The following post is from one of our very own producers: Nicholas Rivero. He recently was a part of a massive multi-screen LED setup in Knoxville and we asked him to share a little bit of what was involved in an event this large. Here’s what he had to say:
I got to be a part of the CHIC (Covenant High in Christ) youth conference in Knoxville, TN this year. The conference happens once every 3 years and features various artists and speakers. This year hosted some names such as Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Gungor, Skillet, and Chris Tomlin. My job was two fold, I was the resident “VJ” as well as Barco Encore operator. This time around, I’m just going to detail the VJing side of things.
I was using VidVox’s VDMX on an 8 core, Late 2010 MacPro. The Mac Pro is my personal machine which I’ve loaded with 4 hard drives: 1 main boot drive, 1 clone of my boot drive, and 2 scratch drives for content storage. I also had an ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card which supports 2 MiniDisplay Port and 1 Dual-link DVI output. These 3 outputs allowed me to have 2 control displays and 1 video output, all running at 1920×1080, in show.
VDMX is my app of choice for VJing. At first glance, it can seem like a slightly confusing app, but it’s power comes in it’s ability to be custom configured to what you need it to do. I built my setup around using 3 layers of content. What this allowed me to do was have two layers that I could fade back and forth between, much like an A/B mixer. I could cue up a piece of media in one layer while my other layer was live on screen. I then used layer 3 to blend on top of my first two layers, allowing me to blend images together using an additive blend, just like in Photoshop. Though, where VDMX really steps up to the plate for driving content on the fly is in it’s ability to quickly change the hue, color, contrast, saturation, and speed of any clip, as well as, apply various effects like blurs and film jitters.
To really knock it out the park, I used an iPad running Hexler’s TouchOSC app to turn my iPad into a multi-touch custom controller. I then, was able to use the iPad to give me controls for all of the effects I had just previously mentioned. At any point during the show, I could look down and increase the contrast of what I saw live on screen or speed up a clip that was moving a tad bit too slowly. Having dedicated controls keeps you from having to fish around in the software for the things you need most, allowing you to focus more on the creative aspects of making the content your playing fit tight into the look of the show.
My content library consisted of all kinds of things. I had plenty of motion loops loaded, approximately 4,000, in addition to solid color stills, stained glass imagery, film grunge, and abstract still images. The two keys, for me, to an event like this is to know your content library decently well and listen to the music of the artist’s you’ll be working with. Some artists would approach me ahead of time with detailed instructions for the look they wanted during their show, where as others would completely leave it up to me to make the decisions.
This event was produced by Greg Dolezal from Renewed Vision.
Here’s Skillet onstage with one of my favorite looks, solid red.
Here I am using some of Playback Media’s Cosmo’s Digital Bundle:
Our Barco Encore controller for routing video to all the LED screens.
Nicholas Rivero is a Live Video Director full time and designs motion graphics and still imagery for multi-screen on the side. His recent work includes Mumford & Sons, Lady Antebellum, Chris Tomlin, Passion Conferences and others. Nicholas has a passion to create experiences that amplify what is happening live. He graduated from Florida State University and currently lives in Nashville, TN. To follow Nicholas on twitter click here.