The vjay app is a great introduction to video mixing (when I say “mixing” I mean it in the DJ sense rather than professional video production) for the small cost of an app. Algoriddim has done an incredible job incorporating almost all the functionality of the iPad version into the smaller screen without the experience of feeling cramped or confused. The app feels intuitive to use and there is a helpful section of tips and tricks within the settings for the app to guide any lost souls.
First Impressions / Setting up
Back in June this year, vjay for iPad grabbed our attention with its clever pairing of a djay-style interface with powerful video mixing on an iPad. Pretty impressively, with vjay for iPhone & iPod touch, maker Algoriddim has now managed to streamline the vjay app interface to work on a much smaller screen, taking advantage of the technical advances of the more recent such devices. We already know that vjay is great fun on an iPad, but how does it fare on a smaller screen? Let’s find out!
Smaller screen, smaller fingers?
Since the technology available for Apple devices has shifted with the introduction of the iPhone 5 and 5th Generation iPod Touch – two devices with greatly improved processing and retina display in their list of features – this kind of thing have become technically possible. But is it really practical on such a small screen? Do you need a child’s fingers just to use it?
Well, no, not really. The new smaller screen devices have a slightly larger screen than their previous counterparts which does give app developers a little more space to play with. However, vjay does have to cram a lot into that space. You must have a preview screen and waveform for each deck and a main output screen as well, which doesn’t leave much space for everything else that you might need.
Algoriddim has utilised the portrait mode (in a similar way to their smaller screen version of djay), which displays the main output video at the top and preview video at the bottom with an overlay for controls. If you’re after the most feature-rich experience then use the portrait mode. In landscape, you get a more simplistic view with access to play and cue buttons with the crossfader.
Most of the functionality is identical to the iPad version, however, a larger selection of video clips are bundled with this app including some neat loops created by experienced VJs Eclectic Method. There are a few functional additions which we’ll cover in a moment.
You start by loading a video from your iOS device into a deck, achieved by tapping the movie reel/musical note icon for the deck. The videos can be in any format supported by your device (mine are mostly ripped from DVDs at 720p, but it could be higher if you wanted).
Along the bottom of the preview screen are the play and main cue control buttons with a finger-swipe button. You can scratch the video using the preview screen, as you do this the waveform zooms in so you can visualise the audio pattern as well. Pressing the finger-swipe button will display an overlay onto the preview screen, accessing the more detailed features:
- FX – the effects available are identical to those on the iPad version, although you have to use the X-Y pad to control them (no slide bar on the smaller screen)
- Loops – a logical grouping of the functionality of Reverse, Slice and “SlowMo” with the auto loop feature
- EQ – three-band EQ with gain control and level monitor
- Multi Cue Points – this is a new addition to the app and will be incorporated into the iPad version soon. It provides you with an additional three cue points for your video track which means you can start to get more creative with your mix. You can move the track forward / backward while on the cue screen by using the up/down arrow icons on the left
- BPM – as you’d expect this is where you have the pitch bend and slider controls as well as the ubiquitous Sync button. This is possibly the only area where the app suffers being on a smaller screen; trying to use the pitch slider with any great accuracy was tricky – mainly because my finger often pushed the tiny pitch slider button much further than I hoped for. You also get the same BPM adjustment (half/double/ \tap) available by pressing on the displayed BPM value
Impressively, vjay for iPhone also provides the same in-app recording function and Midi controller support for Vestax Spin, Vestax Spin2, iON iDJ2Go, Numark iDJ Live, Numark iDJ Pro and Numark Mixdeck Quad like the iPad version.
The transition options between videos are the same as well, offering a range of ways to blend your videos together visually.
If you are wanting to record your mix in the app, the final product will be a Quicktime (.mov) file at a 640×360 definition and 22 frames per second (fps). The lower framerate may help when recording to reduce the black screen effect that has sometimes been experienced when using the iPad version of the app (which records at 27fps). Recordings can be shared directly with Facebook, Youtube, email or your camera roll on the iOS device.
I noticed that sometimes when using the multiple cue points in quick succession the video appeared slightly out of focus initially before returning to normal shortly afterwards. This is much more preferable than a black screen, so it looks like improvements have been made during the process of migrating the app to the smaller screen.
Unless you’ve been dreaming of full video mixing on your phone, the vjay for iPhone app alone is unlikely to draw you into purchasing the Apple hardware it works on. However, if you are lucky enough to own a new iPhone or iPod Touch then vjay is most certainly worth checking out.
It is addictive; you’ll find yourself scouring your DVD collection for suitable movie snippets or digging through thrift stores to pick up a bargain music DVD – trust me, there are plenty of cheap music video DVDs out there. I’ve spent some considerable time over the past few months ripping sections of DVDs for use with vjay! The in-app link to iTunes for your music video purchases is pretty much a given on an Apple device, but of course you needn’t buy your video content from there if you don’t want to.
Algoriddim has done an incredible job incorporating almost all the functionality of the iPad version into the smaller screen without the experience of feeling cramped or confused. The app feels intuitive to use and there is a helpful section of tips and tricks within the settings for the app to guide any lost souls.
Owners of the Numark iDJ Pro will be pleased to hear that a portrait mode version of the iPad app will be coming shortly, bringing with it multiple cue points as well.
I guess the introduction of a smaller screen version of vjay will ruffle some feathers in the VJ community, in the same way the launch of the iPad version did six months ago. But I see the vjay apps as a great way for those who haven’t tried video mixing (when I say “mixing” I mean it in the DJ sense rather than professional video production) to have a go for just the small cost of an app.