Control HDMI Blackmagic cameras from an ATEM SDI switcher

Getting control of your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k or 6k from an SDI ATEM is super useful - but isn't quite plug-and-play.

By John Barker • 03 Nov 2022

Getting control of your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k or 6k from an SDI ATEM is super useful - but isn’t quite plug-and-play.

Let’s explore the steps involved to make it work.


Let’s get camera control working between a HDMI Blackmagic camera and an SDI ATEM switcher. It’s not quite plug and play as you might expect.

On the desk here, I have everything I need to get going. I have the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K here. Also, applies to the other cameras in the range. I also have the ATEM SDI Pro ISO. I’m using that to make this video as well as show off this feature. I have this main camera connected to input number one. I have this overhead camera on two. I have my computer on three, and I have a blank input on four ready to go with this Blackmagic camera on the desk. Additionally, I have one of these Blackmagic bidirectional converters. This is the 3G model, which will be perfect for passing 1080p60 signal from the camera into the ATEM. I also recommend grabbing the latest firmware for the converter, for the camera, and for the ATEM as well so everything works as you expect. All of this can be found over on the support section of the Blackmagic design website.

First up, I want to attach the HDMI output from the camera here and attach that to the input on the converter at the bottom here so I can send a signal from the camera into the ATEM. Additionally, I’ll need an SDI cable out from this converter and into the ATEM. With the video signal set up, I can add some power to the converter and have things working. Now I can see over on camera four, I have this camera set up. Looks good. So far, so good. I have a video passing from my camera into the ATEM, and I can already see it pop up on my multi view as well. However, if I head over to the ATEM software control, let’s take a look at that, into the camera tab here and try adjusting the colors on camera four, you’ll see that nothing happens and they’re not changing. I need to use one of the SDI outputs on the ATEM to send a signal back to the camera and tell it what to do.

With this cable connected up to output number two on the ATEM I can connect that to the SDI input on the bidirectional converter and take another look at the ATEM software control. Now as I play with the colors, you can see on the camera that it’s still not working. What’s going on here? Well, if I go back to number one here, camera number one on the ATEM software control and play with that, you will see that at the camera it’s actually making a change.

We’ve got one more step here to get things running smoothly. If I connect this bidirectional converter up to my computer, I can take a look at what’s going wrong. Over here on my Mac I’m opening up the Blackmagic converter setup, and with that converter connected, I can take a look at the settings. The SDI camera control, ATEM camera ID is the problem here. I want to set this to camera four and hit save on that. I have found this a little bit quirky sometimes, so I do like to go back in and make sure that camera ID is correct before I disconnect it from the Mac. I’ll just launch that one more time. And yes, camera ID number four, I can now disconnect this and power up differently. This setting tells the converter which signals to send onto the camera and which ones to ignore. And in this case, anything coming in for camera four should be sent to that camera. And now drum roll please.Hopefully things are working as we expect them to. If we take a look back on the Mac here and I play with the colors a little bit, and then I cut to camera four, you can see there’s a disco happening as I mess around with the colors. But things are working as expected. Even things like tally are working right now, so if you look at this tiny little green light here, you can see as I move it off and on preview, it’s sending that signal over to the camera and it’s working just fine. Nice.

A final few things here before we wrap up with this setup. Over on the ATEM software control, if we go up to the preferences section, we can set up mapping. And in here you want to be specific about what type of camera you have. In my case, I want to set up the Pocket Cinema Camera 4k, and hit okay on that. And now I can be sure that I’m controlling the right camera with all the right settings. Make sure your camera lenses are set to auto mode, so auto focus instead of manual. And for my case, I have mine set manually to 1.7 here, but I want to make sure that’s set to auto mode so the ATEM can take control of that.You can use the return SDI signal to send a feedback to the camera operator. In my case, I can send back multi view or maybe just a program for that operator to take a look at. I have an extra HDMI output on this converter here, so I can send a video feedback from the ATEM to that converter and be shown on a monitor next to the camera. This is super useful for sending maybe the multi view back to your camera operators or just the program feed so they can see when they’re on air and what it looks like.

If you’re worried about giving up one of your SDI outputs on your ATEM, you can also use a distribution box from Blackmagic to send that one signal into the distro box and then out to multiple cameras. All of the camera operators will get the same video feedback again, but because of the settings we set up in the converter earlier, we can send certain signals to certain cameras and control up to four for this production.

I hope you found this walkthrough useful. This is exactly the problem I had whenever I just changed to these Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4ks. I couldn’t remember if it was on the camera or the converter where this setting should be changed, but I found it out and I thought I’d make a video about it and show it to you. All right, that’s it for now. See you in the next video. Bye-bye.