Weird time to be a starting an LZX system

As a newbie who decided to jump into video synthesis in the last couple weeks, I wanted to share my thoughts on what’s been positive and negative so far.

I’ve had great conversations with individual members of the VS community that have helped me tremendously as I start to wrap my head around what I need to get started. I work in video professionally so while video concepts aren’t foreign to me, understanding how LZX has implemented them into modular format has still required some educating. I also have been making music with eurorack with 6 years. With both those backgrounds, it’s still been harder for me than I excepted to wrap my head around everything. I think the main issue is that while information is out there, it’s scattered and fragmented. Often I’ll watch an informative video about one module that I have pre-ordered. However, the video is a bit old and the demo is pairing that module with other modules which are now discontinued.

‘Discontinued’ is a good lead-in for the next part of my experience. As everyone knows there are very few LZX modules available to purchase as of Sept. 2020. Certainly no way to start a system. It’s all pre-order. That’s fine, I understand the predicament of a small operation, especially in 2020. However, it feels like if I hope to eventually have all the parts I want for my system I need to put preorders in now (which I have). However it still seems like certain key pieces that have been discontinued don’t have a replacement available to even preorder. So I’ve preordered a grip of stuff only to realize something I definitely need (the Marble Index or Visual Cortex) won’t be coming back and I don’t have any idea when a replacement will arrive. Even if I get all the other stuff slated for fall production, it’s unclear how long I’ll be waiting to actually tie those pieces together in the way I want given the gap in modules that have been discontinued without being replaced. I have read the post from last year about the road map to replace those modules. However, it seems like the timeline projected at that announcement isn’t valid anymore. Maybe just an update with a more realistic timeframe would help? I can see how this disconnect between discontinued modules and replacements wouldn’t be a big deal for people who already have a system built up but for us starting from scratch it’s a more difficult issue.

Anyways, I’m excited to be jumping into LZX video world but just felt like venting some of my current concerns having done so at the point in time.

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I feel your pain, I decided against starting a video system earlier this year for exactly these reasons. Starting to think twice about the endeavour altogether, perhaps I’ll just make a DIY system of some sort in the future based on Cadet/Castle designs.

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I’m probably stating the obvious here, but keep your eyes on eBay, reverb, etc. I’ve built a lot of my system with used modules. Join the LZX Facebook group as well, stuff gets listed there often before it hits eBay or reverb.

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Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of video synthesis. You’ve noted it in your post, but it must be restated with emphasis: COVID!

The entirety of LZX’s 2020 vision was concocted outside of the harsh realities of 2020. The pandemic started beating up the supply chain in January and continued to wreak havoc through summer. Suppliers are still catching up and LZX is still short staffed. Things would be very different were it not for the pandemic. So…it’s a weird time to be starting anything.

Chromagnon is the foundation of the future of analog video synthesis. That’s where we expect you to start. Arch, Bridge, Curtain, Doorway, Mapper, Passage, Pendulum, Staircase, and Sensory Translator will all be restocked before the next generation of Visionary modules is announced. The Orion series will be restocked after Chromagnon back orders have shipped. Progress is steady…but slow by necessity. The pandemic still exists and continues to exert pressure on the tiny operation that is LZX.

I hope you can hang in there through weird 2020. Great things are happening at LZX–just not at all like we expected.

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It’s probably worth noting that once you have a “core” set of modules - sync gen, input, ramps and output, there are a growing number of options coming on to the DIY market that will fill the gaps. If you are comfortable sourcing and assembling components to a Panel & PCB set, consider that option…

Your intended use will determine what modules to source, and maybe use this “pause period” to further your learning and refine the intended system purchasing.

It’s already been mentioned, but it’s just bad timing with COVID, which hit LZX right in the middle of this transition period of modules. You can be sure that LZX wanted the transition to be smoother than this, but there’s only so many possible-delays you can factor in if you’re telling someone an estimated release date, and no one ever factors in the possibility that a global pandemic could happen.

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I feel the same, I’ve just bought a case and PSU3! Could really do with another quick run of Cadet I sync boards in the mean time so at least there’s something available that generates a master sync signal. Would be great to get a sneak peak at the new DIY range Lars mentioned but I completely understand why COVID has slowed things down.

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There is someone offering built Cadet I’s:

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While you’re waiting you could explore other facets of video art, if that interests you. For instance there’s quite a lot you can do with “obsolete” video equipment that’s readily available used, such as SD mixers, cameras, tube TVs, and processors. You can also explore the growing world of Raspberry Pi-based video software like r_e_c_u_r and waaaave_pool, which is easy and affordable to put together. There are also at least a couple digital video synthesis modules, Structure and Hypno are both worth checking out. All of the above will expand the capabilities of your LZX system when you do get it built.

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I agree with everyone here, but I particularly like Genlok’s suggestions. I think Structure should fit well with your existing eurorack modules and will work with your LZX system when that arrives.

You’ll need a monitor that can display your video, of course, but there are already threads on this forum covering that.

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If you have the financial means to buy a whole system at once, they do come up for sale with some regularity. I’d say, since I started paying attention a couple years ago, I’ve seen one posted somewhere or another once every 2–3 months.

Here’s one right now. (No idea if this person is willing to deal with non-local buyers.) (Edit: did hear from one person that they did not have a positive experience trying to work out a deal with this seller FWIW, but YMMV.)

More than scarcity per se, the problem I’ve seen is that used prices have been generally trending upward on the discontinued modules (at least on the easier sources like Ebay and Reverb) — though I did manage to snag a used Visual Cortex at a good price right at the beginning of the pandemic.

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Thank for the replies and suggestions. I have definitely been keeping at eye out at the aforementioned forums/groups/marketplaces for modules. Right now I’ve got most of what I’ll need preordered or in-route from a few shops that had a few utility modules in stock. At the point in time when I’ll have all the modules I’ve preordered racked (including Chromagnon being finished/delivered) it seems like what I’ll be missing is a way to mix/composite an external video source coming from Andor 1, a keyed image from Memory Palace, and a background layer from Fortress. To the best of my understanding, Marble Index would have been the perfect module for this task. So if anyone has one to part with or finds one in the wild let me know!

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this can also be done with a video mixer.

never underestimate just how useful an external video mixer is if you have the space for it.

you don’t see many marble indexes pop up especially now since TBC2 is almost out…

the most important module in video synthesis is patience.

the most useful module is knowing what you are trying to make.

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Boom! Full stop capital T Truth.

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Here’s another one of my “wouldn’t this be nice?” Photoshop renders:

(Again, not taking into account the panel space vs. PCB space issue… This would certainly need to be a couple/few stacked PCBs.)

Added in a scaling switch on the CV input, figuring it could pair nicely with something like a Wobla.

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I think @aladan is working on something like this:

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Ah, yes. I had seen that, but forgot about it (I tend to be so visual that, if I don’t see something like a full panel sketch, it doesn’t quite register with me; hence the renders).

Nice!

Here’s what my RGB Matrix modules look like (please ignore the red preliminary prototype design, the blues ones are what I’ll be offering). I’m sorry it isn’t announced properly yet, I’m just making some demo videos to show how it works and sorting out the final details to make them easier to assemble.

The Combo panel has two Input sections, an Output section and a Keyer section - I’ve since added text to the panel to indicate this.

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Very cool @aladan. Looking forward to seeing the demos and getting a better handle on the signal flow.

What is the idea behind having a destination switch for A/B? Does it let you sum the A/B channel inputs together into a single RGB out, say channel A, and then channel B is 0V?

It has two RGB buses, and each input can be routed to either the A or B bus (or neither if the Dest switch is centered). The output module has separate RGB outputs for each bus. The keyer crossfades between the A and B bus, based on the luma of bus A or bus B, or an external CV, and has controls for manually adjusting threshold and sharpness of the crossfade.

One of my goals is to start replicating some of the functionality of old home video mixers in eurorack format.

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