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VJ article

Postby sozzne » Sat Jan 15, 2005 8:59 pm

Hi all.

Basicaly I'm writing an article on VJing for Uni, I was hoping you lot could give me some insights into your VJing experience for this, I will credit everyone for any input don't worry. This is urgent, need to get it done for Monday 15th. I will post the finished article on here.

-what are the various forms?

-different effects and media used

-hardware and software required

-opportunity for experimentation

-showcasing of original content

-current state of VJing in Wales

-Do the punters appreciate the addition of video screens at an event?

-What are the concerns, things to be aware of and prepare for when you have a gig coming up?

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks again, Sozz.
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i'm a student too!!!

Postby strawberrypinstripe » Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:15 pm

also a student, (second year fashion and textiles at Liverpool University) hoping to write an essay about the visual representation of music in art and design media and hoping that i might get some information from members of this forum on the above subjects and pointers to useful site for insights into warp visuals.

i would also appreciate and insights you have into your influences when VJing, be they other VJ's, imagery and artists, and how you think VJ is affecting the way music is protrayed as a non visual art.

all insights will be gratefully recieved and i can also post the finished essay (its only going to be 2000 words) on here if anyone would like to read it.

thanks to you all, and i look forward to reading your essay too sozz7
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Postby strawberrypinstripe » Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:27 pm

btw sozz - have you looked at the articles on vjcentral?

http://www.vjcentral.com/articles/view/ ... by_balther
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VJing in Cardiff essay

Postby sozzne » Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:47 pm

My background

I have been producing live event visuals for the last two years, at a variety of venues, in and around Cardiff. Also involved in an event and artist management and promotion organization, called Subnexus. With a history of graphic design, digital manipulation, and fine art. I have also worked as a DJ in Spain and Cardiff. Many of the principles used in DJing can also be applied to VJing, understanding the crowd, consistency. Also my musical experience helps me choose the right visuals for different music, crowds and types of event.

Gig visuals in Cardiff

There are a variety of ways visuals are displayed. Many clubs and bars in Cardiff keep things cheap and simple, using pre recorded sequences, regularly showing the same video, via DVD or computer. Some venues resort to showing MTV. If you regularly go to such a venue and see the same thing over and over its just like having moving wallpaper, mildly entertaining, and mostly sleep enducing. This type of visual is mainly seen in bars.

Some venues have video sequences produced for their screens, with their logo and a variety of visual effects and video clips. This is far better than using TV, making the venue look flash with its on-screen logo and with enough variation prerecorded visuals are effective. A few bars will have prerecorded visuals with their logo, but these are mainly part of a chain of bars.

There are a few venues in Cardiff which have regular, live visuals, including Clwb Ifor Bach, Journeys, Cardiff International Arena, The Coal Exchange, Union Night Club, and I am sure there are a few more.

Various forms

There are many forms of gig visual, ranging from computer generated graphics to manually controlled, both of these types can be set up to work to the beat of the music, depending on the hardware and software used. At some events video cameras are used to give a large output of what is happening on the stage or in the crowd, this can also be effected by different filters and effects depending on the equipment used.

The benefit of using manual control is that the controller can trigger visuals to the rhythm of the musical beat, selecting clips and effects in real time. Some set ups allow for both automation and manual control, allowing the operator to leave certain tasks to the computer and concentrate on other tasks, e.g. using beat detection to keep the visuals changing whilst controlling a video camera for live video.

It is possible to have a variety of layers of effects and clips all happening at the same time, with the help of a hardware mixer or computer software. The speed and power of current computer systems make it possible to do much more than was previously achievable. Using my set up of one laptop, a video camera and midi keyboard, I can produce effects with still images and video, multi layered, even with live blue screen effects (making parts of the footage transparent).

My proffered type of visual is a combination of crowd interaction and effects, using live video, which feeds into the computer software running, where effects are applied and other clips are added and then the combined result is projected. This allows the crowd to interact with what is happening on the screens, meaning a more spontaneous and crowd pleasing performance

Steve Fossey of Freerange describes the old and the new forms of event visuals,

Tradional Old skool - Based round a load of play-in devices (eg 10 Beta players) and a video mixer/switcher High end new skool - Has replaced Beta players with Broadcast media servers and mixers with PC's new skool.

Music and visuals

There are two things I consider when VJing, firstly, before the night what type of music is being played. This allows me to select appropriate visuals and effects, e.g. for live music I would mainly use live video, this enhances the performance of the artists. With a live music act the audience will be mainly focused on the musicians, playing anything besides live video footage is often a waste of time, after all, many people come for the music, and visuals are a bonus.

Another consideration is the audio input. This is important for beat detection, a software or hardware device which will allow certain systems to control visuals in time with the beat. This allows the operator to concentrate on other operations. Compared to manual control, with automatic beat detection it is possible to set up a performance whilst performing, or alter an already prepared visual set. On the other hand manual beat detection requires a set to be ready to go before the night, making it hard to tailor things if the night doesn't turn out to be what it was meant to be. It goes without saying that sets should always be prepared in advance.

Often I will manually control the clips and effects using a midi keyboard, though this takes continual concentration and limits what else I can do, e.g. importing and editing clips. Total manual control means that the visuals are limited to the operators inputs, if a person has no natural rhythm then this will result in visuals which do not run in time with the music. It is hard to constantly match a changing beat, with a different track every five minutes, but accurate beat following will result in a more intense experience for everyone in the venue. The benefit of manual over automatic beat detection is the possibility to predict beats, or work in time with a particular type of beat, such as a high note rather than the low note, which is normally detected by beat detection devices.

Effects and media

The effect and media possibilities are limitless, every performers setup and tastes are different. The main factors for effects is the computer software or video mixing desk used, each will come with a set of integrated effects, though with some hardware and software mixers it is possible to add filters or plug-ins which will further extend the possible effects.

Another option is to use is multiple mixers, such a hardware mixing desk along with computer software. Many VJs use this type of configuration, I have had the opportunity to watch a VJ in Belgium at a club in Brussels, who used a hardware video mixer, two computers and DVD player, also locally I have seen Steve Fossey using a similar setup. The benefits of this kind of set up is the flexibility, less reliance on any individual visual generation device, meaning if one device fails it is possible to quickly switch to another, and if possible get the failed device working again.

The types of media used once again are broad, it is possible to use live video along with clips taken from a variety of video formats (keeping in mind copyright restrictions). Cartoons, films, documentaries can be altered using video editing software, into something original, and unidentifiable. This is more important when performing at large events. I personally prefer using original content, as this allows for total control and the taking of footage which can be more identifiable to the crowd, e.g. taking video footage of landmarks within Cardiff centre, something locals see regularly, and would recognize on the screen, possibly adding a certain atmosphere to the event. It is also possible to buy royalty free video cds, with a variety of video clips, saving the VJ the time, and opening up the opportunity to use material not normally available.

Steve Fossey adds,

Really this is only limited by your imagination, how well you know your kit and being prepared to try new things. When you got punters infront of you it can be easy to play it safe and just do what you know.... but as Einstein said "if you only ask for what you know - you'll only get what you've already had!" Now he was a smart guy!

Hardware and software

As already mentioned there are many setups a VJ can use, ranging from a hardware video mixing desk with multiple inputs, DVD players, VHS players and computers to a one computer setup.

It is possible to use almost any computer as long as it has video output capabilities, the processor speed, graphics card, RAM and hard disk drive will effect the fluidity and reliability of any performance you put on, and when using live video and beat detection it is necessary to have a system which can handle the extra processor load.

I have used both an apple ibook G3 with 466 mhz and am currently using a new G4 Powerbook with 1.33 mhz processor. The G3 could handle most jobs, but there was always a risk of software shut down especially when running live video or beat detection, the clip load times mad the performances jittery and made beat detection unusable. Limited to screen mirror, which meant what was on the computer screen was also on the projection screen. This led to limited performances, without the possibility of tailoring a set whilst performing. My new G4 on the other hand, with dual monitor, allows for separate displays, the computer display which is set to show the software options along with clips and keyboard setup and another output to the projection screen, this is used for the final output. With the added processor speed, more stable operating system and many other benefits, this supports a single output visual performance. No matter how new or reliable a device proves to be there is always a possibility of system failure and because of this, I will be looking to incorporate a basic video mixer and another output device into my setup. This will give me backup, in the case of system failure.

Further input from Steve Fossey on hardware and software,

Once again... I'd go with imagination here!! I once spent a blinding nite watching this guy do a set with just a microscope, a kaleidoscope and some bits of nature he'd picked up on the way to the gig.... no hardcore tech, not a software key in sight!!

Concerns and things to be aware of

There are a number of concerns when working as a VJ, including epilepsy. Because of the flashing images and lights. The National Society of Epilepsy give some advice to people with epilepsy, when going out clubbing,

Ordinary colored lights do not usually cause a problem if they do not flash. However, strobe lights can trigger seizures, particularly if it is dark. There may also be other triggers such as stress, excitement or tiredness which can contribute to seizures. If a person is known to be photosensitive it may be best to avoid strobe lights. Some local authorities have rules concerning the frequency of strobe lighting that can be used. Local Environmental Health Departments may be able to provide more information on this.
(http://www.epilepsynse.org.uk/pages/inf ... cfm#lights)

The main problem for epileptics at nightclubs seems to be strobes, but some visuals have a strobe like effect, so it is good to know the ins and outs of the epileptic condition. Burket Engineering (2003) suggests,

it is strongly advised that designers become familiar with the lighting effects that could induce a photosensitive epileptic seizure, it is strongly advised that designers become familiar with lighting effects which are capable of causing seizures so as to most effectively avoid them.
(http://www.birket.com/strobes/Library/S ... ilepsy.pdf)

Unfortunately it is impossible to predict what will trigger a epileptic seizure, as every case is different, but keeping the above in mind will help me become more aware of how I can develop my performances, with the aim of minimizing the adverse effects on epileptics.

I have also started putting a warning notice at events when I perform saying, ‘Please be aware tonight there are visuals which will involve Flashing Lights’, allowing people with the condition to avoid the risk if they desire.






Feedback from clubbers

In order to get feedback on event visuals I have put together a questionnaire and forwarded it to a variety of individuals, who have had the opportunity to attend a variety of events in Wales and England. Here are their views,

Dan

1/ What do you think of gig visuals?
 
I like the concept, but often they look a bit amateurish and quickly put together. If they're done well they can really enhance a gig.

2/ What venues have you been to with live visuals?

Ministry of Sound (London and Asia), Bar-rumba (london), Hippodrome, (whatever that clubs called)

3/ What do you like to see on the screens?

I like random, abstract images, in time with the music and not repeated too much.

4/ What kind of gigs do you expect to see visuals at?

Most dance venues, especially house, or drum n bass nights. Sometimes maybe at Rock/Indie gigs.

5/ Would you pay more for a gig with visuals?

For a good drum n bass night, if they were done well, yes.


Darren

1/ What do you think of gig visuals?
 
They are good to accompany the music, and help you see people on the stage.




2/ What venues have you been to with live visuals?

Mainly festivals such as Leeds, also Clubs around cardiff, Flares, Welsh Club, CIA, and Solus.

3/ What do you like to see on the screens?

Pictures of the crowd, picture of the live act, peoples txt messages and pictures.

4/ What kind of gigs do you expect to see visuals at?

Open air festivals and live gig venues.

5/ Would you pay more for a gig with visuals?

No, I go for the music not the visuals.

Llew

1/ What do you think of gig visuals?

Cool if you have a live feed back loop, good if they are on a big screen.

2/ What venues have you been to with live visuals?

Big places mainly, cant think of specifics.

3/ What do you like to see on the screens?

Crazy, funny things, fast traveling shots trippy etc.

4/ What kind of gigs do you expect to see visuals at?

Good ones.

5/ Would you pay more for a gig with visuals?

No!





Luke
1/ What do you think of gig visuals?

Sounds obvious.. but good if they look good but not much if they are bad... they can ruin a night if they look bad.

2/ What venues have you been to with live visuals?

To many to mention.

3/ What do you like to see on the screens?

Mostly shapes and colours and stuff... really arty stuff that makes you look twice.

4/ What kind of gigs do you expect to see visuals at?

House, hard dance ones mostly... wouldn’t at Drum and Bass nights.

5/ Would you pay more for a gig with visuals?
No

Marsh

1/ What do you think of gig visuals?

I think they make a night look a lot more professional. Like deco, lighting, they help enhance the night make the whole night a better experience! Also a way of adding a personal touch to a night by using logo's etc.

2/ What venues have you been to with live visuals?

Loads but with good ones, Cool house, EITP 03+04, Bullet proof, Gatecrasher NEC, Escape...

3/ What do you like to see on the screens?

Anything that suits or enhances the music. Live cam feeds of the DJ, crowd or other interesting things is always cool.


4/ What kind of gigs do you expect to see visuals at?

House, Trance, D+B, Hard dance events.

5/ Would you pay more for a gig with visuals?

If there was a particular good VJ then yes.

Using the feedback from my questionnaires along with the informal comments from other individuals, I can summarize that generally people are mostly concerned about the music at an event and see visuals as a bonus, this would be partly down to the promotion of an event, and what people are used to. People are concerned with quality of visuals, how well they match the beat of the music and whether or not they are the right style for the event, e.g. live video footage for live musical performances.

Gig visuals are good as extra detail at events, adding atmosphere and depth. Most people go for the music. Video screens provide an extra dimension for the senses, thanks to the creativity and technical know how of the VJ.

Future developments

Personally I am looking to extend my performances into live audio visual events. With audio and video triggered with the same controller, resulting in total control, both elements will be on on an equal level. In addition to this I am looking to put together a performance arts project, which will feature projection screens and dancers working in union.



References

Burket Engineering 2003 http://www.birket.com/strobes/Library/S ... ilepsy.pdf 01/2005

epilepsynse 2004 http://www.epilepsynse.org.uk/pages/inf ... cfm#lights
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influences and motivation

Postby sozzne » Wed Mar 09, 2005 10:53 pm

i started vjing because i had loads of abstract images, which i made in photoshop, along with sci fi and other art work, it seemed like a cool way of exhibiting my work. after being to events which had screens i felt they really enhanced an event, and at the start i was also i was also organizing events
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Postby strawberrypinstripe » Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:33 pm

hey, that was really helpful thanks.

what kind of events do you normally VJ at (music, crowd etc)?

what ae you studying?
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event crowd

Postby sozzne » Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:49 pm

mostly fairly small, local events, ive done a art house type event and a few larger clubs.

the crowds have been varied, from hip hop, general clubbers, dnb, live bands
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