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As a VJ, you need a lot of different connectors to hook up to different projection systems, etc. Here’s my VJ kit that I take to every venue:

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  • Macbook Pro with Resolume Avenue
  • Wii remote and DIY USB-powered sensor bar for WiiJ Video
  • VJacket (wearable wireless MIDI/OSC controller)
  • extra rechargable batteries for above devices!
  • LaCie d2 1TB external drive (quite a hefty block to lug around but the speed of the Firewire 800 and RAID 0 are great when playing 3-4 video clips at a time.)
  • 4GB USB thumb drive to transfer videos if the band brings their own
  • DVI to VGA adapter
  • DVI to RCA/S-video adapter (discontinued – unfortunate because they are incredibly useful – a lot of clubs still use analog video inputs. Also, it works as a video splitter if you have two projectors!)
  • VGA cables: 50 foot and 4 foot
  • RCA cables and female-to-female connectors to chain them together.
  • 1/8 inch to RCA splitters for cameras, iPods, or piping your videos’ sound through the sound system.
  • Projectors:
    • Panasonic PT-AX200U (5000 lumens and an adjustable lens makes this perfect for guerrilla set ups in small venues)
    • Optoma Pico: battery powered and handheld for secondary stage lighting. I usually connect it to my Samsung Galaxy S running Pocket Looper for Android and point it at the kick drum, a band member in a white shirt, or whatever else. One time, the band Battlehooch started the show playing in the middle of the audience with acoustic instruments, so I followed them into the crowd with the handheld and projected on the accordion player!  
  • Power Strip
  • Gaffer’s tape! Way better than duct tape. I cannot stress how many times this has saved me. Often the club will have some, but it’s good to have your own, for instance to secure your projector to less-than-stable surfaces.
  • Video camera and Gorillapod, extra SD cards
  • Projector screen on tripod and white sheet when there’s not enough room onstage for the tripod.
  • Zip ties (good for attaching white sheet to stage)
  • Thin rosin-core solder. In a pinch, you can use a lighter to heat it and solder any components that may have broken. Could be handy for that last-minute hangup!

I just spent a weekend coding a little proof-of-concept VJ application to test the live video mixing capabilities of HTML5, called LSD (Layer Synthesis Device). You can use LSD to VJ video clips on the web! Choose video clips and images and blend them together using the mixer controls or the interactive mouse mode. Create your customized hallucination directly in your browser and share with your friends!

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I wrote LSD to try out the new video and 2D rendering capabilities of HTML5 and the Canvas element (and also to prove to myself that HTML5+jQuery is SOO much easier to work in than a language like Max/MSP or Processing). It worked surprisingly well. Use it on a fast browser like Safari or Chrome and you will see UI responsiveness and smoothness comparable to professional VJ software (eh, at low resolutions). Of course, the browsers still have a long way to get up to the speed of a native application, but it is a promising start. (You can even VJ on your phone! Come on, this must be the future already!)

Try LSD Now!

Supported on Firefox 3.5+, Safari 4+, Chrome, iPhone, Android (no IE, what a surprise…)

All the VJ clips and images are from my personal collection, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The code is licensed as open source under the GPL, so feel free to play with the code and share it!

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At the Big South Lab, where I work, Andy Zingerle and I have made a VJacket: a wearable controller for live video performance. Built into this old bomber jacket are all kinds of sensors to control visuals on the screen: hit sensors, light sensors, bend sensors and touch sliders. This way, the VJ is freed from the boring, cumbersome interface of mouse and keyboard, and instead can use the very clothes on his body to control the videos and effects with a precise dance converting convulsing limbs into luscious light shows. We are transforming this bomber jacket, a symbol of war and destruction, into a tool of creative expression and a symbol of peace. We are also going to release all the related hardware and software as open source in order to spread this transformation across the globe.

The VJacket uses a standard Arduino microcontroller board to relay the sensor data to the computer. To take it from there, we built the Arduino2OSC bridge: an easily configurable graphical interface that creates customizable OpenSoundControl messages from the sensor data. It also allows you to adjust the analog input data from the Arduino to your exact needs – scaling input and output values, adding cutoff thresholds, etc. – with enough options to (hopefully) cover all your Arduino input requirements: no matter if your sensor is a continuous slider or a one-hit piezo contact mic, no matter if you are manipulating a video effect or triggering audio samples, we tried to make it flexible enough so you’re not stuck reprogramming a new patch for every project – just make a new preset and you’re done!

For the above video demo, we used the VJacket through Arudino2OSC to send OpenSoundControl messages to Resolume Avenue, a popular VJ program. The Arduino2OSC bridge interface is generic enough to send any type of OSC message to any program that accepts them, including other video or audio programs like Arkaos Grand VJ, Max/MSP/Jitter, Kyma, etc. You can even send the messages over the LAN for networked performances!

We will soon make available the circuit designs, Arduino code, and Arduino2OSC Max/MSP patch/application – all under an open source license – so stay tuned to make your own VJacket!