DVJ

sander kleinenberg

mike relm by marla campbell

DVJ is a DJ who performs live using an audio-visual music player instead of an audio-only setup. This is not to be confused with a VJ, which usually refers to a host of a music video channel, or a visual-only performer separate from the DJ in a live environment. The term comes from the industry-standard Pioneer DVD-turntable, called the DVJ. Liquid Basildon a British nightclub is host to a number of DVJs such as Sander Kleinenberg, Christian S and Kel Sweeney.

Visuals in one form or another have always been a part of live DJ performances, but until the advent of this form of performance, the visual aspect was largely limited to computerized strobes and spotlights, laser projectors, and/or pyrotechnics. With the advent of DVD technology (especially once it became cheap enough for the average individual to create his or her own discs), a push was made for a device that would give a performer the same flexibility in accessing the music and video on the disc as the turntable-style CD players commonly available for DJs.

The Pioneer DVJ-X1, first released in 2004 became an industry standard, which was refined in 2006 in the DVJ-1000. DVJ discs, as noted above, are DVDs containing one or more music videos the performer wishes to play. The audio and video for the disc are then always in synch regardless of any scratching, mixing, and other transformations the performer does on the media. In addition to the DVJ turntable players (virtually all DJs have two players for their ‘native’ media of vinyl, CD, or DVD; some have additional players to accommodate other media, or they mix multiple sources at once), ‘DVJing’ requires the use of an audio-visual mixing console, which allows the DVJ to select sources for audio and video and to blend or mix them.

Many mixers also give the DVJ the ability to perform simple transformations on the video. Just as an audio mixing console allows for changes in equalizer levels, dynamics, and balance, an A/V mixer allows variations in hue, color saturation, brightness, sharpness, and other settings. They also allow for various types of transitions between video clips, such as fades, blends, and wipes. Future advances in video processing may allow the DVJ to perform real-time advanced transformations on the video, such as polarization, color negative, digital color grading, and other digital filters. The DVJ-1000 is a DVD player with a higher read speed than the average home dvd player, and a memory buffer that allows for quick jumps or backtracks in playback. This is coupled with a controller that emulates a vinyl-record turntable. By rotating a control wheel, the performer can quickly search through a video; slow or speed up playback (pitch) to match the other playing track; and, with a ‘scrubbing’ motion, quickly stutter forward and backward, producing the well-known ‘scratching’ effect. Other controls that take advantage of the digital media include A-B looping, freeze frame, slow motion, and instantaneous pause/play (a traditional vinyl-record turntable requires a small amount of ‘spinup’ time).

Common brands for commercial video mixers are EDIROL and Videonics. These pieces of hardware simply accept multiple video sources and combine them in various ways such as fades, wipes, and a number of other transitions. Another common piece of equipment in the DVJ arsenal is called a switcher. Most digital turntables, whether CD or DVD, have a fader-start capability, in which the cross-fader of the audio or video mixer can tell a player to pause or play. By using these types of switchers (the Pioneer A/V switcher is a very common example), scratching video effects can show the typical back-and-forth motion heard on audio. More-advanced video mixers also have a chroma-key capability, known by most as ‘green screen’ compositing. Currently, Videonics makes a number of mixers that will allow for this effect. VJ artists may play DVD tracks with a certain color that is set as the chroma-key color on the mixer. The mixer will then locate this color on the track and replace it with whatever the VJ has chosen. Many times, he or she will use a camera and camera operator to take live video feeds of the dancing crowd and superimpose them on a video of something else.

As opposed to a fully component setup, computer solutions such as OtisAV DJ, PCDJ, VirtualDJ, and Serato Scratch Live all deliver full audio/video capabilities. Video mixing is done within the computer, which can then be plugged into a video system or splitter, eliminating the need for an external mixer in many cases. The software uses the computer as an all-in-one unit: player, A/V mixer, and monitor. Regular turntables using control cds/vinyl records can directly control the media, and some software suites allow the use of external (midi) controllers that emulate turntables, or add additional controls to the software, allowing a more versatile/portable setup or eliminating the added cost of buying turntables or even a mixer. To take advantage of this solution, DVJs copy their DVD tracks, video and HD media onto hard drives, which means less equipment needing to be carried to gigs. This solution is not only more compact, it’s less expensive. Computer-based systems can only run reliably on very powerful computers with the latest graphics cards, anything less can lead to lowered video quality, skips, lagging, and even crashes—all potentially fatal to the performance. The settings are used to encode and play back media files are extremely important and can negatively affect quality, although with the current methods and quality standards, this has become a non-issue. In addition, whereas component players are limited to SD resolution, products like Serato can deliver high quality HD 720p playback as well as 1080p, although not technically supported yet.

An audio DJ uses headphones so the DJ can hear the unmixed output of each turntable independently in order to queue up the next track. A DVJ needs similar capabilities with video, which requires multiple displays. With component-based systems, a small flat-panel monitor or TV needs to be set up for each player and given the raw video feed of the player through a Y-splitter cable. With a computer setup, the computer or laptop must have two video outputs; the primary screen has both sources and the mixed output shown, and the mixed output sent out the secondary output to the house, and commonly a monitor for the DVJ. This setup saves space needed in the DJ booth from 3 monitors plus a controller down to the pc/laptop(s) and an output monitor. Computer setups using Serato Video Scratch Live have been incorporated into many venues, notably several Las Vegas mega-clubs. VJ and Turntablist Mike Relm has also switched from using a component setup to a software/controller setup with Serato VSL and a Jazzmutant Lemur.

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