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My new family of video synth, mixer and sampler

Video equipment is getting smaller and performance software is getting easier to handle. Every once in a while I like to take a step back, drop my fancy modern equipment and complicate things again.

About two months ago I ordered Gies Gieskes‘ Hard Soft Synth (left) from Bleeplabs and it was instant love. This machine makes noise audio and glitchy video patterns and it can sync the rhythm of an audio input. I brought it as a little extra surprise when I was teaching at the Audiovisual Program at the University of Dalarna several of the students got really intrigued. We had it hooked up to Ableton Live and a Peruvian noise synth.

But I wanted more, so I put some other Gieskes gear on my christmas wish list. You would think my wife would be fed up with my geeky projects? No, she got me not one but two little fellas. These are not pre fabricated products that you order from a big web shop. The machines are built on order after emailing Gies Gieskes from his home page and paying to his bank so it takes some effort (especially from a non geeky wife). But with the help of the very friendly video guru it got here in time. You can get the synths as kits too if you like soldering them together yourself but these are a bit too complex for me.

So the second addition to the family is the GVM1 (center) which essentially is a glitchy video mixer which has two composite video and one audio input and one video output. It has really nice lo-fi wipes which can lock to the rhythm of the audio input, and other various types of visual effects. The output is black and white and the image always scrolls since it can’t lock the signal but that’s the beauty of it.

The third baby is the GVS1a (right) which is a 1.5 bit video sampler. Yes, 1.5 bit! I don’t know how it’s possible but if Gies says it is then that’s how it is. It has video and audio input and a video output. It can loop 20 frames of sampled video – to the rhythm of the audio input I guess, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

I promise to show some video soon but to be honest, it’s not that easy to record this stuff so it might have to film the wall or my monitor. These machines do not send out stable time base corrected video signals so some equipment choke. I’ve spent a lot of time these last few days figuring out the best route to get a stable video signal. Some of the equipment liked going through my V4 mixer but the Hard Soft Synth wanted to be connected straight to the projector with a composite cable but also worked on my LCD monitor when going through a video scaler.

I killed a scan converter in the process, it literary went up in smoke and gave out a funky smell. I was furious at the manufacturer at first but then I realized that I was using the wrong power plug. I’ve been making a good habit of marking all my power plugs with what gear it belongs to but I own a few products by the same brand which confused me this time.


  1. You are a lucky man! 😉

    So the V4 did not accept the signal from the HSS3i? (Hopefully my Panasonic WJMX50 does.)

    • Maybe if you go HSS3i->VGA->Scan converter->V4. But since I blew my Scan converter I can’t tell until I get a new one. Your Panasonic might do the job. This is a good text by Gieskes buddy, Karl Klompf, on this subject:

  2. Mat Mat

    Hi Midi Thief,

    Could you send me a direct link to where on his website I can buy the GVM1?
    And can I plug it to a mixer, than to my Mac Book Pro and it will work with Modul8?

    I really find all of your tutorial really usefull!


    • I doesn’t look like you can buy the GVM1 at the moment but you can always write to Gijs and ask.

      The GVM1 is a “defect” mixer. You should look at the video for each piece on Gieske’s site and get an understanding of what they do. His mixers never really lock the signal, so you will have a scrolling image wether you want that or not.
      I’m not sure how you were thinking of using it with a mixer but you can combine it with the output from Modul8 or feed the output from Modul8 through the GVM1 or capture the output of the GVM1 with a video capture device and use it in Modul8. Note that you need to feed the GVM1 with one or two video signals.

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