So I grabbed a bunch of music videos of all qualities from Youtube and off I went. Once analysed, it was a blast to be banging video to video like I was mixing audio. And in this respect, vjay handles itself perfectly for an iPad app. And when adding effects, and messing with loops, it just becomes even more fun. I began to hit a creativity wall when I wanted to get rather more clever with loops and clips – I wished for more separate controls. But for V1 of an all new iOS DJing style, I found vjay to be incredibly easy to use, highly responsive and glitch free. Recording impacts responsiveness, and spinbacks can’t be pushed too far, but other than that, I had flawless performance and a world of engaging fun.
To be honest, this is probably the level at many DJs wish to operate, and no longer need a huge setup to simply mix one top 40 video to another. I’m sure we’ve all been to parties that could have been lifted no end if we could just watch the crappy 70s, 80s and 90s tracks that we were listening to. Hooking an iPad up to cheap projector or big flat screen TV will lift boring parties into something considerably more interesting. Pro VJs may need a little more convincing of the validity of vjay though, or perhaps the iPad as a platform with little storage for video.
There are of course a number of technology hurdles to navigate here. I’ve got a 16Gb iPad, thus the amount of music and video I can use it quite limited. Given that digital DJs favour carrying around every piece of music ever created, the storage issue will be at the forefront of the decision to go down this route of video DJing. Assuming that a decent quality 720p video is 50Gb – that’s 20 per 1Gb. Yep – space is soon eaten away in this video lark. For people just wanting to mess around using SD video, space is less of an issue. But if you’d like to use vjay for playing out, and don’t want to constantly juggle playlists between gigs, a 64Gb iPad is the way to go. Then there are the issues of compatibility with HDMI output devices, MIDI controllers (just iDJ Live right now) and keeping it all powered up.
It’s worth underlining that like djay before it, vjay is a performance app rather than a construction kit. This is not iMovie with decks – yes you can record, but it’s like old one shot mix tape style. In fact, that’s where I see a lot of activity – making video mix tapes and posting on Youtube, and sharing with their friends.
On the subject of sharing, a can of worms is about to be unleashed as a whole new market segment starts to flood Youtube with highly illegal mixes. While it is very easy to download videos from Youtube, reposting them is likely to get your videos shut down along with your account. Even snippets of audio samples in my tradeshow videos have seen my own clips unviewable in many countries.
But overall, vjay really does work. If you just want to play, it’s so easy to pull out your iPad and mashup videos for fun. I also feel that for mobiles and parties, vjay is perfectly capable of handling music video mixing with a handful of tricks thrown in. Beyond this, pro video DJs may well feel a little hampered by the small interface and lack of high end features. We must remember that this is a $9.99 app on an iPad, and in this respect vjay is completely amazing.
I find myself pleasantly surprised by vjay. Not just by how well it does the task it sets out to do, but also by how much more interested I am in the iPad as a platform and by video in general. I’ve always found turntables ill-suited to video work. If they were, video editors would use them. vjay however takes just enough from djay to make me instantly comfortable, but different enough to make it more suitable for video use.
As I mentioned at the top of the review, video as a format hasn’t exactly caught on in the mainstream DJ’s consciousness. But vjay has the possibility of giving a lot more people an affordable and more accessible platform to experiment with. This could even kickstart a video revolution from the bottom end, where new video specific controllers are developed using the iPad and vjay as the engine.
Reading back, it seems that most of my less favourable comments seem to be about things that vjay has yet to do, and hardware issues that algoriddim have no control over. One thing that I have noticed is how much space is left in the interface, which means that some of the things I’ve mentioned could be easily added and not impact on usability.
Algoriddim have worked miracles within the technological confines of iOS and the iPad. vjay is an absolutely essential no-brainer purchase for $10, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.