artist in residence

Jaromil, Syncstarter

Artist in Residency March 2004- May 2004

With the development of the computer and computer software the difference between computer and video play equipment has started to fade, the computer is taking over more and more functions of the traditional video equipment. The advantage of the computer is that is able to do more than the traditional video. The Open Source movement is very active on this field, and that resulted in free to use software, without licenses. Jaromil is very active in this Open Source movement and created for the Artist in Residence program a low cost streaming device, the syncstarter.

In the video art field there are many artworks requiring the synced and parallel playback of audio/video materials: IvySync provides such functionality for IvyTV supported hardware decoders, with accurate frame precision. The device is not more than a cheap Intel based computer with tv-out built into a suitcase, the ‘Syncstarter Coffer’. It consists of a mini-ITX computer running on 600Mhz fanless CPU which needs only 12volts power to work. The 2 PCI slots are mounting 2 IvyTV compatible video cards capable of high-quality Mpeg2 playback and recording. This compact setup includes possibility for wireless connection and remote control, it can play videos from the network and encode analog video input to MPEG2 format on its hard disk. The apparatus reaches to sync up to 4 video channels to the frame and comes together with a user friendly graphical interface (GTK2) to edit the playlists. It can be used for real time video manipulation and high quality video projection. For this purpose a special GNU/Linux distribution was created to fit the capabilities of the special hardware employed. With the video box it will be easy to encode a video source or DVD into multiple streaming formats which in turn can be used on the Internet and for projections.

Since version 0.3 it is possible to remotely control the playback and skip positions on videos sending commands across the network (XMLRPC). Support for time based scheduling of different playlists is also implemented to let a running syncstarter cycle various screening programs at different hours, days or months.

The horizons of research for IvySync are frame accurate playback of video synced through different syncstarters connected on a local network, to reach unlimited scalability. To summarize all the features of the IvySync:

-capable of syncing up to 4 videos
- frame accurate sync of DVD quality video
- multiple s/video and composite audio/video output
- playback from local harddisk or network stream
- professional grade yet low cost solution based on GNU/Linux
- basic playlist scheduling
- user friendly graphical interface
- realible and extensible open source technology
- remotely controllable thru XMLRPC commands
- time based scheduling of different playlists

Because the video box is actually a computer, a wide variety of programs can run on it. One of those programs is FreeJ. FreeJ comes close to a VJ program but is better described as a real time video manipulator, being able to capture and mix multiple video sources from the network or files and live input. Effects can be applied, as well as texts and pictures, while all manipulations are scriptable with JavaScript. During the residency period FreeJ was extended to run on the video box.

Artist in Residence:Jaromil
Documentation: Robert de Geus
Testing and debugging: Wiel Seuskens
Post production: Ramon Coelho