VJ Technology

In the following White Paper I would like to introduce digital visualization technology (henceforth referred to as “VJ technology” from the expression “Visual deeJay”) from several perspectives. This subgenre of digital visualization allows artists and commercial users to create visual installations using specialized software, screens and projectors.

While the concept of “light shows” and “color organs” existed since the early 1900s, the digital requirements for such technology became available to users only in the 1970s. With computers like the Commodore Amiga, artists were able to produce prerecorded and live animations for concerts and art installations. The purpose and methodology has not changed much but during the four decades since its modern inception, computer technology developed to a point where the ways of using VJ systems has vastly expanded allowing a greater spectrum of use. Nowadays, automated commercial projections for advertisements represent the simplest but most widespread use, however, a vast number of concerts and clubs employ a dedicated VJ. (While the latter is the commonly accepted source for the nomenclature, the technology itself is far more vast in its use.) Furthermore, artists now use VJ technology to create projections onto flat and three dimensional surfaces. VJ technology has come a long way, experienced rapid development in the past decade and seemingly has a bright future: frontier use such as projection mapping (used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection, also known as video mapping and spatial augmented reality) show that both the art world and commercial interest vouch a long lifetime for this technology.


A typical VJ setup is made up of three elements:

• The processor: a device that processes incoming visuals (and sometimes audio) and allows for playback (for prerecorded performances) or live mixing.
• The source: from here the processor reads the audio/visual data; usually a hard drive with image and video files, but often also a camera or other input.
• The display/output: Usually a television screen or a projector aimed at a flat surface, but other options also exist. (See projection mapping.)


VJ technology has set foot in advertising, entertainment and art. Its existence in mainstream culture ensures its lasting impact on the visual thinking of contemporary generations, and just as a number of past technologies used for expressing one’s personal view, it will evolve further in the upcoming decades.


As the technology enjoys widespread use, it can be considered stable and dependable by default. However, its users require technical support or good knowledge of the practical aspects of the devices they use to be able to dependably create and maintain the visuals.


Georgia State University could benefit in several ways if VJ technology is chosen as a research subject. Firstly, several departments may collaborate in its development and employment. Computer science, communications and related majors would be able to work on developing frontier devices furthering VJ technology. Students studying or interested in visual-, performance arts or music may use these technologies as a new medium of expression. Collaboration between these two approaches would mean Georgia State would both develop and employ new developments in this field which would mean a definite advantage versus software companies who only develop the tools and art collectives who mostly use VJ technology as creative laymen. Furthermore, GSU would be able to maintain end-to-end control on the process: developing software and/or hardware and establishing a professional community around it. In addition, expanding on the path of DAEL’s The Window Project, the GSU campus could feature several student installations which would rotate year-round, offering a visually stunning display of the educational horizon to future students and parents who visit Atlanta’s downtown. It would be the technology to promote Georgia State University both as an institution and as a valuable partner in improving Downtown Atlanta’s reputation.


In 2012, the Hungarian branch of multinational telecommunications company Vodafone commissioned a marketing project from local Proud Productions, which in turn created an ad campaign that culminated with a concert supported by a VJ performance in the form of projection mapping. The complex performance had two main elements: elaborate visuals projected onto the surface of the ruins of a Romanesque church and a contemporary musical performance featuring a song created from sound samples recorded by practically anyone and curated by composer and music producer László Fogarasi (known under his pseudonym Yonderboi). The project has been a success: it won gold medal at MIDEM in Cannes (beating the likes of Coca-Cola, and AT&T and Nokia’s “Live in New York City”, performed by Green Day) and has been deemed highly successful by Vodafone.

Description of the project:

The performance:




VJ technology is a viral technology: its use is becoming more and more widespread as technology makers are busy developing new tools and artists are rapidly inventing new uses. Its commercial value and popularity is proven. Georgia State University would benefit from investing in the future of this technology not only because of its popularity and potential but also because most of the software and hardware tools are already present on campus.


VJ Technology