Toby *Spark teased us on Twitter/in the CDMo comments last month, and now has come out with some real details and an “expression of interest” (can we call that pre-preorder Toby?) page.


*Spark D-Fuser: short, exciting details.

  1. Two DVI inputs, one output (VGA compatible, with cable converters).
  2. Fade to black knob.
  3. Compatible with Matrox DualHead or TripleHead2Go
  4. Resolutions: 640×480. 1024×768. 1600×600 (Dual 800×600). 2048×768 (Dual 1024×768). 1920×480 (Triple 640×480). 1920×1080 (1080p).
  5. Price: Around £750 (€ 820, US$1200, AU$1300, ¥110,000)

The visualist community has been waiting a very long time for affordable, bare-bones video mixers. Most VJs just want a device which can crossfade outputs between sets (or during a crash), and then fade to black at the end of the gig. The other VJ Hardware Fantasy Poster Child is a digital video mixer. Not a mixer with scan converters, but a true, digital all the way, Laptop to Beamer, digital mixer.

That we’ve been served up both of these desires at once is fantastic news, but the truly exciting part is that the project is being managed by a member of the community, who actually understands live video performance. Toby isn’t trying to get rich off his fellow pixelgeeks, or fund some blue-sky project. He’s already got what he was looking for, and is now aiming to share it with the rest of us.

The community angle

By aggregating our orders we can get something more refined than what is possible to any of us individually. Currently, there are a number of footnotes in the setup of the controller and processor. This is where the firmware revision comes in: the video processor as available to any of us presently works but there are a number of issues in terms of setup. They are resolvable, but it boils down to this: the larger bulk order that can be placed for the video processor, the more the manufacturer is willing to tweak the device. And beyond the “can the number of EDID slots be increased to handle six resolutions in both 50&60hz” kind of issues, I’m hoping we can get a bit more creative: ‘add’ as well as ‘over’ blend modes, for instance.

My role

To be clear, I am approaching this as a community based project to get this out there, rather than becoming a consumer electronics company myself. I see the opportunity to join the dots between a community with pent up demand for such a device, a manufacturer of a product that would not sell to this community otherwise, and some small scale manufacturing and development to make it all happen.

This is obviously a project that is aligned perfectly with what CDM is about, so we will keep checking back in as it progresses. For now, VJs; yes you, person who has repeatedly complained about the lack of “affordable” or “digital” mixers, you’re about to get both. So head on over to the *Spark D-Fuser project page, read all of the juicy details, and then hit Toby’s expression of interest form.