Best way to capture and share VJ content?

What’s the best way to capture VJing live?

I put this article together to share some of the best ways I’ve found over the years to capture an HDMI signal from a computer.  Additionally, it also covers ways to share visuals from one computer to another so that two or more VJ’s can work together.

This article is broken up into two sections. Standalone capture boxes and UVC devices that require a computer.  If you’re only interested in sharing VJ content from one computer to the next, skip to UVC devices.

If you’re familiar with HDCP, screen resolutions, and Syphon/Spout; feel free to skip ahead. I won’t go into the details about color encoding /spacing or codec compression, but I’ve included links at the bottom of this article.

HDCP and the pain it can cause  

Most computers, MAC’s notoriously, will sometimes require an HDCP handshake before they send a video signal. This digital copyright protection protocol is implemented to keep you from bootlegging content.   Unfortunately, even if you’re sending out a VJ signal you own, there is no ‘legal’ way to disable HDCP within the software or hardware of your computer;  But, you can bypass it…

A VGA cable is the most “cost-effective” way to dodge HDMI, but a VGA capture device can be harder and more expensive to find. :/

An HDMI splitter is another possible way, but not all are the same – – And later you may find out that some playback devices won’t work at all if they do not detect HDCP. I don’t know too many VJ’s using an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV stick, but it can happen. For this, there’s better ways than splitting or converting the signal.

My first foray into the world of capture devices took me on a collision course with HDCP. Nothing I tried would work, and the only thing that worked was expensive and problematic. In 2012, I landed on a Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle SSD recorder. It had a battery, captured HDMI or SDI, and didn’t have a problem with my MacBook pro’s HDCP connection. I hit record, and…  the uncompressed files were MASSIVE, the SSD drives were expensive, and only a few SSD chipsets were compatible. VJing on my laptop was enough to cook an egg, so using built-in software capture was out of the question. I needed all the GPU and CPU power that I could get.

 

“What I was look for?”           

HDMI in & out, HD recording 1080p30 or higher, and low to no latency. I tested dozens of “streaming boxes/capture devices” that would add as much as a 2 second delay. For me VJing is about timing and synesthesia and a 2-second delay is not going to work…

Standalone Capture devices:

vj recorder box capture device VJing Projectileobjects

All the devices from Cloner-Alliance work and spoof HDCP. If you do a quick google search for HDMI USB capture, you will find boxes that look almost identical to cloner alliance’s, and guess what, they are. I’ve even tested cloner alliance’s firmware updates on the Evolve look-alike box that I bought off Ebay. (Update firmware at your own risk, I cannot promise that all internal hardware will be compatible). I will say avoid their Flint LX box at all costs. It has a 720p image processor inside that adds a sharpening filter to cook out a 1080p signal. It is not a real 1080p image and even adds a terrible amount of latency.

Most of these boxes are simple, insert a thumb drive (or TF card = microSD), plug in your HDMI source and connect it to a projector or monitor. Press a single button to start and stop recording. It should take a few seconds to clean up the .mp4 file, but that’s it. You now have an H.264 video ready for sharing, streaming, or playback.* ( H.264 .MP4 is not an optimized codec for live visuals, look into HAP if your VJ software supports it or DXV for Resolume.)

Avermedia Portable gamer will not work with HDCP signals. (Sorry Kevin for not warning you sooner.) THANKS to a comment from That Fuzzy Bastard after posting this article. He uses Thunderbolt to DVI, then puts a Cable Unlimited DVI to HDMI (AUD-2362) box between the computer and the Avermedia. (see in comments).

 

UVC and Thunderbolt Devices:

magewell capture usb blackmagic thunderbolt capture vj mutliple vjing capture device

These devices require a computer to capture or “share” the content from one VJ to the next. Most free up CPU power by handling the image processing on board. Intern, your computer treats it like a USB 3.0 webcam and pulls in the signal with almost no latency. There are PCIe versions of this, but I VJ with laptops. A majority of UVC devices are designed for streaming or compression. Some aim to produce an optimized video streaming or compress video for smaller file sizes. In doing this, it takes more time for the onboard processors and adds video latency (or delay). In my tests, there were only three devices that met my needs for low latency. The best by far was a MAGEWELL USB capture HDMI Plus which can handle a 2k signal. MAGEWELL seems to offer the highest quality for UVC capture devices but at a $$$ more expensive price point. ($359 at the time of this post). The best overall for price and performance that I found is the iEi HDB-301R-R10. ($149.99), despite the iEi specifications saying that is only works with 10.13+, it worked perfectly on OSX 10.12 and Windows 10 without additional drivers. The cheapest is a generic capture card that someone else has already reviewed in greater detail.

I’m still waiting to test cloner alliance Flint LXT, MOKOSE USB3.0 HDMI, and MOKOSE HDMI.

The Elgato game capture HD60 S was a terrible disappointment. It has a small form factor, competitive price, and low latency, but it doesn’t work with anything outside of Elgato’s proprietary software center. Likewise; these didn’t work: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PC5HUA6/ nor this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XWL7SZD/

🙂 Thunderbolt:

I have a love-hate relationship with Thunderbolt, most of it hate, but the low price point of the BlackMagic Ultrastudio mini recorder was pretty hard to beat $149 (+ price of Thunderbolt cable), and it was able to transport an HD video signal from one computer to the next with low latency. It requires Thunderbolt 1 or 2, which can be limiting for PC users. Designed for Broadcast and TV standard resolutions, not computer resolutions! The max resolution the BMD mini recorder supports is 1920x1080i60 ← You may have seen something like 1080p or 1280x720p60, or 59.94i? The “i” is interlaced, and if there’s a “p,” then it’s progressive.

Think of the “p” as a full picture so that p60 would be 60 pictures per second, p30 = 30. TV’s are changing, but they have long since run at 29.97fps or 59.94 interlaced fps. Here’s a helpful photo.

interlaced vs progressive vj capture devices

If there’s latency or dropped frames, the interlaced lines can become visible over the top of your footage. You can remove them with a post process, but not so easily during a live performance. (one of those things YOU as a VJ would notice, that the rest of the audience might not).\n

To avoid this, you’ll have to send a progressive signal into the Mini Recorder. It supports 720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60, 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30. I use SwitchResX to force mac computer outputs to my desired resolution. Another downside is that the mini recorder does not support 16:10 aspect ratios; This forces me to crop or stretch the resolution when I’m working on a WUXGA projector. Simply put, if you’re on a Mac, the Black Magic mini recorder is really good, but far from perfect. (It supports some Windows machines with Thunderbolt). And as of posting this article. I sold my mini recorder and purchased a magewell. But something new or better will come out soon, or maybe it is already here (NDI?)

Bonus sectionSyphon / Spout, TCP, NDI, etc.:

Syphon (Mac) and Spout (PC) are graphics sharing pipelines that can share video across applications on the same computer, and with TCPSyphon or NDI, you can send that signal over a network (Gigabit recommended). These are fast and usually, do not require additional hardware (unless your on a stupid MacBook pro that needs thirty USB-C dongles for you to VJ). NDI is excellent if you’ve got your setup working. I like the UVC USB 3.0 devices because they are compact and BUS powered, but if you can haul an ethernet connection to your next event, then maybe NDI is your next best friend.

NDI to Syphon (Mac)

https://docs.vidvox.net/freebies_ndi_syphon.html

NDI to Spout (Windows)

http://spout.zeal.co/download-spout-to-ndi/

For Resolume users:

https://resolume.com/support/en/syphonspout

 

WHAT ABOUT MULTIPLE VJ’S???

I am the proud owner of a Roland V-1HD 4 input HDMI mixer.  It has BPM sync, midi in & out and it’s compact.

 

I hope this article helped. If you found any better devices or found this to be useful, please leave a comment or message. Thanks -Cornelius

 

Additional Resources:

Display Resolutions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_resolution#/media/File:Vector_Video_Standards8.svg

 

Color spacing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroma_subsampling

http://blogs.adobe.com/VideoRoad/2010/06/color_subsampling_or_what_is_4.html

http://www.clearone.com/blog/what-is-444-color-and-why-should-i-care/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_space

 

Encoding:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YUV

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RGB_color_model

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YCbCr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YPbPr

http://paulbourke.net/dataformats/nv12/

 

Codec:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_JPEG

 

JUSTSO – Fabergé at Harrods – Projection Mapping Central

JUSTSO – Fabergé at Harrods – Projection Mapping Central.

JUSTSO Create One Of The World’s Most Complicated Interactive Projection Campaigns For Fabergé.

JUSTSO was commissioned by Fabergé to create and develop their pre-Easter 2015 campaign. Stuart Henry, award-winning international window designer, conceived the idea of a virtual egg. Stuart with his team at JUSTSO visualised an interactive projection art installation exhibited on a 1.5 metre 3D egg-shaped model. The projection would then be emulated and emitted through suspended shards producing the effect of an explosion. Most outdoor projections are not subject to daylight, but it was imperative for the projection to be visible at all times – a challenge in it’s own right. Resulting in the egg-shaped model to require an unprecedented 14,500-lux, which is the measurement of visible light per square meter. To put this into perspective it is around two hundred times brighter than a typical outdoor building projection. To do this they used 16 projectors and 1 d3 4×4 pro to control the installation.  More information on d3 Technologies can be found here on our site: http://projection-mapping.org/tools/d3-technologies/

Fabergé installation can be seen at Harrods between March 3rd to March 27th 2015.

 

New Year for EyeMixEar DJ VJ Live Mashups

Eye Mix Ear, EXE, or EME… has been a dream of mine for quite some time now. The idea came about as I starred blankly at my friends spotify account playing music at his house party, without any visuals, the TV was just boring. I had it in my mind after seeing DJ’s hold back over the years in playing what they really wanted to play just to appeal to the common crowd, and wanted to give them the opportunity to plan their own mix, play what they wanted to hear and promote themselves as such. After all Skrillex didn’t become who he is by playing Bon Jovi to a bar going crowd. So there you have it… EyeMixEar was created and designed to share tastes, talents, and vision, but mainly just to replace that boring spotify layout with something more visceral. A short live mix that you could download, share, play, stream, whatever you want — even remix — and let it be what it is.

This most recent EyeMixEar has a story to it, one that may be funny to me, but I’ll save you the details and just get down with it.

I was first introduced to the Dirtyphonics Endless Summer mix after driving for 10 hours straight and attempting to take my crack a passenger seat slumberland. As I laid on the subwoofer a terrible sensation came over me. I wanted to cut visuals to the mix as it coarse through my every cell. So two days, and some odd hours later, and Eyelumenaughty and I decked out the house we were staying at with projectors, VJ happiness, and over all excitement. Since then there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t woken up with some part of this mix still ringing in my mind.

And so, I present to you the first EyeMixEar of the new year. Here’s to 2015 being an eventful one in your life as well.

Anon,
ProjectileObjects

1st Ever Ft. Myers Mystery Walk with Friends

The near conclusion of this year has been busy to say the least. What is normally a calm, cold, and tranquil time of the year has been replaced by action, warmer weather, and the start of an exciting event that will now be taking place in the heart of downtown Ft. Myers Florida each month. It was my pleasure to join my pal Greg from Artistic Projection (http://artisticprojection.com/), whom I met at the Boston VJ competition not so long ago. Along with his mates, Jeremy and Alison from SJP Productions (http://SJPLIVE.COM) & the whole Circus Arts crew (http://circusartsunited.com/) we executed what may be Ft Myers first licensed downtown Rave? Shockingly, those were someone elses words and not mine, but we did run 3 stage of action packed Electronic dance music, Projection Mapping, lights, and well, ya know… Fun.
Long story short, it was a great event and the people I met while on this journey were top caliber — I would take a bullet for anyone of them.

So without further adieu and more scripted nonsense, I present a short video compilation of my experiences in Ft. Myers, followed by a heavy and quickly put together credit roll.

Additional Details.
Stage 1: 80’s Electronic Stage w/ Break dancers, (VJ Alison + Resolume) (2x 3500 Lumen Epson Projectors)
Stage 2: 70’s Electronic Stage w/ ProjectileObjects, (VDMX + Madmapper) (3x 3500 Lumen Epson Projectors)
Stage 3: Future Electronic STage w/ Eyelumenaughty, (Resolume) (2x 5000 Lumen, 1x 3500 Lumen Projectors)

AWESOME MUSIC in the video BY YPPAH – R. Mullen off the Eighty-Four soundtrack.

Repurposing old party flyers as business cards

It dawned on me last night that the flyers that get spread out to promote parties are the same thickness (weight) as business card card stock.  So I took myself to the local techshop laser and tested out this idea.  More to come.  (the first picture is what they looked like before I hit them with an air compressor, after that they look puurdy).

Flyers from various shows still hanging around. Time to use them.

Flyers from various shows still hanging around. Time to use them.

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Video: VIA 2014 Deafheaven Liturgy Little People Yppah & Projectileobjects

October 1st 2014, kicked off with the VIA festival and ProjectileObjects was there to represent in a big way.   We had two shows planned at the REX Theater in the Southside of Pittsburgh, PA.  The first was on Thursday October 2nd with DeafHeaven, Liturgy, & Slices, the second show was on Saturday October 4th with Little People, Yppah, & Headphone Activist.  For both events I partnered up with the brilliant mind of Todd Keebs to plan, built, and perform.   The following video is short compilation of visuals from both shows.  Thanks to Doug Helmick for filming during the October 2nd show, and special thanks to Ben at the Rex, Lauren & Quinn at VIA, Josh Tkaczuk for lighting, and once again to Todd Keebs for everything and running lasers during the October 4th (Little People & Yppah) show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jwxh-4ekUw

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Baltimore MetroGallery July 18th 2014 w/ Cakes Da Killa & More

space is the place

space is the place

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Downloading Youtube Videos for VJing Mac & PC.

Update:  Check out the latest  post on this subject here:

 https://projectileobjects.com/2014/10/16/new-downloading-videos-and-audio-from-the-web-for-vjing/

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You may have seen one of my previous posts, Batch Downloading and Converting Youtube Videos.

It was a great method that has stopped working only within the past few months.  The reason being = DASH.

Dash is a streaming protocol that has made it difficult to download entire videos with the old methods out there.  Trust me I tried them all in a 2 day panic before a show and only found 1 downloader that worked properly with the Dash Protocol. (I read about FFMPEG w/ JDownloader working, but only on windows and some macs)

The best so far, CYS Downloader: http://www.cys-audiovideodownloader.com/ works perfectly with the Firefox web browser.  I would lay out how-to’s, but it is a very simple process and all the necessary instructions are on the website.

Hope that helps, leave any comments or questions you may have.

 

 

Looking into the future with the Larva Projection Mapping App

Doing a little researching and I’ve been coming across some simple, but great VJ apps for the ipad, such as VJay by Algoriddim: http://www.algoriddim.com/vjay

I wouldn’t say that they are a true replacement for computer applications such as VDMX or Modul8, but at the moment they will help to bring a big surprise in the near future.  Additionally and almost show stopping app is Larva (still in development), with the ability to use an iPad for Projection Mapping.  Check out the demo video and see what you think.