Loops – Performance, Production, and Progression

Download the project and media files to follow along with this project.

The heart of almost every VJ / Visualist performance is the loop. There are lots of techniques and training for the production of loops, but there are some common approaches and methodology of creating a “pack” that are explored in this guest tutorial by Colin Evoy Sebestyen. To demonstrate these ideas Colin breaks down a project he created with musician Nonagon for a performance series at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

The first thing Colin discusses is establishing progression, consistency, dynamics, and variation within the design of loops. It’s important to consider that loops don’t feel arbitrary in the order in which they are triggered during performance, but rather feel unified in concept and visual language. This also has practical benefits, in that loops can be played longer if variation and themes are introduced rather than stand-alone loops, which can get repetitive.

Some of the different ways of thinking about how one might structure the design of the loops in a performance paradigm is diagrammed. Colin launches Maxon Cinema 4D software to briefly show how he created an endless animated hallway/building series of animations for the project, and then shares some tricks and tips for cheats in the animation for building seamless loops.

Next, Colin opens up VDMX and shows some basic options and setups in the media bin plugin. Simple triggering options and pre-loading media are discussed. Colin shows the difference between smart triggering in a single layer, and a “multi-track” approach using synchronized layers to allow for more flexibility in the performance. He also briefly shows how easy it is to setup an iPhone as a video input in VDMX, and points his camera at a MIDI controller that he uses for the demo. He shows and explains the advantage of using the control surface plugin as opposed to directly tying properties to incoming MIDI data.

Prepare video loops in Maxon Cinema 4D...

then adjust mix and FX controls by MIDI during live performance.

Finally, there is a breakdown of some of the perspective effects that Colin uses to add to the look of his animated hallway/building. The first is using the BadTV effect for its scroll property, and then he drives it with the data from an LFO plugin to trigger a scroll event via MIDI. Using a similar pattern, he then creates a trippy room extending effect using the Impossible Tunnel effect. He finalizes the look by building a color grade using Lens Flare, Ghosting, and v002 plugins, all of which can be customized to get different output variations.

Think about how to structure loops to make more flexible live performances...

Think about how to structure loops to make more flexible live performances...

After completing this tutorial, you might want to try learning about how you can use LFO and other Data-Source plugins to trigger all kinds of animations in your setups, or head over to Maxon and learn more about the software used to create these loops. If you are a creative cloud subscriber and are an Adobe After Effects user, you already have a lite version of Cinema 4D installed, and you can open the original project files used to create these loops and modify them to generate your own custom versions.