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Blackmagic ATEM Mini Extreme Review

Content Creator's Dream Tool

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
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Hardware Reviews 0

The ATEM Mini Extreme from Blackmagic Design is an absolutely incredible tool for content creators looking to add more than one camera to their setup. It’s a self-enclosed HDMI video switcher and streamer able to take your productions to the next level and beyond. We have the Mini Extreme in for testing but many of these features are available at far more accessible price points, so join us as we take a closer look and you can choose the ATEM Mini that’s right for you.  

Specifications

  • Current Price: 
    • ATEM Mini: $295
    • ATEM Mini Pro: $495
    • ATEM Mini Pro ISO: $795
    • ATEM Mini Extreme: $995 (Amazon
    • ATEM Mini Extreme ISO: $1295
  • Upstream Keyers: 4
  • Downstream Keyer: 2
  • Advanced Chroma Keyers: Up to 4
  • Linear/Luma Keyers: Up to 4
  • Transition Keyer: DVE only
  • Total Number of Layers: 9
  • Pattern Generators: 5
  • Color Generators: 2
  • DVE With Borders and Drop Shadow:2
  • Interface: Minimum monitor resolution of 1366 x 768.
  • Direct Streaming: ATEM Mini Extreme supports direct live streaming using Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) over ethernet or a shared mobile internet connection over USB?C
  • Dimensions: 14.6 x 5.4 x 1.6 inches

Audio Mixer

  • 11 input x 2 channel mixer.
  • Selectable On/Off/Audio-Follow-Video per channel plus separate gain control per channel.
  • Level and Peak metering. Plus new Fairlight audio enhancements: Compressor, Gate, Limiter, 6 bands of parametric EQ. Master gain control.
  • Analog Input: Unbalanced stereo
  • Analog Input Delay: Up to 8 frames
  • Input Impedance: 1.8k
  • Max Input Level: +6dBV
  • Mic Plug In Power: Available on both 3.5mm mini jack connections.

Recording

  • Direct Recording Video and Audio: USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 expansion port can record directly to external media.
  • Video Recording: 1 x Program out as H.264 .mp4 file at the Streaming quality setting and at the ATEM video standard with AAC audio.
  • Media Format: Supports media formatted ExFAT (Windows/Mac) or HFS+ (Mac) file system.

Standards

  • HD Video Input Standards
    • 720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60 
    • 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94, 1080p60 
    • 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080i60 
  • HD Video Output Standards
    • 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94, 1080p60 
  • Video Streaming Standards
    • 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94, 1080p60 
  • Ultra HD Video Standards: None
  • Video Sampling: 4:2:2 YUV
  • Color Precision: 10-bit
  • Color Space: Rec 709
  • HDMI Input Resolutions from Computers
    • 1280 x 720p 50Hz, 59.94Hz and 60Hz 
    • 1920 x 1080p 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60Hz 
    • 1920 x 1080i 50, 59.94Hz and 60Hz 
  • Colorspace Conversion: Hardware based real time.

Connections

  • Total Video Inputs: 8
  • Total Outputs: 2
  • Total Aux Outputs: 2
  • Total Audio Inputs: 2 x 3.5mm stereo mini jack.
  • Total Audio Outputs: 1 x 3.5mm stereo mini jack.
  • Timecode Connection: None
  • HDMI Video Inputs:
    • 8 x HDMI type A, 10-bit HD switchable.
    • 2 channel embedded audio.
  • Video Input Re-Sync: On all 8 HDMI inputs.
  • Frame Rate and Format Converters: On all 8 HDMI inputs.
  • HDMI Program Outputs: 2
  • Ethernet: Ethernet supports 10/100/1000 BaseT for live streaming, software control, software updates and direct or network panel connection.
  • Computer Interface: 2 x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 for external drive recording, webcam out, software control, software updates and panel connection.

Multi View Monitoring

  • Multi View Monitoring: Configurable to 16, 13, 10, 7 or 4 up views including Program, Preview, 8 HDMI inputs, SuperSource, Clean Feed, Media Player, Streaming Status, Recording Status and Audio Meters.
  • Multi View Video Standard: HD

Media Player

  • Media Players: 2
  • Channels: Fill and key for each Media Player.
  • Media Pool Still Image Capacity: 20 with fill and key.
  • Media Pool Still Image Format: PNG, TGA, BMP, GIF, JPEG and TIFF.

Control

  • Control Panel: Built in control panel. Software control panel with camera control included. Supports optional hardware panel.
  • Control Panel Connection: Ethernet supports 10/100/1000 BaseT. Ethernet used for direct connection between panel and chassis or via network. ATEM Mini Extreme also supports direct USB?C connection. Ethernet or USB?C used for updating the software.
  • Control Panel Compatibility: Includes ATEM Software Control Panel. Also compatible with ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, ATEM 2 M/E Advanced Panel and ATEM 4 M/E Advanced Panel. ATEM Mini Extreme can be configured using Blackmagic Videohub Hardware Panel Setup utility to route sources to destinations using Videohub Smart Control Pro and Videohub Master Control Pro.
  • Control Panel Included: ATEM Software Control Panel included free for Mac 10.14 Mojave, Mac 10.15 Catalina, Mac 11 Big Sur or later and Windows 10 64 bit only.

If you work with video, then you already know the name Blackmagic. The company is behind some of the best cameras in the business and its Da Vinci Resolve video editor has quickly progressed to be the go-to choice for creators big and small. In the world of YouTube, it fills in another need still: helping creators produce high quality streams and pre-recorded videos. It does this through its ATEM Mini line of HDMI video switchers.

The ATEM line is expansive. Today, I’m looking at the ATEM Mini Extreme, the penultimate product in the consumer “Mini” line, which retails for $995. It has a deep array of features for that cost, but the biggest differentiator is that it supports eight HDMI inputs and two video outputs. If you don’t need that many, or the absolute smorgasbord of capabilities the Extreme model offers, Blackmagic also offers the ATEM Mini and ATEM Mini Pro for $295 and $495 respectively. ISO versions of the Pro and Extreme Pro are also available and offer onboard recording. The Extreme model I’ve spent the last month with has some stellar features for that extra cost, however, so users looking for more versatility and control over their streams may still want to consider it. 

The ATEM Mini line is, at its core, a line of FHD HDMI switchers. No matter which you choose, they’ll allow you to take multiple video inputs and mix them together before sending that back out again through USB or HDMI out. This is useful if you’d like to use a multi-cam setup for your streams as it allows you to swap between sources on the fly without running multiple capture devices in your PC. It’s not limited to just cameras, though. These switches can accept HDMI outputs from multiple types of sources, including separate PCs and gaming consoles. Think of it as a capture card on steroids. What’s more, the Pro and Extreme are able to take any source and convert it to have a matching output in real-time, so you don’t need to worry about making sure all of your sources match and are compatible. 

When approaching the Extreme, I admit to struggling a bit with how to present a product that can do so much without turning this article into a novella. Instead of going over all the nitty-gritty, let me share a little bit about how I’ve used it and how it’s helped me as a creator. 

First and foremost, this device has been a major time saver in the editing process. I like to run an overhead camera in addition to my facecam. Rather than record two cameras independently, syncing them up, and manually cutting between them, the ATEM Mini Extreme allows me to eliminate that entire process and simply bounce between outputs with the push of a button. This is in addition to simplifying the process of recording with different camera families in the first place: I shoot with Panasonic and Sony cameras but the ATEM had no trouble taking them both in and syncing them with no additional steps from me. That was the first thing I did, but I soon realized that by using upstream and downstream keyers (these are overlays and multiple layers of video that can be cropped, customized, transitioned in and out), I was able to animate lower thirds and social media reminders. By having my B-roll loaded in ahead of time, I was able to transition to that live instead of editing it in after. 

And believe me when I say, this is just scratching the surface. 

The ATEM Mini Extreme can easily integrate with existing streaming tools like OBS or it can replace them entirely. Using the USB connection, the computer can recognize it as, in effect, the world’s most powerful webcam with instant compatibility with Zoom, Google Meet, OBS, and anything else that uses a webcam. It’s also able to stream directly to sites like Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook through its ethernet port. If you don’t have wired internet, it can also connect to your phone or tablet and use your mobile connection for remote streaming. It’s also able to write directly to external storage through its USB-C outputs.

As a replacement for software streaming tools, its capabilities have to exceed basic video switching and boy does it ever. The keying functionality (layering video sources and graphics) is incredibly useful for creating layers of transitioning media. There are also Chroma and Luma keyers to remove green screen backgrounds or sections of video that hit a certain luminance value. You can mask these layers to cut them down, resize, and re-position them for picture-in-picture. There are other digital video effects that can be applied in addition to add borders and shadows for a more professional look. This is 100% a replacement for a program like OBS but can also 100% be used to enhance what you’re already doing with OBS.

Here are some other neat things it can do:

  • Automatic picture-in-picture with dedicated buttons for corners and side-by-sides
  • Macro recording to automate actions inside the software, allowing for neat live effects that would otherwise be cumbersome and open to error
  • Choose from multiple transition effects with the push of a button, including duration
  • Control Blackmagic camera settings right on the device
  • Live monitor audio 
  • Have audio follow video transitions or remain with a single source
  • Output to two separate monitors

And that’s not even all. 

This is all possible through Blackmagic’s ATEM software, which is essentially a home broadcast suite. It’s here where you’ll manage and customize all of the ATEM’s effects. It can also be used for controlling the switcher itself during a live broadcast if you’re filling in for a production engineer. There’s also a full audio section, complete with a parametric equalizer. Yet, the capabilities in the audio section in conjunction with the Extreme’s mobile capabilities highlight the lack of XLR audio inputs. Instead, audio in is limited to dual 3.5mm inputs and a headphone out. I would love to connect my nice microphone to it to keep everything in-house for a home broadcast but currently, that will need to be processed separately or transferred via the smaller jack. 

The software suite also allows for two other extremely cool features: Multiview and SuperSource. Multiview allows you to view all of your different input sources at once in a customizable grid. This is great for keeping an eye on different angles for a live feed to precisely time transitions — which is exactly why this feature is also used in professional production rooms. At a glance, you can see your entire production at once. 

SuperSource, on the other hand, is a ninth video source that’s completely virtual. This acts similarly to OBS and other software streamer’s empty canvases. You can add still graphics and multiple video sources together on a single canvas, perfect for interviews where you want your subjects side by side (this is how panel discussions on cable news approach it). SuperSource allows you to be creative, adding custom backgrounds and frames for the sources, similar to OBS.

What’s more, the ATEM Extreme is able to tie into multiple third-party plugins for custom live animations and Elgato StreamDeck control.  These are reasonably easy to get up and running with, so you’re not left reinventing the wheel to really make your stream or video look great. If you don’t have Streamdeck, many of these can also be tied to the built-in macro buttons. 

If this sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. As a newcomer to the ATEM line-up, getting started with the ATEM Mini Extreme was like diving into the deep end of the pool with barely any swimming experience. I say this as someone who has been producing videos at home for several years and who has been a core part of his church video team since the beginning of the pandemic. I reached out to Blackmagic after spending a week with the device and told them I would need more time to wrap my head around everything it could do and to find opportunities to scale-up testing.

In fact, using it at church use was one of the first things that came to mind with this device. Multicam, transitions, lower thirds, motion graphics, tying in with multiple sources to present slides, timers, etc: the ATEM Extreme is the perfect device for this kind of setup. But, despite the very helpful guide provided by Blackmagic on getting started, this isn’t something you want to roll into a live production with hundreds of viewers (or more) without adequate prep time. As a result, I wasn’t able to try it in that setting, but it should come as no surprise that this device scales incredibly well. You can use it for a single YouTube channel, church service, live sporting event, or even a local TV broadcast. 

In light of the learning curve to make the most out of the device, I recommend looking at the features of each ATEM Mini in Blackmagic’s line-up and choosing the one that works best for you. For most YouTubers and Twitch streamers, the ATEM Mini Pro (now $100 cheaper) is going to be an excellent choice. For users who want more inputs, outputs, and customization, the Extreme is an excellent choice. The only thing I wish is that it offered 4K output at this price but it’s hard to lean too heavily on that given what an incredibly capable device this is. 

Final Thoughts

The Blackmagic ATEM Mini Extreme is an incredible device. With eight video inputs, two outputs, and a wide array of keyers and DVEs, it’s able to produce professional results with far less time spent editing. While the Extreme is likely overkill for most streamers and YouTubers, there’s no denying just how impressive and time-saving it is — after you’ve climbed the learning curve and know how to interact with it. Whether you go for the Extreme, Pro, or the basic Mini, the ATEM Mini line is one of the best tools out there for video creators today.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 
 
9.5Amazing
Pros
  • Eight Video Inputs, Two Outputs
  • Automatically integrate different video sources and sync them in real time
  • Saves precious editing time
  • SuperSource and multiple keyers allow it to replace core elements of OBS entirely
  • Can use 4G connections for portable streaming
Cons
  • No 4K Output
  • Easy to get started with, steep learning curve to master all it can do


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight