Applications of video mixing and digital overlay to neuroethology

Mitra J. Hartmann*, Christopher Assad, Brian Rasnow, James M. Bower

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Neuroethological experiments often require video images of animal behavior and recordings of physiological data to be acquired simultaneously, synchronized with each other, stored, and analyzed together. The use of inexpensive multimedia computers offers new possibilities for mixing video images, analog voltages, and computer data, storing these combined signals to videotape, and extracting quantitative data for analysis. In this paper, we summarize methods for mixing images from multiple video cameras and a Macintosh computer display to facilitate manipulation of data generated during our neurophysiological and behavioral research. These technologies enhance accuracy, speed, and flexibility during experiments, and facilitate selecting and extracting quantitative data from the videotape for further analysis. Three applications are presented: (A) we used an analog video mixer to synchronize neurophysiological recordings with ongoing behaviors of freely moving rats; (B) we used a chroma keyed digital overlay to generate positional data for the rat's face during drinking behavior; and (C) we combined a computer model of a rat's head and whiskers with videos of exploratory behaviors to better track and quantify movements in three dimensions. Although the applications described here are specific to our neuroethological work, these methods will be useful to anyone wishing to combine the signals from multiple video sources into a single image or to extract series of positional or movement data from video frames without frame grabbing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-391
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Animal tracking
  • Behavioral monitoring
  • Data synchronization
  • Video mixer
  • Whisking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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