Traktor, Serato DJ Pro, rekordbox… it’s easy for us to focus on these established players and report on their progress, or indeed lack thereof. But beavering away in the background and often putting the popular choices to shame is VirtualDJ. Version 8 came and saw Atomix raise their game significantly, routinely mapping and supporting controllers and mixers usually thought unmappable in the big three. And off the back of that comes an all new version — VirtualDJ 2018 delivers a wealth of new features, with a focus on video and lighting.

There’s no PR as such, but there is a beta page where you can download the latest version. But bullet-pointing:

VIDEO SKINS

Imagine pointing a camera at your setup… boring right? Now imagine if you could add an overlay showing things like waveforms, jog wheels, and track names. Suddenly your dull visual performance takes on a new dimension

This experience is editable too. It’s basically a PNG and an XML file, that with a little dabbling can be tailored to suit you and your DJ brand. There’s not an editor as such, but anyone with a modicum of experience should be able to make enough changes to make it their own. And I expect that the VDJ community will be publishing more skins than you can handle in due course.

SHADERS FOR AUDIO ONLY PERFORMANCES

Creating BPM synced visuals comes to VirtualDJ. Using WebGL, you can use things called shaders to add a visual element to your audio only set. ShaderToy has almost 23 thousand such things ready for download. So prepare to lose hours as you dig into the weird and wonderful effects that have been made by the ShaderToy community.

And just like the video skins (albeit needing a little more coding skills), shaders can be edited too. I’d suggest loading up a very simple shader on the website and changing settings in the code as a starting point.

VIDEO BROADCASTING

Apparently it’s all the rage right now, and the assorted social channels all have their own flavours. And VirtualDJ 2018 taps right into the popular ones including Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, Twitch, Periscope, and Musically. You can also use your own method, provided you enter the URL and stream key supplied by your provider. And you can incorporate your own video skins too.

Obviously, you’re entirely at the mercy of the provider as to whether you get taken down for copyright infringement or not. But at least VirtualDJ 2018 has the tools to get you into world of live broadcasting.

ScratchDNA

While some of our core audience will wince at the thought of automated scratching, it’s a talking point all over again thanks to Jazzy Jeff’s scratch pads on the recently released Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3. But it’s not a new idea by any means — Stanton’s Deckdance has the rather terribly named Grossbeat feature that allows for scratch macros.

But now it’s a feature in VirtualDJ 2018, and is reasonably easy to create and edit scratches yourself. It works via a text notation that generates the intensity and volume. It can also be made to quantise or slip as you wish. It’s definitely fun, but should be considered as a cool effect rather than a way to win DMC.

Lighting

As the concept of making a DJ performance stimulate more senses than just hearing alone, thus lighting is becoming a hot topic for DJs. All the majors are embracing DMX right from within their assorted software offerings, and VirtualDJ 2018 is no exception.

As the mobile DJ’s favourite, it’s not new to them you understand, but VirtualDj 2018 works with OS2L, an open protocol that makes working with DMX a little less complicated, and aims to make beat to light syncing an automated task.

So I had a dabble with VirtualDJ 2018…

…and it was a lot of fun, and quite the eye opener too, especially the speed that it opens. It’s easy to look down upon VDJ from your professional ivory tower, but as we’ve been saying for years there’s some serious power just below the surface. For example — the almost insignificant pad window is laden with more power and edibility than anything out there.

The new version brings even more goodies to the table too, adding a heap of more visual and performance based features to an already extensive repertoire. At some point, we’ll have to dig into a review, but there’s just so much of it to look at… well certainly in the level of detail that we go to.

Getting back to his version — a Mac and Windows beta is available to play with. But please remember, VirtualDJ 2018 is still beta, so using it could be fraught with danger in a live situation.