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Make More Money (Part 2): Get Integrated with the Lighting Strategy

Discussion in 'The Business Side' started by {VJPortal}, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. {VJPortal}

    {VJPortal} mr. hardware vj

    Another opinion of mine for improving your pitch as a VJ to a promoter (Otherwise known as: "Why he or she should pay to book you, and take on the security risk of protecting your gear!"):

    1) Ask the prospective booking promoter what is the lighting and aesthetic strategy for his or her event

    2) Explain how your motion visuals enhance both the music act and the aesthetic strategy

    3) Explain what the event will be missing from its atmosphere by not booking you

    4) Then ask for the paid gig, re-highlighting the strong value you're presenting in delivering on the promoter's great strategy
  2. vjair

    vjair Making Shapes

    fairly standard practice.

    intergrating with the lighting and using complimetary colour schemes makes you more like part of an overall show instead of just being someone playing some random video.

    when i play with bands i often discuss lighting schemes with the LJ in advance of the set - it looks better and the act will be a lot happier with the result, especialy if they have a properly programmed lightshow.
  3. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    another direction would be to replace the lighting. at all my residencies we had build pretty large scale video installations and they had just a few standard light fixtures as a side effect to the visuals.
    my general strategy is to sell art. I tell the promoters they are buying art. the visuals wont bring in more punters, its something that they afford as a luxury, either because they like it or to distinguish their events from others.
    I fair quite well with this approach as a lot of promoters seem to like the luxury art aspect. I am pretty convincing though, even the dumbest croatian mafia promoter came around saying "hey you must be the video artist"...
  4. {VJPortal}

    {VJPortal} mr. hardware vj

    That is a really good call. If you're running enough screens and/or lumens, it appears to me that the venue lighting could be overwhelmed pretty quickly. Might as well pitch the video install to the promoter as a way to confidently reduce the lighting budget for the same net result! :)
  5. vjair

    vjair Making Shapes

    if you are throwing out enough lumen to drown out the lights, then they are probably paying enough for the overall budget to not be a huge concern to them.

    video as lighting does rock though, ive been very into this for a few years.
  6. iro3

    iro3 See and be scene...

    A single mac 250 intelligent fixture puts out between 5,000 and 6,000 lumens, depending on its iris setting... one mis-aimed light can easily drown your screen art!
  7. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    :) You do look like an artist for sure!

    Please do not go down that route, suggesting that other areas of production be cut back to pay you better is stupid. Lighting is essential to create a good atmosphere, it's far more critical to the party than video ever will be.

    If you want to make things next level then learn how to integrate lighting and visuals. Bear in mind that to do this properly is a lot of work and will involve you learning new skills. How is your DMX programming??

    And if you think your video rig was expensive, then go out and buy a lighting desk and some moving heads to practice with and you'll quickly understand that composite VJ kit is very very cheap indeed.

    Integrated lighting and visuals is very much the future. But there are not really any ways of doing this cheaply. You certainly cannot cut the lighting budget and hope to get a nice integrated result out of doing so.
  8. PCProject

    PCProject Moderator

    Even if you went for a minimum of an Avolite Pearl Eand a couple of (thats just TWO) Mac500's dont expect much change from £7-8k GBP for decent and well maintained and not used to death items. New you could probably close to double the spend.

    A quick search for the desk new and without hunting down a discount is 10k GBP


    I was searching down LED battens recently with an idea in mind only to decide that as an individual I could never afford them to own as my own.
  9. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    yes, though it would be a better investment to get WYSIWYG running on a PC, then you can program whatever fixtures you want in a virtual design, with a reasonable preview of what it might look like.

    The chamsys magicq PC based desk is a reasonable low budget solution, though a control wing will set you back at least $1500 and then wysiwyg is another 5k or something...
  10. {VJPortal}

    {VJPortal} mr. hardware vj


    I know a lot of you veteran U.K. guys work with promoters and production crews with large budgets, with the ability to spend 10K+ GBP on discretionary (relative to music) event infrastructure rental, such as lighting and visuals. Over here in Canada, everything pushed on the bill is coming out a very tight promoter budget. You need to be aggressive and position over here if you want to be paid anything as a VJ, including fair rental costs for your video performance equipment. It's a different world from Europe here.

    I'd be lucky to run into a promoter who has installed any DMX lighting infrastructure, never mind having an opportunity to build my deployment and operation skills. :)
  11. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    the relative budgets are irrelevant.

    suggesting the promoters cuts lighting budget to increase the video budget is just stupid.

    i've done quite a few shows in Canada - they have similar budgets to Europe. At the top end its hundreds of thousands - at the bottom it isn't.

    The point is that as soon as you say "don't pay that guy, pay me instead of him" your acting unprofessionally in a way which will damage the whole industry.

    If you want to sell an integrated lighting and visuals setup then you'll need to work with (and pay) a lighting designer, you'll also need to hire lighting equipment in addition to the video kit.

    if the promoter has $500 for lighting and visuals then he has $500.

    If you tell him that he doesn't need any lights then will he..
    A. say "great here is $500 for your visuals stuff then."
    B. say "great, here is $250 for your visuals stuff, i'm going to see my dealer now."
    C. say "great, i've cut the lighting budget by 100% i'm now going to cut the video budget by 50% - here is your $125, i'm off to see my dealer + some whores"

  12. alfaleader

    alfaleader Member

    +1 for Tom

    I don't think projections will ever replace fixtures. With lighting you can do a lot, and it has mostly a coverage of the whole place and your projector just has a screen.

    Lighting is needed for a party
    VJ is a very nice extra for a party (really nice extra :) )
    VJ + Lighting that work perfectly together = epic
  13. Rovastar

    Rovastar /..\

    I am not sure that is fair Tom.

    Many smaller promoters might well have a budget for all the decor/lighting/visuals many will not break it down so nicely as you suggest.

    If they have x amount for this and they afford a VJ *or* a lighting guy then I could say you just need a VJ.

    A room for a couple of hundred people can be awash with light from a projector you often don't need any more light.

    I am sure all/many VJs here have done a night without much other lighting. If you put your own nights one how much extra lighting is there.

    Maybe you could throw another projector onto another wall for more light.

    Now I am not saying that decent visuals *and* decent lighting isn't good/best option far from it, I know it is. But if it is an *or* option then I think either can do just as well for some venues.

    Also it might not be about having all the VJ budget versus all the lighting budget. It might be that the lighting guy that normally does the night instead doesn't hire his expensive laser or pyrotechnics, etc or even just use the standard rig installed in the club rather than hire in a LD for a special one and have a VJ instead/pay the VJ a proper rate or pay for (more) custom content, etc, etc.

    I don't think it is unprofessional to suggest to a client/promoter that your solution for a creative/problem is a good/best one for the budget they have got. Hell, most business pitches are like this.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  14. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    of course this strategy works only at certain venues of a certain size. it doenst apply to arenas or festivals. but there is a number of venues were its feasible and reasonably cheaper to rely on Video to define the atmosphere and have addditional lighting fixtures as a supplement, than shelling out tens of thousands for boring moving heads and scanners. the main problem with a lot of clubs up to 1000 punters is the drainage of talented LJs. in most cases the guy sitting in front of the lighting desk is a DJ of minor talent, who will only be allowd to play at the beginning, when people are just moving in.
    everybody else, who is technically proficient and has a sense of color and choreography will move on to become and apprentice at one of the larger AV rentals or study lighting design, because they will earn ten times more than in a club, have a health insurance and access to proper equipement.
  15. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    yeah - that is all true.

    But i still think it is wrong to argue that clubs don't need lighting... Actually when i started doing visuals it was very much part of lighting / decor. We used backdrops as well as slide and oil projections to transform a space. Video was expensive and not very bright, so we used other techniques to enable us to have greater coverage and a bigger impact.

    I find it really sad that today VJing is only about motion graphics within the confines of a video screen. The unwritten laws of VJing seem to state that the projector must be pointing at a screen. If the projector is not pointing at a screen then we will call it "mapping" and the content must be very simple motion graphics which outline features of our projection surface.

    Video projectors are now cheaper than an optikenetics solar 250. What we should be seeing is people using 10 projectors to really transform a space with abstract light. (just as it was common place when i started to see people using 10 or more 8mm / slide / opti projectors) instead we see one person with modul8 and a load of downloaded clips thinking its all about "the performance" whilst they bang away at a midi controller like a demented drummer and output their "show" to a little screen which is on a side wall of the club.

    I dunno maybe its because everyone is on coke / meow or other non psychedelic highs these days. I can't help feeling the visuals scene would be massively improved by a sudden youth uptake of LSD, where the ideas of ego and "my visuals performance" melt away to be replaced by the ideas of transforming a space so it is a better environment to loose your mind in.

    Which reminds me why lighting is important - you need lights which shine in your eye when on the dancefloor, they change your perception of the space around you dramatically and are a crucial ingredient for people to lose themselves in the music. If your going to kick out the LD then PLEASE consider the whole space and not just your silly little screen.
  16. evomedia

    evomedia Control Freaks

    Tom, I think most VJ's would love to fill the whole space, surely making truely immersive environments is a dream of many VJ's, but as we have discussed VJ's have zero percieved value in 99% of venues.

    I don't think its VJ's lacking ambition, its that club owners and promoters continuing to pay VJ's in a few drinks, and free tickets. If a VJ can't even get a club owner to pay him what chance have they got in getting them to invest in multi projector advanced shows.

    The average VJ can't afford that type of investment in equipment or even the time to create the content required to break out of the 4x3.

    How could they when they are locked into doing it in their spare time as a hobby. Its a real catch 22 at the moment, VJ's are unable to dedicate the time required due the lack of investment, which leads to average quality shows, and therefore no perceived value.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  17. SteveG

    SteveG Downstairs for Dancing

    I find it perfectly reasonable that a VJ should ask a promoter or organiser to cut his budget elsewhere, not don't pay the others. But re-think his budget of course.

    I could sum it up by telling the story of a recent gig just before Christmas where a promoter spent over £400.00 bringing in 2 lasers that the venue would not allow him to use....they accompanied the 4 macs which sat on the front of the stage redundant due to punters complaints. I wont go into the thousands of flyers that litter the streets or that remained in boxes at the back of the stage.
  18. evomedia

    evomedia Control Freaks

    The 2 threads running are essentially the same topic. VJing is poorly paid... how can we fix that
  19. sleepytom

    sleepytom VJF Admin

    we used to find ways when i started...

    I was on the dole, and used to go round secondhand shops, car boots and flea markets looking for projectors or other things to make visuals with. The prices i used to pay for stuff were higher than you see video projectors going for these days.

    Lots of people seem to buy a brand new MBP for £2000 so they can "start VJing" - time and time again we see this advice offered to people who ask "what do i need to get started" the advice always is buy a computer, buy VJ software, become a VJ. Don't worry about screens or projectors as most venues already have one.

    If i had £2000 to start VJing now I'd buy 20-30 old video projectors and some DVD players. It will be much easier for me to charge for my immersive lightshow than it will be to charge for turning up with a MBP. I'll use the same downloaded content as everyone else but mine will be layered and on every surface of the club. It won't be seamless high resolution pixel perfect video, it will be crunchy dirty glitch oldschool visuals which get in your eyes and in your head and make you feel like your in another space/time..

    The simple fact is that 99% of VJs these days lack any imagination about how to transform a space. They think they should be paid for generic 4:3 visuals on venue owned screens. If they have done a few paid gigs then they seem to think the next step is a TH2go setup...

  20. devonmiles

    devonmiles Midi: the language of God

    because creativity is priceless...
    really we are at a turning point technicalwise and aesthetically. the rise of LED will merge the two worlds, as high res LED installs can be made into any shape, display video footage and act as surface lighting. but it will take some time from now till we will see creative use of these technologies adopted by a wider range of vj artists.

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