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The Second Moon
05-31-2019, 03:04 PM
I'm planning a short story collection in which the antagonist gets the power to make static on the TV screen into tangible monsters. But what is TV static? I've looked it up some but I'm not a science-y person. Is it light and noise? Something to do with electricity? Please explain it to me like I'm five. Also I would appreciate it if you gave examples to things that TV static is similar to that way the antagonist can control more than just TV static.

CameronJohnston
05-31-2019, 05:48 PM
It's the antenna receiver of the TV picking up a jumble of bits and pieces of background or faint electromagnetic radiation - it's not a discernible manufactured broadcast so it is displayed as random noise/snow on the screen. It's a bit like you are standing on a hillside on a windy day and a thousand people are at the bottom all shouting at each other - none of it is able to be made out but you will hear bits and pieces of noise. Add to that, your shoes are squeaky and some crickets are chirping nearby (which would equate in this analogy to the electronic noise emitted of the TV components themselves). Occasionally the wind might blow half-heard snatches of human voices your way (half-displayed shapes moving though the static on the screen).

be frank
05-31-2019, 06:11 PM
Good grief do I feel old right now.

Stytch
05-31-2019, 06:16 PM
Hahahaha... I guess if you've never had non-digital tv you don't know what static is? I'm not laughing at the OP, I'm laughing at the world and my own age.
Is it weird I miss static? Like, if my cable screws up, it just freezes. At least when you had static you could still kind of watch even when the signal wasn't very good, you know? Now it's all or nothing, and I hate it.
P.S. anyone considering satellite, the salespeople lie their asses off about how good the signal is and how it never gets disrupted. Storm? Gone. Cloudy? Gone. Wrong phase of the moon? Gone. It's ridiculous.

aspirit
05-31-2019, 06:52 PM
Okay, let me draw you a picture on this piece of paper. See? Now, I want to give you this picture--but wait! This paper gets torn up into itty bitty pieces first. Tear, tear, tear. Now the picture is all mixed up in pieces. Can you see what it was? No?

Imagine this also happens to what we hear.

In static, or white noise, there's a bunch of pieces of images and sound that gets to you all jumbled up. It looks like a screen full of moving dots of black and white, or grays. The sound is loke a heavy rainstorm.

------

The magic with the monsters reminds me of the old music videos with animated creations coming to life. For whatever reason, the boy uses the pieces of the video broadcast instead of the images/sounds of what he wants.

The Second Moon
05-31-2019, 08:54 PM
Wow! Thanks guys for the images. I believe I understand now.

Auteur
05-31-2019, 09:00 PM
Here's ten hours of static :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7NbRFyg3Y

Margrave86
05-31-2019, 09:54 PM
Big Bang go boom, fill universe with random radio waves, TV pick up random radio waves.

Introversion
05-31-2019, 09:57 PM
Might be worth explaining how moving images are drawn on a TV? For simplicity's sake, I'm assuming the TV is a black & white set, so no colors, just black, white, or shades of grey.

In old analog TV sets, the image is drawn by a moving beam of electrons, across the inside of the TV "screen", which is made of glass and coated with a layer of chemicals called phosphors. Where the beam strikes, the phosphors glow. If the beam is strong, the glow is bright white. If the beam is weaker, the phosphors glow a dimmer white, which we see as grey. If the beam is turned off, the phosphors don't glow, "making" black (because there's no other kind of light on the inside of the TV shining through to your eye).

If the beam stayed focused on one point, then you'd just have one point that was either black, grey, or white, depending on the strength of the beam. But the beam's focus can move from side to side, "painting" a line of black/grey/white across the glass.

If the beam could only move side to side, then you'd just have one line that was a mix of black, grey, or white along that line. But the beam's focus can also move up and down. The easiest way to make a picture with a beam that can move side-to-side and up & down, is by drawing a set of horizontal lines stacked on top of each other.

So, the entire "image" you see on an analog TV is made from stacked horizontal lines called "rasters". The lines are made by the beam painting one raster, shutting off, focus moving down a little and back to the other side, then turning on again and painting the next raster. This repeats until the beam has painted the last raster, whereupon it shuts off, focus moves back to the top for the first line, and the whole thing repeats.

(I'm purposefully ignoring something called "interleaving" that needlessly complicates the discussion at this level. Just pointing that out so no one who knows this stuff better than me chides me for ignoring it. :D )

The glowy phosphors fade fairly quickly, so each raster must be redrawn roughly (depending on what country the TV is made for) 30 times a second. Much less than that, and your eye sees unpleasant flicker in a moving image. Redraw all of the lines, and then repeat it, and the TV appears to always have an image on it. Making a "moving picture" on a TV is analogous to how flip-books work: You're seeing 30 complete images a second, one after the other, that to your eyes are a "moving picture".

The "what" of that moving picture -- what's it showing you? -- comes from a signal your analog TV is fed, either over-the-air from an antenna, or through a cable. That signal, like your analog TV, is also analog, meaning, it's not ones and zeroes, it's a signal that varies smoothly up & down (think of how music sounds, where it can be louder or quieter), with the "ups & downs" interpreted by the TV's electronics as, "make the beam this strong now, then less strong, then shut off and move down into position for starting the next raster, etc".

(It may help to think of the signal fed to your analog TV as something like what a player piano has -- the punched holes in a paper roll that tells the piano when to strike keys, and for how long, etc. It's a "program" of sorts.)

Analog signals are notoriously easy to add bumps & jogs to. This "noise" (what the OP called "static") is going to make the beam paint a different color than the original signal wanted, which is going to make random "speckles" on the moving image. Your eye is very good at noticing these.

Modern digital TVs and device screens work a fair bit differently. Most don't use phosphors, and their image is composed of thousands of little dots that can independently be turned on (white) or off (black) or levels in between (grey).

They also are fed a digital signal telling the TV what to show you -- i.e., what each of the little dots of the screen should be doing. "Static" in the sense of old analog TVs doesn't really happen, but it's possible to disrupt a digital signal. The results are usually a much more dramatic visual "hiccup" -- like, the picture breaks up into weird blocky shapes, or blacks out entirely.

Hope that made sense. If the OP is writing in modern times, then it doesn't (to me) make sense to talk about "static" on a digital TV.

The Second Moon
05-31-2019, 10:09 PM
Hope that made sense. If the OP is writing in modern times, then it doesn't (to me) make sense to talk about "static" on a digital TV.

Well, actually it takes place on another planet in the far future. Maybe digital TV doesn't work on this planet for some reason.

Margrave86
05-31-2019, 10:15 PM
Also, radio waves part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like light. So you might be able to say the bad guy turns static into hard light holograms, though that is extremely on the soft end of sci-fi.

Introversion
05-31-2019, 10:26 PM
Well, actually it takes place on another planet in the far future. Maybe digital TV doesn't work on this planet for some reason.

If the planet has a lower level of technology than we do now, then they may just not have discovered / be capable of building digital TV.

In any case, it's your story, and I don't mean to tell you what you can & can't do. Just trying to provide some technical understanding of the "static" you mentioned. An analog TV's signal was a particular frequency of electromagnetism, so anything that could generate a signal of that same frequency could interfere, and make "static" on an analog set. Lightning strikes, other electronics broadcasting signals on the same frequency, brains with strange X-Files-like powers :) etc.

aspirit
06-01-2019, 04:01 AM
I remember static as white and black on color TVs. Is my memory on that wonky? (Random: I miss my old CRT!)

cornflake
06-01-2019, 04:37 AM
I get static on a digital, smart, HD tv if I change the channel -- it's not hooked up to a receiver and you need something here to get signal.

Chris P
06-01-2019, 05:59 AM
Here's ten hours of static :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7NbRFyg3Y

Lol! I knew someone had to have done this.


I remember static as white and black on color TVs. Is my memory on that wonky? (Random: I miss my old CRT!)

It was mostly black and white on a color TV because the pixels were red, green and blue that appeared white when all three were lit, and black when all three were unlit. All the other colors were from the three colors lit up to varying degrees (Introversion, correct me where I'm wrong, I'm going off 30-year old memories here). In a random-firing situation, it seems to me the most common state would be either all on or all off, with any intermediate colors only on for a fraction of a second or getting swallowed up by the brighter or darker colors.

But the static wasn't always random. There was something called "multipathing" where if the signal had bounced off something and the antenna was getting two signals--the main one anf the bounced one--the two images would be just ever so off and appear as a ghost image following the main one. Lightning would also cause anything from splotches to appear to total momentary "snow" (the effect on the YouTube vid). So would the vacuum cleaner, which Mom always insisted on using during the best parts of the best shows.

As for CRTs, the high picthed whine even when on mute drove me batty. The TV section at Wal-Mart was sometimes actually painful. Don't miss 'em one bit!!!

Brightdreamer
06-01-2019, 07:31 AM
I get static on a digital, smart, HD tv if I change the channel -- it's not hooked up to a receiver and you need something here to get signal.

+1 - I get "snow" when my TV is tuned to a source that isn't hooked up.


As for CRTs, the high picthed whine even when on mute drove me batty. The TV section at Wal-Mart was sometimes actually painful. Don't miss 'em one bit!!!

Oh, man - that was the worst. Some were louder than others, too, and some stores liked to pack the TVs into those little corner cubbyhole places... painful. Can sometimes hear it near high tension power lines and other sources, too. Mom could hear it, and so could my sister and I. (Dad has always had crudtastic hearing, especially on the upper end.) Mom's in her 70's now, and doesn't hear those frequencies much, but can still hear them a little when she gets her head too close to a source. It's the one part of age-related hearing loss I'm kinda looking forward to, TBH - there's nothing good one can hear at those frequencies, just that gawdawful ring/buzz/hum noise, like directional tinnitus.

MaeZe
06-01-2019, 11:24 PM
Big Bang go boom, fill universe with random radio waves, TV pick up random radio waves.Yes, this ^. Plus all the other stuff mentioned.

snafu1056
06-04-2019, 10:50 AM
Remember when TVs also used to pick up momentary CB radio traffic from passing trucks and radio cars? That was always an unexpected surprise.