October 2010 - Issue 134
“I’d love to see shows run on renewable energy, but it seems like a daydream at the moment.”
Creative Director, Digital Insanity
Date & place of birth:
September 21 1964; Luton, UK
Your first job after full-time education?
I graduated from Trent Polytechnic in 1990, with a BA(hons) Degree in Creative Arts and went on to work as a photographer and print processor. I then did the whole travelling thing and worked in several other processing labs around the world.
What led you to your involvement in video production and technology?
When I returned to London I started working with adults with learning disabilities. I thought I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, so I did a two-year conversion course and got a degree in Psychology. I worked as a special needs teacher for several years, but taught myself computer-based photographic and video editing in my spare time and built up a huge library of images.
This led to me running a small company called ICandy Visuals on the side, doing slide projections for club nights. I did the Erotic Oscars a couple of years running for friends who were performers (not as interesting as you’d imagine... too much ego-soothing required!), then sidestepped into fetish photography for a while.
But a real defining moment for me was operating an MX50 for the first time at the Southport Weekender back in November 1999. It opened up my eyes to the world of VJing. I met Richard Bagshaw there and together we set up Digital Insanity in 2003, running the company alongside my full-time job for a few years to get it well established and stable. We happily met the Green Hippo crew early on in our company’s career.
You use Green Hippo media servers exclusively. What are they doing to lead the way in pioneering new video technologies?
It would be quicker to list what they’re not doing really. Listening and responding to users and uses seems to cover it in a nutshell. They don’t ever stand still and push what their servers are capable of creatively and technically. They don’t seem to do ‘complacent’ at all.
What will a VJ be able to do on a show in 10 years time?
Hopefully in the future a VJ will be able to run a show with minimum ecological damage. I think the industry needs to tackle its environmental responsibilities and find real solutions to recycling or reusing obsolete equipment. I’d love to see shows run on renewable energy, but it seems like a daydream at the moment.
As for the creative side of future shows, thought to screen technology would be great and save on render time!
What tips the edge between a good gig for you and a bad one?
A personal sense of achievement. I’m quite hard on myself, but as long as I’ve seen me do something I’ve never seen before, I’m happy.
What has been the most outstanding project you have completed to date?
The most outstanding job for me personally was last summer’s art collaboration in Liverpool. I’ve got an art degree, and my first love is art, but I don’t like the snobbery and exclusivity that goes with the art scene. The Art On The Waterfront show was art, it was outdoors, free and ordinary people liked it. Job done.
Do you think there will come a time when one media server is used to control lighting and video?
Possibly, but I think only for economic reasons. Artistically, content creation and lighting design on their own seem to be quite time consuming enough to need two teams.
What was the most pressured situation that you have had to overcome?
I used to work in social services and for Childline. All joking aside, no situation I’ve ever been in since has come close to the day-to-day pressures faced in either of those jobs. It can get awkward when a client changes their mind last minute, but that’s more of a challenge than a pressure. The teamwork in this industry makes all the difference. When I was doing both jobs simultaneously I used to want to swap the crews around, take a social work crew into an event situation and show them just what was achievable when everyone stopped arguing and started listening.
Do you have any ambitions?
I’d love to do something with an orchestra and an ensemble of classical dancers, perhaps an interactive opera. But certainly something huge and epic along the lines of an Olympic opener, preferably involving projecting on the moon.
What occupies your free time?
Thinking about work! My work involves most of my hobbies so it’s hard to separate them.
Your desert island record?
I’d rather have a desert island video if that’s OK... ’Baraka’ by Ron Fricke.
What would be your advice to a teenage Kate Perring?
Don’t worry about it.