Gearlog: VHS DJ Rig for 2023

The Youtube Algo Gods have blessed me again.

Last night, I was poking around Youtube, and stumbled across this truly incredible DJ mix by Kerri Chandler, and it reminded me of a LOT of things.

After much brainstorming, I’ve come to the conclusion that really the only thing to do is to sell (almost) all of my VJ gear (the wearable wireless rig, the “cruiser” rig, and whatever else I have laying around that’s not part of the Butohscope), and build a fresh rig from scratch.

The first Videopunks live rig was originally built around a Numark AVM-02, and now they’re a lot harder to come by, but they’re a really great mixer. I’ve owned two. . . the first I killed at the FIRST Videopunks live set in Manhattan (due to sketchy ass power), and the second I killed onstage with Angelspit. 4 channel Vision Mixer, 4 channel DJ mixer, and a lot of knobs/buttons/faders. Shit’s fuckin’ great.

There’s a lot of ways that I could monitor this, but I think the ol’ standby Numark VM-03 is a solid choice. I’m not sure if there’s something slimmer, but this seems like the move.

Out of the mixer would need to be some sort of HDMI upscaler. . . there’s a lot of options out there, and I’ve owned a bunch of variations of THIS GUY, and they’re pretty OK.

Cool. . . So, that’s Mixing, but what about Playback? Ideally, I’d like to have a pair of Rackmountable VCRs with JOG WHEELS and Pause Functionality, with S-Video out, so I can get the cleanest image out of the VCRs, and into the Mixer, with bonus ‘FX sends’ for whatever Glitch gear I’d like to have chained in.

I’m lowkey looking at the JVC-HR-s3600u. . . it ticks all the boxes (minus TBC), and seem like they’re still pretty cheap & available.

Here’s an interesting forum post breaking down some of the taxonomy of the JVC model numbers at the time.

Something else to consider would be getting a pair of Mitsubishi HS-MD3000‘s. . . they’re really rugged, meant to be kinda beaten on, and most importantly, I already have one. . . So sourcing a second one might be cheaper.

You can’t really modify VCRs for Speed Adjustments, so I’d have to Pre-Stretch all of my tracks to a specific tempo. . . I think 120bpm is the move, since VHS is ostensibly 60fps (60i), and those numbers fit into each other pretty well. Additionally, 120bpm is pretty damn funky, and I happen to have quite a bit of experience DJing at that tempo.

I’m not sure if you can scrub audio with a VCR (pretty sure you can’t), so I’ll have to bake in some flashframe Cue Points. . . and a lot of the music that I would want to play probably never had music videos for it, so that’ll give me an opportunity to make a bunch of Music Videos for all sorts of stuff, which is fun as all get out. In terms of tapes, I’m thinking that a STACK of T-10’s would give me more than enough material to DJ with (maybe with color-coded labels? Why Not?!), and Really Just Get Weird With It.

The last piece of the puzzle would be some sort of DJ mixer case, like this SKB jawn. . . All I’d need to do is find a way to rackmount the VCRs, and I’m golden. A rackmount powerstrip seals the deal, and makes it real.

A lot of people have done DJ sets with VHS visuals (kinda), and a lot of people have DJed with Tape. . . but I can’t seem to find anyone who’s combined the two. This is gonna be a super fuckin’ wild.

Roland & Edirol Video Mixer Manuals (PDFs)

I just saw a post on Scanlines that linked to this Github with lots of links to Owner & Service Manuals for various video gear, and figured it’d be a good idea to mirror at least SOME of them, just in case.

Roland is pretty good about keeping legacy gear manuals up & handy, but a lot of the Service Manuals have been kinda lost.l

Giglog – “Happy Little Coma” Livestream (First Live Hardware Set)

Over the pandemic, I bought a Roland MC-101. So did Vinny Radiodream (the other half of this incarnation of Videopunks), and we immediately tried to figure out how to leverage them for live shows.

This was the first step in that. This was part of the promo run/digital tour for Angelspit’s THE IGNORANCE CARTEL (which I did the VHS release for), and this was the first time I got to flex one of the MC-101’s live.

Most of these grooves were built a couple weeks before the show. . . i’d love to go back, finish these up, and release them.

For the performance, I connected the MC-101 to OBS via USB, taking the Stereo Mix channels directly into OBS. For the visual, I put a USB Webcam on my head, for a POV shot, and just cranked the saturation. The stream went out as-is live via Twitch. Everything you’re hearing is coming DIRECTLY from the MC-101 . . . there’s some computer usage, but it’s mostly ‘Hey, can you adjust this streaming setting, we’re getting some lag/latency/jitter/whatever’.

Here’s a video of the performance.

Gearlog – Building the Wearable Wireless Rig (w/ Manual)

Here’s some build video/photos from the OG wearable rig.

This was in the basement of VIDEOHAUS in Bed-Stuy. I made a LOT of tapes there, and you can sneakily see a little bit of Nate Bobowski sitting there, looking nonplussed.

I’ve still got all the parts for this. . . I really should rebuild it.

Here’s the .PDF Manuals for the Edirol V-1 (not to be confused with the more recent Roland V1HD).

The Big Rig

Here’s some footage of me building the Big Videopunks Rig back in 2015.

This was the first REALLY BIG rig that I was trying to build, in a semi-permanent way.

It was built around a Numark AVM02, which was a great mixer, since it’s also a half-decent DJ mixer.

I’m almost positive that I killed this particular mixer at the first Videopunks gig.

This is 100% at the Green Desk at 67 West st, In Greenpoint.

Looks like i’m using iPads as sources here. . . probably using ColorCodeVJ.

The glitch processor is my trusty BPMC Basic Cable. I still use it today (in heavily modified form).