Roarty goes on to describe a typical day at the center (KQED), which at that time was in one huge room:
Warner [Jepson] and I would be working on a complex sound composition and immediately to our left would be Stephen [Beck], designing a circuit and then on the other side of that would be Bill Gwin, looking at a tape, and over there would be Willard [Rosenquist], working on light forms. You couldn't help but be completely excited by the thoughts and perceptions of all the people around you approaching things each in his own way.
The center entered a highly productive period in the spring of 1972. Don Hallock, Bill Gwin, Willard Rosenquist, and Bill Roarty all produced some of their most beautiful tapes. (Some of these tapes will be discussed in the third section of this report.)
In the fall, Warner Jepson and Stephen Beck embarked on a concert tour around the country, giving performances with their audio and video synthesizers, respectively.
This burst of activity continued into the summer of 1973, when Don Hallock presented his "Videola" at the San Francisco Art Museum. p.69
The Bay Area: San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Clara
The Bay area has provided a home for a wide variety of video, but it has existed there in isolated pockets. People have worked nearby for years and known nothing about each other's activities. The NCET is a prime example: it may have been a national center, but it was certainly never a local one. The work done there took the form of intense visual explorations in a narrow direction, so that the center existed like an island in the San Francisco art world, separate from most and unknown by many.
The working conditions at the center have been described earlier. For a variety of reasons, the early years of experimentation began to yield results in 1972-1973, when many interesting tapes were made. One characteristic shared by most of these tapes is a slowness of pace. The best tapes from this period at the center include Bill Gwin's and Warner Jepson's Irving Bridge, Willard Rosenquist's and Bill Roarty's Lostine, Don Hallock's Kiss With No Up, and Bill Roarty's and Don Hallock's Untitled __ in all of these there is an across-the-board slowing down.
A similar border area was explored by Bill Gwin and Warner Jepson in Irving Bridge. There is only one camera shot of a woods scene with a bridge. It begins "straight": you can recognize the scene and hear natural "woods" sounds. Very slowly both the visuals and the sound are altered electronically so that in the midst of the tape one is seeing an electronically colored equivalent of the woods and hearing electronic equivalents of bird sounds. Then just as slowly it changes back again. The tape was meant to be played on a loop so that the sonata-like three-part development of its structure would not be a pat thing; the scene would shift back and forth, from one kind of landscape to another. pp74-75
Warner Jepson was the composer for the center after 1972; at first, he worked closely with the artists, putting sound to their tapes, but he has been experimenting all along with images of his own as well. Most of his imagery is generated by audio equipment that has been connected to the video gear. He talks about his latest work:
...I've been doing some things sending an audio signal into a machine we have at the Center called a mixer, a colorizer, and a keyer. It takes audio signals from the oscillator inside the audio synthesizer and changes them into bands of various widths and expansion on the screen and puts color in , so the color gets mixed in gorgeous arrays. I've even begun to use the camera and to mix audio created images with camera images. The audio things will go right through the camera images and make strange new colors.
His idea is to make a work that is totally integrated aurally and visually. He feels the two should complement each other completely. The problem is to balance the work so that both visuals and audio are interesting. He explains: in a lot of these experiments, I'm not even putting the sound on because the sound is dumb. The thing about sound is, it's so complex that when it's represented in images, the images are so complex, they become chaos. Whereas the simplest sounds make the clearest images...There's a lot of activity in sounds and it becomes blurry visually; it looks like noise. So the simplest sounds, like single tones, make the best images...working with sounds you actually want to use and save is a problem. p.76
STEPHEN BECK Direct Video synthesizer (Analog), 1970 Beck Video Weaver (Digital), 1974
I arrived at KQED in August of 1970 and immediately started ordering equipment to build a synthesizer. I met Richard Felciano and we started collaborating on some studies using the Buchla Synthesizer and my machine. I had designed my voltage range inputs to be compatible with the Buchla synthesizer thinking, I'll go look Buchla up and maybe we can team up and make something. I started to produce imagery and also it was my first opportunity to work with videotape."__S.B.
Direct Video Synthesizer (Zero and One)
The first Beck video synthesizer was later called Direct Video Zero. Direct Video #0 (DV#0) was an expansion of Beck's Illinois experiments, consisting of a modified color television set, with modulation sources driving the color CRT's red, green and blue electron guns. Colors were formed from oscillators and audio signals combined with external analog mixers. The modulation sources were pulled from a Buchla Electronic Music synthesizer to visualize sound. These color images were named "Direct Video" by Brice Howard, director of NCET.
The difficulty of using audio that "sounds good" to form an image that "looks good" was problematic in DV #0. The most interesting images were found from sound sources which were harmonically related to the vertical field rate (60HZ)and.or the horizontal rate (15, 750, KHZ), frequencies not common to audio synthesizers. pp123-124