Getting Started In Video DJing, Part 1

Video DJing

Video DJing, visual DJing, VJing... whatever you want to call it, it can add an exciting extra element to your DJing.

Are you interested in video DJing? Yes? Increasingly, so are we. It’s an area of growth in DJing, which has been made – just as with normal DJing – more accessible, cheaper and more fun by digital technology. In this eight-part series we’re going to look at all the whats, whys and hows, including the different types of video DJing, the gear, the software, getting the music, and getting work as a video DJ. But we’ll start right at the beginning: What is a video DJ?

What is a video DJ?

The first thing to make clear is that unlike “normal” DJing (which has a history going back to the middle of last century), video DJing is a very young discipline. Nothing is set in stone – not even what video DJs call themselves! VJ, VDJ, video DJ, visual DJ… these are all names used by people who engage in the art of presenting visuals on screens. What name people choose to call themselves to an extent reflects the kind of video DJing they do. For instance, “VJ” was made popular in the 1990s thanks to MTV, who had personality-style “video jockeys” introducing music videos. “Visual DJ” can be used by people who DJ exclusively with visuals. In some venues, this doesn’t even have to be accompanied by music (think art installations).

MTV

MTV popularised "VJs" - personality DJs who introduced music videos - but things have moved on considerably since then.

Or maybe “video DJs” may be more heavily involved in mixing pictures, from all kinds of sources – live cameras, old videotapes, bought loops, you name it - to complement DJ sets. So let’s take a look at a couple of the types of video DJing a little closer. While the aforementioned MTV-style “personality jocks” basically died out as MTV stopped showing videos, there are still plenty of DJs who make a living from playing music videos. This can be in commercial venues, but doesn’t have to be – after all, there are 30 or 40 years’-worth of music videos out there. There’s no reason why you couldn’t mark yourself out as a DJ who plays music that also has video accompanying it. Then there are the DJs who use visuals that are separate from the music. Using bought loops or found source material, these guys produce visuals that can go along with the work of a DJ. Typically they work alongside DJs, and are often hired in to do tours, or to works with DJs in certain countries, to add a visual element to those big-name DJs’ shows.

What we'll be covering

In this series, we’re going to assume you’re already a DJ, and you are looking to video to add something “extra” to your art. Therefore, we’re going to approach video DJing from two angles:

  1. DJing literally with video files rather than music files. You’re doing the same job, but with added vision
  2. Adding visual elements to your DJing that are nothing to do with the music (after all, most underground EDM doesn’t come with pre-made videos at all).

In both cases, we’ll consider closely how easy it is to do, and how cheaply you can get started. If either of these areas interest you, this series is for you. Next week we’ll look at some of the reasons why you might want to consider adding video DJing to what you do.

Check out the other parts in this series:

Are you a DJ who uses music videos or mixes visuals to accompany your performances? We’d love you to get involved with this series by offering your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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Comments

  1. And it just so happens that the Serato Video Plugin is now in public beta…

  2. Zachary Zeller says:

    I personally don’t know much about VJing, but you should check out DJ Larry D on Youtube. he is beast!!!

  3. I wish I had more hours in the day to play/learn/use this stuff.

    Bloody stupid day job gets in the way.

  4. Thanks for finally getting started on this. SSL has had this capability for a few years (or maybe more) and VDJ has the ability to transition video. The hardware that is available like the Edirol V8 is a couple of grand and made this seem out of reach for most.But now the less expensive software has made this a more achievable. Good article here Phil, this is something that will spark interest I’m sure.

  5. Good stuff, looking forward to this :)

  6. I have dabble with this myself and it is starting to become very popular in the South Coast of MA. Is using the Denon MC6000 and I must say it handles video and audio mixing quit well. I am going to be getting on myself since I use a Denon DN-HD2500… Can’t wait to see the rest of the article that you are preparing for us all….

  7. Looking forward to this! I’m excited.
    I’ve been doing visual DJing since September 2010, I use Traktor Pro + Modul8.
    And, for video DJing I use Virtual DJ Pro. VDJ is a good software got VJing, but I wish Traktor will support video.
    Keep it going Phil. Will this be a weekly article?

  8. great article, there are so many ways to “VJ” that this will be a great topic for an article in a series. DJing using music videos, live Visuals while others DJ, editing videos in Sony Vegas for your sets, telling people “sorry we can’t announce your birthday on the mic, but we can put it up on the tv’s for ya”, looking forward to it.

  9. Been thinking about this for quite a while now. For me, the most interesting topic might be adding some visuals more or less synchronized to Traktor Pro. Maybe something like Cell DNA can do this? Lots of people have some small midi controllers – a tiny keyboard, a few nanocontrollers, or even a Launchpad – should be possible to get it together? I find the idea of having pictures and small efx video clips of the event you’re just playing at really charming :-)

  10. Nize article phil!! Been waiting for this one!!

  11. interesting a new adventure

  12. Press “Like” button!

  13. http://eclecticmethod.net/

    These guys have been dominating this area for years and truly are the best at it.

  14. Looking forward to read more about it. I did VJ for a couple of years next to djing. Preparing original content is realy time consuming. For the “main stream” music there are already the original music video’s, but if you want to do something with more underground music you probably have to create your own. Hope phil will cover this part to, or can give some tips to create visuals fast and not take hours of preparing to get 30 seconds of footage

  15. Doin Video at Gigs is one of my “longterm” Goals. Using GranVJ for a few month now and it really rocks. Using Ableton, u can fire Video Clips on Your APC40 with the same Trigger that starts a certain Sample…so its not about mixing Musicvideos like a DJ, its more like visually matching your audio…

  16. Tiesto used MixVibes VFX software on his Kaliedoscope tour. It’s definitley worth checking out if your interesting in mixing video and/or audio (it can do both separately or at the same time)

    http://www.mixvibes.com/content/vfx-control-0

  17. This article could not have come at a better moment.

    I like others, believe that Video mixing will be the next fun thing.
    Coincidentally, i have started to foray into video mixing of recent and found it to be quite fun and also intriguing at the same time. i have created a couple of video mixes to promote events and stuff. I still need alot of practise to get perfect. Thus, these articles from ddjt will in no doubt be useful

    At one of the clubs i play at , we are doing a one off special video mix night very soon. I am keen to see how the crowd will also react. I have also been advising alot of my DJ friends to move into this as well as i also believe it gives you that unique edge. Wondering what it will look like when 3D VJaying kicks off
    On a longer term, i will also be looking at creating video mixes for businesses and maybe as a mobile DJ as well.

    On the link below is one of the promotional VJ mixes i made ( it does have some stutters).
    http://vimeo.com/36245027

  18. Curious to see the part of ‘live’ into these performances : most of the material is modified and on the VJ mix I can see on tv, there is a massive post prod processing.

  19. “What’s a VJ?”

    “I have five dollars”
    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
    “If you don’t know you don’t have enough money to afford it”

  20. Leon Kingsley III says:

    Hey i just happened to download this very moment MIXXX software, looks the biz!! So I know nothing, all i know is i go to a club and all the girls are up front looking at the DJ, i mean WTF the guys done nothing!!!So i asked him, Erol @ Durr how do you make it sound so good, and the guy blows me away, “i just turn it up” thats it!!! OK THE END has a world leading sound system but the guy is cool in being straight up honest..i mean hes got 500 people doin their heads lovin it.. hey i can crack this!

    I think the video dj is a great way to go, and im interested, ive got lots of videos from the telly and would love to cut out the gab and the adds and mix, cut n streach, overdub modern drums and sounds and mashit into a awsome VDJ creation, so ill give it a go!!

    also it would be cool if there was a place where people could swop their VIDS or mashups of say way back cuts which have no original vids so people could put thm in there sets ??? do yu think?? HEY LETS DO THIS INTO THE FUTURE!!!!!

  21. A new way is use a music visualizer software like Bazik, you can run it automatically and it’s really a easy way to start vjing.

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