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Analog video experiments

This page is about my experimentation in producting interesting visual effects using analog video devices. This is mainly done using gear originally meant to edit home movies, connected together in various ways so as to alter the original video signal, generally produced using a camcorder or a DVD player.

Everything is connected using analog composite video, since that's the most common format for these devices and often the only one they support (although some also have the option to use S-Video), and since that provides the most flexibility and is much easier to modify and create effects with compared to digital signals.

My goal is to show what can be achieved by spending relatively little (all the devices from this page have been obtained from flea markets or, occasionally, Ebay) and how cheap and terrible 80s "video enhancer" boxes can still have some sort of use nowadays.

Highlights

Blaupunkt video mixer (rebranded Panasonic WJ-MX10)

A front view of the (rebranded as Blaupunkt) Panasonic WJ-MX10 video mixer. Another view of the video mixer, focused on the model number badge.

This is the heart of the entire setup; the Panasonic MX10 was one of the first video mixers that could be purchaseable by consumers - or, more likely given the still quite steep price tag, prosumers and video enthusiasts.

This mixer was the first of a long lineup that lasted for many years, and as such all the features you'll find on it are also available on subsequent models. This includes: fades and wipes between two separate video sources, a separate fade-out control, and an effects section with still, strobe, mosaic and paint controls.

There is also a "superimpose" section, which provides a simple luma-key effect. This would have been used with an external titler or camera (ideally using the "ext camera" input, which needs a device which can accept a sync input) in order to overlay text on top of the video; because of this the keyed video is replaced entirely with a 2-bit colour (by default it's the selected background colour), which is still useful but somewhat limiting.
Some users have modded their machines in order to get a normal luma-key functionality; note however that this requires some soldering to surface-mount components, which may not be the easiest for novice users.

Note that the mixer relies on the sync signal of whatever is plugged into the second input for its built-in TBC; as such it won't work properly if you only plug something into the first input. If you'd like to use it just as a processor then I'd recomment connecting the pass-through output from input 1 to input 2.

Eltos video processors

More information about these items in their dedicated page.

A front view of the Eltos V2500 video effects unit. A front video of the Eltos V3000 video signal conditioner.

These two units make for some very interesting video effects, and are some of the processors I use the most.
The V3000 allows for modification of the sync level (generally not super useful), video gain and colour level, which can produce very interesting results if turned up to the maximum level. It also features an enhancer ("detail") control, like many other processors from the time.

The V2500, on the other hand, applies a posterisation effect, which flattens the colour and brightness levels of the picture and makes everything look like a cartoon or a drawing. When combined, these two processors allow for a high degree of modification to an image and are very useful when inserted inside a feedback loop.

Extron MAV Plus 16x16 matrix switcher

A front view of the Extron matrix switcher. There are 16 input and 16 output buttons, alongside 4 control buttons. A rear view of the Extron maxtrix switcher. There are 64 BNC connections in total for video, divided between luma and chroma inputs and outputs. There is also a sync input, and DE-9 and RJ45 ports for remote control.

This device has a number of video inputs and outputs (in this case 16), which can be used to connect to all the devices in the setup. You can then control it using the buttons on the front (or via serial or the network) in order to "virtually" connect inputs and outputs together.

This means that, while the switcher doesn't "do" anything (in the sense that it doesn't modify the video in any way), it's very useful to change how things are connected without having to mess around with cables, which is very useful. Presets can also be stored, up to 32 on this device, and easily recalled using the front panel buttons in order to easily change between commonly-used configurations.

Note: while this switcher is technically meant for S-Video (over separate luma and chroma BNC conenctors), I'm using it just for composite.

The complete list

Video sources: Video processors and mixers: Other: