If you've ever been interested in being the person controlling the visuals at concerts and music festivals, then you're in the right place. My goal is to help aspiring artists find the resources and tools needed to get started as VJ (visual jockey).
P.S. Mixing visuals & making visuals are two different skill sets. If you are more interested in making visuals before you jump into mixing them live at events, I recommend checking out Blender and Ducky 3D tutorials.
P.S.S. There is a steep financial burden to get started as a VJ. I invested over $2000 in gear to start doing shows and $1300 of that was for a strong enough laptop to run the software. It sucks but it is the reality. Just wanted to be transparent before you continue reading.
Anyway, let's get you started on your journey to becoming a VJ
The FOUR crucial things you need to get started as a VJ are:
1. A strong ass computer
2. VJ Software
3. Midi Controller
1. Strong ass computer
Ask anybody how to get started in VJing & they'll tell you "Get Resolume".
What they fail to mention is that you need a strong computer with a solid graphics card, memory and storage to run Resolume successfully. VJing involves live mixing multiple videos together, adding effects and transitions AND then outputting that to a screen. It takes a tough & well-ventilated laptop to accomplish that.
My suggestion is to head to over to Resolume's web site and check out their recommended tech specs. You can then use these as your guideline when laptop shopping.
Another thing to consider when shopping is the number of outputs your laptop has. A mini display port + HDMI are preferable, as you do bigger and bigger gigs the amount of screens increases and you need to be able to handle those outputs. There are adapters and work arounds for this but if you can afford it, get the laptop with mini displayport and HDMI.
A lot us just use high end gaming laptops. Some highly recommended brands among VJ's are Sager & Razer. Whatever you do, stay away from Macbooks.. unless its the m2 chip or newer. Just don't do it, please don't do it.
Expect to spend at least $1400 - $2000 +
2. VJ software
Resolume, Resolume, Resolume. You can't talk to any VJ without hearing the name of this VJ software.
Resolume Arena is the industry-standard software across the globe and for good reason. Whether you're trying to projection map giant buildings, throw up some trippy videos at an underground club or dream of seeing your stunning visuals on giant LED's, Resolume Arena can handle the job.
Because it is so powerful, versatile and well-known in the scene, Resolume Arena is also my recommendation. Once you have a strong enough computer, you are able to download the trial version for FREE. You can't output anything without a watermark and there is a robo voice that sounds off, but you have full access to the program aside from that.
Once you're comfortable & want to start doing shows, live streams and more then you can download the license.
Without any discounts, Resolume Arena is nearly $950 (US). However, if you have an active student email you can get it for HALF OFF. If you're not a student, wait until Black Friday and you can snag the same deal! Oh yeah, if you're a student and wait til Black Friday then you can get it for 75% off! Crazy, right ?
3. Midi Controller
Now you've made it to the fun part, the midi controller!
This is the controller you connect to your laptop and then map in Resolume! It's how you mix visuals live and control the show. It's the best and my favorite part. You can play around and treat Resolume as a "live after effects" all day, but Resolume + midi controller is how it's truly meant to be used.
There are ton of great MIDI controllers out there, a very popular one amongst VJ's in the Akai APC40 MK2. It is the updated version of the class APC40, aka the controller I started with and still use to this day.
With MIDI's, everybody maps their deck differently but faders, buttons and knobs are what you want. You map the faders to the layer opacity so you can blend videos together, map the buttons to crazy effects to trigger like a piano and then some knobs to trigger intensity of effects. Like I said, everyone maps differently and you can literally do whatever the fuck you want!
Link to my tutorial on TIKTOK on how to map a midi controller: https://www.tiktok.com/@vjkobra/video/7039731110112382255?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1
CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!
As soon as you start getting all your gear together and feel ready to go, you realize you have NO CONTENT TO MIX! How the heck can you be a VJ who mixes visuals if you have no visuals to mix?? Don't worry, I got you.
Okay, first off, expect free packs to be seen absolutely everywhere and that every VJ will recognize them. Most of the crowd will not though so don't stress too much. Free loops help get you started and can help in a pinch as well. Some places to find free clips are from beeple.com and gumroad.com.
On gumroad you will also find VJ packs to purchase, this is most common. Motion designers spend hours upon hours making these visual packs and deserve to get paid for their time, effort and creativity.
You can also pay for stock site subscriptions like Envato that help you a lot when working on very specific gigs and you need some high quality video footage ASAP
I also recommend checking out the packs on neuro.studio. These packs are created by some amazing visual artists and VJ's in the underground bass scene are worth the look! https://neuro.studio/collections/digital-downloads