"I change the video... I change the music... I can do a lot of things."
April 8, 2009 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter is certainly no stranger to music mashups, or even live music mashups, but a few artists are taking things a step further with live music and video mashups. Not prerecorded mashups of live music and video, but live performances of DJs (often calling themselves "VJs") mashing up music and video together on the fly.

Here's the roster of artists I've found so far:

Eclectic Method* - Live at NYCWTF 2009

DJ Le Clown Video Circus - Live at Transmusicales 2008 [long-loading, easily navigable flash interface]

Mike Relm - At Youtube Live

VJ Hi-Grade

Thriftshop XL


Wanna catch these guys live? Most of the artists have tour dates listed in the above-linked websites, but you can also find info at Bootie [see left sidebar for more cities] and Node.London.

Got skillz? Here are two introductory videos that explain what's going on. You might also want to brush up on your fair use.

It seems like there are two ways these artists are doing it. The first is to keep the video and audio linked together, instead of mixing 2+ audio tracks and 2+ video tracks separately. For example, if you mix two music videos together, you're essentially dealing with two audio/video tracks instead of A + A + V + V, since the video part of a music video is already synced to the music on the DVDs you're using. The second way is to manage four totally separate streams of media, so that the VJ has to beatmatch the music as well as sync it with video, on the fly. This is more than just pre-show cutting and syncing videoclips together, though: one of the Eclectic Method folks mentioned that they often do it in near-real-time, taking just-aired TV and cutting and mixing it at their live shows. That second introductory video, above, also gives a sense of everything this method requires the VJ to manage.

Inspiration for this post comes from Flatluigi's post on live looping. I wrote this as a separate post since it seemed like it would have been a derail.

*Full disclosure: I've done some work for Eclectic Method, but it was pro bono and I am not a member of the group.
posted by Grimp0teuthis (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely prefer the Mike Relm stuff by far.
posted by jellywerker at 12:59 PM on April 8, 2009

I just watched the Mike Relm video linked.

I don't quite get how what he's doing with the turntables has anything to do with the video. Someone clue me in?
posted by ODiV at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2009

I'm actually a fan of Mike Relm but I don't see him controlling anything video related in here. He just looks like he's doing his normal scratch-tastic djing while a video montage plays in the background.
posted by mannequito at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2009

My vote goes to the TV Sheriff. He wears a costume, has a supporting cast of characters, and puts on an interesting show where knob-twiddling isn't the focus. It takes a while to realize he's doing everything live if you haven't been told beforehand.
posted by queensissy at 1:12 PM on April 8, 2009

Good stuff...I've been meaning to check out the locals guys AV Club for a while.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2009

That Mike Relm shit was mad weak.
posted by phaedon at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2009

I don't quite get how what he's doing with the turntables has anything to do with the video. Someone clue me in?

Timecoded vinyl, in this case. The record isn't really a "record" as much as a digital placeholder for manipulating the files on the computer. (Although it does indeed look like he's just scratching along to a pre-recorded separate video in this case, it's fairly trivial these days to set up a video DJing system via laptop and use timecode vinyl to work the visuals in this way as well)

A lot of VJ types use something like these Pioneers. You burn your DVD beforehand with the sync'd audio and images, and then at the club you can just throw it on there and cut 'n scratch as desired.
posted by First Post at 1:47 PM on April 8, 2009

"I'm actually a fan of Mike Relm but I don't see him controlling anything video related in here. He just looks like he's doing his normal scratch-tastic djing while a video montage plays in the background."

Yes, but it looks cool and entertains me, which is the point right?
posted by jellywerker at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2009

posted by cavalier at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I pulled off a couple music/video mashups, at a show a few months ago...

Missy Elliott vs Autechre's Gantz Graf (seek to 45s):
(audio by Met_Biddler, live generative video mashup by me & my code)

Prodigy vs Hackers vs Rez vs Adam Freeland:
(completely live A/V mashup by me & my code)

I GPL'd the source code for generating videos like that, in case anybody wants to try:

posted by interim_descriptor at 9:27 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This guy does it much better than me...

His tech-demo is called "sCrAmBlEd?HaCkZ!", and is seriously out of this world:

posted by interim_descriptor at 9:40 PM on April 8, 2009

Oops, that [long-loading] warning was supposed to go after the link to DJ Hi-Grade's website.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 11:00 PM on April 8, 2009

Interim, what precisely is your code doing? The google code page provides no quick summary of 'this takes input from x y z and blends it like so'. Is it doing roughly the same thing as the Scrambled Hackz guy, with you showing (say) the video stream from 'Hackers' that goes with the audio that corresponds to the audio stream from the 'Rez' playthrough? Or are you "just" scratching two a/v streams?

(also, got any shows coming up? I'm in the Boston area for the next year or so and would kinda like to see that in a dark club instead of via Vimeo.)
posted by egypturnash at 4:42 PM on April 9, 2009


Yeah, that google code page is a little stark, huh?

To answer your question, my code is doing two different things here.

First, i'm performing on software I wrote, called "dvj" (unimaginatively). It's effectively like Serato Itch, but with video as a first-class citizen, and open source. This allows me to use an M-Audio Xponent midi controller to play back A/V sync'd tracks, and video-scratch.

Second, for each audio track I'm mashing up, I've created generative videos. The algorithm listens to the track, and renders each video frame based on the audio's magnitude and dominant frequency band (low vs high), at that particular moment. These audio attributes are expressed visually as brightness, playback rate, and which source video to grab frames from. Each frequency band has its own source video, so a bass drum would "look" quite different than a hi-hat. It's still a work-in-progress, and there's way more I want to do.

Flack kindly invited me back to Boston to play at Beat Research, again, so I hope you're able to make it out there, next time I'm in town!
posted by interim_descriptor at 7:46 PM on April 10, 2009

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