AV Challenge #1 – VJ Beatbox


As part of our studies here at VJ Kung Fu, we invite you all to participate in our monthly-or-so AV Challenges. These are assignments we all undertake to produce audiovisual pieces as a global collective – to explore and innovate this medium. The results are licensed to the Creative Commons, and made readily available with the help of Archive.org.

THE CHALLENGE: Create a set of Beatboxing Clips

First, take a look at this Youtube clip.

Thanks, Lasse! We’re going to be working in the same style, with an emphasis on real-time sequencing of these clips rather than working in the old-school “editing” paradigm. Your mission is to produce at least four short clips that are ready to be edited together into something like this – or better yet, sequenced on-the-fly with your favorite video performance program.

If you need help or clarification at any point of the process, leave a comment on the project page.

  1. Record yourself making sounds into your camcorder, iSight, etc. For inspiration, try listening to a song and mimicking the drums you hear. Make at least four – perhaps a kick, snare, hi-hat, and crash. Move around a bit when recording – try getting real close to the camera for one, tilting your head for another. Stick to the format though – we will be expanding on this idea in the next challenge, so don’t get ahead of us.
  2. Bring your recording into an editing program like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc. Cut your video into little bite-sized chunks. Start each clip at the point where you actually make the sound, so there’s no ‘dead air’ when we trigger the clips. The clips should end once you fall quiet again.
  3. Export your clips as 640×480 Motion-JPEG B files, at around 80% quality, with PCM Audio. This will allow lightning-fast playback of the clips, while keeping the file sizes reasonable.
  4. Upload your clips to Archive.org. If you don’t already have an account – make one! It’s quick, free, and they host your files for no cost, in perpetuity, as long as it’s something you’ve actually created yourself. License it with a Creative Commons License (creative commons sampling+) license. This allows other people to sample your clips into their own and use them for any purposes other than advertising. So they can perform with them, show them to their friends, upload them to p2p networks, but they can’t make a tv commercial out of them.
  5. On Archive.org, give your files the following tags (put into ‘Subject’ field): mjpeg; vga; vj.content; vjkfu.bbox
    You can add your own tags after that. What do these mean?
    mjpeg = Motion-JPEG codec. This way people know they’re ready to perform with.
    vga = 640×480.
    vj.content = People can find files meant for VJ use by searching this tag.
    vjkfu.bbox = Each challenge will have a different extension so that I can find all the participating clips.
  6. If you want, you can drop me an email at magazine@(this domain name).tv with a link to your clips. If they’re properly tagged, however, I’m going to find them even without a message from you.
  7. Check back on the project page to check in on the AV Instrument Library we’re creating!


  • Shoot with a specific source of lighting, like the sun or a strong lamp. Use one of those silver carshades you put in your windshield to bounce the light onto the dark side of your face.
  • Shoot against a plain black background if possible. You can buy a 3-section black board like the kind you’d use for a science project display in primary school for a couple of bucks.
  • Do the project with a couple friends. It makes it more fun, and this way you can spend more time getting your backdrop and lighting just right, and then take turns making the sounds. We set up a little booth for doing this at the last share.LA and had a blast!

That’s it! Once you’ve got your supplies, it only takes a few minutes to record and prepare your samples. Check back and download other people’s clips and start playing with them – we’ll begin sequencing them for Challenge #2. If you’ve got ideas for what we could do, send them to us: magazine@(this domain name).tv.