Creating a Steampunk Performance With The Steampunk Vision Packs

•• TLDR: Smart People learn from the experience of other people – read the following interview and implement the insights into your own projects ••

I was thrilled to receive an email from Alexey Boriskin of ULAprojects, Russia, with the video you are about to see. So thrilled that I had to ask him to answer a few questions – that I believe will help you in your Visual Journey. 

But first, check out this one-shot Video that Alexey had sent me:

I love how ULAprojects used the packs to extend and support their Steampunk performance, how the dancers interact with the visuals and the the utilization of the Floor Screen as a stage prop.

I asked Alexey about the beginning of his Visual journey, what difficulties he faced along his way and how did he overcome them, and to give a few tips for you fellow VJs.

It turned out that I had quite a few questions and I’d like to thank Alexey for taking the time to answer them all.

Tell us about yourself, how did you begin your visual journey?

I love to draw since childhood. It all started with copying paintings by classic Russian artists – Aivazovsky, Shishkin, Levitan. Then there was Art school, followed by a break of almost 10 years as I was drawn to specializing in engineering and attempts to work in that field.

I returned to design during the crisis in the industry in the 2010s. Then I remembered that I liked to draw and got a job as a manager-designer in a print salon. A little later, I and my wife founded our own design studio, which in a couple of years turned into our own mini-printing house. We designed the printing design for many customers in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and even for customers in the Netherlands.

Soon I realized I’m not fully satisfied with static pictures and began to train myself in Motion Design – starting out by customizing templates from Videohive.

In 2014, after screening interviews and various evaluation tasks, I got a job at Sazonov studio and immediately was assigned to work on the ‘Festival of Light’ in Moscow, where I was to design the show – the opening of the festival at the Ostankino pond with video content on the media facade of Europe’s highest television tower – Ostankino tower.

This is result, please don’t judge it too strictly – I had almost no experience in creating media content, and faced a deadline of only a month.

After this project there were many more large and interesting projects with Sazonovstudio, including working on the creation of multimedia performances in which the movements of the artists were synchronized with the video on the backdrop screen. This is how the Toolbox Project came to life. At the same time, I founded a new company, ULAprojects, and we began to offer our services to other event agencies in Russia. To this date we have designed more than 100 events and shows, and the scenography and decorations for more than 20 events.

What were difficult points along the way? What good decisions did you make?

The main problem was and remains – how, during the presentation to the client, to separate our creativity from the work of other services. We are doing only one piece of the puzzle, which results in a spectacular scene only if you look at everything at once. The artists, stage light, music and video content complement each other, reinforcing the overall impression. Therefore, in my opinion, it is pointless to publish a showreel made only from the visual content, but we need to show the performance itself.

In our promos we try to mention all the participating services, but many of our promos are still perceived as misappropriation of someone else’s work. Therefore, now we are trying to provide a full range of services for staging the show ourselves – from decorations and set design to working with artists and presenters.

A good decision was to collaborate with dance schools, studios and individual top singers. We do not hire them for a specific project, but together create performances for which we are then looking for a customer. This reduces the cost of artists and the time to prepare a program for the event. At the same time, we have a high quality product, which is impossible to achieve in conditions where we need to create a full show program in 2-3 weeks.

Tell us more about these 'ready-made performances' that the company offers to corporate clients

Most often, clients don’t know what they want, so it is easier for them to choose from ready-made solutions. We are constantly working on universal performances in collaboration with the best dancers of Russia in order to have a range of acts on the basis of which you can build a typical show program.

The positive point is not only to reduce the time and cost of preparing for the show, but also that the customer has minimal impact on the creative process – the customer buys the complete product, which can be adapted for him, but doesn’t have the right to show his creativity 🙂 We create what we like, and then look for someone who will like it as much as we do.

Now we have more than 20 performances of different themes to offer to our clients – Space,  Various Cultures, Office Motivation, Romance, Disco, Playing with a shadow, and now Steampunk 🙂

How did the idea of creating a Steampunk performance came to mind?

This is the idea of our choreographer – Olga Pavlova (RDC ballet). We were faced with the task of setting several acts for a corporate event, the theme of which was “Ballroom Dance”. I suggested not to build a stage and show specipic props, but to create the whole program around an LED floor, which will deliver the different era and styles of the given performance. We also installed a camera under the ceiling – broadcasting the scene live on the Stage’s Screens – allowing viewers to experience all of the interactions between the artists and the floor screen.

The Steampunk theme fits perfectly into this concept – we did an intro, in which the employees of the customer company participated, and also arranged a dance lesson in which everyone could learn to dance to Lindsey Stirling’s music. This performance has become one of the most spectacular in the program.

Watch how the Floor Screen is being utilized in other performances, too: 

What made you choose the Steampunk Vision packs?

There was very little time to create the acts, so we searched for video footage in the Steampunk style and occasionally found a video trailer of the Steampunk Vision I & Steampunk Vision II packs on Vimeo that brought us to your site.

How did choosing these packs made things easier for you?

The packs contain almost all the elements that we needed, and therefore greatly accelerated the process of working on the performance. The choreography was almost ready by that time, so it was necessary to synchronize the graphic elements with the music and movements of the artists.

It took about 10 hours to create the video content for this act. We added several effects (lightning, discharges and shockwaves) and used the overlay of several elements on each other. Content on the stage screens complemented the full picture. All 4 video layers were synchronized on a server with the audio.

What would you say to someone who considers purchasing the steampunk packs?

You will have everything you need for high-quality Steampunk VJ. The rest is limited only by your imagination. 🙂 

What kind of screens & software are you using there? How's syncing done?

33 modules of LED Screen Р4, Lightlink 4.8мм  – square 6x6m controlled by Resolume arena v.6. 

We sync the content to the music. Any audio track is structured in eights and if the dancer is good, he will always get into the right moment in music.

Are there any tips you would like to give fellow visual artists?

You have to learn real-time engines such as Unreal or Unity – this reduces the time required to render photo-realistic scenes and expands the possibilities of using the finished project – for stage performances, VJ, VR and AR.

Thanks again Alexey for being so kind to share your experience with us! You can find more projects by ULAprojects on their webiste & on their Facebook Page.

That’s it for today folks, I hope you got inspired by this Showcase & interview and are going to implement some of the insights that he shared with us. 

Did you create an awesome show using our Visuals? If you did – drop us an email to [email protected] along with a video and we might feature you here and let other people learn from your showcase.