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total video noob wants to get his feet wet
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Video Synthesis  
Author total video noob wants to get his feet wet
visible cow
I'm growing increasingly interested in playing around with video which is kind of funny since I've never owned a video camera. I've loved watching demos of the Dave Jones and LZX modules but I'd like to start even smaller (and cheaper) for now. Basically I'd like to learn the lingo and start messing around with things like feedback. I'm also interested in finding ways to incorporate my (medium format) photography....but that probably has to wait.

I realize this is an incredibly vague post but I'm having a hard time figuring out where to start. Maybe a cheap camcorder, a monitor of some kind and some software? Not sure.

If there is a "for the noobs" thread that I've missed please let me know!

Watching this video totally put me over the edge.

Also, I'm not asking for a cheaper solution because I think that the current offerings are expensive, I'm just a bit broke right now.
feedback is a great place to start!
one important thing for getting really complex feedback results is to have some way to interrupt the flow. Pretty much any camera and screen will do (although tube cameras and CRTs give the richest results). Then I'd pick up a cheap video switcher (like one of the Panasonic AVE mixers), and some cheapo color corrector/ effect boxes (I love the videonics color equalizer, it has this totally weirdo keyer thing).
Feedback setups are definitely a great way to get started.

The video you just posted was created by my friend Chad a few years ago, using his modular system (which I believe was a mix of Modcan and Frac) and a few consumer video gear pieces. If you want to do stuff like that, you don't really need to get the computer involved. Just scope eBay and craigslist for video mixers, video processors, and various other devices. Chad's feedback loops involve a handful of these devices feeding back into each other in various ways (no camera involved.) The Panasonic mixers are a great place to start. Whenever a camera isn't used, its often referred to as "direct synthesis/feedback" (coined by Stephen Beck and his DVS: Direct Video Synthesizer.)

A nice thing is that once you get into video modules, if you do, you can just integrate your video modular into your setups and feedback loops and still use all of your other gear as well.

Thanks for posting, I look forward to seeing what you do. One thing I love so much about this growing community of video synthesists and experimenters is that no one has just a tiny bit of excitement over it -- everyone is so gung ho and passionate. You definitely seem inspired, and that's inspiring!!
visible cow
One of my main concerns, being new to this, is compatibility between different devices. Would the Panasonic AVE work with the videonics and most cameras I would buy? It's a whole new language for me!

Thanks for posting guys, I've watched a few pieces of yours over the last few months (both of you) and it's really gotten me interested in video synthesis.
Video formats can be confusing at first. To put things simply, you (assuming you're in the US) want devices that have inputs and outputs that are Composite NTSC format. With very rare exceptions (none I can think of), on consumer/prosumer devices you are looking for a yellow colored RCA jack to represent the video in and out, and it will always represent Composite/NTSC.

There are some articles on different video formats on my site, and some links to other articles from those as well. Wikipedia in general is very good too, just look up NTSC or Composite Video and start reading. smile
Tall Midget
You can do some really mind-blowing stuff with software. Check out Derivative TouchDesigner which is really powerful and free to use for non-commercial purposes. You might have to spend a few hours watching the tutorials on Vimeo to learn it though. You do need a decent graphics card to run it too.
visible cow
Awesome I'll check that out. Some software to mess around with sounds like fun.

I'm currently scanning ebay for some of these devices. I'm not sure what to search for as far as tube cameras go. "Tube video camera" gives very unsatisfying results. I do have my eye on a JVC BY-110 which ends tomorrow, hoping it goes cheap....and to me.

I'll also need to find a way to capture this on my macbook but I'm pretty sure I saw a recent thread about this.
visible cow wrote:
I'm currently scanning ebay for some of these devices
Cheap consumer-level stuff has great potential... an old Videonics or Panasonic mixer and a seperate cheap enhancer/effects unit would be a great start.
Regarding incorporating your photo work, though not "cheap", an Edirol CG-8 is a specialized video synthesizer that works with photo's exclusively.

(and I just happen to know where you can find one right now heh heh)

But yes, otherwise get an old panasonic beastie mixer- or a Videonics MX1 for even more potential -, run the output through an old VCR or something to get some delay (also good for easily recording your output at the same time) and run it back into an input on the mixer. Mess with the effects. Have fun.
plus one on touch designer
You can even look closer to home for cheapo input/effects devices.
The other day I saw a feedback vid that used an iPhone with a 3rd party video app. Effecting the visual whilst outputting via TV-Out cable.

Edirol CG8 is pretty cool, it's just a dedicated computer in a box but the interface allows for intuitive creative workflow. Mind you, mine has collected dust since I got distracted by lumping together heaps of cheap consumer video junk.
bitSmasher wrote:
Cheap consumer-level stuff has great potential...


This is just a really quick "preview" vid, taken at midnight on my phone when a hit of inspiration struck. It's a bit shaky, I was jacked up on energy drink and pretty well exhausted:

Found an old VHS camera and B&W CRT at a ReUse store for $5 each. This is was a straight feedback loop with nothing else in the signal chain. Crazy flashing is exacerbated by the phone camera trying to auto-adjust brightness levels.

After taking this I found some very cool effects made by adjusting the camera's focus, the screens brightness + contrast, and then exploring the camera's built in effects.

Will do another quick vid today, this time using a video mixer in the signal chain for effects and also so I can capture to usb input for better quality.
Hope this isn't seen as a thread hijack, moreso an example of what a bit of scrounging and tinkering can lead to. $10 spent and 15min playing around is just the start of it.

edit: another video here
Those are some nice feedback textures.
A fun video mixer effect for feedback is a triggerable freeze frame/strobe effect.
nice! i also like tilting the camera a bit and using lights when playing with feedback
Anything that goes between the camera and monitor will also change the feedback. Pieces of colored gel, a wire draped over the screen, bits of paper dropped in front of the lens, etc...

Also try turning the camera upside down or at strong angles. And of course zooming it, or moving it in and out.
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