So you think you’re ready to make the jump from audio DJing only, into video DJing, by starting to incorporate music videos or ambient visuals into your sets. Where do you begin?
Well, before taking the plunge, it’s good to remember this: The music ALWAYS plays the biggest role, if you’re in a dance club environment. The visuals are lagniappe. (For those not from bayou, that means a nice, EXTRA, gift.) The visuals are there to compliment the audio and, along with the lighting, to help create the mood and ambiance.
THE STATE OF PLAY
Ok, with that lecture out of the way, let’s start with the technology. First and foremost make sure you have the proper gear to do video professionally. One way to go would be to rely com pletely on hardware such the Pioneer DVJ units. You would have to use DVDs or other content accessed through the hardware.
The other major option, one that is growing quickly, is the computer+software approach. If you choose this path, you have to be careful to prepare properly. Before we get to the fun subject of soft ware below, you’ll have to see if your computer hardware has what it takes to handle the heavy lifting of video mixing. I recommend taking the mini mum requirements published by the software makers…and double them, if possible. If you stick to the mini mum requirements, or don’t meet them, you are doomed to experience lagging playback, drops, or even com plete freeze ups. By doubling your computer’s power, you’ll be able to take full advantage of CPU hungry video effects and “beat grid” features now found in most software.
Especially if you end up VJing in multiple locations, make sure you’re armed with the proper interfaces. Some venues may have a composite video feed to their video system, while other venues will have HDMI or VGA. I recommend having ALL the proper converters. (They are not always just adapter cables, like DJs are used to, but may be full converter boxes containing the circuitry to get the conversion done. Definitely do your homework on what you’ll need
to hook up your personal gear to the systems you’ll be dealing with.)
Many software solutions are out there that can fit almost any bud get, depending on how elabo rate you want to get with your set up. A short list of potential software for mixing music videos and/or visuals includes: Serato Video, Inklen Mix Emegency, Virtual DJ, Resolume Avenue or Arena, Modul8, MixVibes VFX, and Grand VJ. Do your research as to which will be most efficient for what you wish to accomplish.
CONTENT IS KING
So what about your video content? Although some might go straight to YouTube and try to get their video on for free (nothing like a crappy video downloaded from YouTube and converted improperly showing up on a video screen pixelated or fuzzy), I recommend the reputable, professional music and video services out there. Personally, I use SmashVision (www.vj-pro.net) and PromoOnlyPOOL (www.promoonly.com). And for abstract or ambient visuals, I rely on Resolume (www.resolume.com) as I personally use Resolume Arena software for that aspect of my show. There are many other sources online for quality content part of the fun and art is finding the stuff that fits with your creativity.
And you can get really creative with your visual content. Just beat mixing your audio in your digital DJ solution is good if you simply want to add the music video or ambient to your show. However, some video software (like Inklen Mix Emergency and Serato Video) have implemented beat reactive effects effects that allow your visuals react to your music during transitions. Beat grid effects provide another avenue to standing apart from your standard a/b crossfade video DJ.
If you take the time to learn the full potential of your software, you may be surprised at the amount of control you actually have over the effects and what they do to the video. But it will take time to find what works for you. The more you experiment and practice in the studio, not only will you have more fun, but the better your show will be once you hit the club!
Filed Under: Business, Issue #148, Video
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