Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hw 7_My passionation: Video+Music+Code=VJing

Who is VJ

The VJ is becoming an essential part of the clubbing experience. They're the people who mix and scratch video clips in the way that DJs cut up records. Almost all major clubs now have someone on hand to provide projections to go with the music.

"If you think about it, there's a DJ in almost any bar you go into now. In 5 years time, chances are there'll be a VJ as well."
Brainfresh - VJ

What VJs do
There are two stages to VJing. One is collecting together the video clips, editing and treating them so that you have a library of amazing images to play with. The second is when you get to the gig and string them together into a set.

The basic tools you'll need for this are:
  • A video camera to record images to use in your set
  • A laptop computer to edit the images and to play them out in the club
  • Software for editing and treating your images
  • Software to allow you to play out your images interactively
  • A projector to show it all happening.
There are some other nice-to-have things that we'll come to in a bit but for now here's some more detail on the main bits.

"When I VJ now for other people, we get just as much attention as the DJs because, I'd say, probably one in five young men is a DJ. VJing is something new and a bit interesting. You do have to be a bit more skilled and specialist to do it."

Ed Shinobi - VJ

Using Video Cameras
Your second essential purchase is going to be a video camera. Part of the joy of VJing is creating your library of images. There's more on the creative aspects of that later in this section. For now let's look at the practical side.

As well as the camera you need a video capture card - that's the device that enables you to transfer video from your camera to the computer. Generally speaking, PCs don't come with one of these built-in and Macs do. But this isn't a hard and fast rule so check before you buy.

Video capture cards come in three varieties:
  • If you have a Digital Video (DV) camera, you can download digitally using its firewire port - a high speed data connection similar to USB.
  • If you have a VHS video camera then you'll need a card which will take composite video. That's a basic way of transferring video which uses a phono socket.
  • If you have a Hi-8 or SVHS format video camera, you'll need to transfer in analogue and will probably need an S-Video jack. S-Video is higher that quality than composite video and is transferred using a multi-pin connector that looks like a PC mouse plug.
You can pick up a very basic analogue video capture card for as little as £50. More sophisticated ones, and those featuring S-Video inputs, are more in the £100-£150 range. PC - compatible users may need to allow £100 or so for a firewire port for their laptop if they want to plug a DV camera into it.

It's also worth getting a camera with a decent-sized screen built in. Later, when you expand your set-up to include a video mixer you can use your camera as a video player and mix pre-made tapes in with your lap-top's output. If you're going to do that, it's handy to have a good-sized screen for previewing and cueing up the tapes.

Getting gigs
At the moment, VJing is still something of a developing market. Most decent sized clubs have video projection facilities these days. Do some research and then get to work. Get hold of some promoters and start badgering them for gigs. (Promoters who hire clubs with no projection facilities probably aren't interested in having visuals but you could try and charm someone into hiring some...)

Like anything there's a build-up process. You've missed the boat being a real pioneer, so the early birds have stitched up most of the plum gigs. But you can still start looking around for smaller nights and grow your name from there.

Get together a demo video. Start sending out copies on VHS, making sure you target promoters who are going to like the music you've chosen. See what Kriel and Ed have to say:

"The first step in booking gigs on your own is to make a blinding demo video. Pick the music you like. Mix to it, then edit it down to 5 minutes (and no more) on that laptop. Then dub it to VHS and send those tapes out to promoters who deal with that music. Follow up every tape with a call. Every time someone says 'no', or even worse says nothing at all, send out another ten tapes to another ten promoters. Don't accept 'no'. Every step up the ladder only takes one 'yes'."
Kriel - VJ

"It depends how you price yourself and the size of the night. If they've got 2,000 people coming in then they've got money to play with. They're going to want that night to be good because they want to keep those thousands of people. If there's a night that's only got 500 people you have to ask yourself how much money they'll be making. It's generally not a lot so you just got to think how much they'll be willing to pay for something that isn't a necessity."
Ed Shinobi - VJ

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