Posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2024

How to Choose the Right Video Switcher for Your Production Needs

We're going to start by delving into the world of video switchers by considering your specific production requirements. Are you aiming for a production akin to the Grammys or Oscars, with numerous cameras and intricate graphics? Or perhaps you need a switcher capable of managing a vast array of cameras and sources? On the other hand, maybe you're looking to elevate a local event or service with a few cameras and mixed audio, aiming for a high-end production feel without the extravagant budget. Rest assured, there's a video switcher out there perfectly suited to meet your needs and elevate your production to the next level.

Just as with the avalanche of many fantastic new cameras, video switchers have made incredible gains. Switchers can now handle multiple formats from multiple studio and remote locations. There are video switchers that will let you color correct and shade your camerasm, as well as video switchers that let you build graphics and custom effects all the while mixing audio at the same time!

There are just too many features! No complaining here though because today’s graphic intensive programming needs a robust switcher that handle literally whatever gets throw at it. If you don’t believe me just take a look at this list supplied by CBS for the Super Bowl.

The number of sources both in and out for the Super Bowl are staggering. Can you imagine just trying to keep track of all these sources and formats? I can’t, but hey, it’s the Super Bowl and it’s being broadcast in 4K (HDR) - so hats off the production crews and engineers that can make those kinds of things happen!

The broadcast leveraged augmented, virtual, and extended reality technologies. These were used to project players onto Las Vegas Boulevard and provide a virtual reality experience for viewers. The use of real-time 3D animation graphics, created with Unreal Engine, added to the dynamic presentation of the game and studio coverage.

Are you overloaded yet? Well, your video switcher can’t be and needs to handle all that info in and out and more. With that said, one question about video switchers I get a lot is do we really need all that video switcher power to punch a great show?

For the answer to that burning question along with a few others, I reached out to veteran video owner, producer, and technical director, Josh Greenstein the owner and principal architect of 2Twelve Consulting Group.

Josh has literally flown almost everywhere around the world producing and calling dozens of high profile broadcast, corporate, and sporting events. Here are some of his thoughts about the evolution of video switchers and productions in general.

“Utilizing broadcast switchers for television and corporate productions has continued to evolve as the technologies grow and improve. There was a time where the only way you could get that polished broadcast look was with a big, expensive heavy iron switcher. Today however this has drastically changed and opened up a range of switching options from big budget to conservatively budgeted shows.”

“The resources available today in modern switchers are leaps and bounds from where they were even a decade ago. Mid-range switchers like a carbonite ultra can be outfitted with 3 ME’s, multiple DVE’s, output rotation and newer features like Ultrascene to maximize your availability to support a variety of in person and virtual production types.”

Josh elaborates: “For 2Twelve Consulting, we can support a large variety of high end corporate shows that utilize Carbonite Ultra to support the webcast, IMAG, presenter support monitor routing and controlling playback and media server devices. These shows incorporate 7-8 cameras, presentation graphics, prompter feeds, Ross Xpression graphics and video playback. Utilizing software like companion and Rosstalk control protocols, a large portion of the show can be controlled by the TD.”

Josh concludes his thoughts with just one more venue: “We also utilize Ross switchers inside of Polar Park located in Worcester Massachusetts, and the home of the Triple A affiliate for the Boston Red Sox for in venue and NESN broadcasts, as well as in corporate settings for webcast and IMAG use as well as for concerts, special events and virtual productions.”

I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about Josh and 2Twelve Consulting productions as we gear up for a busy year. But taking our next wide shot our next shot, we need to look at the many video switcher options out there.

Exploring Video Switchers: Making Informed Choices for Your Production Needs

In my opinion you need to first go out and look and ask around. Find a local facility or truck along with friendly engineer that will let you take a look. Get online like with us here at and do your homework. Ask yourself, what kind of shows do you want to do and how much do you want to grow your business?

Of course, you'll also want to ask yourself how much money do you really want to spend and can that video switcher you buy now keep up? You want to make those upgrades when available so you can tackle those bigger productions when they show up on your doorstep.

Let’s take a look at some of the great choices for video switchers and the companies that decided which one made the most sense for them.

Option 1: Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio HD8 ISO Live Production Switcher

Brooklyn Quarter, a Los Angeles based creative collective, is using a Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio HD8 ISO live production switcher and Blackmagic Studio Camera 6K Pros for multi camera productions, such as their “Novel Chronicles” YouTube series, and at global events such as San Diego Comic-Con International and WonderCon.

To live stream and capture events for post-production, Brooklyn Quarter uses the ATEM Television Studio HD8 ISO and three Blackmagic Studio Camera 6K Pros, along with a number of other Blackmagic Design products, including ATEM SDI Extreme ISO live production switcher, ATEM Studio Converters, HyperDeck Studio HD Plus broadcast deck and an Ultimatte 12 HD real time compositing processor.

Option 2: Panasonic KAIROS Next Generation IT/IP Live Production Platform

Seeking a solution that would up level the quality of its productions and provide greater flexibility, LiveX purchased Panasonic’s KAIROS, a next generation IT/IP live production platform. The full-service production and broadcast company, whose previous work includes the Democratic National Convention and USGA U.S. Open Championship, will use the platform to automate its new 4K broadcast streaming studio and expand the company’s remote capabilities for future productions.

“Remote broadcasting has been a part of our business for the last four years, so it’s really in our DNA to have remote production capabilities,” said Corey Behnke, co-founder, and producer and at LiveX. “Panasonic’s KAIROS platform was the first system we saw where everything works together in tandem and provides us with the ability to remotely control everything from anywhere in the world.”

Option 3: BroadcastPix Roadie Production System

Broadcast Pix™ just introduced their new production switcher the “Roadie Systems”. Designed for live production control on location, for educational, government, corporate, and sports productions. Equipped with built-in HD streaming and recording features, the Roadie Systems incorporate Broadcast Pix’s multi-format, resolution-independent, and hybrid capabilities. Key features include multi-format network and SDI inputs (1080p60/50 & UHD Ready), a multi-format clip store (2), NewBlue™ 3D motion graphics, logo and still stores (4), an advanced macro creator and editor, remote intercom and chat, PTZ robotic camera control audio mixing, as well as live streaming to FaceBook.

Option 4: vMix Live Streaming and Production Software

vMix is live streaming and production software that allows you to create professional quality productions on your own computer. vMix gives you the power to add multiple cameras, videos, NDI sources, remote guests using vMix Call, images, audio, web streams, Powerpoint, titles, virtual sets, chroma key, and much more to your production. The end user is able to display, record and live stream your production all at the same time. vMix can be used in large scale multi-camera events or simple one person webcam productions. You can use vMix to power your entire your production or make use of selected features to elevate your existing workflow.

Closing Thoughts

The bottom line is that there is a video switcher out there for you — there are a lot to choose from. Switchers can be as simple or as complex as you production and your budget allow. You're calling the shots! As long as you do some good research you’ll be fine. It’s time to call your show!