Tag Archive: vj

The book everyone recommends when getting into VJing is(appropriately named)… ‘The VJ book‘ from Paul Spinard.

It’s packed full of interview of people working around live video performance and light. Some of which really resonate with how i’m feeling about the whole scene, and some i completely disagree with.

I was at the train station yesterday and I read the interview with Henry Warwick and it really hit with how i am feeling at the moment about the art-form.

So here’re a few sections of the interview.


Paul Spinard: You’ve emphasized the importance of narrative in all forms of performance, because storytelling…

Henry Warwick: That’s the essence!

PS: Yes, that’s how the brain works.

HW: The reason I came up with Performance Cinema is that the term “VJ” is tied into the DJ aesthetic of pastiche – gluing things together that are not normally related. The DJ’s purpose is to keep a party going, and you don’t need a narrative to have a really good dance party.

Most VJs reinforce this lack of flow in terms of ideas. They just throw stuff together, and there doesn’t have to be any brain behind it. Like, they’ll take swishy-looking images, then mic in some home movies of somebody’s pets, combine it with George W. Bush, throw in some traffic images and clips from Koyannisqatsi, and that’s it – They’re done. It’s easy to do, and it might look cool for about ten minutes, but it’s not telling me anything. I mean, it’s kind of “political” because of the Koyannisqatsi and Bush images, but it’s not a studied idea, you’re not really getting the point across. There’s no narrative.

There doesn’t always have to be a specific point, but there might be some kind of resonant logic behind what you’re looking at. Otherwise it’s like, well, I’ve seen this a thousand times.


PS: But in a place where dancing is the main focus, won’t the music always be more important?

HW: Bingo. That’s why VJ is doomed, so long as it’s carried by the dance scene. To evolve, the form needs to break away and expand into other forms of performance cinema.

It’s not going to be easy. First of all, there’s the whole economic issue. The club VJ currently has industrial backing from DJ equipment manufacturers, but performance cinema does not. Another thing is, you have to get people into a space where they’re willing to pay attention to something long enough to get involved with it. It’s hard to do, especially for a form that’s unfamiliar to most people. There’s an important political issue here as well: the right to assembly. This right has no meaning when people don’t get together, when everybody is atomized into their suburban bunkers.

Another issue is more technical: performers need the ability to control the audio. They don’t currently have this because most of the live video mixing tools are designed for the DJ/VJ scenario., which divorces the VJ form the sound. None of the major VJ software applications I know of give you significant control over audio production. Sometimes they take audio in, but only for triggering or eye candy “visualizations” that are dictated by the music. From the other end, almost all software for mixing audio clips can’t handle video very well, if at all – certainly not in the sense that a VJ, or live cinema artists requires.

Tool-providers are giving the tool users what they want, and right now a number of users just want to make goofy shit that flies around on the screen at a party. So we’re limited until performance cinema can rear it’s ugly head and tell developers that we’d like to control both video and audio in a comprehensive, coordinated and synchronized way. I’ve been in touch with many of the major developers who are in the middle of this. They are all doing amazing work, but it seems to me that they spend a lot of time optimizing their software for live video processing, not live audio/video arrangement and direction.


I’ve been feeling pretty disillusioned with the whole VJ beat in the last few weeks. So i’m not sure how far i’m going to go with it. I’ll definitely be experimenting with live cinema work in the future, but will i be playing at clubs and parties? Probably not.

It’s not even that i don’t find it enjoyable. Playing and mixing video to people partying and having a good time IS fun. But it’s all about what I want to accomplish in the limited time I have. I can’t help but feel that when i’m fucking around and mashing up bits of video, that i could be learning and working on something more meaningful to me and my future projects.

And so ends my rant for the week.

all the best to you pixel pushers out there











Hey dudes,

I stumbled across these videos through another project CDM(a great site for VJs updated frequently) had on Eclectic Method from the UK.

These tutorials from Eclectic Method are really great for learning how to remix video that is linked to the overall beat or music, something that i haven’t really experimented with so far but now wish to.



Last night I went down to Horse Bazaar and did an hour set on the visuals. This was the first time I VJ’d in public. I wouldn’t call it a ‘gig’, more of a practice for the real thing, but i learnt more in that 1 hour than 10 hours practicing at home.

Here are some of the things i picked up which might interest any of you out there into live video performance.

1. Don’t expect anyone to give a shit about your work or what you are doing. Most people at bars and pubs(even art bars) are there to drink with their friends, try to get laid etc. and will not give a shit about the visuals. A small percentage might be interested, but these people will be in the vast minority if not at all, and often they are artists and visualists themselves. Normal people will not often share your passion for the moving image, but this is good.

You must always ask the question ‘who are you making this for?’  when creating something whether performance based or not. It’s a tricky question to answer. Obviously you’re doing for yourself and creating what you want to see, however you are also creating it for an audience. But who is YOUR audience? For me it’s definitely not the normal people, but the visualists, artists, creators and fanatics. If your art is for ‘normal’ people, then prepare for much disappointment.


2.If you are VJing in a bar or club, your visuals will be second to the music, unless you are creating both as a full piece. This is because it is still the standard for most bars, pubs and clubs to have a DJ but not often a VJ. VJing is a relatively new art form and has only been democratized by cheap technology fairly recently, whereas music being performed has been around for centuries. So VJing has moved into an ambiance role to support the music but not eclipse it. There are plenty of ‘superstar’ DJs but no ‘superstar’ VJs, this is really good. It seperates the wheat from the chaff, the posers who do it to get laid and get status from the dudes who do it for the love of the art form.


3. Repetition is important. Because VJing plays primarily an ambiance role, people will not be paying constant attention to the visuals, but may glance over now and again. Therefore repeating clips in varying loops is important and it also adds to the music beat. In saying that though, be cautious as to how much you repeat. Repetition is good but too much repetition is baaad. Leaving a clip looping for a few minutes straight is pretty lazy VJing, and your set will be boring. Remember you are there performing live so you can adapt to the mood/music, be creative and show interesting work. If you’re going to be lazy and loop one clip for ages they might as well put on a dvd.


4. Pay attention to the light levels in the room and don’t use too many whites. A couple of times last night i used clips that washed out the room, the clips that did this had a lot of white in them. This is probably bad technique depending on where you’re VJing.  Remember you’re there to create an ambiance, to make the space interesting or otherworldly for the people experiencing it. Washing out a room and making people squint will snap them out of this and break the feeling you’re weaving. I’m not sure if the same goes for large clubs as I haven’t VJ’d in one yet, but i get the feeling it might be.


5. If your video clips are too dark, you will not be able to see much detail on the screen. There is probably a bar or other lights around the room you are working in. Also the color on the projectors might be fucked depending on how good their system is. It’s not like a dark cinema where even dark shots are highly visible. So keep your blacks crunched but think about upping the contrast or light levels in the clip, more so than you would if you were making a video to be viewed in a normal space.


6. Want some color in your black and white clips to make them a little more palatable? Don’t put effects on them. Instead create separate animated clips with solid bars, blocks or shapes of different colors and black moving about. Then loop these color animations in another channel, and add it to your black and white clip at low opacity. So the black and white clip will be at 100% opacity and maybe the color animation will be at 20% opacity. It looks way better than some dodgy preset or effect, and it adds another layer of movement to your image.


7. If you’re creating a CGI clip to use VJing, render out the same clip in different passes so you can play about with. For example, i’m animating a ball rotating in space. Render out one pass with say, a red texture; a pass with a blue texture, a wireframe pass and another pass with the ball glowing. So then i would have 4 different clips of essentially the same thing but they all look different. Now when you’re VJing you can mix these different looks together on different channels. Your clip will be more versatile, more complex and it will be more interesting.


8. Always have more clips than you think you’ll need. When you’re actually performing you will have to adapt and change quicker than you will expect. SO keep plenty of clips handy, even if you never end up using half of them.

That’s all I’ve got right now for you all. I’m just beginning this VJ odyssey myself, so I’ll keep you updated with fresh techniques and tips as I learn them.



I’ve been out of contact the last 2 weeks as i’ve been moving to a new apartment with a new studio and i’ve just gotten the internet online. WOO!

Here are some pics.

Still got a way to go as you can see, and a lot more dumpster looting to find good wood and other things i need for the animation stage/ workbenches i need to set up.

The studio is only a 10min train ride with only 3 stops  to the inner city of Melbourne. Which will be useful as I’ve gotten PERMission from the owners to jam some video and animation once a week at Horse Bazaar.  AWRIGHT!  And check out the view from the kitchen window.


I’m leaving for Sydney in the morning for a few days over Christmas, but i’ll be going batshit insane with work when i get back so there’ll be plenty of new things to show you all soon. ><

Hope you all have a swell Christmas.



Hello Comrades!

I’m currently writing this from my home town in country Australia as unfortunately I’m stuck back here for a few weeks. I’m now in holiday mode which means I’ll be starting intensive training soon. I’ll be working my ass off training myself how to do a few things.

This is my wish list for things to learn and perfect over the next few months.


Proper VJing techniques that will help me maintain and manipulate up to 4 layers for at least 1.5 hours. This will include creating over 200 original animations and videos to trigger.

3D Computer Graphics Skills including:

Character Modelling

Character Rigging

Character Animation

Creating better and more interesting 3D worlds which will have me learning proper texturing and advanced 3D lighting.

Start learning how to Circuit Bend.



Finish ‘the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch’

Go hard and finish the collab animation with ‘madskillz james’

Create 2 different visuals for Horse Bazaar’s panoramic projection setup.

Create a hand drawn animation, stylistically similar to …

Complete the groundwork for a projection/ augmented reality short animation.

Create Permian’s debut album.


The biggest thing here is probably creating my debut album. Although I’m also a violinist(don’t play much anymore), I’ve never really done much work with sound and music production, so this will be particularly challenging. I have no doubt in my mind that the album will be shit beyond all comprehension, but it will be hell fun, I will learn a heap + I can throw it up for you all you people!

So as you can see I’ve set myself quite a bit to chew on which is really really exciting for me. I could go out and get a job over summer, probably eat better food and not be so dirt poor, but then I wouldn’t have the free time to really pound on some of these things I’ve been itching at. All I need is a $4 bottle of red, some coffee and a power point to really do what I love.

Anyway, I’m off to have a drink and catch up with an old friend from high school who just got into town.

I’ll leave you tonight with these two little animations that have really made an impression on me. Best of luck with your creative cockhammers(rawwwr).

PERM >>>>