Pioneer DJ is getting into the automated visuals game: It just announced a partnership with lighting control company TC Supply. They have collaborated on a networked system called ShowKontrol that syncs stage lighting and visuals to tracks played on a CDJ-2000NXS2, CDJ-TOUR1, DJM-TOUR1, and DJM-900NXS2.
ShowKontrol does this by extracting Rekordbox track data and sending it to lighting fixtures and visual effects: for example, strobe lights can be trigged during build-ups and synced to the beat, and pyrotechnics can be fired at precise moments in a track.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Soundswitch is a hardware box connected to your DJ lights that can control them whenever you play a track in Serato DJ. Another example is Denon DJ’s StageLink technology that also controls lights and visuals based on the music you’re playing.
What’s cool about it?
“Automated visuals” is an interesting technology because it means that huge club and festival shows – the kind where music, lighting, visuals, and pyrotechnics are tightly synced – could become more “fluid” and spontaneous, as linking sound and visuals in this way frees the DJ to improvise more behind the decks instead of just running through a pre-programmed DJ set for the sake of getting all the lighting and visual effects cued to the music.
Also notable is that while Soundswitch / Serato is a niche combination, Pioneer DJ’s network system will be available in DJ booths all over the world because of its compatibility with the CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2. Pioneer DJ intends to license the technology to other lighting control manufacturers, which means all manufacturers could make their lighting and visual systems compatible.
What’s in it for me?
The potential benefit of the partnership between Pioneer DJ and TC Supply is three-fold: for DJs headlining festivals, having lights / pyro sync with their music could mean that they have more freedom to select and play tunes on-the-spot while still serving up a visual spectacle, which is something that has come to define these types of events. For club and gigging DJs, it could mean being able to have consistent lighting from one show to the next, bring this kind of sound/light sync off the festival stage and into club-type venues.
Finally, for mobile DJs it could mean having to worry less about manually controlling lights during a show while giving their clients an authentic slice of club life in the process, instead of having to rely on gauche lighting programmes and bland “sound-to-light” modes.
Lighting is one of those things that isn’t top of mind for most DJs, but it makes a huge difference in the atmosphere of an event: it can turn a sterile venue into a space fit for an all-out rager, and vice versa. While it’s early days indeed for this technology, we’re excited about this development, and can’t wait to see how ShowKontrol plays out.
• ShowKontrol will be available on 19 October 2017, with the first licences licking in Q1 2018. Learn more about ShowKontrol on the TC Supply site.
What do you think of this? Do you think automated lighting is the way forward for DJs, or do you think a lighting technician is still a DJ’s best bet? Why? Share your thoughts below.