Video Fundamentals – Part 1 – General Workflow

Video Fundamentals Table of Contents:

  1. General Overview
  2. Video Sources
  3. Video FX

Lesson 1.0 – Introduction to Video Fundamentals Series

Rehearsal photo by Stefan Goodchild from behind the scenes on LCD Soundsystem at Coachella 2016.

Since the first introduction of our new blog almost a year ago the number of topics covered has grown to include a wide variety of subjects to the point you could almost prepare an entire course on VJing and live video production from our collection of tutorials.

With this in mind we've started to put together a new “Introduction to Video Fundamentals” curriculum that focuses on teaching the basic knowledge needed to get started with working with visuals. While these ideas are usually demonstrated with VDMX a lot of the underlying techniques are generally translatable to other software and hardware used for video and lighting production.

This set of lessons provides basic introductions to help you get started with learning everything related to the world of video. Additionally each section includes links to tutorials covering specific topics in more detail and assignments that you can use to test yourself on your knowledge.

Teachers can also use these as starting points for lesson plans on teaching real-time visual techniques in their own classrooms and workshops.

Lesson 1.1 – Live Cameras, Interactive Video Generators, and Pre-Rendered Movies

Typically the original source material used in video production falls into one of three categories:

  1. Live inputs such as video cameraspublished Syphon feeds and window captures from other applications.
  2. Interactive video generators such as Flash, Quartz Composer, and CoreImage.
  3. Pre-rendered movies (and still images) from cameras or exported from animation software.

Case Study: The ECLECTIC METHOD REMIX, Part One - Making Loops

Tips & Notes:


  1. Download a set of sample clips  to use with the VDMX simple player template.
  2. Download interactive ISF generators from


  1. Create a set of your own A/V loops using a camera or other captured footage.

Lesson 1.2 – Mixing and Applying Visual FX to Video Sources

Whether working in a real-time output environment like VDMX or a non-linear editor like Final Cut Pro, the technique used for digitally processing video source materials is essentially the same:

  1. Apply image filters to change the look and style of individual video sources and layer groups.
  2. Mix and combine multiple video sources by adjusting the size, crop, and composition mode.

Case Study: The ECLECTIC METHOD REMIX, Part Two - Jamming 

Tips & Notes: 

  • Layer masks adjust the opacity of individual pixels during composition to obscure parts of an image. Use with the OpenGL Over or VVSourceAtop blend modes.
  • Preview windows in VDMX  can be set to view layers both before and after FX are applied.
  • New custom FX and composition modes can be created using ISF (GLSL), LUTsQuartz Composer and other popular formats.


  1. Mix, and fade between sources with the example Four Channel Mixer template


  1. Make a pre-rendered animation that makes use of alpha channels.

Lesson 1.3 – Publishing Video

Once video sources are processed and composited together, the next step is to output the result:

  1.  Fullscreen outputs, such as projectors, displays and LED walls connected to a monitor port.
  2. Syphon outputs, to send video feeds to other applications for specialized image processing.
  3. Recorded to disk as a movie or still file that can be shared online or further remixed.

Case Study: How to do the Deadmau5 End of Year Tour visuals by Momo the Monster 

Tips & Notes: 


  1. Create and share online a short demo reel  from what you've learned so far.


  1. Make a 3x3 video wall using live sampled video clips.

Lesson 1.4 – Instruments and Automation

Pretty much every parameter in VDMX can be controlled by external hardware or automated with data generator plugins:

  1. MIDI, OSC, and DMX (ArtNet) are common protocols for creating networks and connecting physical instruments to computers.
  2.  Step Sequencers and LFOs generate control values with oscillators and looping patterns.
  3. Audio Analysis and Beat Detection algorithms listen to music from sound inputs to sync visuals.
  4. Timecode for syncing with other systems.

Case Study: The ECLECTIC METHOD REMIX, Part Three - Working with Ableton Live 

Tips & Notes: 


  1. Use audio analysis (or another data-source) to trigger video clips.
  2. Create a virtual layout of a MIDI instrument with the Control Surface plugin.


  1. Sync the playback of movies on two computers across a network with OSC.

What Next?

Each of the sections on this page is a brief introduction to some of the major topics involved with live visuals and VJing.

In part two of this series we first look in depth at the three different types of sources (Live Cameras, Interactive Video Generators, and Pre-Rendered Movies) discussed in part 1.1 of this lesson.