What Does a Video Switcher Do?

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Video switchers are commonplace in many houses of worship because they help these congregations access high-tech tools that allow for very professional, sophisticated video productions. Whether you wish to video-stream a sermon, class, important meeting, or a live or remote broadcast, the right video switcher helps you utilize the special effects that make any production look and sound fantastic. Rather than choosing a standard video selector that is inexpensive but also has limited functions, a good video switcher is what most houses of worship need for more than just the obvious reasons.

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Why Do People Buy Video Switchers?

Video switchers, or video mixers, allow you to connect all of the cameras and other devices you’re using into one device. You can then direct it toward one of your output ports and send it to another device, which usually means a monitor of some type. You have two options to make this happen when you’re video-streaming or recording an event. The first option is to buy the right software and install it onto a computer, and the second is to purchase a video switcher. The latter is usually preferred because it provides more options for special effects, and you don’t have to worry about your computer glitching or malfunctioning. Video switchers eliminate these potential problems so you can produce high-quality videos every time.

The first thing that you need to know is that there are several different types of switchers, and they include:

  • Presentation switchers. These are utilized mostly by businesses and include two types. The first creates a transition between the sources by freezing the current source and then transitioning to the next one. The second creates a dissolve transition, which allows for a seamless transition. More often than not, these switchers’ effects and controls are limited, especially regarding live streaming.
  • Software switchers. These are not the same as switchers with software components. They use computer hardware to process the video. These switchers often provide free software, but you have to be careful with the software because it is often worth just what you paid. In most cases, you’ll have to find a way to capture each source, usually purchasing one or more capture cards.
  • Hybrid switchers. These are usually turnkey solutions that consist of a purpose-built computer and specialized hardware. Often, these switchers are Windows computers that work only if you don’t work with it improperly or set it up incorrectly.
  • Pseudo switchers. An example of this switcher type is the Mevo, which isn’t exactly a switcher but has a control interface similar to the other switchers. The Mevo uses a single video source, i.e., a 4K camera, but it switches between one part of the image and the others.

These days, most houses of worship use a hardware switcher and not one that consists of placing the hardware on a computer. Why? Because of the many things these switchers can do, which most people are surprised by.

What Can Video Switchers Do?

Video switchers not only help you manage all of your external cameras and other devices, but they also produce incredible special effects. These effects can make your entire production look super-professional and high-tech. With the right video switcher, it is easy to get these effects. When you first look at the switcher, it can be somewhat intimidating because of all the buttons. However, it won’t take long to learn what all of them do, especially if you’re using the switcher frequently.

Some of the many things that the right video switcher can do include:

  • Auto transition. This type of transition occurs with a simple button operation, as opposed to a manual fader operation.
  • Chroma key. This type of key is based on a particular color (usually green or blue) and is used to cut out the color background and replace it with some image. The foreground is the inserted image, and the chroma key image is the composite image.
  • Clip transition. This type of transition allows a frame memory clip to be synchronized with a background transition, for example, a mix and wipe.
  • Digital video effects (DVEs). This refers to the digital application of either 2D or 3D effects. This is usually done in one of two ways: through the switcher’s built-in processing capabilities or some external system. It is done so that the artistic features of the video can be made even better.
  • DSK (Down Stream Key). This refers to any key inserted downstream to the M/E (Mix/Effect) output.
  • A key refers to a special effect involving part of the background image being replaced by another image or text. The signal that determines how the background is cut out is called the key source, while the signal that replaces the cut-out part is called the key fill.
  • Multi-format. This means the switcher can handle many formats, including analog and digital formats (including SD and some HD varieties).
  • P/P (Program Preset, PGM/PST Block). When you look at the M/E rows, the P/P keys are the last output row. They are specifically used when you’re on the air.
  • This occurs when you move from the current signal to a new one, and you can do this via a mix, wipe, NAM, clip transition, DME wipe, or many others.
  • These are transitions from one video signal to another via a specific pattern, line, or shape. There are several different types of wipes. A wipe is one of the many ways you can transition from one signal to another.

There are other things that a good video switcher can do, but these functions are some of the basics.

Conclusion

blackmagic design atem switcher

Video switchers can be intimidating at first, but they always come with easy-to-understand instructions for setting up and using the devices. Your house of worship would be wise first to determine what you expect the switcher to do before going out and buying one. You will only feel confident that you’ve purchased the best one to meet your needs.

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