is Video Jockeying?
Video Jockeys (VJs) use
various techniques to mix and display video content, usually for the purpose of
enhancing some kind of musical experience.
is Video Jockeying useful?
To provide additional
entertainment at music performances:
Since humans are visually oriented for the most part, the inclusion of video
during a musical performance encourages the audience to pay more attention, have
higher retention, and conveys a message that is complimentary to the music. For
example, if a DJ is playing music that he wants people to dance to, a VJ might
compliment the music by displaying video of disco lights, people dancing, or
feet moving. People like to watch other people dance, and are more likely to
dance themselves if they see other’s dancing.
To publicly display a
form of artistic expression: Video
Jockeying, once you become familiar with it, can easily become a creative
outlet, just as Disc Jockeys are usually considered musicians and receive
recognition for their art. This is especially true if you use your own original
To participate in
musical events without being a musician:
Being a VJ means you are part of the performance. Depending on your venue, you
may get free drinks, backstage passes, access to guest list spots, and perhaps
most importantly, you might get paid. But wasn’t this about art?
kinds of video are good for Video Jockeying?
Picking the video you want
to display is where the creativity of Video Jockeying starts. There are many
different ways you can go about this, depending on the effect you want to have
on the music and the audience. Here are some general tips:
Listen to and learn the
music that you’re going to be performing with, then devise a theme to go along
with it. Example 1: If you have a
driving rock song with an urban theme, then perhaps video with lots of people,
movement, buildings, etc would be appropriate. Example 2: If you have a love
song or ballad, then perhaps video of flowers growing, waves crashing, the sun
coming up, etc would be appropriate. Example 3: If you are playing with
electronic music, find some video that moves and changes quickly. You can
achieve this effect by switching quickly between several video clips, perhaps
every half-second. This can easily be done using VJ software or a video mixer.
Use video that is
fairly sharp and has plenty of brightness and contrast.
Blurry video is likely to become even more blurry when displayed and viewed at a
distance. If your video clips aren’t bright enough, they won’t make a very big
impact once they go through a projector. Projectors are also sensitive to
contrast, so dark text on a black background isn’t likely to show up well.
Start using your video
camera. It can be surprising how
much interesting video you can get from taping normal, everyday things with your
video camera. Take some close-up shots of a TV screen, a water faucet, leaves
rustling, etc. Once you have some video recorded, import the video to your
computer, and edit it into usable clips. There is a lot I could say about video
editing and compression for the purpose of Video Jockeying, so perhaps I’ll
cover that sometime in the future.
Using a video camera to
create a video feedback loop. Video
feedback occurs when you direct a video camera at a screen showing what the
camera sees. Rather than try to describe the fantastic effects that can be
produced by video feedback, I suggest doing an experiment to find out for
yourself. Plug your video camera into a television so that the TV displays what
the camera sees. Then put the camera directly in front of the TV and aim the
lens at the screen. Observe what happens. Put objects between the camera and
the television and notice the “shadow” that is created by video feedback. You
can record this feedback and use it later. You can also composite live video
feedback with other video sources using a mixer while you are performing.
equipment is needed for Video Jockeying?
– this is by far the most expensive investment you’ll have to make. Unless your
venue already has a projector or some other large display you can use, you’ll
need to buy or rent one of these. There are a number of types of projectors
available, and within these types a wide range of price and quality.
– With a computer, you can store hundreds of video clips and run programs (such
as ArKaos or Grid) that will display the clips and create effects and
transitions for you. Get a computer that has both video output and input. You
need output so you can send your video signal to your projector, and input so
you can capture original video from a video camera or other video sources.
– With a video mixer you can apply effects and transitions to signals coming
from any video source. Because of all of the filters and compositing effects
you can use with these mixers, the possibilities become literally infinite.
– Some VJs plan out their entire set in advance, record it to a VHS tape or DVD,
and then plug the VCR or DVD Player directly into the projector or video mixer.
These are also great backup sources of video in case your computer crashes
during a performance.
- You don’t have to go out and buy an actual video screen, because many times
the walls, floors, and ceilings of your venue are light enough in color for
video to be adequately recognizable on them. If you need something lighter than
the walls, usually some white bed sheets will work just as well as a pull down
Always have various extensions, splitters, and converters around when you go to
gigs. You never know when you are going to have to put your projector 50 feet
away from your video or power source, so the longer the better is a good rule to
follow when picking up cables. Things like gaff tape and cable ties are
useful when securing cables to the ceiling, walls, posts, etc.
Projector Mount –
Since projectors are quite expensive to repair or replace, you should have some
sort of mount that you can fasten to a table or ceiling so your projector won’t
easily get knocked down and broken.
– As I mentioned before, these are needed for projecting live video of the
audience or performers in conjunction with using a video mixer. It is also a
good idea to record your set so you can review it later on and critique
Use plenty of
movement: Music is always changing,
so your video should too. A lull in the video presentation can distract from
the music, which is the reason people came to the event in the first place.
Likewise, if your video has plenty of movement, it can enhance the music being
played and draw people further into the performance.
Get to know the event
staff: Introduce yourself to sound
and lighting engineers, bartenders, or anyone else that is employed at the venue
you are playing. You will need to work with these people so that you can set up
your gear, control stage lights, find power outlets, or anything else that may
Be aware of copyright laws that are applicable
to the video you are displaying if you are showing it in a public place. There
are websites (archive.org) that allow you to download public domain movies that
you can edit for later use.