Making a VJ loop is not rocket science. However, it is always important to remember those little things that can make a big difference in the VJ loops designer's workflow and end product. This article is about those overlooked things to keep in mind for better video loops.
Tell a Story
Many times the designer starts creating a VJ loop from a fleeting idea. However, he's inadvertently walking through the fog without knowing that there is a wall ahead. He wants to recreate that image that came to mind. But without meaning, he won't know where or how to continue.
To remove those creative walls, take that fleeting idea as the premise of a story for your VJ loops, and create a plot with worlds, characters, and symbols. You can take some inspiration from the Invertebrates or Normal Guy VJ packs. By working guided by a story, you will be able to create solid structures to hold on to when you feel lost.
You must remember one thing: you are a Homo narrans. Your goal as an audiovisual creative is not simply to create visuals and follow the trend. Your mission is to tell stories through visuals. How to do it? You can extract interesting information from The Anatomy of Story.
Use a Render Farm
When you render your video loops with your computer, it depreciates faster. Also, you have to expect long rendering times.
To get around this limitation, you can build a render farm. It will speed up your workflow significantly. In this case, you will need a significant initial investment, some technical knowledge, physical space, and of course, you will also need to take depreciation into account too.
There is also a third way to render your video loops: an online render farm. In the past, these were expensive, but today the rates have come down, and some companies like RenderStreet even offer flat-rate plans. On the other hand, initiatives like SheepIt give visual artists the possibility to render for free.
For example, with Blender and a cloud render farm like RenderStreet, you can forget about those technical and economic minors. You will gain creative freedom and be able to focus on creating better VJ loops from wherever you are.
Why Reinvent the Wheel?
Once a designer has a VJ pack in mind, he inevitably starts thinking about everything he needs to pull it off. However, there is no need to get overwhelmed. Never forget that the main goal is to create animations that go in a loop. If you need a 3D model of anything, first check if it is available on CGTrader. If you need a specific animation, see if Mixamo has something ready. This way, you can dedicate more resources to the more complex aspects of your VJ loops project.
It is not about being lazy. It's about taking shortcuts that will allow you to make your creative process more efficient. For example, if there are dozens of walking cycles in Mixamo and someone walking is the only thing you need, why take the long way of rigging? Based on this example, even if you can't find what you're looking for, you could use an auto-rigging tool and only worry about animating your rig. In short, always try to find the shortest path. Your VJ loops will thank you.
It's satisfying when one of your creations has been successful, but it's even better to know why. Knowing what makes some video loops better than others can help you focus on what works best within your portfolio. This way, you will gain more control over your creative process. It applies to any stock footage besides loops.
Observe within the most downloaded VJ loops the most frequent themes, compositional elements, and types of animations. Try to find the pattern and become aware of it. Also, offering some free content can help you identify other aspects that make your visuals different. For example, you can create two versions of the same VJ loop using different color palettes and monitor the performance of each one to see which palettes work best.
Another way to gain insight into what might work well is through Adobe's Get Inspired section, where you will find different trends to complement what you already know about your creative formula.
The Power of Books
Pinterest is a good tool, especially if you like to create mood boards. However, never forget that books still exist. Plus, with platforms like Kindle, you have access to books from different regions at low prices. The advantage of books over any other web resource is that they generally pass an editorial process, so they offer structured knowledge of superior quality. The downside? You have to pay for this knowledge. Nevertheless, consider that you need unique sources to create outstanding VJ loops.
For example, you can get inspiration and valuable visual references from art books, "The Art of" books, or magazines. If you don't know where to start, you may try exploring the art books published by Dover Publications; they hide some real gems. The most recent publications are available in electronic format; the oldest ones are not and are also difficult to find physically. Still, try your hand at the Internet Archive, as some of its old books are digitized and available for loan.
Also, there are hundreds of art and design magazines ready to fuel your creativity. If you have the chance, I suggest you check out the old issues of Belio Magazine; they are great.
Try Something Different
It is important to remember that there are other types of loop animations besides rotating elements and circular tunnels. Try designing worlds, using creature animations, or creating complex tunnels. This change will make a big difference in your VJ loops.
Other overused animations are 2D fractals, those made with the kaleidoscope effect. If you like fractals, try creating 3D fractals. That way, you will have a new challenge and create something unique and mind-blowing. If you want inspiration, you must check out the work of Julius Horsthuis and Machina Infinitum on Resolume.
You can also create cool animations by using video footage to create more experimental VJ loops. For example, the Glitch Bundle can allow you to achieve crazy results with your footage with very little.
Go Beyond The Obvious!
Some VJ loops designers argue that video loops are just for parties, and there is no need to spend much time creating meaning since the target audience will focus on other things. However, you should avoid any view that underestimates the product and the audience.
On the one hand, VJ loops are an excellent visual product to communicate in multiple contexts besides parties. For example, VJ Galaxy's customers have been using the visuals in music videos, concerts, music visualizers, churches, museums, malls, theme parks, and corporate events.
On the other hand, your audience is not silly, and you should never underestimate it. Given that it is often impossible to get feedback from your audience, it is better to assume that it is a demanding one, as in any other industry. That way, you will always try to create good concepts and offer original visuals no matter what your competition thinks or does.