Resolume is the most popular tool for creating live visual experiences at events and for artists. However, like other VJ software, it is primarily designed for VJs.
Usually, it becomes complicated for a DJ to operate both the audio mixing software and the VJ software to combine real-time video. So, what happens when the DJ doesn't have a VJ but has the space to use visuals and wants to take advantage of it?
Some DJ software developers have recognized this growing need and have incorporated easy-to-use tools to mix video simultaneously in their applications. Thus, it is increasingly common to talk about the figure of the DVJ.
The top options are the veteran VirtualDJ, Pioneer's DJ software: Rekordbox, and Serato (recently acquired by Pioneer DJ).
Ideally, it is best to try before buying, and fortunately, this is possible in all three applications, as we will see below:
VirtualDJ allows you to test all video functionalities without limitations. DVJ tools usually offer a simple video mixer with two channels, but don't be discouraged; VirtualDJ also lets you extend creative possibilities through visually appealing video transitions and incredible audio-reactive effects such as Boom Auto, Shake, Spectral, etc.
Virtual DJ also provides high-quality 2D and 3D shaders that sync with your mixing, text scroll, and the option to include an external camera input. You can also apply the available effects to these elements.
To access all the possibilities of Virtual DJ's video mixer, I recommend activating the 'Performance' layout and adding the 'Video' rack.
To load and use your VJ loops, drag them to where the cover icon of the songs you are mixing is until you see the 'Link Video' option (not to be confused with 'Load in Deck').
To access Serato's video functionalities, you need the pro version of Serato DJ and to purchase or subscribe to the monthly expansion pack of Serato Video.
To try it out, go to preferences, activate Serato Video in the Expansion Packs tab, and then enable demo mode. You can load your VJ loops, add text, apply audio-reactive effects, and different transitions, just like in VirtualDJ. However, it does not have a library of animated 3D shaders.
It's important to note that in Serato Video, the hardware and system requirements may have more impact than in VirtualDJ or Rekordbox. Besides, in Windows 10, I encountered issues with video playback that I didn't find in VirtualDJ or Serato Video for macOS.
The videos load, but the playback is poor. Perhaps this Serato notice is related:
'Not all combinations of containers, codecs, or file extensions are supported, despite the list above, and this support varies depending on your combination of Serato DJ software version & operating system. With Windows operating systems, users should consider that installed third-party codec packs can also affect support.'
In conclusion, let's hope they improve in this regard. Remember: try before you buy.
To use the video extension in Rekordbox, you do not need to subscribe to a paid plan. Like other DVJ applications, it offers a two-channel video mixer with transitions and effects. Additionally, you can add text scroll and an external camera, but you cannot apply effects to these elements.
What sets Rekordbox apart are its Touch FX and AV Sync functions. Touch FX works with controllers like the DJ DDJ-RZX, allowing you to manipulate video effects from the touch screens of the controllers. On the other hand, AV Sync synchronizes every change in video effects with audio effects.
It's important to consider that choosing Rekordbox as a DVJ application will be strongly tied to the DJ unit you own (https://rekordbox.com/en/support/link). In short, if you don't have a Pioneer device, Rekordbox wouldn't be the right choice for you.
In terms of pricing, the three options are very similar —between 300 USD and 450 USD.— VirtualDJ has put more effort into developing the video mixer than its competitors, making it easy to understand, use, and produce visually appealing results.
When using macOS and already having Serato DJ Pro, the obvious pick is Serato Video. On the other hand, if you have a Pioneer DJ unit, it would be best to opt for Rekordbox.