Review & Video: Algoriddim’s Vjay For iPad

Review Summary:

Algoriddim stands poised to make an even bigger impact with vjay than it did with djay, bringing the instant gratification of video DJing to the masses. Vjay is treading new ground on iOS, bringing features previously only available on well-established video mixing software. Whether or not any other DJ app developers will follow suit into the realms of video mixing on iOS remains to be seen, but with vjay, Algoriddim has set the initial bar very high indeed.

Vjay For iPad
  • Vjay For iPad
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Algoriddim
  • Price: US$9.99
  • Reviewed by:
  • On June 7, 2012
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014
Algoriddim's vjay app

Get used to this logo, it will be coming to an awful lot of iPads as of today...

Review: Algoriddim's Vjay For iPad

Can you remember the time you first touched your own DJ set-up, whether it was a traditional two turntables and a mixer, CDJs, or laptop and Midi controller? Exciting, wasn’t it? For me - as I guess for most DJs - that initial feeling of excitement, anticipation and awe has rarely occurred since those early days.

That is until now. I’m aware that this all sounds loaded with hyperbole, however it’s the way I feel about Algoriddim’s vjay app for iPad (update: now there's also vjay for iPhone & iPod touch), which I'd had for a couple of weeks in order to prepare this review to coincide with today's release into the App Store.

Algoriddim’s successful djay app has been a hit with iOS device owners at all levels of experience, possibly due to the familiar interface approach but also by ensuring it does a good job of features that appeal to DJs most.

Vjay takes most of the core elements of the djay app and wraps them into an immersive video mixing experience. Trust me, I’ve got so involved with the app over the past fortnight that writing this review is distracting me from trying out new video combinations!

VJay Main screen

Complex video mixing made easy - that's the promise that Algoriddim's vjay app delivers on.

The app interface is intuitive, with a large preview screen in the top centre, with deck A and deck B preview screens, control buttons and crossfader underneath.

Either side of the main preview screen you get the time elapsed/remaining display (you can change this with a single tap on the figure), FX and “on-the-fly” looping selection bars for each deck.

Most of the controls will feel familiar to those who have already used the Djay app. In the large preview screen, at the top-right corner you can switch to a full-screen view.

Video selection

The app comes pre-loaded with a number of stock video loops (under the “Featured” tab) of skateboarders and parkour footage among other subjects. With any video loaded into the app, you can choose to replace the audio with a track from your Music Library – incredibly useful for those white label releases that you know won’t have a corresponding video.

Load Movie Screen

Artist, title, duration, BPM and screenshot are all displayed.

If you have purchased any music videos from iTunes onto your iPad, they will appear under the “Videos” tab. In fact, if you’ve loaded any videos onto your iPad from any source, they will be displayed in this list, ordered by artist (good metadata housekeeping is a must, even with video clips!).

There’s also the option to load existing video from your iPad camera roll. If you have allowed vjay access to location services, it will give you the opportunity to record live camera footage into the camera roll and then use it within the app.

The video load window has a useful link through to the iTunes Store which takes you directly to the Music Video section – normally a pain to get to through iTunes on an iPad.

For me, the app shows a list of videos available in the US iTunes store, whereas not all the videos are available to purchase where I am, in the UK (for example DJ Shadow’s “Walkie Talkie” is listed in the app, but not for sale in the UK – great video though).

The library screen is small but shows the detail you need, however it would be great to incorporate sorting by BPM and possibly a search function.

Video control

When you load a music video into the deck, the waveform and BPM are calculated and displayed above the deck preview area. As with djay, you can tap on the BPM figure to half, double or tap correct the BPM if needed. You can set and use a single, stored cue point with the buttons underneath the preview area, using the same notation as on djay.

Both video and audio respond impeccably when scratching, which is impressive and strangely addictive...

The finger-swipe button displays a number of options on how to use the preview area. If you haven’t pressed this button, the preview area behaves in a “vinyl-mode” manner, meaning you can scratch video! Yes, you read that right. Scratching video on an iPad!

In fact, you can scratch the video on either the deck preview, main preview or full screen views. Both video and audio respond impeccably when scratching, which is both impressive and highly addictive.

I always thought that this would be impossible due to Apple’s restrictions on what you can do with video files on the device, but perhaps this works in the same way as music file manipulation, with the app caching the video file locally in order to achieve a scratching effect.

If you’re wondering where the EQ and pitch controls were, they are accessible using the “finger-swipe” button. In fact, using this button you can turn the preview area into a place to control all of the following:

  • FX - Here, it becomes an X-Y pad for controlling a HP/LP filter and the selected FX. The horizontal axis controls how much effect is applied, the vertical axis is a high pass / low pass filter
  • Timings mode - From here you can reverse play, slice (like the quarter and half beat bounce loop in djay) or SlowMo (an instant timestretch type effect)
  • EQ - H/M/L and gain slider controls. Gain can be set automatically (via Advanced Settings) to ensure audio playback is at the same level. The EQ sliders can be used to not only filter out frequencies but also behave like a Red/Green/Blue colourisation effect on the video
  • BPM - This is where you’ll find the Sync button and can adjust the pitch and use pitch bend controls to bring the tracks in line. The app supports split audio output (via splitter cable) as well

In the section above the deck is the loop bar, which operates on 4, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 beat looping. I had the “High Precision Analysis” setting enabled (in Advanced Settings) which meant the BPM analysis was reliable every time; however, the trade-off is that the videos take slightly longer to load.

There are four FX which combine audio and video:

  • Crush - bit-crushing audio effect with a pixellating the video into blocks
  • Strobe - stutter/gate type audio effect with a strobing white effect over the video
  • Twirl - phaser audio effect with spiralling effect over the video
  • Fisheye - flanger audio effect with a fisheye lens video effect
Grid Crossfader Setting

Getting creative with the crossfader mix effect, in vjay for iPad.

The crossfader isn’t just a simple blend of the audio and video channels; you can choose a number of different ways in which the video mixes.

Through configuration you can even decide to mix the audio and video separately! The video crossfader options are; Blend, Cube, Swap, Grid, Mosaic and Push.

Personally, I found Grid to be the most visually effective. As you gradually move the crossfader over the video gets split into a 3x3 grid, box by box the video of the other deck gets displayed.

Demo reel

For an app that is so visual, it seems only appropriate that I should provide a demonstration of the functionality described above. It’s relatively easy to step through a feature list of an app, however in order to get a true idea of what you can achieve with vjay you need to see it in action. Here’s a brief 10 minute mix I did, without using a USB Midi controller or audio splitter, on my 3rd generation iPad:

 

Here’s some detail of what’s going on:

Track 1: Star Wars Trailer (rip from official DVD) – scratching, crossfader quick cut in/out for transform type effect. Using Blend setting to mix into...
Track 2: Shannon – Let The Music Play (iTunes purchase) – beat slice, some looping used during the Grid mix setting into...
Track 3: Daft Punk – Around The World (rip from official DVD) – more looping during Mosaic mix setting into...
Track 4: Michael Jackson – Beat It (iTunes purchase) – beat slice, twirl fx, fisheye fx, looping and crush fx during Swap mix setting into...
Track 5: Young MC – Bust a Move (iTunes purchase) – beat slice, SlowMo, Reverse, strobe fx, looping during Cube mix setting into...
Track 6: Yppah – Gumball Machine Weekend (iTunes purchase) – Blend mix setting to end with...
Track 7: Hombre movie trailer (rip from official DVD) – scratching and crush fx to end

All of the above was recorded using the in-app recording feature (the recording is saved as a 640x360 QuickTime movie file at 27fps with 352kbs audio).

Conclusion

In-App recording

Just make sure you have enough space on the iPad first!

Algoriddim stands poised to make an even bigger impact with vjay than it did with djay, bringing the instant gratification of video DJing to the masses. Vjay is treading new ground on iOS, bringing features previously only available on well-established video mixing software.

The app currently supports Numark’s iDJ Live USB Midi controller, however I hope that this support will be extended in the future to cover iDJ Pro and perhaps others.

The configuration of the app covers the same areas as djay but includes some useful tips and tricks to help guide those new to video DJing.

With support for external displays through digital A/V adaption (HDMI) and AirPlay, it's easy to plug into a TV and stream videos wirelessly to Apple TV - or to screens in a venue.

As someone who has had no previous experience in VJing, this app gives me much more than a quick introduction to the basics, providing an addictive experience and likely to get me purchasing more video content in the future.

With the iTunes purchasing (and preview) within the app, it makes the prospect of using videos in your mobile set-up a reality. Indeed, I’m now wondering if perhaps I should have got a larger capacity iPad!

Whether or not any other DJ app developers will follow suit into the realms of video mixing on iOS remains to be seen, but with vjay, Algoriddim has set the initial bar very high indeed.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

Algoriddim stands poised to make an even bigger impact with vjay than it did with djay, bringing the instant gratification of video DJing to the masses. Vjay is treading new ground on iOS, bringing features previously only available on well-established video mixing software. Whether or not any other DJ app developers will follow suit into the realms of video mixing on iOS remains to be seen, but with vjay, Algoriddim has set the initial bar very high indeed.

Vjay For iPad
  • Vjay For iPad
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Algoriddim
  • Price: US$9.99
  • Reviewed by:
  • On June 7, 2012
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014

Do you use videos in your mixes from laptop? Is this the "killer video app" iOS VJs have been waiting for? Do you think other DJ app developers follow suit? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Dj Darth says:

    Very cool mix you did there! I can’t see myself VJing though as that would be too distracting for me as I fight to perfect every mix and liven up the music with fx & cuts. Does VJ stuff work at all for smaller venues? I can see the added value it might bring with several (3 or more) huge screens that add to the atmosphere, but a club with just one screen – I believe this might only be distracting and taking energy away from the music itself. I’m old school in this sense I guess, obviously I love a good lightshow but can’t remember the last time I saw some really rocking visual fx and clips.

    • Dj Darth, thanks for the kind words! I think at smaller venues the interest in videos and music would be just as great as at larger ones. If you’re playing at a gig where people aren’t necessarily going to dance, then chances are there will be an AV setup somewhere at the venue, even if it’s a solitary widescreen TV at the end of the bar.

      vjay opens the doors to mixing with videos in the same way djay gave folk a quick, portable way of checking out whether DJing was for them. Worth checking out what DJ Food, Cheeba or Yoda get up to with video content. It can take a lot of preparation, but can have huge impact…even if just used for a small section of your set.

      • Dj Darth says:

        Now that’s a good point, bars without proper dancefloors. I will get new iPad and iDJ Live later this month so you bet I’m gonna try this app out ! will have to start looking for some crazy video clips soon… :)

  2. I don’t realy see it. I love iPad but 3-4 hours mixing video on an iPad with 64 GB as maximum storrage no way. Most options to connect directly to a TV don’t give you an option to charge at the same time. Maybe the I/O dock from Alises would be perfect for this. And I’m sure the FX will get boring and repetive fast. It’s a cool app but I don’t see me ever going to use it.

  3. On a side note, where can I get free generic video footage to add with my audio remixes? For $10 bucks I’ll get this app.

  4. thisisian says:

    So ….questions.

    If you output to a TV over HDMI, can you just send the mixed output window, or does it send a copy of what’s on the iPad screen? (the whole app)

    Quote…. “With any video loaded into the app, you can choose to replace the audio with a track from your Music Library”

    Is this a permanent replacement? If I load that song later on, is it still associated with the video clip?

    If you’re using split audio out of the headphone socket (so you get a separate headphone cue), is it split over HDMI or (hopefully) the main output? (presuming the iPad passes audio over hdmi?)

    I’m impressed by what i’ve seen so far, but there’s still questions to ask.

    • Hi thisisian,

      The output from the iPad is exactly what you see in the centre panel of the app.

      It’s a temporary replacement, it drops the audio (if any) of the video and plays back the track you’ve selected instead. Great if you’ve got some decent generic movies…there’s one from a DJ Fresh track which is just some kids playing basketball that words with pretty much anything.

      Unfortunately if you’re using an audio splitter and an HDMI output I think the same split audio from the headphones jack comes out of the HDMI audio as well…in this case you’d mute your monitor that the HDMI is plugged into and use the stereo splitter to plug into an amp/mixer.

      Hope that helps answer your questions.

  5. looks nice.
    how about connecting the gyro to an auto-scratch?

    • Hi spektakx, because the app is iPad only and there’s so much other stuff for your hands to do…the last thing I’d want to be doing is moving the device around to generate an auto-scratch, for fear of dropping it! Plus, if you’ve got it plugged into an HDMI device then you’re likely to pull the connection out.

      Does anyone use the gyro features on DJ apps? I always felt they were a bit too “gimmicky”?

      USB midi would be the best way to get some decent scratches here, at the moment we’re limited with iDJ Live but hopefully this will be extended over time like djay has been.

      • yea, I wasn’t talking about the iPad. I was talking about an iPod running in conjunction with the iPad. similar, to their first app. when i walk around listening to music with my iPod, I frequently move the device to the beat. so I was talking about something similar to that.

  6. DJ Forced Hand says:

    I don’t think the demo reel was “good”… at least a few the transitions were sub-par and the video effects were worse. Video production teaches us that cuts and fades are the best way to transition but wipes can be done (but not more than twice) everything else is just showing off an effect and (like telling the same joke over and over again) becomes less and less entertaining. I see a lot of companies pushing very hard to sell a (video enhanced) product that doesn’t have a lot of customers.

    I get that some people want to “spice things up a bit” with video, but I also understand that (in a club environment) you don’t want people gazing at the videos all night not paying attention to their dates.

    Real-Time Art Shows with Video Jockeys are rare and are typically for the most Avant-garde… which means there’s not a lot of people (aka money) to pay for the event and then the Artist. I accept that people doing this do it out of love of the craft, not the money.

    Video has a different pace than Audio… when was the last time you caught anyone spontaneously dancing to a song in the middle of a movie? Video is a very different skill than audio with a very different toolbox. This is not something that’s going to be a “Oh, I’ll just learn how to mix video over a weekend or two” kind of deal, there’s a lot more to it than that. As a video content creator, I’m slightly offended that a company would make such a product to convince people that video editing is all about the transition and the “scratch.” Playing back video needs at least the same level of respect as audio and the tools shown are primitive (at best). Even the first dedicated MP3 DJ programs had more right than these new VJ tools.

    I ask that these companies spend more time developing their tools for professionals instead of making a cheap, throw-away iPad app, because cheap, popular things tend to move an industry in that artificially directed way and it’s the people that are in the industry that you have to deal with over the long haul.

    • I am really enjoying your commentaries. i agree completely. i would hope, that we, as a culture would all, as forced hand has, strongly encourage product developers to innovate truly creative tools that do more than simply re-hash old ideas.

    • at least there is one nice thing about this app, it reminds us that much of the old ways of doing things are rapidly becoming obsolete, and maybe we won’t actually have to deal with, as you put it, “the people in the industry” much longer. with this app, we see more power in th iPad than we had previously thought possible, and so off on the horizon we can spot the end of the laptop. since, most industry people will be too “proud” to direct their development towards what we all know is the best implementation of the ipad/tablet “into” a midi controller, because of the origins of that design. many of these “industry” types will be back running cables out of a sound van in a few years, and I say good riddance, because apps like this need development, just not following this particular path.

    • zero_one says:

      @ dj forced hand

      while i agree that audio and video have different properties and strengths, i think you are looking at this program wrong. this is not a video editing program or even a broadcast video switching program. it is a dj program where you use music videos instead of regular music tracks or regular music tracks in combination with video loops.

      i do agree with you that some of the transitions are bit gimmicky but not terribly out of place in a club setting. you’re not cutting an edit on a film here so wipes, cross dissolves, and morphs are appropriate. i actually think that these transitions would work best if they were synced to the bpm which it didn’t look like they were. either way, in the edit/broadcast world those wipes and goofy transitions are there for a reason, when used correctly they help you tell your story, convey tone, and establish a visual vocabulary.

      also, you must understand that there are various kinds of “VJ’s” ranging from the the straight forward one that will playback music video’s back to back to live performers that will do realtime video manipulation and compositing synchronized to audio using higher end applications like Modul8 or Resolume.

      and finally, if you have never seen anyone jump up in a middle of film to dance then you must have not seen Thriller yet! great short film directed by John Landis, check it out :P lighten up man!

    • I enjoyed the demo reel. I thought the whole point of it was to show off the effects etc.

      “I don’t think the demo reel was “good”… at least a few the transitions were sub-par and the video effects were worse.”

      So why not have a go at doing one with the app yourself and show us what can be done with it?

      I don’t think the company is trying to convince anyone of anything, it’s just putting something out there for people to use as they will. I suspect they had a massive amount of fun making this, as people will using it.

      And who says this has to be used in a club environment? It can be used anywhere, just for personal fun (our writer is completely addicted to it). It’s on an iPad, for Heaven’s sake – nobody expects it to be used professionally.

      If it introduces new people to video who then go on to become good at video mixing, even moving professionally into video, surely that’s a good thing?

      While I understand your argument, it sounds very similar to the argument used by pro jocks when free DJ software and $99 Midi controllers put basic DJing functionality in front of the unwashed masses – of course with suddenly thousands of people messing with it we’re going to get a drop in “overall” standards, but that’s surely not the point, as we’ve argued as a cornerstone of this blog – for us, more people doing it is in itself a good thing, because the best “filter up”.

      For me, it’s up to experts – people like you – to encourage and teach, not rubbish other people’s attempts at stuff they’ve never done before.

      • boybrown says:

        Spot on. it’s £6.99 and on an iPad. Less than a pack of 20 B&H (i’m told), so i’m sold. It looks like a bit of fun and gives me a great excuse to mash up my adult videos lol. Shame (and i’m a bit surprised) it doesn’t work with my Spin controller. Maybe they’ll sort it out.

  7. great review DJ Hombre can’t wait to try this app =)

  8. Are we able to cue or monitor the next song on our headphones while streaming current live song in true stereo via airplay on the ipad3?

  9. Jaaaaa I enjoyed the “Demo Reel” very much… It’s looks like a great app to play with. Who knows maybe even use at a party with friends. These are the kind of apps that makes it worth to have an ipad. Great article… I’m getting that app right now…

  10. Dj stotty says:

    How did you and your own videos to the app?

    I have various videos in x264 Can i add these?

    • Yes. As a general rule, if you can play the video on an iOS device you should be able to use it within the vjay app. I found it worked smoothly with smaller resolution sizes (eg 640×360)…if you load a large HD resolution movie into the app you’re more likely to experience glitching in the video playback.

  11. Will the Vjay app be compatible with the awesome looking Idj Pro mixer unit?

  12. I have used this professionally for events… It lets me display video loops etc while I mix. People are amazed by it that are not necessarily “club goers.” I can display themes that relate to our evenings event ie: I spun drum and bass at a massive wine event at a museum on a terrace space overlooking a river. It was incredible. I used clips from the wine sponsors overlayed with interesting effects. It worked. Everyone was happy with the extra surprise of the projection screen. I have been asked back to do another corporate event with a chocolate theme… I enjoy the product…

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