Ground Zero. Advice for stable beginnings

hello my new friends

Like many of you I preordered a Chromagnon, which im very excited about!

It was meant to be my first foray into video synthesis, I have a fairly large Eurorack system so am familiar with CV signal paths and the basics, but converting that knowledge into a visual space is intimidating and exciting.

I was not able to get a Vidiot whilst they were still around and now im in a state of limbo, i want to get going NOW but short of a all in one module like the chromagnon or vidiot i scroll through the LZX range without any real understanding of what the building blocks look like

I’m imagining im going to need some modules from my euro rack, so lets assume i can bring over some modules, what functionality am i looking for??

for example I imagine an Osc would be useful, but i have no idea what it would be used for, my knowledge of visual work is rock bottom. I understand X and Y from oscilloscope work but thats about it, maybe throw the concept of RGB in the mix, but i dont really know how it ‘works’ you know?

so now lets assuming i have 3 or 4 modulators from outside the LZX range, whats a solid setup from LZX that can get me making shapes and colours. Not looking for in depth stuff yet, I just want to make an LFO change some colours . . . . maybe make a circle get bigger and smaller?

please aid me in getting this journey started, I’m very much keen to get going on a lifetime of discovery, i just cant seem to take that first step.

P.S I’ve seen a few responses across the internet to this very question and however informative im always missing what i need. most of the time its like . . . . ‘this is a good basic setup, add some osc and modulators and you are good to go’ . . . . without an explanation of what the modules actually are and why you need them.


If you haven’t watched the Video Synth Techniques videos on the LZX Youtube channel yet, those will probably be pretty helpful. The 3 patches series also have a lot of good info in them.

…with the caveat that those were all made when LZX had a completely different line of modules from the forthcoming Gen3 lineup.



To output a valid video signal, you need at the very least a sync generator module and a video encoder module. Unfortunately there are no currently available modules you can purchase that do this outside of keeping an eye on the used market. I am aware of someone who has a Visionary Video Sync Generator and Color Video Encoder for sale if you’re looking for one, DM me.

This is a good thread for getting a better handle on what’s necessary for modular video synthesis: Getting started with video synthesis

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also just adding to this for anyone kind enough to answer

with audio there is always a chain in mind, audio in - module doing its thing - audio out

whats the euqivalent in Visual modular?

for example i was just looking at the fortress, looks pretty cool, like it can generate stuff on its own. But how do you get that stuff out? Is it the RGB outs? or is that just colours . . . ?

how do i get from fortress to my computer screen

Fortress will not work on its own if you are attempting to output video signals from it. You’d need a sync generator module and a video encoder module.

Say if you were using a Visual Cortex, you’d sync Fortress to it with a rear RCA sync connection, then you’d patch Fortress’ RGB outs into the RGB inputs in Ch A of Visual Cortex’s compositor and then take Visual Cortex’s composite/S-Video/component outputs into an external capture device that connects to your computer.

haha yeah i have seen those, and they are cool and intersting but always referring to specific modules that i cant find, rather than referring to the concepts and how i might find other modules that do the same, which makes sense as its an LZX channel

am i right in assuming alongside the chromagnon there arent any equivalents available now?

ace thank you, sounds like a good start!

could you DM because i cant work out how to do it on here!

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ok cool so visual cortex is like the end of the line.

is it a sync generator module or a video encoder module?

It is both a sync generator, video encoder and has many other features that are useful for video synthesis.

Visual Cortex is both the beginning of the line and the end of the line.

A number of types of video modules rely on synchronisation signals, otherwise they could start drawing the image at the wrong place on ths screen…This would apply for things like oscillators and also for Fortress… The Visual Cortex can generate these signals. Chromagnon will also be able to generate sync signals.

Most LZX modules that use sync have the sync connections on the back of the module. They are all connected behind the panels, inside the case. This doesn’t imply a signal processing chain or order. It just ensures that all of the modules are synced up to each other (ie. they al know when the top of the screen starts and when each horizontal line of the screen is drawn).

Within the system, video rate signals are processed within the range of 0-1v. You can go higher, or lower than that, but the signal just gets clamped to 0 and 1v at the output encoder. Output signals can be sent to the red, green and blue inputs of the encoder to convert them to a video signal that can be displayed (output) on a monitor or TV.

Chromagnon will be able to act as a sync generator and an output encoder. In that way, it is like a Cortex. Chromag also has some processing that it can do in between input and output. That processing is very different from the mixing and compositing that Cortex does…


Chromagnon looks like a great place to start. It has all the elements needed to get you started - video input decoder, processing and video output encoder. It’ll make a lot more sense when you have one. There’s nothing else like hands-on experience with video synthesis to help make sense of this world.

Johnny Wood has made some excellent tutorial videos. While some of those modules will be currently unavailable or hard to find, I expect he’ll have a Chromagnon video ready soon enough. I always enjoy his videos even when he’s talking about modules I don’t have or want.

The important lessons are the techniques, and while the videos are specific to a particular module, the techniques can be applied to any generation of video modules. Translating a technique from one generation to another is great exercise. So I’m sure his Chromagnon video will build on his vast experience, and demonstrate how that can translate to a new module.

For example, much of the processing in Chromagnon resembles what the older Navigator and Shape Changer modules do. So I expect many of the techniques in his videos for them will translate well to Chromagnon.

Also look up his video on using audio modules with video. I’m sure you’ll find that useful too.