The Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro is an impressive piece of hardware that you could be mistaken in thinking it’s just a video switch, it’s much more than that, and I’m going to explain why you need one of these if you are streaming video.
The video switching on this machine allows up to 4 HDMI devices, meaning you can stream cameras as well as your game device, or external video source and the best thing is that it is all a simple touch of a button, nice big mashable buttons.
The main advantage of a system like this is it adds an extra layer of professionalism to your broadcast, the switching is almost instantaneous as well, which I’ve tried for many years using software like OBS Studio and there always seems to be at least a slight delay. Using the Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro switch from camera one to camera two
The pro version of the device may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when you see that it comes in at nearly double the price of its less featured sibling. But I think the ability to be able to go live directly from the Blackmagic ATEM Mini pro without needing it connected to a pc is a pretty powerful tool. For the record the Pro is a RRP of $1,185 whereas the standard mini is $589.
The Pro also has a pretty cool feature that you can record directly to a usb device. This makes recording with essentially a mobile studio so much easier. This is great for backing up the video source and also to record and edit later.
Another great feature over the regular mini is the ability to view all your cameras in four separate windows right alongside the main output on a single monitor, this gives you full control over your content and you’ll never switch to a camera before you or your talent are ready.
The system design is fantastic, really subtle and simple with large main buttons, as I mentioned these are mashable, what I mean by that is that they are soft to the touch but strong enough to withstand the intense press of certain producers that are punching buttons rather than pressing them, as they rush through their multiple sources. It can be stressful making sure that a program is going to air and this automatically takes some of that stress away by making it as simple as possible.
The buttons are also laid out in a really productive way. Keeping them all in groups related to function and using some clever separation with clear labels makes it so that a novice could follow simple instructions to broadcast professionally.
That design simplicity follows through to the rear of the machine where the inputs show a power connection that screws in so it doesn't accidentally get kicked out mid broadcast, a wonderful feature that not enough brands take advantage of. There’s a control port to run your internet into so you can broadcast directly from the machine, a USB c port, 1 HDMI out, and 4 HDMI in for multiple cameras or devices. Lastly on the rear of the machine is the mic ports which are 2 x 3.5mm stereo mini-jacks, not my favourite inclusion but a necessary one. I’d much prefer dealing with full-size jacks rather than needing to get some custom cables for my mics but these fit well to make the machine more portable so I understand and respect the decision.
The overall feel of the device is solid. The plastics used offer some weight to the device, not to make it heavy but to give it stability, you don’t want it sliding all over the desk when you are pulling cables in and out. The solid weight as I’ve said in other reviews for products is always a sign to me that the device is quality, it gives a sense of worth and longevity to the product that you just don’t get from cheap imitations.
The inbuild ATEM Software Control which works perfectly with the device for uploading additional media, setting your switching and giving you more control over the audio EQ. Plus you can get right into adjusting the colour and other preferences in your cameras. The whole idea is to make sure you have a finished product before you hit live or record, there’s no “adjust in post” with a live broadcast.
The ATEM Mini Pro is really one device that does everything you need if you are broadcasting live to Youtube, Facebook or any other service. The fact that you can produce on the go using quality effects and broadcast packages will really cut down on the time it takes to edit and produce video content if you are trying to do it directly through a computer and the fact that you can run multiple sources through it means you are packing a television studio into something the size of a pencil case and that just blows my mind. Given the features of the product the price seems extremely reasonable, but might be just out of reach for casual content creators who may prefer the non-pro version.