Algorave Planning Checklist
So you want to put on an Algorave? The evolving guidelines offer are a great place to start and offer general guidance on how to make sure your event is a diverse exciting experience for all involved. https://github.com/Algorave/guidelines/blob/master/README_en.md
Algoraves are, by their nature, a very visual experience. The projector plays a central role in an Algorave and gives attendees an insight into the processes involved in programming music and visuals. Most venues are already well equipped to facilitate musicians and audio, but for many knowing how best to accommodate visuals and visualists is still something that can be improved.
Inspired the the (now gone) Respect your VJ website https://web.archive.org/web/20131012033611/http://www.respectyourvj.net/, we're developing a checklist that organisers and performers of Algoraves and live coding events can use to best ensure that visuals have equal importance to music.
We recognise that many of the issues and recommendations raised in this document are not exclusive to live coding. They have a long history throughout VJing and live performance. So please consider this document a companion to the wealth of information and recommendations already available to Visualists and VJs.
Layout of space
Organisers: Be sure to know your venue. This includes simple things like entrances, exits and car parks but also important things like equipment storage, backstage areas. Communicate this with performers before the event.
Performers: If you have any access requirements that weren't addressed by the organiser make them known before the event.
Is the visualist visible
Organisers and Performers: Algoraves are leading the way in making sure the visualist takes centre stage alongside the musician. As a performer do you want to be on stage?
Where is visualist located in venue?
Organisers: If the organiser or performer decides not to be on stage decide on where they will be placed well before the event begins?
Does table have seating or is standing
Organisers: Standing height tables are a rarity, but should always be considered especially for those with back problems. If no standing height tables are available have alternative solutions ready (e.g. normal table with stacked flight cases)
Is code visible
Type of cables needed
Organisers: You should ensure that all equipment has necessary cables for connecting to the required devices. This may require communicating with performers to let them know what is available but also asking about their equipment. Most laptops have HDMI output and projectors HDMI input but always ask and source other cables if needed.
Performers: Get to know your equipment and let the organiser know long before the event what you have, especially if it requires an uncommon cable
Length of cables
Organisers: Once you know the layout of the venue be sure that cables can reach from the projector to the performer. Be aware of the limitations and risks involved in using very long cables and source appropriate cables if needed. Ensure that cables aren't obstructing access or creating a trip hazard
Number of cables available
Performers: always state amount of projectors you will need. Organisers: For the majority of Algoraves there will usually be a minimum of two projections: one for the musician and one for the visualist. Make sure there are enough cables for both
Both organisers and performers should ensure that they have adaptors to connect their devices to a projector. Many modern laptops are adopting USB-C output in place of USB-A, VGA, HDMI, or even Thunderbolt ports. This means that to connect to a projector an adaptor (USB-C to HDMI/VGA) is needed. These adaptors can be very expensive and are easily lost and accidentally stolen. Have one with you and keep it with you. Organisers, if you cannot supply adaptors be sure to communicate with performers that they should bring one with them
Screen / Projector
Many modern projectors can support resolutions including SD (720 x 480), HD (1920 x 1080), and high end ones can go as high as 4K (3840 x 2160). Not all devices are powerful enough to support high resolutions and so performers should state their preferred resolution. Organisers: check to see what resolutions your projector supports and, if possible, have the manual on hand to send to performers if requested
Scale (Physical Dimensions)
How big will the actual projection be? Will it be big enough for people to read the code on screen?
Organisers: Where will the projection be? For example, some Algoraves have the visuals projected so that it partially covers the performers. Others have two projections either side of the performers. Some even have 360 projections! Decide on your preference and communicate this with the performers as it may impact where they choose to be in the venue
Lighting / Smoke Machine
Organisers: Being able to view code and visuals can be quite important at an Algorave. Dense lighting and smoke machines can negatively affect this and so should be used sparingly. Communicate with performers about what options are available. When done well lighting and smoke can build a great atmosphere. When done badly it will obscure the visuals too much
The Algorave Visalists checklist was created as an output from the Visualists Meetup at ICLC in 2019. The meetup was led by Antonio Roberts and Olivia Jack.
Other questions ==
Ask to know the layout of the space and the stage. Even a sketch will do. Ask whether the performance will be seated or standing. Express your preference. Do you want to be on stage with the musicians? Express your preference How much space do you need for your equipment. How many power outlets do you need How many musicians are there? Do they need visuals How many visualists are there? Is there an unfair and unequal balance? Do you know who you're performing with? If not ask the organiser to take an active role in pairing musicians with visualists How long are you expected to perform for? How many projectors are there? if there's only one ask who gets to use it. How do you connect to the projector? HDMI? VGA? Ask. What resolution will your visuals be displayed in (4:3 or 16:9) How big will the projections be i.e is the screen/surface really big or small? I there smoke or additional lighting in the venue? Ask and express your preference