vJay: almost no help at all

Spoiler alert! If you’re looking for a way to mix video DJ style, vJay is a mixed bag. If you don’t already know what you’re doing, the app offers no help or tutorials. Nor does it export mixes conveniently. For the steep price tag, I have to feel there should be more to work with. Three Stars.

Don’t bother with vJay is you don’t already know how to mix video and you might not want to even if you do. At $20 (ten for a limited time) it looks cool but doesn’t seem to deliver anything a standard video editor doesn’t do better.

Except perhaps live broadcasting. You can hook it up to the iDjay live controller or mix straight from your iPad and broadcast to an HD screen with AirPlay.

The fact that I compared vJay to a standard video editing suite should make it apparent that I probably don’t bring the right background to fully appreciate this app. vJay is clearly a tool to take the dJay mixing and dubbing experience to video, and if you aren’t already familiar with live mixing you may find yourself frustrated with the results.

vJay is designed for mixing and improvisation on the fly. You can record your mix but you can’t plan it out on a linear timeline. The scrubs and beats have to be laid down as the videos progress. You can load new clips into the mix as you play, but only two clips can play at a time and you can’t go back to tweak.

I chose to mix Felicia Day’s Do you want to date my Avatar with one of the few stock clips provided by the app. The results, at times, were slick.

The interface is excellent and the mixing effects are first rate for the most part. You can load clips into two windows and blend them with an A/B roll, or several different window effects such as Mosaic tiles. You can use the A/B slider to decide which clip receives the most focus.

Clips can be loaded from the slim pickings of stock clips provided by developer algoriddim, from your video or music libraries, your photo collections or directly from the iTunes store. You can also add a separate audio track over the videos. Of course, there is a good chance that your video or music clip is DRM protected so viable iTunes sources are limited.

Once the track is loaded you can shift the tempo, work with a graphic equalizer, synchronize the tempos and loop segments and even manually rewind and slice the clip. You can pre-cue tracks with headphones, and even split the audio and video signals to mix them separately. When the mix works, the results can be spectacular.

You can apply a number of effects to clips including skipping and scratching, tonal adjustments and tempo changes. The app also provides a number of specialized features, including the ability to mix audio and video tracks separately.

On the other hand some of the video effects are limited and even less than impressive. The visual effects (crush, twirl, fisheye) only have default settings and only the strobe effect looked good on all of the tracks I sampled it with.

One of the biggest disappointments was the lack of access to stock video clips (clouds, urban landscapes, animated patterns) from inside the app. You will have to convert clips to .m4v files and load them into your iTunes library separately.

It took me forever to find the help files, and those were limited to tips and tricks for users who already understood the mixing process. I found no general help files and no tutorials online. In fact. the few online help files tended to be a sentence or two. When a feature in vJay provided a learn more link, the link only took me to the main page of the web site.

If you already mix videos on the fly, vJay may well be a nice app to take on the road so you can leave your laptop at home. I suspect, however, that your laptop may have more features professionals need. If you’re new to live video mixing you will also need to fork out thirty dollars for a book on basic principles and techniques.

For the most part, what it does, vJay does well. But the only a small group of iPad users will actually want to mix live. If it just looks like a cool app and you want to try mixing, I would download a free dubbing app for your laptop and experiment before spending the money.

Jenny Manytoes rates vJay

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to vJay. In fact, she’s not sure what she would do with it. She thinks there are better ways to chase mice.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Music and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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