Affordable Church HD Video Mixer

Update November 2017

This article was originally written a few years ago, and as technology has moved on, it is time for an update, especially as even our church have upgraded from the Sony EX1 HD Cameras we bought in 2010.

So if you are currently looking for an affordable video mixer, it is most likely that your church is now using a HD camera even if it is a consumer product, as such you need a switcher that is compatible and also has the right connectors which the mixer mentioned in the original article does not have.
As always most churches will have a limited budget so the mixer I have chosen bears that in mind.

The product I have chosen is the Blackmagic Atem Studio HD video mixer shown below:

This is an 8 channel HD mixer with 4 HDMI and 4 SDI (BNC) inputs and retails for less than $1000 or £800 so costs less than 1 camera. To complete your setup you will need a large monitor to allow the director see input previews as well as program output. The mixer will fit in a 1U rackspace and is very easy to setup and has all the features you would expect like Input sync, transitions, XLR audio inputs and built-in talkback support (when using compatible cameras).

Please note this is not 4K ready. You don't need a laptop or additional software to mix, however you can expand your setup to include a professional external hardware panel, so you can start small and expand as your budget allows. I have mentioned in this blog elsewhere, that most churches will not be able to broadcast in 4K unless you are only using the internet as your broadcast medium so this mixer will last you for a few years into the future.

If you have any questions, post a comment and I will do my best to answer.

Cheap 2 Channel Video Mixer
This popular Cheap mixer is still available to buy for around $500, from BH Photo, however unless you are using very old equipment and still shooting in SD,there is no point in buying one.

Cheap Church Video Mixer As you know TV equipment is not cheap, and you do need a large sum of money for broadcasting hardware, so here is a budget video mixer that would be ideal for a new startup church video department wanting to produce service DVDs for congregation members.

At around $500, it has reasonable features, and while not suitable for broadcast TV purposes, it will act as a spring board for training members of your video media department in live TV switching or video directing, and fufill the goal of simple mixing facilities for recording a church's service on DVD. In fact our church used this mixer for over 4 years to reliably record our services and produce a weekly video podcast before upgrading to a HD production studio.

The CMX07 is a 2 channel video mixer aimed at the consumer market, but can accept upto 4 camera inputs (2 SVideo and 2 Composite), but can only switch between 2 sources at a time.

The CMX7 (sold under Sima brand in the US) mixer was the first that we used at our church, and after some searching on the internet was chosen out of a short list of 2 products, the Edirol V4 VJ mixer and the CMX-07 video mixer. The main reason for choosing it was its simple interface and that for my video/TV ministry training application I needed to be able to simultaneously preview all my input sources, and the Edirol did not provide this.

The CMX-07 while having a Audio Mixer built in, you should not be using this, as all audio should be supplied from the churches Audio mixing desk (I presume any church starting a video department will already have a working sound unit).

In addition to this church video mixer, you will need a number of TV monitors corresponding to the number of cameras you will be using (probably 2 for a new department), plus an additional large one for monitoring the mixer video output being sent to your DVD recorder.

Video Mixer Design and Layout

The CMX07 has a cheap look, a plastic case and delicate controls, the unit however is very light and compact, which means that it can easily be carried and setup if you don't have a permanent place of worship.

Included with the mixer is the Power Adaptor, a S-Video cable and a stereo phono cable.

Setup and Operation of this church mixer
Setting up the CMX07 video mixer is quite easy, and just involves connecting the various Video sources to the mixer, connecting the preview outputs to the respective monitors and mixed Video output to the DVD recording device and large TV program monitor. The manual is simple, but explains all the required steps and anyone with some technical knowledge should be able to complete this.

Once everything is connected and you switch on the CMX07 church video mixer, it will go to its default settings. Even though the mixer has 4 video sources, you can only switch 2 at a time, so you need to configure both A and B buses with the required sources for switching. It should be noted that the mixer does not save any settings, so you need to configure the sources each time you switch the unit on. Switching between your 2 cameras is done by moving the "T" bar to either A or B bus and simply pressing the Video 1 or Video 2 button as required, and only requires a little bit of practise.

A few basic video transitions (dissolve, wipe and PIP) are provided, and using the "T" bar on A bus, select Video 1, choose the transition, on B bus select Video 2, move the "T" bar from bus A to B and you have your transition. An auto take button is also provided with adjustable speed if you prefer doing it that way.

If you have no previous TV or Video production experience, it is advisable to get someone in to training the church video department in basic switching operations and camera handling, as just pressing buttons will not give good looking visuals on the recorded DVDs.

Church Video Produvtion

Related Article
Cheap HD video mixer - Datavideo SE-2000


Anonymous said...

Would you recommend using a "software mixing video"

We would use less screens and more have options.

What do you think?


Shola said...

You have not said what software you are thinking of using for your church video mixing activities, but personally I've found out that hardware mixers are much more reliable.

If you need to use fewer preview monitors at the video directors position, you could consider using the datavideo se-500 mixer, it can put all four inputs onto one screen, as shown here.

In anycase you need to evaluate your particuar needs in your church. Don't forget if you are using software based mixers, you might need to buy interface boards to connect your cameras and maybe a new PC to run the software.

As far as options are concerned, you don't need facny effects to record your church services, you should only be doing cuts and fades, lower thirds for scriptures and speaker captions. What else do you need to do?

Unknown said...

How do you create/insert lower third (without a computer) when using hardware mixer?

The speaker often use powerpoint projected from another computer how can I send that to the mixer as well?

I would like to use a PC software but the best that I know for now is MAC/BOINXTV. Do you know any reliable PC software? The one's (PC) that I have found was not reliable and not stable.


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