The bond between art and music has never been stronger. Today, concerts and festivals the world-over depend on visuals to enhance the audience's experience by appealing to more than just the auditory senses. The visuals are created by visual jockeys (VJs)-artistes who create moving art on large displays or screens.
Says Sylvain Dangmann, a visual artiste,"Musicians can express themselves better through the combination of art and music."
Sylvain and his brother J P run U V Solutions, a multimedia studio in New Delhi. They specialise in the creation, design and control of audio-visual environments by combining video, lighting and performance. Their latest creation was the visual environment at Mumbai's Blue Frog.
A VJ manipulates video in much the same way that a DJ mixes records-superimposing various video sources into a live motion composition.
The techniques and equipment vary but the basic principles remain the same. Visualisation techniques range from simple ones like a simulation of an oscilloscope display to the more elaborate composited effects.
Synchronised visuals include the changes in the music's volume and frequency spectrums as input properties.
So, how did it all start? It began with the development of a number of video synthesisers by backyard inventors. A few notable exceptions like the CEL Electronics Chromascope were commercially developed and sold for use in the developing nightclub scene.
The 1980s saw the development of relatively cheap transistors and integrated circuit technology. This led to the development of digital video effects hardware, which was affordable to individual VJs and nightclub owners.
Today's VJs have a wide choice of off-the-shelf hardware products, covering every aspect of the visual performance, including video sample playback (Korg Kaptivator), real-time video effects (Korg Entrancer), Scratchable DVD players (Pioneer DVJ-X1 and Pioneer DVJ-1000) and 3D visual generation (Edirol CG8).
A live show today is hardly complete without visuals. Bjork, Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, and Primus, all incorporate visuals in their concerts.
Tool is one of the most notable bands on this front. Their concerts incorporate unorthodox stage setting and video display .
The vocalist, Maynard James Keenan, is known to face the backdrop rather than the audience. The band employs extensive backlighting to direct the focus away from the band members and towards the large screens in the back.
Maynard uses the visuals to portray his personal journeys, best expressed through this improvised multimedia performance incorporated into his songs.
The band does not use any time codes. Rather they make sure that the video can change on-the-fly. A Tool show is never the same.
Quite a show
During their 10,000 Days tour, the visual show lasted over six hours. It was created by Grammy award winning musician and visual artist, Adam Jones, visual artist and digital animation specialist Chet Zar, 3D artist Meats Meyer and Breckinridge Haggerty, the band's lighting and video designer.