Blackmagic Design buys what’s left of Echolab switcher line

A mere three months after it “officially” closed its doors and ceased operations, production switcher provider Echolab has sold its technology and other assets to Blackmagic Design for an undisclosed sum. The liquidation sale was completed earlier this month, and Echolab’s latest model switcher, the compact Atem, will be among Blackmagic’s product displays in booth 7.B25 at the IBC conference next month in Amsterdam.

Echolab, which has been designing and marketing production switchers since 1974, has thousands of customers that Blackmagic said it would continue to support. In May, Jim Summerville, the company’s chairman and main benefactor, decided to stop funding the Echolab organization — which had been losing money for the past few years — and closed the company doors. The surprise move (even to the staff) left many seeking other employment.

A Blackmagic Design spokesman said that since the acquisition, it has expanded the engineering team working on the Atem project to include several former Echolab employees in Billerica, MA, — where the original Atem engineering team was located — and some new members from the Blackmagic fold in Melbourne, Australia (where most of Blackmagic’s design and fabrication work is completed) as well.

In a statement, Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Perry said the features and functionality of the Atem switcher are what attracted him to buy the company. Upconversion on all inputs, multilayer SuperSource input, Stinger transitions and built in multiview monitoring are what attracted him to buy the company. SuperSource is a separate multilayer engine with four channels of 2-D picture-in-picture DVE and four keyers that offer the same power as adding an extra M/E switcher to the Atem input. The SuperSource feature can be employed at any time during a live production and connects into the switcher as an input.

The Atem can be fully automated with macros and also includes support for VDCP controlled servers and robotic cameras, all from the switcher’s control panel. Operators can use the built-in joystick for controlling cameras and then recall macros for productions with a limited crew.

Blackmagic Design has been steadily growing its business with new products and strategic company acquisitions. In September 2009 the company bought da Vinci Systems, a company known for high-end color-correction systems. The Atem switcher will be added to Blackmagic Design’s comprehensive product portfolio, which now includes video editing products, color correctors, video converters, routers, waveform monitors and film restoration software.