Tag Archives: vj

Notes on JSConf Australia 2016

I spoke at JSConf Australia in Melbourne at the beginning of this month. Like in CSS Conf Australia, the videos haven’t been published individually yet, but the event was streamed live, and you can watch it again… and again… and again…

My brain got into one of those intensely obsessive focused moments pre-talk so I will admit I could barely pay attention to the talks prior to mine—I’m really sorry, specially because I heard so many good things about them!

These notes will be shorter because of that. Apologies if you were expecting a full conference review… but sometimes you cannot get everything you want! 😔

And now to the talks!

Jessica Lord: “Electron: A Tale of Two Processes”

This one was a really enlightening talk about Electron’s architecture. I had no idea it worked that way, and my assumptions were basically wrong. It was good to be shown the truth in an amicable way—like Jessica’s! I really enjoyed this talk and that’s big, considering it was right before mine!

Ruth John: “How to be a Web A/V Artist”

Ruth explained the secrets behind her “Web VJ*” set-up and also managed to produce an even smaller MIDI controller than the last time I spoke to her. It’s as if she kept getting Bluetooth miniatures!

She introduced some comedic elements into the talk but I’m not quite sure they worked for everyone… I felt some of the “funny samples” (like the Windows 9x error sounds) were lost on parts of the audience… that were younger than expected!

*Web VJ sounds so much like a new and upcoming API. Maybe… maybe… navigator.webvj.... 😏

Michaela Lehr: “An Introduction to WebVR”

She had an slightly different take on WebVR, which was really refreshing. She also mentioned things rarely mentioned such as the fact that VR can cause strong psychological and physiological responses on some people, and we need to be mindful of that when we design the new experiences in the web. If certain things are VR only, are we going to exclude some people this way?

Lena Reinhard: “Debugging the Tech Industry”

I have huge respect for Lena—she’s always delivering these immensely difficult talks. It’s hard to be the bearer of bad news. And there are plenty in tech!

Weeks after the talk, I’m still thinking about the message, and trying to come up with ways in which we can build tech that is not “accidentally” hostile to everyone who is not the creator of said tech.

Live.JS + Karaoke(.js?)

After the talks were done and we took the “family photo” and announcements were done, the room was cleared and Matt McKegg and Ruth John set up shop to have one of their Live.js events, like the one in Singapore.

I challenged Matt to “dubstepify” his act, which sort worked because his music is super improvisational.

Once they were done, an impetuous bunch of karaokers took up the stage and starting singing with lots of energy and heart and soul, but also lots of misplaced notes. I described this as “this is when the bar is closed, the last patrons get out and they really want to keep singing the last song the bar was playing, and so they keep singing it in the streets”…

This is when I left—and I was so tired anyway, I could barely stand on my feet, no energy left to listen to extremely eager karaokers—let alone join in the party 😜

Overall

Like CSS Conf, this was a really chill and enjoyable conference. I had again lots of interesting conversations–more so on this day because people had seen me speak, so they wanted to ask me questions or just discuss ideas they had had!

I also learnt a few things. All good stuff!

If you are ever faced with the possibility of submitting a proposal for this conference, don’t even think about it—do it! It was really lovely and well organised—I’m very glad I was invited to apply and my proposal was accepted!

Also: Melbourne is such an interesting city… lots of things to look at and explore, from street art to museums to neighbourhoods to just buildings, and of course great food and coffee, although I still can’t stop feeling so confused with “Jingle bells” playing on the background while signs for “Happy summer!” and “Merry Christmas” live side by side on the storefronts!

I feel like I’m missing out on the part of Australian culture that has warm reggae Christmas songs instead. If that doesn’t exist—it MUST be invented!

And this is the last installment of “notes on…” for this year, at least!

Neon v2 goes open source

Neon v2

If you’re interested in VJ software, you may probably have heard about Neon v2, the VJ application that shine/xplsv.com developed a few years ago and which has been used not only for lots of VJ gigs but also for creating several real-time demos (including the euskal 2005 winner demo, Sound Pressure)

Unfortunately Shine is very busy right now. But instead of letting the software stagnate, he has made the full sources available under a GPL license, for whoever wants to pick up the development. This pretty much follows the story of Neon v1: when the author (mac/xplsv.com) got too busy, he released the sources for Neon V1 and Shine continued it, creating Neon v2 a while after.

You can check the sources from the SVN repository with your favourite SVN tool, or just be curious and browse them. It has lots of interesting stuff in it. Some examples that come to mind:

  • a full real-time 3d engine, with support for pixel and vertex shaders for building really cool effects
  • 3dsmax mesh export plug-in – if you want to know how to build a plug in for 3dsmax, here’s an example
  • integration with Lua for scripting – allows you to use the engine features programmatically
  • video play, using native windows video support and also ffmpeg for other formats
  • custom skinnable gui

etc etc etc… there are more things but I’ll let you find out by yourself!

As Shine says in the news, if you make new features for it, contact him and we’ll include them on the repository. If the updating gets active we could then manage new users with write-access for the SVN.

I personally wish someone with better knowledge of OpenGL and GUI’s than me would port the software to Mac/Linux (fingers crossed). It would be awesome to have it working without depending on DirectX as it does now (hint hint hint!)

neon v2 public release

Neon v2 main interface

So I am the last one in writing this, after all the announcements in different places such as vjforums, dmstk, xplsv.com, xplsv.tv, pouet.net, escena.org, trace’s blog and only-God-knows-where-else, encouraged by all the people which has arrived to my blog looking for “neon v2 download”, “neon xplsv” and so on. No need to worries, people, you can now download it for free and use it in your own VJ sessions.

All the information in neon v2 official website. I’m looking forward to see what people can do with it!

VJ’ing styles

Long time ago I believed that the job of a VJ consisted simply in turning on or off the lights in a club with more or less fortune.

Luckily some years after, the guys at threepixels, or more appropiatedly mac and trace, which were in threepixels at that time, did their first steps with vj’ing at their newlife’03, the new year’s eve party, using neon for the first time, if I am not wrong. That was the first time I heard about vj’ing with a normal computer and not with a set of lights or a more or less dedicated hardware, like professional dvd players and video mixers, etc.

In fact I had been talking with jcl about his VJ system at vmslabs, but I think that I didn’t really understand the capabilities of a modern vj tool until I saw neon’s results.

And it was when mac and trace finally founded xplsv, some months after. They released some captures which showed the abilities of their software and then I asked them some questions, like how did it work, how did they create everything and integrate it in realtime, etc…

I felt, and still feel, a great admiration for mac and the big efforts he did for creating threepixels studio, the tool they used for building almost all threepixels demos; so seeing how he was able to use the same engine both for demos and visuals, thus allowing to create the content just once, and how it enabled to play with demos (like r08028) and videos in realtime, was simply astonishing!

I started to feel curiosity for all what surrounds the vj world, so I paid more attention to the visuals when I went to an event or a party. Casually, the low prices for the video projectors enabled lots of pubs and clubs to buy one -even if they didn’t need it- so lots of more or less serious vj’s have been appearing around in these last years.

Most of the times, as I have seen, they just get a copy of resolume or any of the programs that one can find in the net, and start triggering random videos during the dj’s session. Those videos are usually very short clips at 320×200, with a very low frames per seconds (fps) rates, which gives a poor appearance to the gig, resembling a 486 playing FLI/FLC sequences.

It also seems like they all get the videos from the same source. I already have seen several people using the same Metropolis clips. Maybe it helps that the movie is now in the Public Domain and you can do whatever you want with it, but it tends to be boring like hell to see the same horror faces in every party where we go.

But even worse than it, is the absolute disconnection between the music and the images. Your favourite dj can be playing the most savage and evil hardcore gabber music, and the vj can be playing a video where Frankenstein is giving a flower to that little girl, in a slow pace. And for all of this, they even use a dedicated midi controller with lots of knobs and faders. Please somebody explain it to me!

Then you have xplsv and threepixels vj’ing works – way ahead! (I have also seen some vj works at xplsv.tv but I don’t know them as I know threepixels and xplsv’s ones, sorry about this). You can see they put several layers, like dressing and customizing the visuals for each gig, thus giving like a global mood. The videos are syncronized with the beat – and they play at more than 12fps usually, at 640×480.

There are also 3d scenes, which I think it’s one of the great advantages in comparison with usual vj software. Not because other tools do not play 3dscenes, but because they do not explode their possibilities. Maybe it’s because of our habit of taking care of even the most ridiculous vertex and think of a way of making it look good and impressing, maybe because of knowing that modern graphic boards are really powerful and have lots to offer, who knows! The key is that instead of just playing a plain 3d scene, they play with the scene, altering several properties of the objects, like let’s say the scale, rotation, etc, but based on the actual music which is being played in that very moment.

The idea is really simple and not complicated to achieve. In fact, I don’t know if that’s implemented in the other programs. But if it is, I can’t see it when looking at what people do. But I would like to encourage them to experiment with this approach of doing visuals, as it’s funnier to pay attention to the music and try to play clips and scenes which really fit what the dj is currently mixing than simply spend the whole night browsing the clips library and selecting them randomly. And I’m really sure that the listeners/viewers will thank it too!

2006 to do list

Following (or inspired by) Madgoblin’s to do list…, no strict priority order:

  • fix more bugs and add more features to xplsv.tv
  • learn more about vj’ing
  • do more lives (vj + music)
  • experimental vj live
  • really learn ruby + rails
  • improve my english
  • learn how to play with my new keyboard
  • compose another EP for roterfleck netlabel (I have the concept and one song)
  • finish blue tuesday (just will need to finish a new scene and polish and clean everything a bit) done
  • do a demo for mac (hence use the new code for mac & pc)  done with tube by xplsv
  • fr…o demo (featuring madgoblin)
  • secret demoscene project, number 1 was tube demo by xplsv (done)
  • secret demoscene project, number 2
  • music for tlotb experimental demo (will be the definitive challenge, either do it or die on it!)
  • create video versions of my demos and add them as motions to xplsv.tv done
  • adapt my events list implementation to the new code, including the impulse tracker exporter
  • port ppg demos to mac (current blue tuesday code works on mac and pc)
  • finish tlotb web
  • add tags to all elements in my home page (that means restoring back the photos, demos, gfx and txt sections)
  • play with flash8 and see what can be done
  • go to breakpoint06 and release something decent there (and I already have the tickets!!)
  • learn more standard, usable and accessible web techniques (or be more web2.0)
  • read more books
  • finish the almost finished songs that I have floating around my hard disk for more than 5 years now
  • do more food experiments (but stop eating so many sweets)
  • help sin with his demoscene search engine (salmiakki)
  • help sml with his demoscene divulgation projects (scene school & related projects)
  • stop doing to do lists, and get things done! 🙂