More and more folks are doing streaming production, and a great many of them are using BlackMagic Design’s economical ATEM switchers. We rent them because they’re great units, but they are designed to have consumer or prosumer level cameras/sources plugged into them and for better or worse that means HDMI is used as their connection standard. The HDMI standard was primarily invented as a way to interconnect home theatre components and as such, one of its main weaknesses is that its cables can’t carry signals much farther than about 25′. This makes placing cameras away from the switcher (say in a church) very problematic. There are all sorts of converters and “henky” methods of getting around that, but then you have boxes at either end (which need power) and they introduce multiple points where the signal can fail. What we’ve done is purchase fiber optic HDMI cables. Small chips in the connecters draw their power from the HDMI port (no external power needed) and convert the electrical signals to light, and then back to a regular electrical HDMI signal at the other end. The advantages of fiber optics are bandwidth, long distance and freedom from any interference. In theory you can run miles over fiber, but we’ve restricted our cables to a sensible 50 meters (or about 160 feet). These cables conform to the HDMI 2.0 standard and carry data at 18gbps which means they not only carry High Definition, but even 4K signals at up to 60P with full 4:4:4 colour. For those of you using BlackMagic cameras with their ATEM switchers, these cables also carry the imbedded metadata signals that allow you to control certain operations of the camera (such as exposure and colour balance) from the switcher’s software control panel. These cables are unidirectional and are labelled SOURCE (Camera) and DISPLAY (Monitor or Switcher). Since they are essentially glass tubes, you have to be careful when using them that you don’t bend them too tightly both in use and when wrapping them.