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Middlebury Institute Engages Viewers With Blackmagic ATEM Mini

Middlebury Institute uses the ATEM Mini switcher for its online production workflow. (Image credit: Blackmagic Design)

MONTEREY, Calif.—The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey is a graduate school of Middlebury College in Vermont. Located in Monterey, Calif., known as the “language capital of the world,” the Institute’s mission is to educate professionals to advance understanding, promote peace and drive change in pursuit of a more just world. 

The Institute uses Blackmagic Design’s ATEM Mini live production switcher as part of an online production workflow designed for broadcast media outlets engaging with the Institute’s many experts in the fields of nonproliferation, counterterrorism, geopolitical studies and the environment. 

Oftentimes when news breaks in one of these fields, network TV outlets reach out to our experts for comment and analysis. Since we acquired the ATEM Mini four months ago, we have worked with dozens of large and small, national and international media outlets. The ATEM Mini, along with the ATEM Software Control app, is the link between broadcast production techniques and lower bandwidth streaming services like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. 

ENHANCING WEB-BASED PRODUCTION

The workflow in our small studio starts with a handheld camera feeding an HDMI signal into the ATEM Mini, which has a USB connection operating as a simple webcam source. Our ATEM Mini generates the webcam-protocol signal into an iMac, which is then recognized as a video/audio source by the application in use (Zoom, Skype, etc.) and is subsequently distributed by hard-wired Ethernet.

We also use this workflow to present a professional image to webinar participants for student recruiting. Many of our recruiting webinars incorporate PowerPoint, and with the ATEM Mini we’ve migrated from using “screen sharing” in Zoom for slide display to loading the slides into the ATEM Software Control on our iMac and calling the slides up from the Software Control’s Media Manager. ATEM Software Control features a visual switcher user interface with parameter palettes for making quick adjustments.

We’re also exploring the ATEM Mini’s chroma key functions, transitions and picture-in-picture options, as the switcher features an ATEM Advanced Chroma Key for high-quality chroma or luminance keying, an additional downstream linear keyer and a full HD DVE for picture-in-picture effects and DVE transitions. We use a Blackmagic Video Assist 4K monitor/recorder as our program monitor and backup recorder. We record the streaming session into the camera, overlay that clean recording over the lower resolution Zoom recording in post production and then post that edited version for later on-demand viewing.

Using this workflow, we’re often asked by the people on the other end how we make our feed look so good, especially broadcasters. I’ve often taken a few extra minutes after our session to explain our process. Using the ATEM Mini, we're able to offer a clean, professional, studio look of our experts over Skype, Zoom and FaceTime without the cost of additional products or services. 

We believe using every tool available to us to deliver a clean, professional video stream to our audience enhances engagement, as our viewers are not distracted by poor production value—instead, they can concentrate on the content. The ATEM Mini is clearly a device for the times if people want to look their best to whomever they are sending a signal. I'm delighted with the possibilities of the ATEM Mini.

Mark Basse is a multimedia producer at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He has more than 30 years production experience in all corners of the media landscape, including broadcast news and features, cable networks, sports programming and higher education. He can be contacted at mbasse@middlebury.edu.

For additional information, visit www.blackmagicdesign.com or call Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500.