VJ students find enlightenment at Milkyway/ De Melkweg

Sorry! This article was published in Dutch only. See video below.


Brief summary

Light shows are created with a pleithora of lamp types and effects. They are operated using a light table. It’s a high tech game that’s evolving fast. Ideally the light technician and VJ work together creatively to find the best visual boost to the music. Live, or in large preproduced shows. This was a lecture for VjAcademy.


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Young VJs find inspiration in the natural world

The profession of Video Jockey is even younger than that of robot builder. That’s why the Amsterdam-based VjAcademy can take on no more than five or six students per year—all subjected to a strict selection process—and still be the largest VJ education program in the country. At the Academy, students are groomed to create and operate video backdrops for festivals, concerts, conventions, et cetera.  

Last week, the current VjAcademy class presented their graduation projects. Their assignment: create an interesting and surprising public video experience. Below is a summary of their work.

Mapping on a vertical rock garden

Japanese garden designs often include rough natural stones laid out in geometric patterns. VJ Lise Custers built something similar for her graduation project… only this one was vertical. She named it Floating stone. She then brought those patterns life with 3D mapping, enabling her to create a separate miniature projection for every stone in her design. Interaction seems to be a buzzword among young makers: in this case, the audience can influence patterns through Kinect technology. She’s currently still researching the most intuitive way to translate movement into visual effects.

Mesh sculpture projections

VJ VISH performs with young band Dialoque. For that reason, she has created a concert in A-Lab for a graduation project: Sea Through. VISH loves the whimsical patterns that appear when projecting on and around whimsical materials. In this case, those materials are clouds made from steel mesh, floating in the space between the band and their audience. The audience sees the visuals projected onto the clouds, as well as the playful interaction between light and shadow on both the band members and the space behind them. VISH constantly changes the color schemes, letting her organic, abstract shapes and patches twist to the beat.

Magnetic paint vibrations

Speaking of beats: VJs strive to perfectly match their videos to music. For his graduation project, Ferrocious, VJ Eigengeis made the musical vibrations themselves visible. He mixed up bright magnetic fluids, and exposed them to musical vibrations coming from a speaker magnet. The resulting video footage looks like the psychedelic liquid projection slides of the future, and they make great samples. However, not all music fits the bill: “Dubstep works better than Bieber.”

Ready-made visuals

What would it be like to have ready-made visuals for when you’re throwing a party at your house? VJ AV Maria created a DIY kit that allows people to do just that: the VJ IT KIT. The first step is creating something resembling a dream catcher on your ceiling or wall using a patterned piece of paper, some thread, and a few nails. The switch comes from connecting a piece of hobby electronics (Makey Makey) to everyday objects like a coin or a piece of fruit, using electronic wire. The objects are each matched to a single effect and thereby become the buttons, creating a number of alternating video loops that match the pattern. It does require a projector and laptop, though, so it’s still a work-in-progress.

A kaleidoscopic hall of mirrors

Epic Visuals loves designing tunnel animations in Cinema 4D. If you project them just right onto a screen set inside a mirror cube, the reflections will form a never-ending spatial system: ‘InfiniT’. This abstract spatial adventure requires audience members to stick their head into the cube and allow themselves to become immersed in the reflection. Epic’s dream is to create an entire room using this technique. Spacey!

Looking towards the future

The VjAcademy graduation project forces students to think of new ways to create surprising video designs. This year, every single one of them chose to add an extra dimension to moving images by using physical materials: rock, thread, fluids, mesh, and mirrors. To put it differently: using video to make stationary objects move. The resulting five experiments each deserve a sequel.

All graduation projects were evaluated by an examination board consisting of professional VJs. The above-mentioned five candidates have graduated and are currently building a VJ career of their own.

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