With the immortal WJ-AVE5 two channel mixer from Panasonic being so plentiful on ebay right now I thought it might be a good time to highlight the unique Time Base Correction flavor making it popular amongst live glitch folk (the price tag and extreme mod-ability helps as well). Time base correction creates a stable signal (in moments of desired instability) by digitally buffering the signal and releasing it at a steady rate. For those seeking stable use of circuit bent glitch video gear a mixer with a TBC (or a stand-alone TBC) is imperative to prevent projector or capture card dropout. In the process of buffering your signal those analog glitch video FX that may have looked one way on your CRT may now look another way when passing through a mixer. This is not true with all mixers as I find some to buffer video with minimal digital impact. The Sima SFX-9 for instance creates little to no variation or artifacts. The WJ-AVE5 is another story however. It’s buffer does pleasantly AWFUL things to video. Like a full episode of MTV’s Amp crawled into your TV and died, in a good way. Or like you rented the Lawnmower Man 2 on VHS and Jobe gave your eyes AIDS or whatever he does, I forget. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Lawnmower Man 2 thankfully.
With instances of working with really broken video the WJ-AVE5 tends to artfully stutter and pause segments of your image coating whatever sweet sweet analog signals you may have had cooking with a thick layer of cold digital soot. Personally I really like it’s flavor. I think that while the WJ-AVE5 has a tendency to stray away from the original look of some FX (namely heavy sync corruption and edge feedback) it in no way produces whack-ness. Often times you’ll be surprised by how it re-interprets your favorite (or least favorite…. rendering them your favorite) effects. Combine all of the above with a corrupted FX buffer as found on the BPMC Touch 2xCH CV edition and you got yourself somethin’ extra tasty. Possibly deserving of a whole other video.
In the video above I highlight a couple of things. I’ve got a great new Burton video for source going in clean to channel 1 on the WJ-AVE5. I’m taking the monitor out of that channel in to the Lil’ Wizard glitch video FX processor and back into channel two. This way I can easily mix the clean and the dirty. Somewhere at about a fifty percent channel mix you get a cool glitch shadow effect. For the most part I am just using two sync corruption fx from the Wizz-Wizz. The L-Wizzy? L Wizz Hubbard? Anyways…… while not shown, quite a few glitch FX seem to produce an infinite horizontal scroll. I also find that exploring heavy sync corruption with the WJ-AVE5 is terrific for producing interesting stills being that you have the strobe and lag factor to work with. Peep the captures below and grab yourself an WJ-AVE5 before it’s back down to 2 month waits for a decent one under two hundred bucks.
Getting started with glitch art video production may seem a little daunting at first but there are really only a couple of key things you need to know. First, we should clarify what we mean when speaking of glitch video production. I am speaking of any video project that incorporates modified or circuit bent video mixers, fx processors, titlers or cameras into the mix. Speaking of which, this website is infested with them. If you’re new to glitch video production in general have a look around. While glitch video production does draw some parallels to the world of eurorack video synthesis and video art in general there are some things unique to glitch video production worth mentioning.
Displays ultimately decide the manner in which your destabilized signals are interpreted. They decide whether you get all those crazy squiggles or the ol’ blue screen of i-can’t-handle-this-shit. CRT TVs are the quintessential display when it comes to broken standard definition video. I design my machines strictly on CRTs and then later test them on other displays as an afterthought. Unless your CRT has digital noise reduction on (dig through the menu and make sure that shit is OFF as a mutherfucker) a CRT will display any signal you throw at it. This is not the case with LCD screens, projectors & capture devices as they all utilize analog to digital conversion and drop your signal rather than try and interpret a corrupted signal. An LCD screen will do it’s best to display corrupted signals but certain FX will create signal dropout for sure. What FX sneak through and at what amount varies from LCD to LCD but this is the same story with all those projectors you want to plug directly into. Projectors are even more touchy and are quick to interpret some corrupted signals as a lack of signal. But don’t worry, all is not lost. This can be worked around with a TBC unit or a cheap video mixer with a TBC in it, but we’ll get to that shortly. Before moving on I’d like to point out that each display type has it’s own flavor and subsequent time/place. It’s also good to note that results can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even between sizes when it comes to CRTs.
Time Base Correction.
For stable results when working with LCD screens, projectors and capture devices Time base correction is imperative. To quote wikipedia, “TBC counteracts errors by buffering the video signal and releasing it at a steady rate.” In instances where analog signal drop-out would occur a TBC unit, either a standalone box or a video mixer with one in it, would cleanly convert it up in to the digital realms. A TBC also changes the aesthetic of some FX. Often times this is the trade off. The Panasonic WJ-AVE5 for instance has a really weird flavor. It’s buffer has a very digital glitch feel; pulling out greens, often freezing or strobing the bottom half of your screen. The Sima SFX-9/10 does a really accurate job of displaying corrupted video. I find that it is most true to the original effect. The Videonics MX1 seems to vary over the course of it’s production run. There are also many stand alone units but the newer ones tend to either drop out to color bars or black (I’m looking at you AVT-8710). I highly recommend checking out ebay for cheap old rackmount ones often under a hundred bucks.
You’ve got a couple of ways to record your glitch video. You can find a display you love and point a DSLR or a camcorder it. With a little time and care this looks lovely. It is usually the way I go. There is a bit of an art to it; getting the right focus, dialing in your moire patterns or eliminating screen banding. It’s a nice easy way of bumping your video up to HD as well. If you’d like something a little more practical (or travel handy) you can always go the capture card route. There are many options to choose from and price varies based on software integration, input varieties, data transfer type, resolution availability and codec support. I say there is no shame in going the cheaper route for starters, just don’t expect a lot of support or integration into your preferred video editors of choice.
It is inevitable that you will one-day want to process youtube cat footage through your glitch art rig. It is not that challenging to setup, you just have to dumb that digital signal back down to analog. How to do it depends on what kind of computation device you are runnin’ over there. This Macbook Pro I am typing to you on for instance has both a mini-display port or and HDMI port I can utilize. The mini-display port for instance would require that I use an Apple mini-display to VGA adaptor and then a VGA to composite video adapter. The HDMI port is a little more straight forward and would only require an HDMI to composite video adapter. In my case I use the VGA method more often because I have found it to be more reliable. I have run into a couple of instances where I lose color going from the HDMI converter to certain pieces of glitch gear. This could be due to the converter I was using. Haven’t tried them all yet. You can even create a laptop loop by running out of your display port into your glitch gear and back into your laptop via a capture card. This can pose some challenges and be a little tricky to setup but I have seen it done. Despite the latency created utilizing this method it can still be pretty useful.
So these are the basics I want to make sure you know before you dive in but I hope this has been helpful and if you have any BPMC related glitch art video questions do not hesitate to hit me up. Cheers and be well.