Saturday, February 6, 2016

MSX and video production

Some times find a hidden MSX is a hard job, digging old magazines, finding service manuals, looking in auction sites and, at the end, make a bet and wait to see what will arrive in my home.

Other times you pick your next prey at Wikipedia.

One of the recommended uses of TMS9918A (the video chip used in MSX1) is as a video titler, the "transparent" color is indeed to be used to show the video stream from an external source, not as another name to "black". Being the TMS9918A the VDP of MSX1 computers, it's natural to have some MSX computers targeted to video producing.

Pioneer released their MSX1 with genlock capabilities. Victor released an Yamaha OEM, Victor HC-6, with a superimposer module. Sony did the HB-701FD which, in addition to the superimposer, is one of the few MSX1 that have a embedded Floppy DIsk Drive.

Victor HC-6 propaganda showing the superimposer module
(from MSX Magazine 1984-07)

When the MSX2 was released they came with the V9938 VDP from Yamaha, a video processor that, while keeping the compatibility with TMS9928, adds new video modes with higher resolutions and more colors. Sony cames with some companion chips, to makes easier to superimpose and digitize external images.

With those hardware resources available, many MSX2 with digitizer and/or superimposer features are released by the MSX manufacturers together with their "Video Graphics" software, like "Video Graphics Matsushita", "Video Graphics Philips", "Video EDIPAL", etc.

Philips NMS-8280 propaganda from Italian magazine MCmicrocomputer n.64

Article from Italian magazine MCmicrocomputer n.64
showing the features of Video Graphics Philips
running on Philips NMS-8280

To the computers without the built-in features, there were external cartridges available that could add those capabilities to any MSX2. And we can't forget the ecosystem of  third-party graphic softwares.

Advertising from Brazilian magazine "CPU Informatica",
selling a genlock (GL-150), a black and white digitizer
(DGT-100) and one with 256 colors (DGT-256).

Then we go back to Japanese Wikipedia that says:


Which, translated by Google means:

"Especially in the video titler, it is the hardware configuration of the household Titler, such as Sony's XV-J550 / J770 / T55F series and VW-KT300 of Matsushita Electric Industrial, which was apparently applied diversion the MSX. However, in these models base are made own implementation also is based on the MSX systems, general purpose MSX systems in particular, such as BIOS, etc. can not be expected to function as MSX is greatly simplified, with about a simple process it is impossible to use it as."

Hardware that is based on MSX, but had modified BIOS and could not be used as general systems. That makes a lot of sense! The manufacturers already have the hardware, the know-how to built it and, some of them, even the experience to create video editing software. Why not use all that in more equipment and get more money for a R&D that was already done?

So, we start another research front: Video equipment.


  1. Replies
    1. We began! Let's hope we can meet your expectatives.

  2. Piter, it's NMS-8280, not NMS-2820.

    Keep doing this great job!

    1. I just correct the NMS-8280 name in the article.

      Thanks Ricardo!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. I did sorta wonder if there had been a genlock-type cartridge/expansion device for an MSX2 to run if you didn't get that particular model to use if you wanted to do superimposed titles for your videos. I was thinking something similar to what the Commodore Amiga had for their computers.

  7. Translation of the Brazilian AD:


    GL-150: Mix images from your MSX 1.1 with a cassete player or NTSC video camera

    DGT-100: Digitize B&W images so you can create graphic animations (replace your scanner)

    DGT-256: Digitize 256-color images on the SCREEN 8 of your MSX2 / MSX2+

    Make low cost computer graphics.

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