There is much debate over when the first music video was made, with some claiming they date as far back as the 1920s. However, it was in the 1980s and ’90s that music videos really became a regular part of pop culture. Now, the makers of the popular app djay have brought us vjay. It gives you the opportunity to wow your friends by creating and mixing your own music video mashups similar to how a DJ (at least good ones) combine two songs.
If you’re looking for a new way to spice up your parties, will vjay provide the best party entertainment since the days that MTV actually played music videos? Read on to find out my thoughts.
Simple and Easy to Learn
One of the first things I noticed about vjay is how easy the interface looks when you load it up. While there is a learning curve, unlike many apps that are used for working with video, the layout and features are pretty self-explanatory. Let me first clarify so there’s no confusion — vjay is not meant for video editing in the traditional sense. If you’re looking for that you can see my past review of Avid Studio.
Even if you’re not familiar with apps like this you can figure out most of the inner workings in less than an hour simply by tapping and exploring the different buttons. The developers have even tried to point you in the right direction with simple touches like having the media buttons flash at startup. However, if you’re someone who prefers to read first and then get your hands dirty, just tap the cogwheel in the center of the screen and scroll down to the help section for a more in-depth explanation of how vjay works.
To get started, you’ll need to import a song or video file. For music, you can choose from any song you own or just use the audio already included in a video. The choices available for video footage are a little more extensive. Record your own using the iPad’s camera or import a video file you own, download a music video from the iTunes store right from the app, or choose from the vjay library. The preloaded library consists of one music video, five high-quality video footage clips and four visual loops.
On either side of the bottom of the screen you’ll see the media you’ve chosen to combine in the preview windows. The audio you’ve chosen is displayed in a very useful wave form making it easy for the editing you’re about to do. Once you’ve picked out your media, it’s time to mix, effect and mash it up into one crazy creative work of art.
To mix audio and video separately, tap the cogwheel and turn on the split audio/video option.
The controls in the bottom middle are used for transitioning between video or audio clips. Your options for transitions are cube, swap, mosaic, blend, grid and push. The wheel in the center gives you precision control over transitions, or just tap the arrow on either side to do it automatically. There are also four different effects you can use on a clip including strobe, fisheye, twirl and crush. Each of these transitions and effects adds a fun touch to your music video concoction.
Auto transitions are set at 3 seconds to start, but you can change the length in the settings.
Spin It Like A VJ
The transitions and effects are fun, but we’ve all seen that before in typical video editing software like iMovie. It’s the VJ specific elements that make this app stand out. First off, you can “scratch” the viewer or preview window to get an effect like you would when a DJ scratches a record. Next, you can loop a section by choosing either 1/2 beat, 1 beat, 2 beats or 4 beats to loop. Also, use the set button to pick a cue point then tap the button next to it to return to the point you chose.
Tap the button that looks like a finger pointing to bring up more features to sync the beats per measure between the two songs, change your equalizer settings and get more control over scratching using buttons like reverse, slice and slow-mo. There is also an option that gives you more control over the placement of effects using a touch activated axis.
Press sync multiple times in the beats per minute menu to shift an audio track by 1/2 beat each time.
Vjay has the ability to output to a TV using HDMI or wirelessly over Apple TV. You can also preview the next song in headphones like a DJ would, using a split audio output adapter. If you really want to go all out, then the developers suggest attaching a MIDI controller to implement more advanced techniques. Vjay works with the Numark iDJ Live controller as well.
More Fun Than Substance
Before I finish, there are a couple of major features lacking that I should mention. First, the app doesn’t appear to support 1080P HD footage. Also, there is no way to edit or add to a recorded mix, so if you don’t get it the way you want it the first time you have to start all over again. Lastly, it would be nice to be able to share to your social networks from the app. Currently, you must share a file to your camera roll and then export from there.
Overall, the vjay app is very fun, but at this point I would say it’s more entertaining than anything else. With a current price tag of $9.99 (introductory 50% off sale) it may not be worth it to most hobbyists. However, I can see this app becoming even more fun and valuable if the developers continue to update and add more effects and transitions in the future. Right now it definitely allows for a new form of artistic expression using the iPad.
What do you think? Does vjay appeal to you and, if so, what feature excites you the most?