Video Fundamentals – Part 1 – General Workflow

Since the first introduction of our new blog almost a year ago the number of topics covered has grown to include a wide variety of subjects that at this point you could almost write an entire class on VJing and live video techniques from our tutorials.

With this in mind, rather than trying to teach how to use VDMX to new potential users, we've started to put together a new “Introduction to Video Fundamentals” curriculum that focuses on the basic knowledge needed to get started. While these ideas are usually demonstrated with VDMX, a lot of the underlying techniques are generally translatable to other software and hardware for video and lighting production.

In part two of this series (stay tuned) we'll start to look at some more advanced topics for putting all of this together along case studies and tips from the pros in the field.

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How to make a customized Livid OhmRGB Slim template by eatyourwork

For today's guest post we're joined by eatyourwork who first introduced us to the possibilities of using OhmRGB Slim alongside of VDMX in a blog post a couple of years ago. Since then we've made a few basic templates for new video performers to get started with a simple VJ video mixer setup with the Ohm, but in this video tutorial Simas shows off the extent to which you can customize your layout and MIDI mapping when making your own video performance rig.

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How to Turn an Old Building into an Interactive Driving Range by Gabe Shaughnessy & Dan Cohen

For this guest tutorial we're joined by Gabe Shaughnessy of Lumenal Code for an in depth look at how to create a well executed one off event video event that involves substantial preproduction from storyboarding, to animation and fabrication, and final live performance:

“Red Bull Mural is a project that pairs an athlete with an artist in a unique collaboration. Red Bull asked New Creatures to create a psychedelic, immersive experience for pro golfer Rickie Fowler in Washington, DC’s historic Uline Arena. New Creatures asked Lumenal Code to provide a story, artwork, and animations, and then to create the interactive projection mapped targets and operate them during the event. ”

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Making three templates for the Livid Base

When getting a new MIDI controller to use with VDMX, or other VJ / music making software, one of the most exciting aspects is finding out the best way to map the sliders and buttons to various controls that you want to use during performance, and along with that coming up with new ways that you can configure your software video generators and FX to get the most out of the layout of your instrument.

In this set of technique tutorials we'll be looking at three new example VDMX setups we've come up with for the Livid Base that take advantage of the controller in a few different ways including its multi-color LEDs and pressure sensitive pads.

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How to build the Waveclock Demo template

In this tutorial we'll be looking a closer look at using automatic BPM detection for syncing up the timing of visual events with music by recreating the core parts of the Waveclock Demo template that is included with VDMX.

The approach we'll take is to create a virtual video instrument in the form of a Quartz Composer composition and animate its interface controls with Step Sequencer and LFO plugins. Presets for patterns in each plugin can then be saved and switched to match the energy level of the music while VJing during a live set. 

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Automatic BPM Detection in VDMX using Waveclock

By enabling the “Waveclock” beat tracking feature in the VDMX Clock plugin, the music from a microphone or line input can be analyzed to automatically handle the adjustment of the BPM and measure position to ensure that the timing of changes in your video are perfectly in sync with the bands and DJs that you are working with. 

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Enabling hardware “Echo” mode for quick MIDI and OSC talkback with VDMX

Along with being able to receive real-time control values from MIDI and OSC based instruments, VDMX provides the ability to send the local state of interface items such as sliders and buttons back out to hardware controllers whose interfaces can update dynamically.

To make the setup of two way talkback with devices that support this kind of workflow faster to setup, each UI item in VDMX that is receiving from a MIDI or OSC source can be set to “echo” it's state back to the connected hardware controller.

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Installing and Using the v002 FX plugins with VDMX

One of the most useful sets of open source FX plugins for Quartz Composer are the v002 collection maintained by Vade and Bangnoise, which are now included as an optional separate package along with VDMX. Included are the v002 optimized fast blurs, “film” image filters, analog / digital glitch, and the Rutt-Etra analog video synthesizer emulator, along with QC based FX ready to use in VDMX or your own QC compositions.

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Guest Tutorial: Connecting Unity 3D Pro and VDMX by Syphon with Alejandro Crawford

For this guest tutorial we are joined by Alejandro Crawford, the visualist for MGMT (among other bands), in which he'll show us one part of the setup he uses for creating his live visuals by connecting a scene rendered in the powerful 3D gaming engine Unity to VDMX using the Syphon to pass video back and forth between the two different programs.

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Syncing the playback of multiple movies in VDMX over a network using OSC

One of the data-sources available within VDMX for controlling playback, FX, and composition parameters, is the current playhead position of each movie playing on a layer. Like an LFO or audio analysis value, you can assign this to any slider, button, or other UI item by using the UI Inspector or from the right-click contextual menu.

In this tutorial the movie “normalized time” parameter (time as a percentage, ranged 0.0 to 1.0) will specifically be used to synchronize the playback of multiple movie files – this can be a useful technique for working with batches of clips that have the same duration, and high-end projects that involve powering more displays or projectors than can be connected a single Mac.

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VJing with a WiiMote game controller in VDMX

While MIDI devices and OSC enabled applications tend to be most commonly used instruments by VJs when getting away from the computer during a live visual performance, another extremely powerful controller that can be paired with VDMX is the WiiMote game pad which can be connected to a Mac wirelessly over Bluetooth.

The basic configuration only takes a few moments to set up and then we can begin to put together a sample project that is designed to get the most out of the possibilities of the combining accelerometers with game style buttons for performing live visuals.

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Recording a demo reel from a Quartz Composer composition or other video generator to share online

It kind of goes without saying that these days, posting your work online is a great way to promote yourself as a VJ or creative coder, and to make new contacts for future collaborations. Along with a studio or live mix of your visual work, including some of the original resources that were used during the making of your process for other people to learn from is another way to make your mark on the community. 

For this technique tutorial we'll be looking at recording a demo reel that shows off the different ways that your generative compositions can be used in a live setting by using different sets of control data to drive its parameters, such as time based LFOs, MIDI / OSC control, and audio analysis data-source providers. Once we've finished creating the sample movie, we'll also walk through how to share the files using the videopong.net website where they can be hosted, downloaded and remixed by other video artists for free.

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Making custom face tracking video FX and data-sources for VDMX with Quartz Composer

For this quick technique tutorial we've made two basic Quartz Composer compositions using the “Detection” object that can be loaded into VDMX to perform basic face capture and replacement FX that can be connected in a variety of ways. You can also use these example patches as starting points for your own patches that perform more complex behaviors like tracking multiple faces within a single frame or publishing additional control information.

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Creating Gesture Based Controls for VDMX using the Gestrument Kinect MIDI controller app

Last week featured on CreateDigitalMusic we noticed the beta release of Gestrument Kinect, a  simple Mac app that can be used to convert the camera depth data from a Kinect to MIDI for controlling music and VJ live visuals. Since it sends of standard MIDI, it only took a few seconds to connect it to VDMX for a quick demonstration on how it's data can be converted into gestures used to trigger movie clips and adjust video FX parameters.

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VDMX Question from the forums: How do you set an effect MIDI knob to be off when in the center position?

This question comes to us from the VIDVOX forums, and is most easily explained with a quick demonstration– the goal is to have a MIDI knob that is used to make the video become more pixellated as it is turned left or right, but is a regular pass-through when set to its center point.

In this tutorial video we'll show off how to use an LFO plugin in VDMX to create a lookup curve for mapping a MIDI knob to a different range of values to drive our pixellate FX being applied to a layer.​

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DJ Mixer EQ Style Masking FX for VDMX (with bonus X-Session Pro template)

In this technique tutorial we'll focus on two different ways the idea of a DJ style low, mid, high EQ control can be interpreted in the world of video as FX in VDMX as a means to mask out or adjust the gain level on separate discrete parts of a video stream for the purposes of blending video layers together.

The first example exchanges the low, mid and high levels for the individual RGB channels of the image for raising or lowering the intensity of each independently. The second qcFX uses a similar concept to a 3-band equalizer, breaking down the image into three different sections based on the luma (brightness) level of each pixel instead of its frequency ranges.

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The Dual Mix 4 Layer Livid OhmRGB Slim Template

When compositing layers of video together in VDMX or another VJ application, one of the standard techniques for combining images is the use of “masking images” which black out parts of an image by setting its transparency (alpha channel) to less than 1.0, allowing it to in front of content behind it instead of simply blending the two together.

This template is a variation on the technique described in the four channel mixer example in which we have two groups of layers (left and right bus) set up making it possible to preview and transition between mixes on the fly. Here the idea is similar, but instead of two mixes that use separate sets of clips, in this template each bus shares the same set of four clips, each with different controls for layer opacity, FX and blend modes. For an added twist, the four source for this template is used as a mask overlay for each bus that can be used in a variety of ways to combine the two separate mixes together in the main output.

In this video tutorial we quickly go through the design of this template and how it can be used to mix two movie clips along with an audio reactive or LFO driven Quartz Composer composition as an overlay or mask.

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Remixing Seamless 360 Degree Panoramic Movies Shot with the Kōgeto Dot in VDMX

As part of our series on different techniques for VJs and visual artists to create their own content for performances and installations, today we are featuring the “Dot” camera attachment from Kogeto which lets you easily shoot panoramic video from an iPhone that can be loaded into a VDMX for real-time cropping and panning for adjusting the point of view as the movie plays back or is remixed during a live performance.

In this video tutorial we'll look at some tips for working with movie clips shot using the Dot in VDMX, including setting up seamless 360 rotational loops, syncing the POV angle to the movie time, and how to fade between two different panorama clips.

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