10 Best Free Open Software for VJ Loops Design

Open-source is more than just free software. It is an entirely new universe full of powerful tools designed and maintained by thousands to solve all kinds of problems. Here, you'll find the most useful ones for video design, including visual design, video making, VJ loops design, and VJing. The order is random.

Concept Art

The first step before making your VJ loops is to create a good starting concept. Krita is the program for such a task. This open-source software gives you all the necessary art tools to design your concept art from scratch and not die in the attempt.

Image Editing

GIMP is a complete raster graphics and photo editing application that allows you to manipulate your images professionally and prepare them for your VJ loops. With a wide range of plugins and scripts, you can correct color, apply filters, create animations, extract frames from video, save different codecs, save for the web, and much more. Is it intuitive? Yes. Is it all-in-one? Not really. You will need to search and install some plugins to do things like exporting .exr files or opening video files. Regardless, there is good documentation available. It runs on GNU/Linux, OS X, and Microsoft Windows. There is also an extension in Blender that allows interoperability with GIMP .xcf or .xjt files.

Vector Design

How can you handle vector graphics instead of raster graphics? Inkscape is the answer. If you already know Illustrator, you'll notice that the tools and interface will be very familiar. It includes precision, path and text tools, 3D extensions, filters, great pattern generators, and more. Save as .svg or .eps and get ready to use your DJ logo vector path in any 3D or motion graphics software. It is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X (requires XQuartz). Whether you want to manipulate paths or create something more complex, Inkscape is a robust and professional software option at no cost.

2D Animation

Although 3D animation and motion graphics are popular within the VJing community, we must not forget the 2D world. 2D animation applications are still an alternative when creating different and original VJ loops.

Probably the best is OpenToonz. It is built on the same foundation as its commercial variant, Toonz Premium, and offers out-of-this-world features.

Major studios have used OpenToonz to create successful anime movies and series like Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し).

Although 2D animation is an ant job, its organic results can give you a comparative advantage within the VJ loops sector.

Finally, you have Pencil2D Animation. It is less versatile than OpenToonz but offers the possibility of getting started in 2D animation more easily.

3D Animation

Do you need to buy that expensive 3D application? Blender includes:

  1. Modeling and texturing tools
  2. Photorealistic and real-time render engines
  3. Node-based editor for materials
  4. Dynamics
  5. Compositor
  6. Video editor
  7. Motion graphics addons 

It is not as intuitive as Cinema 4D, though it is worth learning. There is also a lot of documentation available. If you do not find a way to do something in Blender, somewhere in the world, one skilled developer has created a plugin, and it is available for everyone. Blender has been used to make all VJ Galaxy's VJ Loops.

Compositing

Now that you have your image sequences, you will need to put them together and add some effects. If you do not have After Effects, there is an open-source compositing software called Natron. It is a cross-platform node-based tool. The UI is very similar to Nuke, having access to several effects, including motion blur and color correction effects. This open-source project is currently being stopped and looking for a new maintainer.

VJing

You are a VJ, so you need a video mixing tool. There are several open-source options available. To get started, you can try GLMixer. It is one of the best (and maybe the most updated open-source VJ software). This VJ application allows you to import and mix VJ loops, DJ visuals, videos, image files, vector graphics, algorithmic patterns, and GPU plugins with endless possibilities (FreeFrame and Shadertoy). It includes a circle UI for practically handling different files. It works on Linux, OSX, and Windows. For further information, check out the video tutorial Quick Tips for Getting Started in GLMixer Free VJ Software. For video mapping, you may prefer MapMap.

Live-Streaming

COVID-19 has accelerated streaming adoption. DJs and VJs have found in streaming platforms a way to get around the current restrictions that affect the world of live visuals. In that sense, OBS Studio has become the preferred option when streaming through platforms such as Twitch or YouTube Live. Not only is it free, but you can also install a wide variety of amazing third-party plugins. This way, you can add interactive overlays, create virtual stages or play VJ loops from a VJ software like Resolume.

Screencast

ShareX is an incredible and complete screencast software. This tool is essential for any production workflow when you want to share screenshots or record VJing tutorials. At no cost, you can capture specific regions, create GIFs or HD videos, benefit from constant updates, and much more. It is only available for Microsoft Windows; you could consider using Dahu for Linux and Mac.

Video Editing

Even if you can do video editing with Blender, sometimes you do not need all those extra tools for 3D Design and Animation. For video editing, OpenShot Video Editor is the best option. You can add simple video transitions, some effects, and keyframes to your tracks. You can also create titles; this tool needs Blender installed to work. In a few words, OpenShot is a clean, fast, and free video editor for simple projects. You can also try Shotcut. It is another interesting open source and free video editor alternative.