IBC Q&A: Blackmagic Design’s Bob Caniglia looks to fill in missing pieces of 4K puzzle

At NAB2013 in April, Blackmagic Design introduced the ATEM Production Studio 4K, the first 4K-capable live-production switcher to hit the market. Blackmagic has continued down the 4K path at IBC2013, introducing a 1M/E version of the ATEM Production Studio 4K switcher with 6G-SDI technology for just US$2,495. The current ATEM Production Studio 4K model will be reduced in price to US$1,695.

In addition, Blackmagic Design used the IBC floor to introduce three Mini Converter models designed to ease the transition into Ultra HD workflows and to allow lower-cost Ultra HD studios to be built. The new Mini Converter Optical Fiber 4K, Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K, and the Mini Converter SDI Multiplex 4K will retail for US$495 each.

SVG sat down with Bob Caniglia, senior regional manager, Eastern North America, to chat about 4K and sports production’s role in its evolution.

Blackmagic Design sits in an interesting position in terms of the 4K evolution, since you provide equipment throughout the production ecosystem. What role do you see Blackmagic playing in the continued evolution of 4K-production technology?
If you don’t make all the pieces of the puzzle, what good is the puzzle? You should be able to do [4K] sooner than later, so that, if you have the equipment today that can do [HD and 4K], then you can do it tomorrow or next year; it doesn’t matter. With our entire puzzle — we are building a 4k camera and have a switcher, I/O devices, recorders, and playback devices — all the pieces are there for people to complete the puzzle at a price point that was unheard of in the early days of HD. It’s cost-effective, but it’s also a complete package. If you only have one part of it, what good is it? What good is a 4K camera if you don’t have a way to record or display it? The pieces are there to do a full production in 4K, and we can be a big part of that.

Tell us a bit a bit about the new 4K products you have on display here at IBC.
The ATEM 1M/E 4K switcher is the new version that has 10 6G-SDI inputs with frame sync, four upstream chroma keyers, and all the older features of the old version along with larger media pools and three aux outputs on the front panel. And it is now a one-rack unit instead of two-rack unit. Plus, it is the same price as the current 4K model. So we are really trying to drive this 4K switcher home and think it’s a great option for sports [clients] like stadiums and arenas right now, then more sports in the future.

We also have the Mini Converters, which we think are going to make a difference and fill in a lot of the holes and represent some of the key pieces in this 4K puzzle.

What are your sports clients demanding these days? Is there a single product or service that you see all sports-content producers asking for?
We get a lot of inquiries about when our 4K camera is available. Now that we have a switcher and so many other pieces of the 4K puzzle, I think we will get even more requests for that. I think, when you try to make a transition like this, you have to play with it internally, and I think [live sports producers] will shadow-produce it like they did with 4K. And the amount of investment will be nowhere near what HD cost at that time. Sports is a perfect reason to go to Ultra HD because, as the monitors get larger and easier to mount in homes and sports bars, that is the content that is going to make [consumers] go out and buy those sets. Obviously, the upcoming Olympics and World Cup and events like that will make it grow as well.

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