Top 7 Real-time VJ Visuals Software You Need to Know

Are you tired of long rendering times or want to experiment with something new? Don't worry. Real-time visuals are here to stay.

In this article, you'll discover real-time VJ software that will change your game.

The top VJ software options for generating real-time visuals include NotchTouchDesigner, and Resolume Wire. Furthermore, VJs can also use visual programming and creative coding tools such as vvvvMaxopenFrameworks, and Kodelife to create real-time VJ visuals through programming.

Notch: Simplifying Real-Time 3D Visuals

Notch is renowned for its association with top brands and projects, offering a seamless experience for creators familiar with software like Cinema 4D or Blender. With Notch, the process of crafting real-time 3D visuals becomes effortlessly smooth.

One of Notch's standout features is its intuitive canvas, designed for creating captivating 3D scenes. Unparalleled in any other real-time VJ visuals application, organizing lights, cameras, and objects becomes easy.

Unlocking the realm of abstract animations is made possible with over thirty 3D deformers at your disposal.

From the fascinating FFT Deformer to the dynamic Chunk Effector Deformer and the mesmerizing Ocean Wave Deformer, creative freedom knows no bounds.

On the other hand, cloning and applying effectors are simple processes, allowing you to achieve remarkable results fast and with minimal effort.

Notch excels in integrating with third-party software, granting you the flexibility to import .fbx or .obj sequences and work with MDD or Alembic files. It means you can bring animations from software like Blender and manipulate them within Notch, empowering you with unparalleled freedom.

Notch Screenshot

The integration with Resolume through NDI further enhances the capabilities of Notch, offering a seamless collaboration between the two tools. Discover the possibilities of this integration in the comprehensive Notch Tutorial: Combining Notch and Resolume.

Extend the reach of your creations to other applications using Notch Blocks. You can use these files on media servers needing only a playback license. In addition, within TouchDesigner, the Notch TOP allows you to harness the power of Notch Blocks.

Notch also offers an option to export videos, enabling you to render your node scenes and create captivating VJ loops. Choose from a range of codecs, activate the alpha channel, and set looping preferences to customize your output.

The Pro version of Notch costs ~2,600 USD/year, but you can always begin your journey with the Learning plan for a one-time payment of ~70 USD. You can effortlessly upgrade to the Base or Pro plan when a profitable project arises.

Discover the full potential of Notch by exploring its extensive features list, showcasing a wealth of functionalities waiting to be explored.

TouchDesigner: Expanding the Boundaries of Creativity

While some tasks may seem more complex in TouchDesigner, this intricacy is the price you pay for the freedom this software offers.

For instance, where Notch provides a predefined list of deformers, TouchDesigner encourages experimentation with various SOPs and, in some cases, even MATs. Achieving the desired deformation, such as creating a 3D landscape using height maps and vertex displacement with a PBR MAT, may require exploring different approaches that are not always immediately intuitive. Nevertheless, a robust online community can help you to avoid countless hours of trial and error.

For example, you can utilize resources like the Noto The Talking Ball tutorial for designing landscapes or the invaluable insights shared by TouchDesigner expert Matthew Ragan.

One of the remarkable aspects of TouchDesigner is the ability to control every parameter using Python. Short expressions, like those found in Python Tips, enable seamless communication between nodes, resulting in mesmerizing audio-reactive real-time VJ visuals.

TouchDesigner also empowers you to harness the power of Python libraries like Pandas and TensorFlow, enabling you to integrate data manipulation and even artificial intelligence into your projects.

Furthermore, TouchDesigner simplifies shader creation with its support for GLSL, providing a valuable opportunity to learn and master GLSL without overwhelming complexity.

To incorporate your VJ loops into TouchDesigner, you can use the Movie File In TOP. Also, you can connect with Resolume through the NDI Out TOP or the Syphon Spout Out TOP and play them from there.

Besides, you can render your projects as video files through the Export Movie Dialog, providing a way to share your creations.

Considering its vast capabilities, the price of the commercial version at ~600 USD is an excellent investment. TouchDesigner not only enables real-time VJ visual generation, but it also empowers you to create applications for mapping and lighting design. If you possess the time and the willingness to explore and experiment, TouchDesigner is a formidable alternative.

Wire: Unleash Your Creative Potential in Resolume

Wire is Resolume's real-time VJ visuals powerhouse, designed to simplify your workflow within Avenue or Arena. This powerful tool empowers you to create procedural setups, making your VJ life easier.

With Resolume Wire, you can unleash your creativity by designing effects and generators. These patches can be reused seamlessly in Resolume Avenue or Arena, allowing you to boost your VJ loops with unique video effects, create captivating procedural 2D animations, and automate your workflows.

Additionally, Wire offers the opportunity to publish your effects and generators on Juicebar, providing an avenue to generate some extra income and showcase your talent.

While Resolume Wire currently lacks built-in tools for creating 3D animations, a highly anticipated feature among Resolume users, it does include an ISF Node that enables the creation of 2D shaders using GLSL—a significant leap forward. Although 3D support is still on the horizon, Wire strikes a remarkable balance.

Resolume Wire not only offers a gentle learning curve but also caters to the needs of visual artists. From captivating text animations to mesmerizing music visualizers and other real-time 2D visuals, Wire allows you to stay within the Resolume ecosystem while achieving impressive results.

Priced at approximately ~400 USD, Wire delivers on its promises and can be a worthy investment. If you're already a Resolume user or prefer to avoid the steep learning curve associated with other software, give Resolume Wire a try and unlock your creative potential.

Embrace the Challenge: Unlock the World of Visual Programming & Creative Coding

So far, you've explored those convenient, ready-to-use applications that allow you to dive right into creating. Are you ready for a more immersive and intellectually stimulating experience? Visual programming and creative coding await.

Visual programming and creative coding tools, such as vvvv, Max, openFrameworks, or Kodelife, offer immense power and flexibility, but there is a price to pay: a steep learning curve. Mastery of these tools requires delving into the world of coding.

While visual programming can simplify some tasks, programming skills and a grasp of linear algebra become essential, especially when venturing into creative coding with GLSL.

In short, it's no easy feat. Yet, if you thrive on challenges and enjoy learning new things, these tools present the best avenues for creating mesmerizing real-time VJ visuals through programming.

vvvv: Unleash the Power of Real-time Visual Generation

Since its inception in 1998, vvvv has been empowering creators to generate stunning visuals in real time and beyond.

With vvvv, you gain access to a rich array of libraries and add-ons that enable the creation of applications and patches with varying levels of complexity. Dive into physics, 3D, and hardware integration with Kinect and VR devices.

For a deeper understanding of vvvv's potential, check out The Node Institute's YouTube channel, where you can discover captivating creations and learn more about what you can achieve with this software. Additionally, the works of Juan Hurle and cote.ggml can inspire your creative journey.

Even for simple tasks like playing VJ loops or connecting vvvv to Resolume, you'll see that multiple pathways are available.

For personal use, vvvv is available for free. For commercial use, the license costs ~500 USD.

Max: Unleashing Creative Potential in Music and Visuals

Max, with nearly three decades in the market, offers a unique blend of music and visual capabilities. It provides a platform for sound design through visual programming and extends its reach to real-time VJ visuals.

To delve into the world of visuals, Max introduces Jitter, which encompasses video extensions within its framework. Jitter opens up a realm of possibilities for generating captivating real-time VJ visuals.

Within Jitter, you'll find Vizzie—an abstraction designed to simplify working with real-time visuals. With Vizzie, you can effortlessly create filters and effects to manipulate video footage and VJ loops. Witness the creative results and dynamic potential of Vizzie patches in action through the promotional video for Max 8.

Max 8 boasts a versatile pricing structure, ensuring accessibility for users. Choose from a monthly plan priced at ~10 USD per month, opt for an annual plan for ~100 USD per year, or seize the opportunity to secure a permanent license for a one-time fee of ~400 USD.

openFrameworks: Empowering Real-time VJ Visuals at Zero Cost

When it comes to free options for creating real-time VJ visuals, openFrameworks stands as a shining star.

With openFrameworks, you can explore mapping, 3D animations, physical simulations, and manipulate VJ loops with breathtaking effects and filters. Users can also dive into the world of shaders, create intuitive GUIs, and develop add-ons. In a few words, a wealth of possibilities is waiting for you.

Don't worry about the steep learning curve. OpenFrameworks offers robust documentation and a vibrant community that continuously contributes with new add-ons and educational content, ensuring you have ample resources to expand your skills.

However, it's important to note that openFrameworks relies on C++, which can pose a challenge for those without a programming background. On the other hand, openFrameworks does not have its integrated development environment (IDE), so you'll need to install Visual Studio Code to kickstart your creative endeavors.

While openFrameworks may not be the most intuitive tool initially, investing time in mastering it grants you the ability to achieve everything you would with other applications without spending a single dollar.

Kodelife: Unlock the Power of Real-Time Shader Editing

Enter the realm of real-time shader editing with Kodelife, a specialized tool designed to streamline your workflow, facilitate shader work, and enable live coding performances. However, it's worth noting that Kodelife may pose a steeper learning curve when compared to alternative tools for real-time VJ visuals.

To harness the potential of Kodelife, a solid foundation in GLSL and a grasp of linear algebra are paramount. These skills are essential for crafting mesmerizing 2D and 3D graphics.

While the learning curve may be challenging, don't despair—are available valuable online resources to aid your journey. For example, "The Book of Shaders" is a highly recommended resource, providing comprehensive guidance. Also, reading books like "Developing Graphics Frameworks with Python and OpenGL" and "Math for Programmers" can further enhance your understanding.

One of Kodelife's advantages is its affordability. With a price tag of only ~20 USD, embark on a real-time shader adventure.

Furthermore, Kodelife seamlessly integrates with popular applications such as Resolume or TouchDesigner through Syphon/Spout, enabling you to showcase your shaders and achieve remarkable results.


Remember, inexpensive software does not guarantee a bargain. The price of a tool often reflects its ease of use, and while you may save money upfront, you'll likely invest more time in learning it.

Learning curves can be daunting when faced with a new project, so the key is to choose a tool or software that efficiently solves the most problems in the least amount of time.

Bear in mind that there's no substitute for research. Understanding your specific needs will help you to make the best decision.