Company Post

Kazoe Nobuaki's Sensational and Highly Adaptive DEVISION VJ System

Kazoe Nobuaki is a member of the Tokyo-based VJ REZ team and the maker of the powerful visual show performance tool DEVISION. He is already a 'veteran' VJ on the Tokyo club-circuit with his adrenalin-pumping, high-octane visual style. Not fully satisfied with off-the-shelf pre-made tools which he felt would "limit his creativity" Kazoe-san dove into TouchDesigner head first and began developing his own perfomance system within just two months of getting his first licence.

"Prior to using TouchDesigner I'd been using VDMX, MadMapper, and Grand VJ and so on, and using these softwares I decided I wanted to build my own system. For this reason I chose TouchDesigner and started to learn it in August, 2016. I hardly had any knowledge about python at the time, however I was able to start building my original system, DEVISION, only after 2 months."

Kazoe-san expands below, read on!


After majoring in Media Science Kazoe Nobuaki started to VJ steadily at clubs and music festivals such as ageHa, WOMB, ULTRA JAPAN, electroX, SONIC MANIA, SUMMER SONIC and so on.

He quickly became a resident VJ at the Tokyo club ageHa which notoriously has many kinds of stages that differ from party to party. Because of the frequent switch-ups, club VJs have to deal with many different moving targets like different show systems and LED layouts on the spot. "That is why, I needed to create my own VJ system, DEVISION" Kazoe Nobuaki tells us.

Derivative: Kazoe-san please give us a tour of how DEVISION is set up and of its functions.

Kazoe Nobuaki: DEVISION has functions for VJ playing such as a Media bank, Layers structure, Color control, Effects bank and so on. DEVISION has 16 layers in total, the main interface is composed of 12 layers and the sub layers which are used by a touch display is composed of 4 layers.

With the LED layout of the stage, DEVISION can create various mappings to allocate each layer to. Although DEVISION's interfaces has much information, we always have to pay attention to lighting, dancers, and changes in the stage. In other words, we need to confirm necessary information at a glance and therefore the interface's information is organized in a way that is easy to see.

D: What inspired you to create your own VJ tool?

KN: Prior to using TouchDesigner I'd been using VDMX, MadMapper, and Grand VJ and so on, and using these softwares I decided I wanted to build own system. For this reason I chose TouchDesigner and started to learn it in August, 2016. I hardly had any knowledge about python at the time, however I was able to start building my original system, DEVISION, only after 2 months.

To tackle building my VJ system with TouchDesigner, I first recreated the structure of the VDMX system in TouchDesigner. As I've continued developing DEVISION it has become clear that TouchDesigner can realize whatever I want to create.

TouchDesigner lets me create what I want to do, because I was wondering if I keep using existing softwares, I unconsciously create a framework which prevents my creativity. For the above reasons, I will keep building DEVISION on TouchDesigner.

ABOVE: This is ageHa COUNTDOWN2018 stage preview. In this time, The stage had 8 LEDs. Among them, 6 LEDs were moving at each time of changing artists. it's for changing the stage shape. We tried to imagine for visuals from each shapes of the stage.

D: When you design your UI, you can place things where it is best for your fast finger and hand movement. Talk about that.

KN: The important thing is whether I can incorporate UI and functions into my VJ or not. If it can't be done properly, there must be some bad reasons, such as bad button arrangement and inclusion of unnecessary functions and so on. Thinking what is wrong and re-correcting these bad points constantly helps me to build the UI and functions, which are innovative and easy to use. As a result, my fingers can move fast.

VIDEO above: EVISION's prototype around late 2016

D: How do you feel about touch-screen versus hardware controllers?

KN: A good point of touch display is that you can build UI to control as you like. On the other hand, MIDI controller is suitable for instantaneous operability and delicate control.

DEVISION uses the color picker and switch options on the touch display. Faders and functions that require instantaneous operability use the MIDI controller.

This arrangement is based on the lighting console HOG 4 and GrandMA.

D: How did you learn TouchDesigner so fast?! What were you using from TouchDesigner and other TouchDesigner users to help you learn quickly?

KN: I learned from the Matthew Ragan tutorials. It was very helpful for me learning TouchDesigner. On the other hand I used to use Max/MSP/Jitter before TouchDesigner. I had built a system that links lighting and visuals for VJ with Max / MSP / Jitter. That experience was very useful to me as well.

D: What is the best hardware you have found for running DEVISION? What do you wish for?

KN: GTX 1080TI moves DEVISION the best. DEVISION has a feature of VJ system that takes a lot of video clips into GRAM. Therefore it needs a graphic board that has a lot of GRAM.

D: What features from Derivative do you want in order to make your systems and art better?

KN: I would like Derivative to continue to have examples of TouchDesigner's production by other users. It has already been on TouchDesigner Facebook and official website blog. I strongly support it keep on. Then, we could know great pieces, exchange information, and receive inspiration from other TouchDesigner users all over the world.

We can easily make some friends by this opportunity. I made friends with some of them from Facebook page. Yea Chen is one of my Taiwanese friends. When he came to Japan, we ran a workshop. At the time, he talked to me face to face, because he had seen my works DEVISION before. Ever since, he has given me a lot of advice about TouchDesigner techniques, and we are on good terms, discussing each other's products.

Speaking about, another friend, VJ Fader who is performing mainly in Germany and all over the world was also interested in my work. He found me on the facebook page, and then advised me from the viewpoint of playing on a global stage. Thanks to him, I got some tips for the future of DEVISION. He is now building his own version of it, collaborating with Itaru Yasuda. I was a very great pleasure to hear this news, because I've known him as Richie Hawtin's VJ and a person who made TouchMixer built with TouchDesigner. I've referenced it when I began building DEVISION.

Personally, I also want to focus on the best moment when we served ULTRA JAPAN 2017 as Japan's VJ team.

When we were preparing for VJing in the main stage VJ booth, Mr. Vello Virkhaus of V Squared Labs showed an interest in DEVISION and asked to play together. Unfortunately it didn't come true due to bad weather, because we had to change our set on the spot on the day. However I was quite impressed for it was the very first time for him to invite a local VJ to his team at ULTRA. We look forward to playing together next time!

He also uses his original VJ software which is EPIC built with TouchDesigner. I was greatly affected by it when I was developing.

Besides this, there were a lot of people who gave me great events and contacts, but there are too many to write it down here.

D: How do you make your complex system run so fast?

KN: First of all, I try to build the function as I expect and consider how to lighten it if the processing of the function is heavy. My priority is to create a framework by building the function first. There is always a way to make it lighter once the framework is done.

To that end, I often use Performance Monitor and Probe. If the processing is heavy, you can check the reasons on them. I insist that persistent efforts are much more valuable than superior techniques for this.

D: Have you trained other people to help you VJ?

KN: Currently I am working on a VJ team REZ with Takuya Miyagawa. Basically we play VJ by ourselves only. We neither have other people nor trainees. We just work with directors, stage designers and lighting artists through projects.

There are more test movies on Youtube of the incredible DEVISION and we finish off with some media "hot off the press" from last weekend at EDC JAPAN 2018 where Kazoe-san did visuals for Japanese artrist and RedBull Thre3Style World Champion Shintaro.

DEVISION VJ system built with TouchDesigner


Yea Chen(ChillProduction)

VJ Fader


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