Video Feedback Test 002: Web Work (2013)

At the end of the last blog, I concluded with the topic of sweet spots – those special locations where certain dials, levels, knobs, and/or routed connections reveal some unique visual matter rather than a banal mush, or a black screen of absolute nothingness.

The newly uploaded Feedback Test 002 features material derived from one image that appears when two knobs on a Video Ventures Image Enhancer are turned upward, and you finds a burst of chaos.

What essentially happens are a mass of wavy lines, but their thickness, density, motions, and angles can be controlled with ever-so-slight knob adjustments, and for Web Work, I grabbed what kind of resembles an ADAT data stream on an SVHS tape when played back on a VCR. (An ADAT is an outmoded audio mixing format where multiple tracks are recorded onto a SHVS tape.)



What you see above is the original brain-melting image where high-contrast vertical lines stream downward, and are occasionally nudged by the instability within the analogue signal. This chunk was sent through a Panasonic WJ-MX12 mixer to add a bit more stabilization.

After the footage was recorded onto DVD, the disc’s contents were dumped to the hard drive as VOB files within the TS_VIDEO folder. The .vob extensions of each file were changed to .m2v so Adobe Premiere could load the full files. (There’s a slight delay as it analyzes and transcodes it.)

Analogue purists would argue this is Cheating, but it depends on the realm wherein you prefer to work: analogue, digital, or bits of both. I’ve no interest in full analogue because from my the prior years editing 8mm film, 16mm film, and non-linear videotape, the gear was huge, the space needed to edit was substantive, and the power consumption for VCRs, edit controllers, special effects generators, and character generators was high. Should one of the VCRs go bad, everything grinds to a halt until the unit’s examined, fixed, and you’ve paid one whopper of a repair bill.

If you’re a purist, you’re likely stick with videotape, but tapes are big, bulky, and space hogs (I have a storage locker with maybe 1500 of the damned things), and I guess my aesthetic preferences are somewhat similar to what certain composers do, in terms of recording their own analogue / organic sounds from instruments or locations, and crafting new sounds digitally, according to the needs of a project, or a specific score / cue design.

For Web Work, by applying limited digital effects within Premiere, aspects of the analogue signal were retained, but the smoothening of some of the coarseness resulted in an almost monochrome design that resembles a 1920s abstract film. There’s a kind of active grain; a slight flickering of brightness; and a slight instability after the tweaking; and although the final result doesn’t transform the video footage into film per se, it doesn’t make it look like a 1985 video signal, either.

When fiddling with certain effects, you also discover things within the video signal that’s normal hiiden – like the blue flickering, which snaps at the extremes with the electricity of lightning. If you glance back at the sample image above, there is no blue (or any colour), but there is some instability which was presumably carried over to  DVD when the monochrome image went through the colour Panasonic mixer. (In a later feedback test, you’ll see how the Video Ventures Image Enhancer can affect a colour fringe line, and make it snap across the screen like an active electrical signal.)

Getting back to Web Work, the test footage is part of a longer and more detailed concept which may include some sound design when it’s fully realized into a short film, but the reason I posted the test footage is because it’s an example of taking an image from a chunk of analogue footage, and playing with it inside of Premiere to create something much richer, yet not drifting far from the image’s original construct.

I think my reasoning and aesthetic come from certain scores and a few composers  – there’s quite a few, but the immediate names are John Murphy [M] and John Frizzell [M] – whose works I enjoy because they take something simple, and build full-blooded works around three notes or a sound effect, or their music remains within a specific sonic construct, but tell a story.

Web Work is available on Vimeo



and YouTube



The next feedback test extract will feature a series of softly rendered layers of geometric patterns captured by a small tube camera, as sent through a dinosaur mixer – a buggy Sony SEG-1 (whose glitches are likely caused by possibly 40+ year old capacitors) – and looped before they’re recorded to disc and layered in Premiere.

Here’s a sample snapshot until next time:







Mark R. Hasan, Editor
Big Head Amusements

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