I try to use a computer for as little as possible in my setup, mostly due to it not being able to fit in my mobile VJ case. The instances where I do find myself using one usually involves upscaling the VJ rig to HD resolution then using a USB-C → HDMI capture device on the macbook for recording and streaming, but I’ve since picked up a standalone HD capture device that records straight to microSD, so my upscaled recording is now handled in the case for live shows.
I do like using devices for digital video in the chain when I can, though. For portability’s sake, one of the more interesting solutions I’ve found for carrying around a trove of web-sourced videos in a small device that’s natively capable of standard-def output is using an iPod Video/Classic with a 30-pin to AV cable.
Disclaimer, there are a couple drawbacks to using them (first being their relatively prohibitive market price these days), but I happened have several lying around after being really into drive-modding them a few years back, and the ultra small size and USB/battery power is very compelling for my mobile VJ needs. Putting videos on them can be a bit of a pain depending on how you source them; I largely grab them via Stacher for Mac from Youtube playlists I’ve made. Then, the vids need to be downscaled to iPod resolution, which Handbrake happens to have a handy preset for, then they’re synced to iPod. I’m using the stock iPod OS so the video playback options are very simple, but it is what it is. Normally iPods will return to the menu after a video ends, so they need to be arranged in a Video Playlist for uninterrupted playback. No shuffle option for vid playlists though, which makes me sad. Surely there’s gotta be a custom ipod OS that handles media more gracefully or other small video-oriented devices from a decade-or-so ago that may be better for this sort of thing, but like I said I’ve just had a couple iPods lying around and they’ve been really handy for having several gigs worth of material on me without taking up valuable physical space. Ideally, I think I’d have a lot more fun replacing the iPods with a r_e_c_u_r unit that I’ve put together, but I’m still figuring out how to best make its features work for me performance-wise.
If space isn’t as critical of an issue and you want a device that’s capable of playing back web vids and a bunch of digital video sources in a single analog-capable box for relatively cheap, I’ve previously gushed about the glorious Playstation 3 here: Sony PS3 - all-time device for displaying modern + retro media on analog gear?
No shade at all on PC-centric setups, I’ve just found my current glitch art style to be more reactive than generative at the moment, so all I really need with the gear I’ve got is just stuff to play back vids via composite/s-video with as few adapters as possible.
Thanks for the interest about my stuff! Despite having mentioned that my recorder situation is mostly figured out, I’ve been really bad at actually pulling them off the cards and exporting them to share online lately. But the main place I post stuff is @mystic.stylus on instagram if you’re on there.
Thankfully there’s some dedicated local music archivists in my area that have managed to capture some of the shows that I’ve had the pleasure of providing visuals for, notably our monthly open-aux synth/experimental night called Squared Wave in Gainesville, FL. Here’s a couple, with many more hosted on this channel: