Cutting Edge Digital Tools by Richard McCoy

July 15, 2012 by Richard McCoy

The integration of the computer into a modern DJ’s system has presented the user with a very powerful set of tools to enhance their performance and client appeal.

The power of today’s computers and DJ software has enabled DJs to offer their audiences an impressive assortment of entertainment extras never before available. With one computerized system, a contemporary DJ can supply karaoke, music videos, customer presentations and graphics, games, and light shows. (For example, see “Inside Video DJing” in the September 2011 issue of MB.)

143-3744Our customers are beginning to learn about all the new extras available to them and are asking for them more and more often. Almost all of the shows I perform these days are improved with the addition of music videos and graphics. Many venues now have a wall-mounted TVs/monitors or screens with projectors available for client and/or DJ use. When not available at the venue, I can supply this equipment for a small fee. (Can you say “upsell?”)

More and more computer-savvy clients are preparing their own presentations to share with their guests. When they contact me, asking about my ability to show their presentations, they are happy to learn that I can provide all the facilities necessary for their show. By handling all the clients’ requests, they are relieved of the equipment and set-up burden, and can focus on their guest. Again, this also allows me to earn an additional fee for my services.

However, it is very important to know the file format and media of the client’s presentation in advance. If you can’t play it, then it’s a great disappointment. There are many different file formats available on PCs and Macs for people to use, and you may never know what program they used to produce their presentation. The most common file formats are: mpg, avi, flv, jpg, mov, wmv and ppt, just to name a few. Make sure your DJ software can support all the necessary file formats. Some DJ programs DO NOT provide video or graphic capabilities without the addition of extra software. When possible, ask the client for an advance copy for testing. Programs like Virtual DJ Pro support all the file formats commonly used without additional software.

The power of the computer can also allow the DJ to offer karaoke and games for the party. Karaoke has become a profitable upsell for me, and only requires the addition of a TV or monitor for the singer. My software can support many karaoke format files. I’ve converted my entire CD+G disc library to computer files, along with the earlier old Laser Discs Karaoke. A CD+G file can be converted a “bin” file or an MP3 and associated CD+G file. Confirm that your DJ software will support these formats. Karaoke producers are now providing DVD karaoke discs for most new songs. Karaoke shows are easy to run because the singers do all the music selection and the DJ just plays their requests.

Games can also be a great entertainment tool for your clients. Depending on their age and the type of event you are working on, games can be introduced as part of the show or as a “filler” before the dancing starts. Brides and Grooms can be entertained during the meal with a Trivia Game based on questions and answers supplied by their friends and family. This can easily be produced with Power Point and shown at the event. There are many different variants of this concepts and can be expanded to cover other areas and topics while involving event participants. Many popular games like Bingo, Wheel of Fortune, the Price is Right and Jeopardy are available in computer versions for parties. The Wii from Nintendo has also become a great entertainment tool for both adults and children.

Another tool that can save you set-up time and allow you to offer more services to your customer is the use of wireless accessories. Wireless technology has advanced in giant steps during the past few years, with digital transmission and new frequencies. Most of us are familiar with wireless microphones, but are you aware of the new wireless speakers, and DMX / system controllers? Wireless products have not always been a popular tool due to poor operation and reliability. I’ve experienced those myself, but I’ve also found the new technology has overcome those issues.

One new technology that I use regularly is my wireless speaker system. I use the WM-SYS4 from Phonic ($250-$300). This unit offers great performance while remaining easy to use. Capable of stereo or mono, with a range of over 200 feet and16 user-selectable frequencies, this advanced technology makes it easy to set up remote speakers at any venue. Besides being great for remote rooms, they also help cover outdoor wedding ceremonies and large rooms where cable length and set-up time can become excessive. This particular unit is a solid performer that has provided me with two years of flawless operation so far.

American DJ and CHAUVET both offer wireless DMX transmitter/receiver units for lighting control. They typically hook up to your existing controller and can control up to 512 functions at 650 feet. With these units, any DJ can control all their uplighting without spending hours running and taping wires around a room. The time, work and expense you save using these quality wireless products will help them pay for themselves in a few shows (and this savings can be passed on to your customers).

Venue managers will be impressed with your capabilities, which could result in more referrals. Don’t reject this new wireless technology because of past experiences! If possible, rent it for a trial period. I’ve found myself using these products on a regular basis to enhance my shows in ways I couldn’t imagine just a few years ago.

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Richard McCoy Richard McCoy (3 Posts)

Rich McCoy has been an electronics hardware/software engineer in Silicon Valley for over 45 years, and is listed on several patents. During that same time, he has also been a mobile DJ, doing more than 4000 shows. He has contributed to the design of chips, graphics cards, audio and video systems, computers, and even satellites, as well as DJ lighting and sound equipment, while working for companies like Fairchild, Acer and Atari.


Filed Under: Digital DJ, Issue #143, Video