUI navigation.

The ATEM 4 M/E Advanced panel also features:

Dynamic button labels and illumination that can be easily customized to suit individual operators. Up to 10 complete panel setups can be easily saved, stored and recalled, ideal for use across multiple projects.

Quick setup and manipulation of sophisticated, multi-layer digital video effects for each of the 40 inputs using the three-axis DVE joystick.

Transition and effect detection, automatically displaying the appropriate parameters on one of four integrated 5” LCD system control monitors, negating the need for slow navigation through complex menus.

A bespoke T-bar fader for precise control over the speed, scale and position of a wide range of transitions.

Custom encoder knobs that offer fine control of green screen keying, allowing for background effects and virtual sets to be easily applied behind presenters.

No additional costs. Unlike other systems that come with license fees for individual features and on-going monthly costs every feature is included in the up-front cost for the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel.

Failsafe reliability in challenging locations and hectic studios, critical when broadcasting large-scale live events. The aircraft grade, CNC machined aluminium control surface facilitates exceptional structural integrity and accuracy for consistent location of controls.

Design Impact

At just $23,850, ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel, democratises large-scale switching technology, offering direct control through an intuitive physical interface.

No longer required to compromise creativity, performance or efficiency, individuals, institutions and novices are empowered to explore innovative approaches to live broadcasting regardless of the location or scale of the broadcast.

This has meaningful cultural benefits, with professional execution no longer determined by wealth or technical expertise. With an increasingly diverse user base able to access large-scale switcher control technology, a range of innovative approaches can now be expressed in a professional manner, unconstrained by the limitations of inferior technology.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Made from durable aluminium and engineered to exacting standards, the ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel is built for a long lifespan, eliminating short-term waste.

Easily disassembled for servicing and eventually recycling, its reusable packaging insert further reduces waste, acting as a protective case for on-going transportation.

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