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Sunday, January 17, 2010

NAMM and the death of the VJ


www.vjculture.com
NAMM didn't kill the VJ but, it did leave flowers at its grave.
Wow, not a lot to see at NAMM this year. For the past 3 years there has been a decline in hardware/software directed towards the VJ/visualist or even video DJ.
Was video too complicated for musicians/DJs? Did the music industry not see quantifiable sales on video related products? Maybe they feel its better left to the LD to handle cuz the VJ isn't gettin the love.
One notable piece of hardware out there. Denon has released a new DJ mixer DN-X1700 It has vlink, Roland's fancy name for MIDI premapped for you. Connected to the Edirol V8 and you have full control over the mixer. Tap in the BPM on the X1700 and it adjusts the V8's BMP. All the DJ mixers in the past would slave the video mixer to the mapping on the DJ mixer. It would cross dissolve on the fader whether you liked it or not. Now, with the X-1700 you can create a MIDI layer that turns the DJ mixer into a MIDI controller only. Slap those faders around, twist those knobs and only control the visuals. Turn off the MIDI layer only feature and you are back to controlling the audio. This is great for DJ and VJ applications as well.

Denon didn't have much of a presence at NAMM. You had to go past a food counter, up a set of stairs that made you question whether you belong there or not and then into a small room that was probably the food court manager's office.
Only other note worthy NAMM showing was Serato's SL video plugin. To the DJ the side note that SL video now supports quartz composer files is no big deal, but to the VJ/visualist (whatever you want to call yourself these days) this is huge. Check out the specs here.
It also mentions support for using the matrox double or triplehead2go card.
Serato is offering a free app that bridges Serato to Ableton live called, "Bridge". For the A/V minded you know what to do with Ableton and MIDI control of visual applications.
Note: Every time I walked by the Serato booth it was packed. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

3 comments:

ilan katin said...

Thanks for the post. Maybe this is a good thing. We can stop focusing on the technology and just focus on using what we already have, making interesting and engaging performances instead of spending hours upon hours of learning how to use and configure new gadgets?

ilan katin said...

Thanks for the post. Maybe this is a good thing. We can stop focusing on the technology and just focus on using what we already have, making interesting and engaging performances instead of spending hours upon hours of learning how to use and configure new gadgets?

Just a thought.

Kevin said...

For the record it was the x1600 that Denon had on display at NAMM, not the x1700. V-Link is Midi on channel 16.

As a DJ and VJ, having a separate-dedicated midi channel for VJ gear is a step forward. I am very much looking forward to the x1600 to help me bring even more video control to my sets.

I agree 2009 saw the rise of video as lighting and LDs all over are now entering into the world of video, which IMO is taking away from the creative art of VJing. What we need to do is get DJs excited about visuals, but most seem to really not care about video at all.

Part of what people don't understand, and its hard to fully grasp unless you are DJ and VJ, but the brain processes required to mix live audio are totally different than the brain processes used to mix live video and asking our brains to do both live at the same time requires more concentration and skill than most of us have, myself included. Our brains are just not wired to do both live, but we can easily observe both and our brains will naturally "quantize" movement or changes in color or luminosity to changes in pitch, pan, volume and more. This is why it is, and will always be, better to work as a team when doing AV. I've been a DJ for more than 25 years and a VJ now for just over 10 and I've tried to do live mixed visuals and DJ at the same time with mixed results, and its not what I would call fun. The fun begins when the VJs and DJ work together and both have a strong understanding of what the other is doing.