Filling the Screen – By Ryan Burger

September 14, 2011 by Dan Walsh

OPTIONS FOR KEEPING THE CROWD FOCUSED ON FUN

Eleven years ago, BC Productions (MB’s house DJ production company) made the move into video DJing.

At that time, DVD content became readily available through Promo Only’s release of monthly Hot Video DVDs.  Since then we have gone through several stages of our video DJ service, growing it multiple systems. Most often, we still use straight DVDs running on a Pioneer DVJ setup, but sometimes we also use Virtual DJ to mix the videos. And although we have more than enough current and retro video content to fill a marathon dance party with high energy music, we’ve learned over the years that you simply can’t play music videos for an entire show. To avoid audience “burnout,” we will periodically fill our screens—plasma TVs and large/mega projection surfaces—with alternate content, to keep the visuals flowing while also giving people’s eyes a rest.

CREATING AMBIANCE

From the start of BC Productions’ video DJ service, we used “ambient” videos (interesting video loops that can run under any music) to change up what was on the screens. As they say at PromoOnly.Com, “Ambient video serves up unique animated graphics and contains no music, affording the users the opportunity to easily overlay these videos into any format, and to thereby enhance the visual effect of any show or club.”

Promo Only offers six volumes of Ambient Video content on DVD, with a total of nearly 300 tracks, including holiday themes, chroma key, overlays and unique animated graphics, in both continuous and custom play formats. DVJ Vision (dvjvision.com) also offers similar video content but theirs is mixed differently, with music driving it: “Every clip evolves and tells a story the way a record does,” according to their site. The third player in the market with this type of content is best known for their Shadowdancers videos, is VJWorld, at VJWorld.Com. And GCG Music has visuals ranging from lava bubbles and fish tanks to fireplaces and candles.

TEXT TO SCREEN

It seems the live entertainment world has gone crazy with texting. The last time that I personally used our text-to-screen system (which was a while ago), I remember getting over 400 texts through the system, moderated, and displayed on our projection system for all to see. Two major options are available in this space for DJs, that take it all the way from receiving the texts to putting them up on the screen in a custom-skinned presentation.

The first product marketed to the DJ industry was TextLive (textlive.com). This offers a nice product that combines all the primary features that are needed for basic text-to-screen, voting, requesting songs, and more. Several versions are available, including an interface to push the content to the Web.

New to the DJ marketplace (debuting to DJs at the MB Vegas show last February) but not new to the technology is FireText Text Messaging Systems.  FireText (firetext.com) has developed a fantastic platform for text services. Its feature set is similar to TextLive, but from there expands into other areas, like alternate input methods such as tweets from Twitter, and ShortCode-based input.  All of these can be spun into the FireText engine and sent to the screen. The engine also has many other features which may or may not be of use to DJs.

The FireText feature I’m most interested in playing with is a Virtual DJ plugin that allows you to broadcast messages into the Virtual DJ software and actually make them part of a mix. Look for a full review of this product in a future issue of Mobile Beat.

HEY LOOK! THAT’S ME!

A last screen-filling option that’s growing in popularity is video content from the party itself. Using anything from a basic webcam to a pro pan-tilt-zoom camera from Sony, as we’ve started using lately, you can mount cameras on your trussing and even have some basic control over them (with the PTZ type), and use them to show audience members on the screen. This is especially popular at school events.  While I don’t recommend keeping any individual camera up on the screen for too long (that’s asking for trouble), people love to see themselves and their friends, and this can really add an extra level of fun to the party or dance. This is especially true when they are bigger than life on a 20 or 30-foot-wide screen at a prom!

Basic expense for each PTZ camera is about $300, plus basic cabling back to the video mixer. You need the capability of mixing video separately from audio (as you need for the other options presented here). Make sure to get a low-lux-rated camera for this as chances are if you are using this at a dance, the lighting on the dance floor will be too low to capture a good image.

These are just a few of the major options available to help you mix up the video content on your screens, and thus create a much better balanced VJ show for your school dances and community celebrations. Be creative and have fun filling your screens!

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Dan Walsh Dan Walsh (89 Posts)


Filed Under: Issues from 2011, Video