[00:00:00] Originally I wasn’t going to do a video on the new Atomos AtomX CAST. I was honestly a bit underwhelmed by what it delivers especially at its price point. So, I was just going to give this one a pass. But then I was having a conversation with a Mr. Strange — hmm, I wonder if he’s a doctor — on my Discord group. Which by the way if you want to join the Discord group, this is a private group that is for channel members. So if you scroll down and you click that Join button, you’ll be able to join the Discord group.
[00:00:27] We were talking about the use case of this because he was saying that he really loved it and I just didn’t quite get it, and he explained his particular use case, and I thought, “You know, okay, I can see that.” So, I thought “I’m going to do a little video for you explaining this use case”. I’m not going to do a full feature demo of the product; there’s plenty of those already here on YouTube. I just want to explain where I think this fits into the system.
[00:00:49] So, first of all, what is it? Well, this is the AtomX CAST from Atomos and this is the product itself right here. This is the CAST, but this on its own doesn’t do much. You to pair this up with the Ninja V. Without the Ninja V, this doesn’t do anything at all. So let’s go and put these two together. And now what you have is a four input switcher. If we take a quick look at the hardware on here, you’ll see you have four HDMI inputs - 1,2,3 and 4 along with a Program Out as well as what they call a “CAST Out” which is basically USB-C out into your computer.
[00:01:24] On this side, you’ll see there’s nothing on the CAST itself but you do have the microphone and line input that’s originally part of the Ninja as well as the headphone port for monitoring. On the other side, you have the HDMI In and Out on the Ninja. You can’t use the input on the Ninja along with the four that are in the CAST, so that just basically becomes disabled. However, you do have the HDMI Out on here giving you a second HDMI output.
[00:01:46] And then finally, on the front, you’ll see the four physical buttons for doing the switching along with a few function buttons to call up various other commands. By the way, you can do the switching by pushing the physical buttons on here or by tapping the screen itself.
[00:01:58] Okay, so why, with all of this said, am I not that excited about it? Well, let’s compare it in the landscape of other switchers and encoders that are on the market today — and there’s a key word in there — “encoders”. This is NOT an encoder. It is a switcher, but it is not an encoder. It is a four input HDMI switcher, and in that case, it kind of compares to the original ATEM Mini. Remember from the ATEM Mini Pro and up, you have a built-in encoder and of course, the YoloLiv YoloBox has a built-in encoder as well. So, all of those devices have encoders; this does not.
[00:02:31] So, what that means is if you want to use this to live stream, you have to connect this to another device, whether it’s a computer to do your streaming from a system like OBS or whatever, or of course using an external hardware encoder, but either way, you have to hook up an encoder.
[00:02:44] Okay, so a four input HDMI switcher with some basic graphics functions that’s very similar to what we had with the ATEM Mini — the original one. Well, how much is the original ATEM Mini? It’s only $300. It was and still is. How much is the AtomX CAST? It’s actually $400. So it’s $100 more. Plus, you need to have the Atomos Ninja V or Ninja V+ for this to work.
[00:03:05] So, right there, you’re talking about a pretty significant price jump. The AtomX CAST is $400 and Ninja V is $650. So, already you’re over $1,000. Now to be fair, if you buy them together as a kit, then, the price comes down to $900, saving about $150, making the cost of the CAST… let’s call it $250 instead of $400.
[00:03:24] But if you already own a Ninja V and you want to add this, it costs $400. If you are buying a new Ninja V or you’re just going to buy an additional one, then, you can save a little bit of money and it comes down to $250, but let’s compare at the higher end price. At over $1,000 for the pieces together, again, bought separately, you’re pretty comparable to the price of the YoloLiv YoloBox Pro which has the built-in encoder and a whole lot of other features on it as well.
[00:03:46] So, this is a switcher. It does have graphic support in there — you can load PNGs and you can select where those go. It does have Picture-in-Picture support and it even has more versatile Picture-in-Picture support than the ATEMs themselves, at least when you consider it as hardware only. As soon as you add the software to the ATEM, then you have more functionality but that does mean you have to have a computer connected whereas this is designed to be operated completely stand-alone.
[00:04:09] In fact, there is no computer interface to it; you do ever thing on the box itself. Okay, so you’ve got your four input switching, you have a Picture-in-Picture support which is a bit more versatile than what you have on the other hardware. You have support for graphics. You can load in PNGs and multiple images and load those up and those PNG graphics can be dedicated to a particular input so you switch to angle one and it has certain graphics on, angle two and it has others. So, that’s kind of nice, but again, if you want to live stream, then you have to have an external separate encoder.
[00:04:36] So, what is the use case then? Where does this fit in? Well, here’s situation that mister Strange was telling me about that I think is really quite appropriate. This is the live event where you want to do a live switching recorded or simulcast somewhere else in the room, in the vicinity — but you don’t necessarily want to live stream.
[00:04:56] So, let’s consider the use case of a live event like a wedding. You’re doing a multi-camera shoot of the wedding but you also want to be able to play back at the end of the ceremony, during the party, whatever, a video of what you just shot — but you don’t want to have to quickly go back and edit that. So instead, while recording, you simultaneously bring HDMI feeds into the AtomX CAST and you do a live switching, switching “live to tape” recording, so that you can immediately play that back afterwards.
[00:05:23] In fact, you wouldn’t even have to pull out the memory card and put it into a computer to play that back. You could literally just play it back from the Atomos itself — just plug the HDMI onto the projector or the TV, whatever, in to this, hit play, and away you go.
[00:05:35] So, that’s kind of a cool use case — you’d still have your 4K recordings in the cameras of course for doing a proper edit later, but you’ve got that immediately deliverable, playable, recorded edit of the live event.
[00:05:45] Or what about using it in a simulcast situation like at a concert or a house of worship where you’re not necessarily streaming, (although you could, again, with external hardware), but instead of streaming, it’s really more about projecting the show onto a big screen, putting it into another room, whatever it might be so that the live audience can see it as it’s happening and you can be doing the switching and of course again, you can record that as well.
[00:06:08] So, in that type of situation, it actually might be pretty good. And if you’re working in that type of environment, you might already own a Ninja V, in which case, it’s a minimal expense to add onto it. So, if you’re looking to set up a new live streaming situation, then, this is definitely not the hardware to look at but if you already own a Ninja and you’re looking to add live editing to tape to your setup, then, this could be a pretty good way to go.
[00:06:29] There are some other limitations in here to consider. It has very basic audio support; you can either have the audio follow the video, or you can choose any one of the inputs, but there’s no fading between them, and there’s no audio processing happening in there. So, that’s pretty basic. You could of course add an external audio mixer to get more advanced audio, but then we’re adding more hardware.
[00:06:48] However, consider that because this is an Atomos product and the firmware can be updated quite regularly on these that you might be seeing new features added to it over time. Now, they’re not going to be able to add something like encoding because the hardware simply doesn’t have a built-in encoder. However, it could add additional functionality like perhaps more audio processing support.
[00:07:06] So, that’s the product. It’s not for everybody for sure. It is definitely a niche product for a niche situation but if it fits your situation, then it might be the right product for you. Thanks for watching as always and I’ll see you guys in the next video.