How We Did That: Eclectic Method Creates Content to VJ In New York

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We are Eclectic Method—three white Englishmen who remix video both live (in aircraft hangars and dark nightclubs) and in the studio (whether car adverts or mash-up comedy videos).

Each of us is working from a different city—London, New York, and Los Angeles—so uploading to and downloading from FTP servers is essential and almost continuous. When projects require, hard drives full of video files fly their way around the world to get the Eclectic Method treatment.

Our content tends to reach us in a variety of formats, and you do have to adapt fairly quickly to new codecs or indeed the software, which can handle them. Although we’ve tried many solutions over the years, we’ve settled on mainly free software like DVD Shrink and Super video converter to deal with the multiplicity of delivery codecs to something stable to edit in our frenzied style.

Once we’ve got our footage into a manageable form, we select and edit musically using a combination of Sony Creative Software audio and video software, respectively Acid 7 and Vegas 8. We first have to find or create the rhythm of whatever piece we’re working on. If the source content is music, then we have to detect the beats in order to mix with accuracy. We do this part of the process predominantly with Acid’s “beatmapping” function. Simply, this is what tells the software what tempo the media is and where the beats are, using a simple visual representation of the musical bars and a metronome. Once that information is linked to the file, it can be time-stretched to mix with other similarly treated media.

If, as is often the case, we are remixing non-musical source content, then we can create rhythms with video directly in Vegas. The interfaces on both programs are identical, so switching between them is easy. In fact, the software almost encourages you treat video rhythmically. Vegas is unique in allowing editing on a timeline with beats and measures, making musically-precise cutting immediate and instinctive.

We constantly create video samples and loops through all our editing, which provide content for our improvised video-DJ’ing performances. We use an entirely Pioneer Pro DJ audiovisual setup for our gigs: two CDJ-1000s, two DVJ-1000s, and an SVM-1000 video mixer, with the optional addition of one or two DJM-909 scratch mixers.

The Pioneer DVJ is the gold-standard for video DJ equipment. A video replica, almost, of the industry-standard CDJ-1000 CD deck, it functions solidly as a video turntable, enabling scratching and pitch-adjust for beat-mixing as well as hot cue buttons for triggering selected clips. It answered all our prayers on the X1 model’s release in 2004. We use two, often with one person on each loading clips while the other plays for quicker, more dynamic mixing. This style most likely had its genesis in our original setup of two CDJS and two Vaios running Camart and Coldcut’s legendary software Vjamm with a Roland V-5 between them. Adding the DJM-909 scratch mixers adds possibility in terms of scratching independently of the main cross-fader as well at tempo-synched audio effects.

Pioneer’s SVM-1000 video mixer has taken over from the DVJs as our most-drooled-over gadget, though the word gadget belies its size: it is a large four-channel A/V mixer with two big touch screens, bursting with bells, whistles and possibility. Tempo-based audio effects have matched video effects which correlate well, and though it seems simple, a true integral audio-visual cross-fader was a longtime coming. In the past, many people in our scene had to build their own solution to this problem. In truth, they had to build it for us.

So that’s that. It seems simple when it’s all written down like that. We wonder why more people aren’t doing it.

Content from a New York show earlier this year:

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