NAMM 2011 from a VJ perspective

NAMM 2011 is finished and regarding video and VJ it’s a big no show.

The music industry keep struggling to restore revenue but seems to keep ignoring that extending musician tools to allow them to create video is important.

The only company that keep saying this is Roland and they finally made MIDI Visual Control an open protocol.

Roland also introduced a new video switcher the VR-5, this is nice machine for those who want hardware solution and does not need HD.

I was amazed by this Video Guitar made by Visionary Instruments. Here is a quick video loop on how it looks like:

There was one very interesting event where I went to see that was the WHAM BAM 2011 (4th Annual) :: MUSIC CONVENTION INSPIRED FUTURE SOUND AND TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE ::

VJ Culture is doing visuals for them and already last year he tried to get me there. Several performers were presenting there controller and explaining the technical details of their sets.

I enjoyed the presentation of Moldover, here are a few tracks I tapped with my camera:

On this you see that Moldover was using the video guitar:

It is not very often that you see clearly how a performer is using his controller. Moldover created the Mojo and asked Livid Instruments to build it form him.

This is a really cool new instrument Moldover is building, here you can see him jamming from some random peoples:

The other part I did enjoy was the Laura Escudé set, I was not expecting ambient music at this event and so it was a very nice surprise. I taped 2 tracks:

This one is 20 minutes long, YouTube now does allow me to post longer pieces and I expected to use that in the future. The start of the piece was slow and dark and so I added some light flares to the first minutes to have some slow moving visuals from the start:

I bough his CD Pororoca and look forward enjoying it.

For me NAMM 2011 was much more interesting for the meetings I had and what I forecast to do this year from there.

Yota Space digital arts festival in St Petersburg

I made a workshop speaking about ArKaos applications (GrandVJ and MediaMaster) at Yota Space digital arts festival in St Petersburg

The video installations were very impressive, here are some short loops I took quickly during my 2 days there.

It was inspiring to see all those audio visual installations and performances. Congratulation to CyberBrothers and Ben Sheppee from Light Rhythm Visuals

Because I was just 2 days on site and I had not a lot of time to explore the huge space. During my quick visit I took those video loops:

Here are the installations and performance in this video:

United Visual Artists – Volume:

AntiVJ 3Destruct

John Y Moon – Augmented Shadow

Quayola – Strata #1

Shantell Martin – Performance

VideoFabrika – Video tunnel

MSA Visuals – Body Paint

MSA Visuals – Webcam Piano 2.0

Souvenir from the Workshop at the International Festival of Audiovisual Arts Yota Space

In December 2010 I was made some workshops at the International Festival of Audiovisual Arts Yota Space in St Petersburg (Russia).

Yota Space team

Yota Space team

Cool picture with Matt Black (Coldcut), Blanca Regina (, Pierre from ArKaos, Raquel Meyers (, Ben Sheppee (, Shantell Martin ( and our friends organizers from CyberBrothers (

Here is the full resolution picture for those that wants to keep that souvenir:
Yota Space team

ArKaos MediaMaster – what about creating the best video swiss knife for the show business ?

ArKaos MediaMaster is the latest incarnation of now a long list of video software created by ArKaos. All evolutions have always be triggered by request of users, ideas we wanted to experiment, goals we wanted to reach in term of performances.

When we decide a few years ago to rewrite our core engine we wanted to get the best out of current and future computer architecture. So we designed an engine made to allow playing multiple layers of HD video loops and balancing the usage of CPU having multiple cores and GPU allowing very creative layer blending.

This is what we released with MediaMaster 1.0 and evolved to the 1.2 by adding a very cool frame blending and audio support.

While we were focussing on pushing fluidity and making sure the pixel flow was optimal we did not spend too much time working on the front interface. This does not mean we did not care about that but we were just too busy having our hands dirty with pixel processing.

However during the last year we spent a lot of time talking with users, looking how they were working, watching how they used ArKaos VJ DMX. In January this year we finalized a round of meetings and design sessions were we came with the idea of bringing back the simple mode of ArKaos VJ DMX but in a modernized way.

The basic idea is that a typical light designer needs a video swiss knife. Some days you need to just do a little bit of MIDI triggering, other days you may want to use a few DMX sliders to automate a small theater play and once is a while you are on a big tour with some heavy automation done by a big lighting console. You may even have from time to time a small corporate event where video loops can be triggered from your computer keyboard.

This is what we will release with MediaMaster 2.0. MediaMaster will come in 2 versions, the Express that will be something like a 8 blades swiss knife and the Pro that will be more like a 12 blades swiss knife.

The simple mode implementation we added to MediaMaster will be very efficient to use because it will be based on presets. If you are doing LED mapping over your video output you can by example create a preset for the position of your LED wall and have it recalled very easily for many cells. You can also edit this preset and see the modification be applied instantly to all cells using it.

So the advantage of this new simple mode over what we did on the past is that:
– it make use of the media management of MediaMaster
– it benefit from the performance of the new video engine (frame blending, audio…)
– the preset system make it very quick to use
– it allows to mix DMX, MIDI and computer keyboard triggering
– you can break your performance in up to 64 patches of 64 cells
– all information in concentrated into the Media folder (content, patch information, show setup) and so it’s very easy to move your files between computers

Here is a video showing the main interface of MediaMaster express that was demonstrated at Frankfurt Prolight and Show last month. We trigger video loops with a LSC DMX desk and with a small Korg MIDI controller. Since then we made some minor evolution to the interface but it will give you a good idea of what it will looks like:

We are now close to the final release and we expect to start some public beta testing before the end of this month. We will also make public soon the pricing and upgrade policy but we can already announce that all MediaMaster 1.x users will have a free upgrade to MediaMaster Pro 2.x

Pushing boundaries with the Karlax controller…

NAMM 2010 was the death of VJ as the industry did not have anything new regarding the control and integration of music and video.

It looks like innovation was there at the Frankfort music and sound show, the old continent has something new and very cool regarding control. DA FACT did introduce the Karlax and we added support for it in GrandVJ just in time for the show. And now at ArKaos we have a proposition for artists that would like to explore this with us, read this, watch the video and the details are at the end of this article…

It’s all about maximizing control and using your body to express your ideas. 10 fingers running on a MIDI keyboard can allow triggering many events but as Nintendo did show to the game industry gestures and your body can add a whole new fantastic layer to expression and control.

This is the idea of the Karlax. It’s a MIDI instrument that generate key press and control values via standard pads and sliders on the instrument but it has also gesture support to generate even more MIDI controller.

It’s a delight for GrandVJ because when designing it we made sure that everything can be controlled via MIDI. In this video you see the mixer interface mapped to the various MIDI notes and controllers generated by the Karlax. In this first implementation we did map 5 controllers to the intensity of the first 5 layers of the mixer. You can use 2 keys to select the next and previous layer so you can edit live the state all layers directly from the controller. Other controls can affect loop speed, triggering visuals from the patch, select next previous effects, moving the visual position, changing effect parameters value… the gesture itself is mapped to loop speed.

In this video you see GrandVJ controller in the same time with an audio processing application.

We have received an interesting proposition from DA FACT, we would like to receive submission from GrandVJ users living around Brussels or Paris. DA FACT will provide a controller for one month, we will provide software and support. During that month the artist must create an original piece both audio and video. We will shoot the progress and record the final presentation. This will be used as an example of what can be done today when you use such powerful combination. Send us your proposition via mail at contact at arkaos dot net.

A big thank you to Christophe Martin for making this happen!