Welcome to Datamosh

I made this video right after watching Nabil Elderkin and Kanye West’s video for “Welcome to Heartbreak.”

I didn’t intend for it to be such a dancy/trancy-remix, but I guess that’s what happens when the pixel-smears begin to obstruct one’s horizon… I may re-do the sound, but for now — this is the live version.

Datamoshing has been getting quite a bit of attention as-of-late with the release of “Welcome to Heartbreak.” The video was pushed out via West’s blog and makes mention of a rushed release: “We know there is another video out there using the same technique so we were forced to drop it now.”

Datamoshing is a technique I absolutely love and is by no means original to the “Welcome to Heartbreak” video, nor Chairlift’s “Evident Utensil,” which is the other video referenced in West’s blog post. Data-benders and glitch-core-geeks have celebrated the lossy break-down of video compression for years.

The technique involves manipulation of a video file by removing and/or replacing information used to play it back over time. Depending on the compression format, the information is contained in I-Frames and P-Frames (AKA Delta-frames). These “key-frames” are optimized for movement and pixel-level changes. I-Frames contain pixel information and P-Frames contain movement information or changes in pixels. They are used to reduce file size rather than having to store the entire image for every frame. When they are mucked with, the results are smeared, smudged, and bewitching.

13mpglllIiiosmr jon.satrom (2007)

17mpgloVVs// jon.satrom (2007)

I have no interest in charting a datamosh time-line, however, acknowledging the work of individuals such as !Mediengruppe Bitnik and Sven König (aPpRoPiRaTe! and Download-Finished) is important — especially when claims of originality are being made.

Rosa Menkman has an excellent post on her blog that links to other projects and explores an archeology of the technique: From Compression Artifact to Filter. The thing that interests me is the codification and formalization of this and other glitch-related techniques. Is datamoshing the new decaying celluloid, just as VHS is the new Super8?

Bob (AKA datamosher), who datamoshed the Evident Utensil uploaded a neat video-tutorial on moshing:


5 thoughts on “Welcome to Datamosh

    • I don’t think so… When you are saving your videos out of the app, remember to append “.avi” to the end of the file name.

  1. wowa you are soo awesome, thank you for all the informatiozone :)

    what to do if I’m so sad I don’t have a mac? how can the data moshing fun begin on a pc?


    • Don’t be sad! The main principles are the same no matter what platform you are on… Try encoding a video into a lossy format (MPG, H264, ASF, DIVIX, XVID, etc…) with as few key-frames as possible. Then try copy-pasting selections/edits together or opening them as a different/wrong formats… Sometimes you can also get results from scuttling the playhead on the low-key-frame files. If you are using an editing program, be aware that sometimes they insert their own key-frames. If you want to follow Bob’s tutorial, you can do so on Windowz (and Linux) Avidemux and FFMPG are available for those platforms. Best of luck to you…

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