Art of the VJ (re-post from March 2016)

Blog Re-post from 2016 after having our site wiped due to security breach. – make good passwords friends.

Hello LVA fans ,

I have lots on my plate these days and I am trying to get a system going where I can write about recent events and upcoming projects I am working on . That mental system is not quite in place yet but getting there. Since I had to rebuild my site I actually have a pile of past content I want to re share here and things I never got to post from the last year. I will try to cover it all in time and categorize properly for my own archive purposes as well as yours . Some of it should be helpful reference if you have your own projects on the go or are just getting started as a VJ or installation artist. I have committed to making weekly blog posts at least and possibly more once I get my schedule down . New content will be things like event after videos , project diary’s and postmortems, some very useful how to videos and hopefully inspirational artist showcases and content from around the world of visuals.

Today I present one of my handouts that I give to my first day Vj workshop students to help them start wrapping their heads around what we do as VJs and what they can do hopefully inspiring them to dive in and let the new ideas flow . This is slightly dated now but have a look and then let your imagination go wherever you like. Anything is possible lets make it happen !
‘Vj Guy

Art of the VJ (from Livevideoart sessions workshop series 2014)

I feel it is important to discuss our ideas of creative expression and design as a Live Video Artist. For me a VJ is like a DJ who mixes video to music at dance parties (or a much music programmer) . A Live Video Artist on the other hand can be a VJ but also takes the craft further by creating your own content and presenting it in a more creative display installation. Video installations can be used by VJ and set to music or they can be used in a multitude of other ways such as an ambient and abstract artistic installation at a gallery perhaps or a 3D projection mapped haunted house. I have personally used projection installations for theater and marketing purposes as well as being an event VJ. The key to your design is to prioritize what is important about your installation and consider how to make it work in the space you have and integrate with your clients goals and other elements like deco installations in the space. You are responsible for complimenting the space with your projection light and you have to pick the appropriate elements to do so.

  • Content selection – when selecting your content you may want to only use certain style clips in order to control the “moodâ€ of the visuals and compliment the style of music or theme you are working with. For example I like smooth seamless loops of sacred geometry and visionary art when I VJ for a trance party but when I do a drum and bass event I will use more urban , industrial or HipHop culture look with more choppy jumpy movement. Sometimes I dont even use video and just create interesting colour patterns that compliment the room decor.
  • Collaboration – Working with other artists to realize a space design can be fun and challenging. Make sure to set expectations early for your technical requirements and remind people not to block your projector beam. Sometimes you have to work around physical objects that can’t be moved and this makes your set up much more challenging. You want to get all this information well in advance so you know how to plan your installation. Work with the room lighting tek to make sure your images are not washed out by house lighting and suggest other options to use the lights or request they are left off if they are ruining your projections. Communication is key and make the effort to talk to your team well before the event about these plans.
    edit : Often you are working towards design plans laid out by the lead event designer or client but sometimes you are brought in for your vision and ideas , make sure to share them with all the stake holders involved and even contact other performers to see what they are planning so you can all come together on a unified collaborative design.
  • Mixing style – Weather you beat match every loop , progressively build compositions , rapidly tweak effects and trigger clips to the music or do smooth calculated transitions you have to practice and experiment until you find what you like best. I try to be able to offer a variety of styles and practice mixing to different types of music finding what looks best to me. Â Some installations will not require a VJ such as interactive pieces or long play looping ambient gallery style installations. For trance music I progressively build compositions and make smooth transitions between clips. For broken beats I do lots of jump cut clip switching and video scratching. For Techno I use lots of minimal and repetitive abstract generative patterns.
  • Experimentation – There are so many happy accidents I see when I just dive into my vj program and mix for a while. I suggest this is the best way to really learn the software and discover little feature you love that you would use over and over. I encourage you to come up with crazy ideas and try to pull it of by any means necessary . Video projection art is a new and exciting medium of artistic expression and can be done in so many ways. Once you learn the tools you want to use you will evolve into your own style and realize the limitless potential.
  • Tools are also a very important part of your craft and they are covered properly in an accompanying document. The artist must first understand the core concepts of visuals design before getting bogged down in what tools to use. The only rule of thumb like in any art is use what works best for you but I will give you some recommendations in the next doc.
    – Scott Vj Guy –

I leave you today with just one photo from a recent event at a closed factory called Tower Automotive in Toronto. This was a challenging space to work in because there is zero remaining infrastructure and obviously no useful features in the space you would find in a night club that make setting up your gear easier. I ended up fashioning two 7′ towers to place my projectors on out of old shelving units and set them at either side of my VJ Table projecting across the entire room and hitting the large structural pillars and the Dj booth for mapping effects . The face on the DJ booth was really fun to play with and I projected animated googly eyes on it most of the night lol . The client specifically requested big cartoony colorful and fun imagery so as always delivered.cropped-P1220495.jpg

I hope to see anyone reading this on the weekend for the Techedelic Launch party on Geary Lane.
Check the face book event info for details.