“play” video databending technique explained
[kad_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/160759140″ ]

Sometime around the beginning of 2011 I created a databending video initially called “Play” (seen above).  I’ve had multiple people ask about the techniques used in creating it so I will try to lay it out here.  I never keep good records of what I’m doing when working on audio or video so I’m pretty much drawing on memory here:


I created the bulk of this video over the course of a day.  I took a video file and imported it into Audacity as a header-less file in U-Law format.  Then without doing anything else to the file I rendered it back out to a now slightly bent version of itself.  I did the same thing using A-Law format.  The fun began when I imported both of these files into Audacity at the same time and began to mix them together.  I did this in an A-Law version and a U-Law version as well.


This sequence of combining videos using the different formats continued for some time. When working on a project like this, the majority of time is spent waiting around for files to load or render; often to realize that the file is either broken or looks exactly the same as before.  The other layer of complexity arose in that after rendering out of Audacity, I would often find that I needed to open & rerender the file in AVIDemux or another piece of software to “hard-code” it or lock it down so to speak.  In the process, I would also add on an effect or two just to play with the imagery.


After a good 8 hours or so of amassing various versions, I loaded the files into my video editor and began to assemble the final sequence.


The audio for the video was created entirely separately.  I had created the audio live from a patch I made in Puredata (which was a modified version of a patch called Chop Suey which I found on the pure data forums at some point).  After making the video, the audio seemed to match up quite well so I took to re-editing the audio to fit the video.  The only thing I changed in the audio was to add a heavy overdrive effect to the “black/white” video parts to add some variation and contrast.


The initial audio was all from pure data.  I later reworked the music, adding in some field recordings and other minor elements to form a better composition.  The track was eventually released under my Somnaphon project on a cassette called “Tender Pink Movements” on Bicephalic Records and was later released again on the “An Alignment of Various Things” CD.  The video was included in the VHS and DVD versions of Somnaphon : An Anthology of Errors under the name “My Insatiable Apotemnophilia”.  The video has also been displayed as part of a video exhibit at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and as part of the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival.


Any of the techniques I’ve mentioned that involve using Audacity to databend can easily be found with a little internet sleuthing. Here are some direct links to free-ware software I used:

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