We met in 2009 in Buenos Aires, and we’ve decided to work together. Cecilia comes from animation and Ygor from painting and drawing. We mixed our best and created VJ Suave.
At that time, we used Adobe Flash, After Effects and Photoshop for animation. Later on we met Maki, and he introduced us to Tagtool, a tool to draw and animate in real time.
The first version of Tagtool was a DIY thing, you needed to have a wacom, arduino, knobs and sliders, ps2 controller, all connected to a computer and a controller box.
You needed to build it yourself, it was a bit complicated. Later on Maki and his crew started to develop Tagtool for iPads and we fell in love with it.
Most of our animations are made frame by frame, using Flash, and this takes time and people to work. Tagtool is easier. It’s a tool that allows us to create drawings and animation by ourselves in a short amount of time.
The VR is a very immersive solo experience. You actually believe you are inside a different reality. In Floresta Encantada, together with our crew, we’ve created an experience where participants are teleported to a magical forest where they can interact with both characters and the scenery.
They can play instruments near a bonfire and even drink medicine from a shaman. Each experience is unique as the map is very big. Some people say that they saw a spaceship, others say they had a trip on mushrooms, experiences which are rare in the map. At thee end of the journey all travelers come back to reality with a big smile.
We were happy and we wanted to keep doing moving projections. Instead of keeping on creating videos we wanted to try the performance format, so people on the streets could see it live.
Instead of a car, we thought of a way that could be affordable to us, first a bicycle, and then finally the tricycle as our moving base to project from.
Suaveciclo was created to be able to move our animations throughout the city, bringing joy to everyone who happens to be around. As we don’t use background in the projection the characters look more alive, with a digital graffiti style.
The idea was to take the characters out of the TV screen and make this colorful universe that was inside our heads to merge it with the real world.
It felt like a perfect gap for us to fit in. From then till now, we keep on doing what we love, what is true for us and we believe anything made like that will always be successful.
There have been a lot of adaptations till we got to the actual version of Suaveciclo. First version was very heavy, had small sound speakers and an overall flimsy structure for the projector.
We also had issues as we bought the wrong batteries (now we only use deep cycle batteries). We now have 2 tricycles in São Paulo, one for Ygor and one for Cecilia. What we use now is actually the 5th version.
A few months ago we finally installed an electric battery to help us doing the cycling. It’s also equipped with great sound speakers and a tripod head adapted for the projector.
We like the idea of more visual artists working with images in movement throughout the city. We encourage and help people around the world to build an audiovisual tricycle to express themselves.
Ygor: VJ Suave was the starting point for me. Thanks to that I developed my career in animation, creative technology, virtual reality and music. If it wasn’t for it I would still be doing graffiti on the city walls, or maybe working in the forest.
Ceci: I would be applying technology to some other area, maybe holistic health.
Nowadays it is blooming. During the isolation, many audiovisual artists from all over Brazil started to project videos on building walls outside their windows. They have come together and created a group called Projetemos. Thanks to this group, we can share our animations to be projected in different cities.
If VJ Suave had a little bit of each event, we would be defined by this mix which is something new with technology, animation and movement.
With Suaveciclo we can create magical moments. We gather people to see the city in a different way, more imaginative. We colour the path with light, expressing love. We think this can open people’s hearts, at least for a second.
Regarding the colours, we have the limitation of the projector. For Suaveciclo performances we carry a 5.500 lumen projector, which is very bright and powerful for a tricycle. However darker colours can be difficult to project. That’s why our colour pallet is always bright, with high contrast and saturation.
Kids are essential for our performances, because they appreciate magical beings. They want to play with the characters. When they do, adults start to believe in that magical moment too: when kids are yelling and chasing our enchanted characters.
Vj Suave audiovisual live stories are called “Suaveciclos”. They make use of Tagtool, an app for tablet allowing drawings in real time.
These itinerant projection mappings are colorful, imaginative and highly engaging. Kids absolutely love them as they perceive immediately the drawings are made specifically for them to play with.
It’s very hard not being immediately charmed by their delicately funny audiovisual storytelling. And there is no reason to resist! Their communication with the audience is honest, inspiring and most importantly inclusive: none is left out in this projection mapping extravaganza.
The viewer is invited to find their own inner harmony with the sounds and visual elements of the forest in order to become unified with the surrounding environment. The result is an unique experience with plenty of food for thoughts to be snacked upon.
As we often advocate the meaningfulness of the artistic experience depends on the artist intent more than on the tool that is being used.
In spring 2020 Kuflex studio began an experimental project Kusmos Live. The purpose of the experiment was to upgrade the Kusmos system in order to create a interactive online home shows.
In 2018-2019 the Russian audiovisual studio experimented with the innovative tool together with SILA SVETA studio on the Therr Maitz concert, Caprices Festival 2018, Nina Kraviz experimental performance at Coachella 2019.
Scene functions build a 3D model using the data provided by the Tracker and then we can layer all kinds of features with effects on the model and also transform and distort it according to the artistic concept. We also captured video from the laptop’s webcam and sometimes showed its picture. 3D scene acting as the artist surrounding, a set of virtual cameras for capturing from different viewpoints and visual effects were set up in advance in the Unreal Engine. Then the OBS program captures the video of the launched scene and sends it to the video streaming server.
During our second live experiment we tested some new features for the viewers interactive communication with the stream. While Leksha (Smolensk, Russia) was playing his ambient-set, a VJ (Moscow, Russia) was controlling visual effects with the use of commands via YouTube chat in real-time mode. Our team has implemented this function between the concerts and decided not to tell the viewers about it.
During the stream, noticing weird messages in the chat, some of the viewers started to realize that they could not only send a message to the chat but to even affect visualization. In the end the concert has turned into a digital quest. Some viewers picked up effect control by sending particular commands to the chat. We have yet to comprehend how to develop this function in the future.
KUFLEX: Kusmos is a universal software tool, with the possibility of variability of visual and interactive solutions. As a rule, our team creates a virtual stage specifically for the performance of the musician. Of course, we want to upgrade the program creating a database with different scenes, effects. In this case, the user will be able to construct the scene himself and combine the effects for his live/stream.
KUFLEX: Regarding Kusmos Live project, the Kuflex team is collaborating with various musicians. We wanted to support the performers. So this approach determined the emphasis on the figure of the musician on the virtual stage, under whose musical personality, sound we come up with a visual solution. We do not just shoot a video with a musician, as is often done in broadcasts, but create a digital avatar that changes depending on the script, music and VJ control.
We try to achieve the effect of real interaction with the viewer as well. Our team is developing a function of interaction through chat – viewers’ comments fall into the scene, they can affect the content through certain chat commands. But Kusmos can be used by artists of other genres. In the near future we want to try to create a dance performance. Now we are discussing this idea with one Russian choreographer.
Technically, the performer will find himself in different areas of camera scanning, on the screen we will observe how his digital avatar changes. Again, it will all be like shooting a movie in one shot and in real time!
We intentionally did not talk about this function in advance to get the quest. As a result, some viewers guessed and began to help in managing the scene. We explore different possibilities about other ways of interaction.
In the future we want to create a client application for connecting to the broadcast via a mobile phone, desktop PC screen or VR. We intend to develop Kusmos as an art tool. Our team believes in a power of collective interaction. We want to give a palette of visual solutions, effects. Let’s all together create beauty here and now! This idea is a sincere inspiration for us.
We wrote a special function for our software that receives data from chat on YouTube using the Google API. We came up with several commands, for example: cam1, cam2, skin1, skin2, electric noise, lasers and the like. And when someone in the chat wrote one of these words, then a certain visual effect or a corresponding camera was included in our program.
In general, we have an idea to expand the number of commands and their appearance, so that it looks more like live coding. For example, add numerical arguments to the commands, which will additionally specify the parameters of a particular visual effect.
KUFLEX: Yes, this is the main object of research for us. Usually, a limited number of people can come to the offline exhibition. So we want to overcome any space frames. With Kusmos we don’t have any restrictions online! We can find ourselves in amazing digital worlds that are impossible in the physical world.
Now that Kuflex Lab and its creation Kusmos entered our radar we will most definitely keep following their progression, as always supporting innovation and creativity in the audiovisual art world.