Late last year, Harrison Digital Media released a light, affordable real-time video mixing system called Salvation MX that is specifically targeted at VJs, but so easy to use that just about anyone can pick it up quickly. Salvation MX is the trimmed-down version of Salvation, an extremely advanced node/module-based interface for creating live graphics and lightshows for bands/artists, events and international venues. Salvation MX is instead a gentle introduction to Salvation that puts the focus squarely on video mixing.
If you, like me, are just getting into live media performance and don’t want to make the financial investment that a lot of the software in this segment costs (hundreds to thousands), Salvation MX is an excellent way to get started. You get basic live video mixing on a tight budget, but you also get results you’d expect from a much higher-end system. The software, right out of the box, runs fast and is responsive on most laptops (your graphics card must at least support OpenGL 2.0). I installed the application on my Windows XP, Intel Centrino Duo laptop, hooked up my Behringer MIDI keyboard and was up and running at a local music/graphics event in Los Angeles. In no time, I was assigning MIDI keys to effects and settings and putting on a killer show for the attendees of the event. MX was one of the star performers of the evening, generating all kinds of questions and attention. I was happily taking all the credit, but secretly thanking this software for making me look so good.
A Very Easy Learning Curve
Although I thought I might have to devote extra time to learning the app before trying it out, I quickly realized, from the quick install to first launch, that the interface is amazingly intuitive. Three primary windows fill out your screen: an output window (which you can put on the second monitor, projector or full-screen), an A/B window, and a main window that contains the effects and settings for each channel. Basic editing commands include A-only, B-only, Add, Multiply, Screen and Overlay.
For the price, you get a lot of fun and very useful video effects for both channels, such as Backlight, ColourWarp, GaussianBlur, Glow, HalfTone, Kaleidascope, LumaOffset, PanSpinZoom, Tile, TimeBlur, TimeSlice and Wave. The combinations for both channels and your presentation are pretty sweet. You also get 16 video placeholder locations (for each channel), so you can quickly change from different clips— great for building atmosphere. You can adjust the Brightness, Speed, Scratch, Reverse and Restart of each channel as well. Assigning MIDI keys or devices to settings, knobs and drop-down windows is a simple two-step process; you can start tapping to the beat and get instant gratification on the screen.
Support for this package is also terrific. When I had questions or was uncertain about specific features, I turned to the free online manual and Flash demos, which clearly outlined and explained all the various features and options.
If you’re still not sure that this app is for you, it’s worth it to download the 30-day trial and give it a spin, at the very least. I think you’ll be hooked.
Justin Lassen is an accomplished dark classical composer, producer and remix artist with over 10 years’ experience in the video game, music and film markets. He’s a longtime user of Sound Forge, as well as Sony Acid Pro 6.0, Sonar 6.2 Producer Edition, FL Studio 7 XXL and Project5 2.5. He has produced remixes for such artists as Madonna, Garbage, Blue Man Group, Lenny Kravitz, Robert Miles, Majandra Delfino, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park, Evanescence and Tweaker, and has worked on various projects for game and technology companies such as Interplay, Novus Delta, Cakewalk, Intel and Carbon6. In 2003, he released the critically acclaimed chamber suite, And Now We See But Through A Glass Darkly.