After twenty years or so of music software, you’ll often find that what you need to do is creatively satisfied by what’s available in pre-built tools. But video is often another matter: even if a VJ tool does what you need some of the time, there are times when you need something that doesn’t exist (or even something simpler, to perform a specific task). You might not be ready to invest hundreds of dollars in Max/MSP/Jitter to do that, of course. Enter Pure Data, Max’s free, open-source cousin. Like Max, it lets you quickly build custom tools by visually “patching” objects on-screen — ideal for modular video tools. But unlike Max, it costs nothing, it runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and because of the rich Pd community and a good relationship with the Max community, it has some tricks of its own.

Beau, aka DJCypod, writes to share his excellent video tutorial on building a simple 2-way mixer in Pd. Beau, if you ever need a second career, I think you could do relaxation recordings; I felt my blood pressure dropping. Next time I have students getting nervous about Pd or patching, I’m sending them to this video. (Well, and also because it’s really easy to follow.)

Totally beginner-friendly, so newbies will get rolling fast. And as a long-time Max user, it served as a nice introduction for me, too.

Pure Data Video Mixer: YouTube, Internet Archive

You’ll also need the Pd Extended Release; see our previous story

I’ll be building some Pd software mixers this month, so I’ll be sure to report back! (Any requests, or tips from those of you who know Pd better than I do?) Now, if only I could easily integrate Processing with Pd, as you can with Max. (At least Pd does have Java support of its own.)