Three Beginner VJ Mistakes (that you should stop making right now)

•• Below you can find an in-depth descriptions of these mistakes and their solutions ••

Today I want to share with you Three Mistakes that Beginner VJs are making. I, as well, made these mistakes when I just started – and I wish someone would have told me about them and saved me the time and effort of learning them the hard way.

Mistake #01 Premature VJaculation

It happens when, out of excitement, you play a lot of visuals, right at the beginning of the party, in a very short period – only to realize, after an hour or two, that you exposed most of your beloved visuals.

It is still an early stage of the party, you have about 5 more hours to perform – and you are starting to feel bored of repeating the same visuals – as well as, possibly, making the audience bored.

What can you do to prevent it? You gotta practice a Delayed Gratification approach that will make you expose your visuals in a much slower pace. It will, as well, protect your audience from being bombarded with a visual salad that will overload their minds.

Don’t hesitate to stay on the same visual theme or look for some time – until you feel a development happening in the DJ set, or maybe even until the DJ have been replaced.

Progress slowly, make love to your audience… visually. Be patient. And then, when the party is getting more intense, when you feel that the vibe is getting more dense – start playing faster, with your better/more fitting visuals, you can switch between more themes now – maybe even every new track.

If you will master the art of building your set with a more structured beginning, Middle and End, you will keep your focus and attention throughout the party, as well as keeping your audience’s attention.

“You gotta practice a Delayed Gratification approach that will make you expose your visuals in a much slower pace. It will, as well, protect your audience from being bombarded with a visual salad that will overload their minds.”

Mistake #02 Playing Too Bright

The screens, be it LEDs or Projection screens, emit a lot of light into the club – so your VJ set effects the lighting in the club.

This mistake happens when you are getting so much into your visual mix that you are lost-in-the-moment, you get too focused on your visual mix and the story you are telling – that you forget that you are supposed to be visualizing the music instead of having a solo performance.

Well, that break in the music has a purpose that you are missing. This break is meant to give the audience time to get their sh*t together (relax and gain power for the next climax), or, to some others, lose their sh*t whatsoever (surf on the music with their eyes closed). You should dim your visual output and play less intensely during the breaks.

There’s a lot of power in darkness, as darkness (the absence of light) will amplify the effect of light when it will arrive. Each one is defining the other, so without darkness, going into light wouldn’t have such a strong impact.

Darkness and light are alternating throughout the party, darkness is more cozy and mysterious and light is more intense and in-your-face – together they create climax and anticlimax that keeps the audience engaged.

To visualize these phases correctly you should dim the screens during breaks – by playing less layers and less intense visuals (be careful with going totally black cause some promoters might come panicking to you).

When the music starts getting intense again – you should start adding more layers of visuals – thus inevitably adding more light to your mix. Then when the beat-drop hits, you can go fully intense – but only until the next break, right?

“There’s a lot of power in darkness, as darkness (the absence of light) will amplify the effect of light when it will arrive. Each one is defining the other, so without darkness, going into light wouldn’t have such a strong impact.”

Mistake #03 Not Playing On The Beat

Playing on the beat should be one of the key elements in a Live Visuals performance, but (especially beginner) VJs, are missing this point too many times during their live performance, and that’s a shame.

The structure of electronic music is quite simple: it has to do with mostly 4 beats in every bar and 4 to 8 bars in every phrase. It has breaks, build-ups and beat-drop parts (here’s a Basic Beats Tutorial to get you going)

So first you gotta learn to know the structure of the music – in fact, know it so good that you would be able to anticipate the next move in the music track/ song.

When you know what’s coming next in the music, you can prepare the right visuals and trigger them at the right moment.

When you anticipate the music and trigger the right visuals: say, able to trigger intense visuals exactly at the beat drop – it feels like magic. This is surfing with visuals on the music as it should be.

So once you can anticipate the next phase in the music, you know if its going to be a beat drop or a break or whatever – you need to plan what visuals are you going to play according to it – each part should be played differently – see Mistake #02 for some examples.

Yes, it’s not that easy to anticipate the next musical phase and decide what would be your next visuals – all while mixing visuals to the current beat, but it becomes easier with practice and even subconscious at times.

Every style of music has a slightly different structure: House music tends to prolong the build-ups (more phases) and techno tends to have less. You should listen to the music before the event and be able to anticipate it. You know the lineup, right? Do your homework – it’s better to sweat in preparation than bleed in the club.

“When you know what’s coming next in the music, you can prepare the right visuals and trigger them at the right moment.”

Ok, these were three mistakes that are really on my mind every time I see a beginner VJ mix.

I would be happy to know what mistakes you’ve made at your beginning or what mistakes you see other VJs making.

I might make another video that will surface these mistakes – hopefully helping new VJs to get better – thus overall pushing our little VJ scene forward… cause we can only get better.

Go Amaze Them Crowds!

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I know, you didn’t make any VJ mistakes and will never make, right?

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