VGA Output Conversion

It’s important to keep in mind that CHA/Vs are a very low-budget solution to video synthesis, and they may not fully jive with some systems. A CHA/V’s natural habitat is a VGA monitor (flatscreen or CRT), but it will also work with most decent projectors that have VGA (or RGB) input. If you want a composite, component, or s-video output, you’ll have to fork out a little more cash.

A good analogy to keep in mind is that video converters and monitors are the guitar amps of video synths. There are lots of ways to handle output. It’s just up to your taste.

Here are some options:

This thing is not a VGA to composite converter, even though it is sometimes listed as one on eBay. This is not what you want.

The classic cheap-o box. These things are available on your choice of evil online shopping sites for around $10. Search for “VGA to Composite Converter”. They’re not terrible, but not exactly high quality. They give the video what I perceive as a cartoony animation vibe that I’ve actually grown to like. They tend to heat up a little, which is how you can tell that they’re working their little hearts out for you. Basically junk, but they get the job done. They have some buttons for resizing and moving the video around, which are really useful.

Funny story — I saw one in use in a hospital operating room once.

Nice, solid broadcast CRT monitors like the SONY PVM series and even many off-the-shelf consumer televisions will produce stable color composite video with a CHA/V and a cheap-o composite adapter like the one pictured above. It’s important to note that if you’re planning to use a regular ‘ol TV with video mixers or effects, the composite color information might be lost. The CHA/V is not making “legal” video, and while VGA devices are very tolerant of that, many other devices aren’t — even if you’re trying to fool them with a converter.

A simple way to deal with this is rescanning, the classic, old-school method of aiming a video camera at your monitor and using the output from the camera. You have to match the frame rate of the monitor with the camera, but these days that’s not a difficult task even for a smartphone. The app FiLMiC Pro works especially well for this, and the output quality will most likely be eons ahead of any similarly-priced converter box. My personal choice for converting VGA to composite or HDMI is connecting the CHA/V to a gigantic old CRT computer monitor and rescanning it with a Panasonic GH4 camera in a dark room. It’s admittedly more fiddly and less portable than plugging in a box, but the optical control of the lens and light is second to none.

The last of the affordable options I’m going to cover is the Extron VSC series, which is a slightly higher-quality series of VGA to composite adapters; the Cadillac of the low-budg converters. The VSC 500 (low-end Extron model) could once be found on eBay for around $20, but people have caught on, and now they’re around $50 if you can even find one. If you plan to use your CHA/V in a complex video system you might want to try to find a VSC 500 for cheap.