Visual FX veteran, software developer, VJ and live audiovisualist Roger Bolton ( www.quartonian.net, www.inside-us-all.com )
is playing a 1 hour live AV set in Melbourne soon ( Thu 22 Mar @ Plug n Play Melbourne, 201 Smith st, Fitzroy 8-11pm, alongside Burbage and sdzeit ), and took time out in between gigs to email these replies:
>What differences do u enjoy about studio work vs real-time performed visuals ?
I was attracted to visual effects by the desire to see my name on the credits of big budget feature films. I achieved that in a few years but found the actual creative opportunities offered on big budget productions are very few for the average visual effects artist. You are creating work to someone else’s brief, your work might get seen by millions of people but the brief has come through a committee of producers and supervisors. Sometimes it takes weeks for the director to see your work, then you make a tiny change and wait and wait again. Sometimes a shot thats on screen for three seconds in a film takes up several months of your life, you get sick of the sight of it.
Live visuals allow more creative input and immediate response from the audience. I can create a new combination of images, put it on screen straight away and then see how people react. It’s very exciting to have so much immediacy.
>What sort of work were you doing on Lord of the Rings?
Digital Compositing – lots of the shots where the actors were digitally shrunk so that the hobbit actors looked small compared to the other people. I also created several of the shots where the flames roll across the ring during the Council of Elrond. The strangest thing I had to do was removing an Orc’s underpants. The actor was wearing white underpants and when he raised his leg to kick a door down you could see them clearly on the screen under his loin cloth, I had to darken it down so you couldn’t see them.
>What do you enjoy about the software Flame and Shake?
That I get paid to use them? They’re just tools to create imagery, I’ll happily use any software to get a job done. Flame used to dominate the high end post production field so anyone who knew it could get lots of work. Nowadays the desktop software from Adobe and Apple is just as good if you have enough time. It’s more about the pictures you create rather than which tools you know.
>What does the group Inside-Us-All do?
Inside-Us-All is firstly a VJ and video activism collective, but we always try and put the emphasis on designing the whole space, not just creating visuals. The core team is myself Roger Bolton, video artist and techie, Mark Calvert, networker extraordinaire and designer, Ralph Lambert, camera and editing and Dave Green, VJ, 3d artist and programmer. There’s another eight people with skills from stills photography to rigging which we bring in on larger productions. We work very closely with promoters a long time before the event to create custom screen shapes and to work the video design into the decor. We’re now expanding to take on more styles of video installation work under the Pixel Addicts umbrella.
>How did your live AV-set develop / come about?
Would you believe that a Himalayan Griffin told me to do it? I was in India in November of 2005 and rode an old enfield motorcycle alone up to the top of the Rohtang La pass, 4100 meters high and on the road from Manali to Leh. I was watching the huge birds of prey circle high above me and thinking about how I could use my skills to make a difference in the world. Thatâ€™s when I had the idea to come back to India and try to make a VJ piece about the plight of Tibetan Refugeeâ€™s who have lost their country and their culture. I went back to the UK and gave a proposal to the other guys in Inside-Us-All and they were blown away. Six months later we returned to India and shot video for a month in Ladakh and Daram Sala. Three months of editing later we had a one hour HD audio visual piece. It premiered at Synergy Project in Londdon in November last year and we have several bookings at major festivals for this European summer. Each time we show the piece we also have information from local Tibetan groups and give a portion of our fee to Tibet Relief UK.
>With your perspective, what is good about current VJ performances?
Technology doesnâ€™t limit you anymore, a laptop can create real time effects which are close to whatâ€™s done in post production suites. What excites me the most now is AV performanceâ€™s, or performances where the DJ and VJ are working very closely together to communicate something to the audience. I donâ€™t enjoy watching VJâ€™s who are just colourful wallpaper, no matter how well itâ€™s designed. I want to see some sort of symbolism or meaning there.
>What’s special about Quartz Composer, and where do you see it developing?
Quartz Composer started out as a cool little VJ toy called PixelShox several years ago. It was very, very fast and quite powerful. Apple employed the programmer and built his VJ toy into Quick Time, so every single program on a mac can play back interactive video loops. Iâ€™ve used Quartz Composer to make a lot of custom VJ tools, including one which makes animations from still images and text. This sort of custom tool lets me have a different visual style that stands out from other VJâ€™s who only use standard programs like Resolume. Appleâ€™s putting a whole bunch of new features into Quartz Composer into Leopard but I canâ€™t talk about them yet, Iâ€™m an Apple developer under NDA. But trust me itâ€™s getting even better.