Glitch video the hardware way with the VHS Dirty Video Mixer

Originally published at: Glitch video the hardware way with the VHS Dirty Video Mixer | Boing Boing

1 Like

Will no one think of the VHS and it’s blight?


So…I’m going to get picky here. This is NOT the same effects you see on Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule.

What you are seeing has zero to do with VHS. He’s taking two unsynchronized composite video sources and putting them into a pot, with the wiper as the output.

It is the TV set’s tuner circuitry that gives you what you see. Some LCD TV’s will be so fussy about the timing and shape of the input signal that you might get a blue screen unless that pot is hard to one side or another. An analog tube TV set probably gives a more satisfying result.

But back to the VHS/VCR thing. Again, they don’t do this - the fact he used a VHS case to house the circuit is the only tie-in here.

If you want true VHS glitches then record your program onto VHS, and when playing back whack the VHS hard, put your finger on the video drum, crinkle the tape in spots, so on.

If you want better quality, then instead of a VHS VCR, get your hands on an old U-Matic 3/4" deck. Operates the same way, however the recording/playback quality is much better.


Vaporwave soundtrack is mandatory.

1 Like

Analog, how quaint.

How am I supposed to get my 4K60fps ultra HDR into this thing?

/s or not, that’s up to you.

Hm . In a way I understand that this is similar to a distortion pedal for sound. But somehow my gut feeling says that glitching video with a purposebuild glitching device is like creating art with a color by numbers set. The art of the glitching is in the making of the device imho.

To me it has no real added value to a simple video filter. Which could be undistinguishable from this of course. Obvious looping means it is a bad filter.

VCR__Please adjust tracking


glitching video with a purposebuild glitching device is like creating art with a color by numbers set.

This thing is almost the total opposite of that tho. It’s just the most basic, purely analog, unpowered way to mess up some video signals. There’s no presets, and tho everyone who uses one just on it’s own is gonna get fairly similar results it’s still totally ‘real’, direct and full of entropy

you can’t patch a filter on your phone into a realtime feedback system of other video processors, hardware video synthesisers, CRT monitors, cctv cameras etc tho

1 Like

Jack’s voice sounds a lot like Fred Armisen’s. I kept waiting for a joke that never came. It was just like watching Portlandia.

Now that we are in 2021 how many analog sources of good quality video are there? Don’t get me wrong here, I love analog. For audio your source (for the most part) is analog, so by extension an analog distortion setup is fairly straight forward to implement. Video on the other hand is not analog, at least not with any modern equipment. Perhaps pro or studio grade stuff has high quality analog outputs, but the vast majority of people have access to a purely digital video experience. I’m not saying that a physical distortion device is pointless for video, but it is not comparable to audio due to the nature of your signal. A high quality digital video to analog mixer could be built for video, but I suspect it would be cost prohibitive for the casual user.

This is the video equivalent of distressed jeans.

Nobody is using this for ‘good quality video’. Also the obsolete video hardware which people use this sort of device in conjunction with is mostly digital/hybrid anyway. :slight_smile:

the actual argument against this device is ‘why would you spend £20+ on some Etsy version of this when absolutely anyone into lo-fi video art could and should build one themselves for about £0 in 5 minutes?’. it’s literally just 3 RCA sockets, a pot and some wire. A smashed up hi-fi found in the street will supply you with everything you need :smiley:

1 Like

record it onto a vcr, glitch it, and then use Machine Learning to restore the original resolution in post.

I’m thinking of Betamax right now!


For me this is an interesting evolution from ‘cyber space’ audio and video technologies in so much that this bypasses computers in a performance live space.

The trend in music tech such as the Eurorack, Volcas, Pocket Operators etc. is to forefront the human interaction with the tech much in the way that Hip Hop did in the past. In music it is kinda getting back to the roots of human interaction with instruments to create music. Using software require a ‘set up’ process for your gig unlike rocking up to a gig with synth/samplers or guitar and amp and relying on just your skills.

I guess the video glitch hardware evolves the VJ scene where you live and die by your performance of the tech and the interaction with your audience in real time on non-virtual machines.

Also the prices for this guys gear is incredibly cheap… yes you could build it cheaper but only if you don’t factor your time in the build as having any monetary value.

1 Like

I used to do live video mixing in the 90s with a mate (as Deconstructed Cinema). One of us would mix a soundtrack with four sources (turntables, CDs, foot pedals through a spirit soundcraft mixer) while the other would assemble a film using two video tape sources (Hi-8 and S-VHS, sometimes a third source of a camera or an Amiga 3000 with a vlab card) going through a basic video mixer. Just using a slider on the video mixer to fade/cut from one source to the other.

Doing that now would be nightmarish, in that sourcing blank tapes to build assemble edits on and actually recording to them would be a couple of missions in and of themselves. The audio side would be doable exactly as we did it then though. I shoot digital video entirely now, and it’s a lot easier and the quality is many factors better… but I miss that live sense of jamming a film/sequence together visually. Yes, there are software video mixers, and they’re all terrible imo, it would cost too much to build the interface I’d like to drive it. You can’t mix with a mouse, well you can, but it’s not the same. :slight_smile:

As you say, interface. Interface is key. I have two hands with ten fingers, I can (and did) move more than one slider and turn a pan pot at the same time. Can’t do that with a mouse :slight_smile:


Have been doing similar stuff myself and have also worked doing “high end” stadium gigs and telly shows and my main software outside of that stuff is Modul8 which is so much more flexible and stable than using Panda’s and Hippotizers and can fit it all in my backpack.

Worthwhile checking out Modul8 or any other VJ apps. Cheap, flexible and allows easy paths to inputting MIDI controllers as well as DMX - not a coder but can jam a cheap keyboard or pad with sliders into the mix!

Getting back to the topic, this guys stuff on etsy seems incredibly cheap and a great way of jamming old tech into a creative performance space!

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.