Blackmagic Web Presenter ($495) is a standalone, dual-input capture device that can make SDI or HDMI sources
look like a webcam for input into Skype or any
live-streaming software program. The unit can
switch between the two sources via cuts or other transitions and features RCA and XLR audio
inputs, the latter without Phantom power.
The unit was simple to install and easy to
work with, and it performed flawlessly during
my tests. The only note of caution is that Web
Presenter (Figure 1) tops out at 720p input; if
you’re looking for 1080p or higher input, you’ll
need another piece of hardware.
The unit itself is 5. 5" wide, 6. 7" deep, and 1. 75"
high, and you plug a standard three-prong power cord into it; there is no separate power supply to lug around. The unit has both HDMI and
12G-SDI inputs, with HDMI and SDI loop outs
plus an SDI program out (Figure 2). There are
left and right RCA connectors for audio input,
plus an XLR connector for line or mic input.
The back of the unit also has a USB connector
labeled “USB Webcam.” Initially, I thought
this connector supported webcam input, but
it’s actually the connector you use for output to
There’s another USB connector on the front
panel for firmware updates, which I originally
connected to my computer to no effect. It took
a trip to the manual to sort things out. You
won’t experience this problem if you review the
documentation before installing, although perhaps the label “Connect to Computer” instead
of “USB Webcam” would have been more descriptive for the connector in question.
The unit can accept up to 2160p input for both
HDMI and SDI, with internal circuitry scaling
the inputs to the 720p that’s actually transmitted to the computer. I tested Web Presenter using Blackmagic’s Teranex Mini Smart Panel, an
$85 option that replaces the front panel of Web
Presenter and provides video preview, switching between the inputs, an audio meter, and
several other button controls. The alternative
is using mini-switches, which makes the Smart
Panel a must-have option.
Blackmagic also sells a Mini Rack Shelf that
lets you rackmount the unit. Also available for
$85, the Mini Rack Shelf supports three modules so you can combine it with other Blackmagic products, such as ATEM Television Studio HD, HyperDeck Studio Mini, Blackmagic
MultiView 4, or Teranex Mini converters.
Testing With Skype
Since the unit’s primary raison d’être is to
replace a webcam, I started my tests
in Skype. On my HP ZBook Windows
notebook, Skype recognized the unit
right away. On an older Mac Pro workstation, Skype didn’t recognize Web
Presenter until I removed a Blackmagic Design DeckLink 3 capture card
from the computer and uninstalled all
related software. It’s not a problem
many people will experience, but if
you have other Blackmagic hardware
or software installed on your computer and
have trouble installing, you may have to remove it to get Web Presenter working.
For video, I connected Web Presenter to a
Canon Vixia HFS10 consumer camcorder via
Blackmagic Web Presenter By Jan Ozer
The front panel of
Web Presenter with
the Teranex Mini
Smart Panel, which
is a must
The back panel of
Does that USB
go to a webcam or