Editor’s Note: In anticipation of his upcoming DJ Times cover story, Ferry Corsten is offering a series of four exclusive entries for the magazine’s blog. In them, he details his “Full On” series of shows, including discussion on its production, content and concept. In the coming weeks, look for these informative blogposts from one of the world’s favorite DJ/producers.
In Part 1, he discussed his “Full On” show at New York’s Roseland Ballroom this past Aug. 31, one of six official Electric Zoo after-parties. In Part 2, he tackled concept and production. Now, Ferry discusses visual content for the shows—enjoy:
What about the visual content of the “Full On” shows, you ask?
My lighting and video tech, Bert Kelchtermans, is not standing next to me during shows. Most DJs, they have a video guy and a lighting guy. I decided in 2009 when I started working with Unlimited Productions and video director, Bart Roelen, that I wanted one guy to control everything: the lights, the visuals, lasers, pyro. This way, the whole look will be better in combination. It’s more integrated and everything fits better. Otherwise, the video would be green and the lights could be red and it would be a blurry mess!
So, I give all the non-audio controls to one person to get the most out of the show. Bert is standing in the front-of-house in the middle of the audience, facing me, controlling the lights, video, visuals, viral and whatever else is happening during the shows except the music.
How did the show come together? When I met with Unlimited Productions and they made me a sketch after I told them my concept for the shows, I liked what I saw. From there, we got all of the video content built to fit on those screens. Nothing is “off-the-rack” generic content. Everything is really built to make the DJ booth setup pop! It’s totally custom-made. I got the idea in February 2011 and the first “Full On Ferry” show was November 2011, before everything was finished, actually. We had to fine-tune after the first tryout. It took a couple of months to get the concept just right.
How is the “Full On” show evolving? Well, I’m very happy with it right now. It works out better and better because, first, we made all the video content for one size setup, but with the software we’re using, we made it possible to resize the images to fit the screens and basically any screen, no matter the shape or size. The cube [i.e.—video-enhanced DJ booth] can be as large and as high as promoters want it. It’s really good for promoters because it’s very adaptable to varying locations with different specs.
The smallest we can do for the screens—as we did in Jakarta and Bangkok—is 3.5-meters-high by 5-meters-wide. It can go as big as in Moscow, which was the biggest on the mainstage because we had wings and stuff on it. That setup was 10-meters-high by 12-meters-wide. This is very unique because most DJ shows only have one size and you have to do it like that. If you change the size [of the Full On setup], everything still looks in proportion. The proportions don’t get all messed up.
What software do I use to run these shows, you ask? I’m using all software that you can buy. In the beginning we used ArKaos GrandVJ software and we combined that with MadMapper video mapping software. In the beginning, those two software packages didn’t work together, so the company, Prismax, came up with a solution to make them work together. Now, it’s fully integrated software, but when we started trying out the show, we had to do that ourselves. It’s very experimental to get it all working correctly.
Prismax made all the content with me and my visuals designers to link all of the software together. During the show, Bert [my VJ] is busy with lights and video, and it’s a lot to do. Prismax is an indie company that Unlimited Productions works with that creates visual content. I sat down with Bert and the guys at Unlimited Productions in the beginning of the concept phase to explain what I wanted, what I envisioned. Should it be three-dimensional? Colorful? Whatever else? We agreed that I needed something basic but something that would not look cheap. Basic but elegant.
So, Bert contacted Prismax and had them make a couple of proposals. With Bert touring with me all the time, Prismax started making stuff and putting it into Dropbox, so I could see it while on tour and I could tell them via Skype, “Hey, this is too nerdy, that is too complicated, etc.” For everything, we had instant communication with Prismax on Skype. They made a database for us to use with around 300 different video clips!
Am I doing any live feeds with audience projections during my shows? The only live feeds we use would be with one or two cameras for the biggest shows; one on the top view on the decks, and one on the front view on me. That’s the only live video we do for the biggest shows. We use synchronized videos, as well. We looked at that a different way from most DJs. Like, when Betsie Larkin sings on our song “Not Coming Down,” we used a synchronized video with lyrics on the screen. The words float around the screen, and we try to keep it different for every track.
While “Not Coming Down” is a very intimate track, the Ben Hague track [“Ain’t No Stoppin’”] is more active, so the words look and feel different. The Aruna track [“Live Forever”] is also with a synched video. They’re all different and allow the shows to be a little bit more interactive.
How does this all work in practice? How did it work in my Ibiza residency—Full On at Judgement Sundays at Eden? Stay tuned.