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Thanks to Ed Tannenbaum & Chris Williams for helping out with info on this rare vsynth.
Designed by Ed Tannenbaum, the Chroma-Chron was designed as a real-time image processor for use in night clubs and live performance situations. The Chroma-Chron was based on an Apple II clone board. A single interface card plugged into one slot that provided a parallel interface to the two board set that contained a 256x244x4 frame buffer, 4096x16 color look up table, sync generator, 4 bit a-d converter, resolution control logic, edge extractor, and video slicer ( luma keyer ). A proprietary scheme was used to channel the video into and out of the frame buffer to create "real-time animation and graphics" based on the incoming video. The Apple II clone was used as a controller for the video processor. Video was never transferred to or from the computer. A special rack-mountable box held all of the components.
The interface consisted of a Koala Pad which was very easy to operate, with multi page menus available. It had a menu of various effects that were pre-programmed. It was designed so that no keyboard was necessary. All the programming was done in FORTH and assembler. The system booted off of a 5 1/4" floppy disk. The unit had a black and white camera attached to the computer via a custom interface which supplied external sync to the camera. The camera was then aimed at the live action you wished to affect. For pre-recorded video ( not live ) it would be necessary to point the camera at the screen of the playback video. This was called "re-scan" in the old days to make it sound better. The intention of the device was to promote live performance with live video effects. I think the effects are fantastic, and show what digital devices are capable of in real-time. No rendering here, and this was more than 20 years ago!
Some productions that were done with the unit include: the Will Powers video and the Fame (TV) show. These were done with live dancers (Ed worked the Chroma-Chron) without re-scanning. The Jimmi Hendrix (Voodoo Child) video was not done by Ed and appears to be a re-scan (as he had been dead for a while). Ed didn't make that tape, and whoever did violated the sales agreement as the Chroma-chron was sold for performance only and not for creating video tapes. Ed his then business partner Jim Wiseman had another specific company for video production.
In 1981, Ed Tannenbaum created an interactive exhibit called "Recollections" as Artist in Residence at the Exploratorium, located in San Francisco, California, USA. The Chroma-Chron was developed based on that technology. The latest version of Recollections is still on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and at over 40 other museums and science centers around the world.
There weren't many units sold, however Ed has gone on to more great video/installation innovations, and still is cranking out new creations to this day, largely for site-specific installations in science centres, museums, etc. Check out his wicked website at: http://www.et-arts.com
Owners on record:
-Ed Tannenbaum has one collecting dust in the closet, god knows if it still works.
-Jim Wiseman (hooked up with his Paik/Abe & Sandin IP)
-Approx 15 units were produced, & most of these ended up as permanent exhibits in art & science museums, and in theme parks.
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