You probably know who Skrillex is. If not, how about Kendrick Lamar? The Weeknd? Pharrell? David Gilmour? Surely you are familiar with one or more of those famous names. How about Dave Wexler, aka Strangeloop? That name is probably not as familiar. But, if you have ever seen a live performance by one of the DJs or musicians mentioned above, you probably know Wexler’s work.
What are VJs?
You may be familiar with the term “VJ” from the old MTV days where video jockeys – as opposed to radio’s disk jockeys – introduced the next video. In 2020, DJs are now so much more than radio hosts. They are cutting edge musicians who have created their very own musical categories like EDM, Techno, and House.
VJs have evolved too into Visual Artists who mix video, graphics, and light to accompany the music to give concertgoers or live stream viewers a true audio/visual experience. To create the visuals that go along with a DJ set or other musical performance VJs use specialized software solutions that provide them the tools they need to create their visual art. Most modern visualization software that is designed for musical performances take a SMPTE time-code and a BPM (Beats Per Minute) information stream and incorporate that information into the graphics. Computers can then be connected over the network and incorporated into a system that takes information from the musicians DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to create amazing live graphic displays.
PTZOptics has worked with renowned DJs such as Deadmau5 who uses live SDI PTZOptics cameras with his graphics systems to project onto LED screens. You can learn more about this case study here.
Here are some of the top VJ software programs on the market today.
Top 5 VJ Software Solutions
Considered by many to be the industry standard, this program has been around since 2002 and has an incredible set of features that both beginners and pros can utilize. It is a powerful VJ program that is the most fully equipped you will find on the market. Resolume comes in two main versions. Resolume Arena Media Server is used for projection mapping and blending projectors which can be controlled with lighting desks. Resolume Arena is ideal for syncing up with the music coming from the DJ via an SMPTE timecode. Resolume Avenue VJ software that is significantly less expensive but still perfect for visual artists and DJs. Both applications are supported by a content store called Juicebar that can be used to download hundreds of effects and sources for increasing your visual graphics options. Resolume is available for both Mac and PC computers.
This software is specifically designed for real-time video mixing. Modul8 is often used during live performances. It is easy to use and offers the flexibility to be utilized in all sorts of settings. With Modul8 predefined effects do not limit your creativity. All your media can be combined in any way you can imagine. Modul8 is only available for Mac computers so you will need to be an apple user. You can download a free trial to get started and Garagecube the creator does offer educational discounts.
An amazing professional quality system at a reasonable price, VDMX is different than other VJ software because it is designed by a group of programmer that are major supporters of open source code. The audio-reactive software is built to analyze audio and create amazing graphics with a wide range of benefits. It is only compatible with Mac but supports all kinds of software. It also has a competent HD video capturing option and can function as a media server and lighting console as well. If you are a computer programmer, using VMDX might be the perfect solution for you because you can use languages such as Quartz, Composer, Vuo, and GLSL to create custom and sophisticated visual effects.
The easiest to use the software on the market may be the Arkaos Grand VJ. This program can be configured multiple ways for a personalized touch and is compatible with PC, Mac, and all MIDI controllers. It also accepts all common video and image formats. The software is available in two options: ArKaos GrandVJ and GrandVJ XT. Just like Resolume Arena vs Resolume Avenue, ArKaos has a premium version of their software designed to provide additional LED wall and projection mapping features. ArKaos is ideal for live video mixing for musicians, DJs and of course VJs in clubs and performance spaces.
Millumin bills itself as “powerful, yet easy” and that is definitely what you get with this software. It is a full VJ software set up that has the ability to connect with devices that allow you to do video mapping, LED mapping, lighting, after effects, shader effects, and more. Millumin is only VJ software on our list with NDI integration. NDI integration will allow visual artists to ingest video directly from PTZOptics NDI cameras. NDI also allows VJs to bring in video from sources such as OBS, Wirecast, vMix, xSplit, and many more video encoder solutions that support NDI. Millumin can also output NDI video and can, therefore, be incorporated into NDI workflows for live streaming and video broadcast.
VJs have come a long way from the days of Adam Curry and Downtown Julie Brown (if you are too young to know who they are, look them up!). Today’s VJs create amazing visual landscapes that take the DJ experience to a whole new level. With any of these top VJ programs, you can easily create stunning visuals that will energize any crowd. PTZOptics cameras are being used with VJ software all the time. When we got a call from Deadmau5 asking us about using our cameras in his Cube v3 we realized that it’s time to start taking a closer look into visualization software being used for live performances. It turns out some of these software solutions already support our cameras via NDI and others have integrations that can be used with USB capture cards, our USB camera models and even PCIe cards. So expect a bunch more coming from our blog soon!