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Video feedback for live shows: gear and setup
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Video Synthesis  
Author Video feedback for live shows: gear and setup
Hi y'all!

I'm new to the forum although I've been doing music with electronic instruments (a couple of old synths and eurorack modules) and reading muffwiggler's threads for a while now.

Lately, I've been wanting to experiment with video feedback to accompany the live shows of the small venue I always go to.

So I guess I'll be looking for:

— a camera (digital or vhs ? what connectivity ? what criteria ? can I find one that has both mirrored output and inverted colours output ? how important is the zoom ? or the ability to change contrast/brightness ?)

— a monitor/tv (LCD or CRT ? what connectivity ? other criteria ?)

— a mixer ? (what for ? do you mix different video sources, treated and untreated ? do you use it mainly for on-board effects ?)

— a video synthesizer ? (what are the most important/common treatments you use with feedback loops ? What modules do you use ? N.B. I just purchased the LZX Vidiot).

— a projector (digital or CRT ? what connectivity ? N.B. I have a short-throw BenQ W1110, do you feel the quality of the projection will be sufficiently good and bright for the venue ? )

Any gear-advice or comment on your own setup will be much appreciated.

Cheers from Spain
Hi and welcome !

I've been doing video feedback shows for about 15 years now, so here are some tips:

-camera: old vhs or handycams work good. make sure you get one with a good lens and the possibility to adjust focus, white balance and zoom by hand. autofocus on feedback sucks most of the time.
I have had good luck with a professional ccd camera with a big lens. but some video output resolutions might not work with lzx gear.

-monitor: I use stackable CRT monitors. you will need more than one for feedback setups. (at least one for a camera setup, one for checkmonitor)
You can use a flat lcd for checkmonitor, if you want to save some space.

-mixer: you need a mixer to make variations of the signal, add effects, use mixer feedback and so on. Panasonic mixers are cheap and have cool effects
(superimpose and keying effects are great for feedback, and strobe, paint, mosaic are fun too!) I have the mx10 and ave5 / 7 . I'd love to replace these with modular mixers but this is not yet financially possible for me.

-videosynth: I have a LZX Cadet diy modular videosynth. It has great possibilities for feedback effects and routing. way more flexible that the average mixer+camera+monitor setup.
you get full control over feedback colors, edges, colorisers, and get to modulate everything.
I would suggest to play the hell out of your Videot and expand if you need to. To modulate things, envelope followers and audio inputs are useful. (external mic) . See the Sensory Translator from LZX.

-projector: Most venues have one. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. You will need a screen too. Walls are not optimal for projections. LED screens / walls work good too, but they have a fixed resolution (this can be a good thing)
I have a few cheap 2000 lumen projectors which I normally bring, so that I can make several projections. more video colors everywhere!

about connections: most video gear uses cinch or BNC.

for my setup, see here:
FetidEye wrote:
Hi (...)

Thanks a lot for stepping in and helping out, very helpful!

Would you please give me a few names of a "professional analog camera with big lens" you feel would work well to experiment with ? I don't know where to start my search.

Also, LZX indicated that the video input of the Vidiot will be only monochrome (to be colorized in-the-box so to speak) and suggested that b&w cameras were better suited to produce complex shapes/textures. What are your thoughts on this matter ?

if you can find a decent B&W camera, go for it!

I've used very old analog tube camera's, but those are large, heavy and need big power bricks. But they give beautiful fluid feedback spirals, better than any other camera's I've used since.
on this site you can find some pictures: link

Other good results came from a type of CCD camera's that are sometimes used for video microscopes (to use with SMD soldering by example). If you find a good quality CCD with a swappable lens, you can get great results.
Again, make sure all settings are hand adjustable.

I'll check with my friend (most of our video gear is at his house) which camera's we have (type / brand names) and post it here.

in the meanwhile, search for "s-vhs camera" on ebay (or your preferred market site)
The grey-bodied Panasonic & JVC camera's are pretty good. don't pay more than 50,- euro / dollars for one though.
or look for handycams (hi-8 or vhs) . make sure the lens is not too tiny.

The good thing with CCD camera's is that they are small and can be easily rotated and angled to any position.

Don't forget: Get a good tripod too!

For small camera's use can use the 'gorilla' type of tripods.
big camera's need larger tripods. It's peanut butter jelly time!
Bonus about Tube Cameras is that they can be found pretty cheap ($10-$30 in the US). I have had good luck powering them from rechargeable 12VDC batteries and converting the output to RCA with a simple DIY converter box.

Most tube cameras from the late 70s/ early 80s have CCJ connectors (I would avoid Sony since they have a proprietary connector). Good info on pinouts here:
I've had good experiences with a bunch of old CCTV cameras on ebay, but my preference is for the Panasonic WV-CP series. That's just a personal thing, of course.

BTW, you don't actually need a B/W camera when going into a B/W input. You'll still get B/W video. That's the thing about composite signals and LZX. So I used to look for B/W but now I don't bother. I have a small collection of Panasonics that work very well for me, even tho none of them are B/W. Just add a cheap 8mm c-mount lens when a camera is sold without one.

You could also use a modern HD camera if it has a composite output (see above). I have 2 dome cameras with composite and HD-SDI outputs. They have extensive menu options with fun options like "Mirror" (which just flips the image 180 degrees) and "Negate", lighting settings, and even PAL/NTSC format selection. The composite signal can be fed directly into an LZX video decoder, but the HD-SDI output requires a converter/scaler. (I got a used one very cheaply on ebay earlier this year. Very good condition. Original packaging, too.)
Good advices, thank y'all.

I'll be following this thread if anyone wants to share their own experience with gear for video feedback and I will report back on my own findings (it'll take time of course but that's the beauty of discovering a new form of art).

FetidEye wrote:

Lento_Zoom wrote:

nerdware wrote:

Couple of quick reactions.

— Why S-VHS cameras ?

— Why CCTV cameras ?

— Any info on on the process of converting the output to RCA and putting 12V batteries would be helpful

Thanks again
s-vhs : pro: good quality, semi-pro. con: large, need big tripod
cctv : pro: small, easy to position / rotate, manual focus. con: resolution can be non-standard.

output: most camera's already have rca plugs. Some have BNC, for which there are simple adapter plugs. Older camera's sometimes have a some type of coaxial plug, for which there is also an easy adapter to rca (or bnc)
FetidEye wrote:

Great! Thanks. When you get to go to your friend's house, it'd be helpful to know what CCD camera you are using.

Regarding the tripods, where do you find/how do you make them ?

Thanks again
I like FetidEye's answers. thumbs up

Modern, non-CCTV digital cameras are much more expensive. The video signal will need converting and downscaling, which will add to the cost. You can do that, and some people do, but that cost will be repeated for each camera. That could easily end up costing more than your entire videosynth.

Of course, if you want to work in HD, that could make sense. However, a modern HD mixer alone could cost more than an entry level videosynth, like the Vidiot. Most of us here seem to compromise by using some kind of hybrid system. E.g. the only digital part in your rig might be a capture card for a computer. See the "Post Pics of Your Video Synths!" thread for examples.
i use cctv cameras because they are cheap, portable, and mine have genlock to sync with other sources. i have a flight case ive built up for this using roland v8 mixer as the heart. from there ill have 1 camera for feedback, mixer feedback, media player loaded with clips i've made over time and my LZX. all that stuff combines into some fun feedback possibilities.
tripods: small ones can be found cheap on ebay.
search for gorilla tripod. get a cheap clone smile or a real gorilla, depending on your budget

larger ones can be found cheap at thriftmarkets or maybe at a photo equipment shop
FetidEye wrote:

There is a Sony HVC 4000P and HVC 3000S Trinicon tube cameras both for sale in a local shop at 100€ each, worth it ? Are they any good for video experiments ? They seem to have plenty of manual control and also a reverse/negative colour option.

And, I found this to make the output composite and have it run with a 12v battery : king.html

I'd say 100,- for both hihi
make sure they work (test if possible. try out the feedback while you're at it!)
if the connectors are weird, ask if they come with the camera.
luckily the guy at your link has the pins figured out!

they look like good camera's, the other one too.

have you found a mixer already?
camera + monitor is cool, but add a mixer and the possibilities open up!
especially when the mixer has effects such as strobe, paint, mosaic, keying with title effect (this add borders to keyed effect, great for feedback!!) etc.
tube cameras can be fun but dont work well in low light
one of the best CCD camera's i've used (we have one in our setup now):
(we paid 30,- euro for it)

Pulnix PEC3010
"Low light" is not really an issue with feedback. Control of the aperture and/or video level (as well as pedestal, keying or any intervention between the camera and the monitor, including objects, your hands, transparencies etc) have much more effect on the image. If you're willing to experiment tube cameras can do very interesting things because you can "bloom" (overdrive) the tube signal which all becomes part of the feedback (image). The other consideration is camera(s) that take external sync that can also be had on EBAY etc. Feedback with two cameras multiplies the possibilities of complexity...
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