Does video synthesis have any future outside of novelty?

Video synthesis is fascinating because there is nothing quite like it. Using a series of frequencies and voltages to create complex visual patterns is quite a bizzare process, being much more an art than science. Because of this bizzare process visual synthesis gets it’s charm, and while this is great, is this all it will be? Does video synthesis have any emerging practicality that can make it compete with the world of computer graphics software, or would that be missing the point entirely.

Just food for thought.


i mean… it’s an artistic medium. why paint with pigment and a brush when you can use a tablet and photoshop or illustrator? it has it’s own interfaces and flows. just because it’s electronic technology from decades ago doesn’t mean its obsolete as a form of expression. it’s truly as much of a novelty or anachronism as painting is, but i haven’t heard anyone say that about painting. i hear it all the time with video synthesis though. even hardware audio synthesis doesn’t get this anymore, it’s moved past that phase where it’s just accepted as a form.


What defines the practicality of an artistic medium or experience? And where does entertainment intersect that? What does it mean to be novel/new/bizarre in this context… and is it important that somehow this novelty is actualized by revisiting and re-navigating a discarded set of tools? Is something only practical once it becomes a tool of some industry? If so, what is it before it becomes that… and does it lose something when it does?
Finally, is it not true that any thing on which a price tag can be placed has already become practical by supporting the reproduction of means of production?


There are plenty of people building generative video systems in software, but how many are using hardware? Why do the two approaches produce such wildly different results? After all, it’s all computation.

Maybe the answers lay in the details; the mathematics, the semantics of the tools. One system is built using discrete values, the other uses continuous values. The low level operations themselves happen in very different kinds of hardware, making it hard bridge the semantic gap. I like how the Orion series promises to reduce that gap, but how far can that go? I guess we’ll find out over the next few years.

Maybe the answers lay in the interfaces. One is very tactile and gestural, making it natural for our primate brains. The other was originally designed for working with text. The whole “desktop metaphor” is just an extension of the office/text model. Both are roughly about the same age, give or take a decade. While the software programming aspect is deeply textual, progress is still being made.

In other words, new tools are still appearing in both worlds. This is very exciting. BTW, thanks for starting this thread. Lots of good questions are being asked. Please continue. :grin:


Uses of video synthesis outside novelty or commercial “product” applications:

  • Visual therapy and meditation for individuals with sensory issues.
  • Habitual mental stimulation through solving tactile visual puzzles.
  • Personal interactive television and entertainment.

At LZX we know quite well there’s not an obvious “end game” to this. In audio synthesis world, I see people torture themselves over their investment in and use of their equipment because of the expectation that they have to justify it by releasing an album or working on a track. Yet in the world of gaming, there’s a whole trove of successful games that don’t have any goal other than exploring an interactive landscape. When you are playing a game there’s no expectation that you should get anything other than enjoyment out of the experience. Video synthesis doesn’t have to be more complicated than that, either.

Remember also that everything in the world of computers graphics has its roots in analog computing and image processing. Those in the professional graphics and motion worlds who use video synth tools have said over and over again how that the use of raw analog graphics informs the mindset and understanding of their work in a way they never saw before.

We are inundated with visual stimulation and electronics in the modern world. Mainstream consumer culture assumes that because something was based on technology from a previous decade that it has somehow already been done or is old news. I think this really creates blind spots as to what could be done, but is not, because it doesn’t fit into a sensible commercial model. Creating these instruments for me, as far as an artistic statement goes, is about finding those blind spots and making things possible that weren’t otherwise explored. I think that has merit on its own. We don’t try to sell the concept in a commercial way to anyone. LZX exists because there’s a community that believes in the intrinsic value of these tools. We’ve grown entirely organically – there’s never been any venture capitalist funding or marketing scheme. We just try to explore what we find interesting and what serves the community of others who also find this stuff interesting. For me that’s enough.

As far as our goals, especially with Orion series and its integration with the Expedition series modules, we really want to create a “video instrument” in the same sense as a “musical instrument.” With sampling and memory in play, the system gains compositional animation capabilities in a new way as well. I want a rig that I can sit down at every day for 12 months working on and tweaking a 20 minute short film, for example.


God, that sounds lovely.


I think working in event tech, studio work, visual installations etc. i love the possibility of using analog/hardware. I mean you make different type of music with modular vs. Live/Reaktor/Max and i believe in the end it’s going to be exactly the same in the video world. The type of stuff you do in Touchdesigner/Jitter/VDMX/Ofw/Cinder/GLSL… It’s still going to be a different workflow/outcome compared to patching.

Hoping to build a rig for studio/live -visuals that i can use to do “fast sketches” when i want that analog/hardware “sound”. I had the problem with eurorack audiostuff when i first got into it, i wasn’t getting anything useful out of it. Now i feel like i cant get the same type of audio out of the modular compared to using a computer and vice versa. So it’s special like that.