If more than 1 cam­era is involved in shoot­ing an event, a video switch­er is indis­pens­able. This is a device with which you can add spe­cial effects, com­bine, “glue” videos from dif­fer­ent sources. In sim­ple words, this device is sim­i­lar to a mix­ing con­sole for work­ing with audio tracks. With one dif­fer­ence — it works not just with sound, but with videos.

The pro­duc­tion capa­bil­i­ties of a video com­pa­ny, a TV chan­nel large­ly depend on the set of options for the equip­ment used. In this mate­r­i­al, we talked about what video switch­ers are, what can be done with their help. And also — what mod­els you can pay atten­tion to when buy­ing.

The main option of such an on-air video switch­er is the abil­i­ty to make tran­si­tions between video sig­nal sources imper­cep­ti­ble. Pho­to: kremlinstore.ru

Cat­e­gories of switch­ers
Fea­tures of the switch­er
Wipe effect (WIPE)
Mix­ing effect (MIX)
Chro­ma Key effect
Lumakey (Lumi­nance Key)
Down­stream Key
Pop­u­lar man­u­fac­tur­ers
Black Mag­ic Design
data video
feel world

Categories of switchers

We said above that most of the devices on the mar­ket have sim­i­lar options. This is true. But the mod­els also have dif­fer­ences. This main­ly con­cerns the capa­bil­i­ties and inte­gra­tion with var­i­ous tele­vi­sion equip­ment. Con­ven­tion­al­ly, all video switch­ers can be divid­ed into 3 cat­e­gories.


The most sim­ple. Work with 10–12 sig­nal sources. They have a lim­it­ed set of options. Mod­els from the first cat­e­go­ry are cheap­er. They are still in use today. For exam­ple, in com­pact ver­sions of mobile tele­com­plex­es.

Sec­ond and third cat­e­gories

The essen­tial dif­fer­ence between them is the num­ber of sig­nal sources they can work with. In the sec­ond cat­e­go­ry of input sources, usu­al­ly up to 48, and in the third — up to 64.

Such mod­els are used in var­i­ous sta­tion­ary stu­dios. Their capa­bil­i­ties are much wider than those of the pre­vi­ous group (we’ll talk about it in detail below).

The dif­fer­ence in price can be huge (from a cou­ple of hun­dred dol­lars to sev­er­al thou­sand) and depends on many fac­tors. For exam­ple, on the num­ber of sig­nal sources with which they can work.

Brands usu­al­ly pro­duce sev­er­al mix­ers of the same type, which dif­fer in size, max­i­mum num­ber of inputs / out­puts. How­ev­er, they have the same func­tion­al­i­ty. This is done so that you can find the opti­mal device for your require­ments.

Now there are so many dif­fer­ent mod­els that you can find one suit­able for any request Pho­to: e‑pard.com

Features of the switcher

The basic set of fea­tures (“direct insert” — CUT, mix­ing — MIX) is in any mod­el. But there are options that are found only in the sec­ond and third cat­e­gories (which were dis­cussed above). We will talk about what these pos­si­bil­i­ties are in this block.

Wipe effect (WIPE)

Such an effect is a smooth tran­si­tion, when one frame replaces anoth­er. Cheap and sim­ple devices also have this option, but in a trun­cat­ed form. For exam­ple, only ver­ti­cal and/or hor­i­zon­tal frame changes may be avail­able. In addi­tion to these two cur­tains, there are oth­ers: diag­o­nal­ly, in a cir­cle, and oth­ers.

Mixing effect (MIX)

Anoth­er option that both cheap and expen­sive mix­ers have. Such a tran­si­tion helps to achieve a smooth dis­ap­pear­ance of one frame and the appear­ance of anoth­er. Typ­i­cal­ly, this effect is used when edit­ing slow, smooth scenes. In the “cropped” ver­sion on cheap devices, there may not be (but not always) the abil­i­ty to change the dura­tion of the tran­si­tion.

Chroma Key Effect

This is one of the most famous tricks. It involves replac­ing one col­or with some image. The most com­mon col­ors for chro­makey are blue and green. Since they are the most dis­tant from the col­or of human skin. And, when you change the back­ground, you don’t acci­den­tal­ly cap­ture the host’s face.

Because of the chro­ma key, you no longer need to spend mon­ey on com­plex scenery. It is enough to sub­sti­tute the fin­ished back­ground. This effect great­ly sim­pli­fies the process of shoot­ing TV pro­grams (for exam­ple, weath­er fore­casts) and movies.

With the help of chro­makey, you can cre­ate an amaz­ing­ly real­is­tic image. Pho­to: bloominari.com

Lumakey (Luminance Key)

Using the tool, you can cut out not just some object, but all areas of the lay­er that con­tain a cer­tain bright­ness.

Downstream Key

Any video mate­r­i­al con­sists of sev­er­al lay­ers. Most often there are three of them:

  • base, back­ground;
  • the mid­dle lay­er (for exam­ple, the pre­sen­ter of the weath­er fore­cast);
  • fore­ground.

DSK (Down­stream Key) is an option that allows you to see and adjust the fore­ground (top­most). Here you can place a logo, sub­ti­tles, water­marks. Even if they lat­er change the back­ground of the video or add some effects, the top lay­er will remain unchanged.

Popular manufacturers

It is dif­fi­cult to choose the best video switch­er, since most mod­els have iden­ti­cal tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions, they are sim­i­lar in appear­ance, etc. There­fore, today we will not com­pile the top of the best, we will just talk about some man­u­fac­tur­ers and their pop­u­lar mod­els. Which of them is the best, the read­ers them­selves will decide.

All prices shown in the selec­tion are valid at the time of writ­ing.

Black Magic Design

Aus­tralian brand that man­u­fac­tures equip­ment for cin­e­ma, tele­vi­sion, radio. Prod­ucts include motion pic­ture cam­eras, video edit­ing soft­ware such as DaVin­ci Resolve, and more.

A video switch­er is an indis­pens­able device dur­ing sports broad­casts. Pho­to: livedesignonline.com

An inter­est­ing and pop­u­lar prod­uct of the com­pa­ny is the Black­mag­ic Design ATEM switch­er. It comes in many vari­ants, for exam­ple:

– ATEM Mini video switch­er is one of the cheap­est mod­els (81,490 rubles). A com­pact (24x4.5x12 cm) gad­get that will come in handy for blog­gers who host their videos on Youtube, Twitch. With the help of such a device, you can work with chro­makey, pro­fes­sion­al­ly process a pic­ture and sound, make a pic­ture in a pic­ture, apply beau­ti­ful effects and tran­si­tions;

– Black­mag­ic Design ATEM Mini Extreme ISO video switch­er is one of the expen­sive options (price starts from 180,000 rubles). It has more HDMI inputs/outputs, USB ports. There are 2 media play­ers, the abil­i­ty to cre­ate pic­ture in pic­ture, and dis­play up to 16 win­dows.

All prod­ucts of the line have many advan­tages, for exam­ple:

  • work simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with dif­fer­ent for­mats (SD, HD);
  • the abil­i­ty to dis­play sev­er­al chan­nels at once on one mon­i­tor (the num­ber depends on the select­ed mod­el);
  • a large num­ber of dif­fer­ent exits and out­puts. Thanks to this, you can con­nect dif­fer­ent equip­ment (routers, cam­eras, etc.);
  • com­pat­i­ble with pro­fes­sion­al micro­phones (for exam­ple, lava­liers);
  • there is a built-in Fairlight unit for pro­fes­sion­al and com­plex audio pro­cess­ing in real time.

Mod­els dif­fer from each oth­er in size, price, num­ber of con­nec­tors.

data video

A Tai­wanese com­pa­ny that has been devel­op­ing and cre­at­ing record­ing equip­ment for more than 30 years. Among its prod­ucts are many pro­fes­sion­al equip­ment for stu­dios, con­cert venues, etc.

The com­pa­ny’s prod­uct range includes sev­er­al mod­els of video switch­ers: from the sim­plest and most inex­pen­sive (about $1,000) to the expen­sive ones (from $5,000). They dif­fer in capa­bil­i­ties, size, num­ber of inputs / out­puts.

Datavideo switch­ers are pro­fes­sion­al edit­ing equip­ment. Pho­to: adkproaudio.com

The Datavideo SE-3200 HD 12-chan­nel dig­i­tal video switch­er is a wor­thy rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the brand. This equip­ment has 12 inputs (8 SDI, 4 HDMI) and 9 out­puts (6 SDI, 3 HDMI). A video switch­er is suit­able for con­duct­ing online broad­casts at a pro­fes­sion­al lev­el. Can:

  • con­nect up to 8 blocks togeth­er (“pic­ture in pic­ture”);
  • apply a large num­ber of video effects;
  • use the effect of Chro­ma Key and Luma Key;
  • upload your own scene tran­si­tions and ani­mat­ed logos or use any of the 50 pre­sets;
  • use the spe­cial “Key tie” option. With it, you can use 4 ver­sions of switch­able chro­ma key. Thanks to this, you can make an imi­ta­tion of a full-fledged stu­dio.

feel world

A Chi­nese com­pa­ny that is engaged in the cre­ation of FPV, pho­to, direc­tor’s mon­i­tors. The main advan­tage of the brand’s prod­ucts is the low price. Such equip­ment can hard­ly be rec­om­mend­ed to a major TV chan­nel. But this is a good option if you are just learn­ing how to install or do not want to spend impres­sive amounts on prod­ucts of pop­u­lar brands.

For exam­ple, the Feel­world Live­pro L1 video switch­er is a mod­el for 28,890 rubles. This is a com­pact (185x11x39 mm) device that can be con­nect­ed to a cam­era, com­put­er, lap­top, mon­i­tor. This is a sim­ple video switch­er for work­ing with video, sound, apply­ing effects.

Prod­ucts from Feel­world are a bud­get solu­tion for a small com­pa­ny. Pho­to: burn-media.ru

We hope that our mate­r­i­al has helped you under­stand what a video switch­er is and what it is for.